Notes on a Tebot Bach Reading – Goldenwest College – 27 April 2012

It’s getting late, I’ve set the alarm for 4:30 AM, and I have 3.5 more blog posts to do, so let’s get down to it.

I saw Mifanwy Kaiser and Thomas R. Thomas, of course, plus Dana, Michael Miller, Shannon Phillips, James Ysidro, and the ever-helpful Patty and Brad.

The first feature was former Tasmanian, current Costa Mesan Mike Sprake, a poet of whom I hadn’t heard before. He was quite a discovery. He started with B. H. Fairchild‘s “The Machinist Teaching His Daughter to Play Piano,” from The Art of the Lathe. His next poem began “Neruda encourages us from…” I’m not sure whether the second poem was his or not. For sure, he wrote the next two, “A Taste of Something” and “Rain, 1958,” which he dedicated to the soldiers “who have allowed us boys to be boys.” He followed these with “A Quick Note to Self,” “Muse (I Hope She Survives),” “Uluru,” “Apple,” “What Sticks,” “The Electric World,” “Cafe del Sol,” and, finally, a Daniel-McGinn-inspired piece, “Walking the Poodle.”

The second feature was Kevin Patrick Lee, a Long-Beach staple. He also opened his set with a cover, Jeffrey C. Alfier‘s “Why You Can Never Cure a Small-Town Heart.” He moved on to “Exit Goldenwest Toward the Ocean,” “My Two-Year-Old Son Took a Dump on His Bed,” “No One Reads Poetry, Not Even Poets,” “A Hundred Miles of Surface Area,” “The Real Real Housewives of Orange County,” “My Sister Has Not Seen My Dick,” and, of course, “A tall black guy sipping red wine, reading a novel, a parrot on his shoulder sits on a foldout mesh lawn chair on the sidewalk outside a pale green apartment building with a ‘For Rent’ sign dangling above a garage door.” These were succeeded by “The Motivational Speaker Brings His PowerPoint Presentation and New Book to Our Quarterly Meeting,” “Hooks,” the crowd-pleasing “My Wife’s Tits,” and “More Than What Is Advertised.”

The regrettable part is that because each feature was given ample time to exhibit their excellent poetic wares, less time remained for the open reading. We each got three minutes or one poem. Cue sad trombone.

  1. Tom Thomas read Paul Tayyar‘s “Conversation I Never Had With My Father.”
  2. Luke Salazar read “City of Angels,” a rare serious piece, colored by the work of Italo Calvino.
  3. Linda Delmont read “Pilgrimage to Elwood Park.”
  4. Paul Sandor read “Bits and Pieces.”
  5. I read “Reconquista.”
  6. Nicole Street read a piece that started, “It’s 1955, and you’ve decided this is how you’ll begin…”
  7. Tom Thomas read his two love poems and three haiku.
  8. Leslie Maryann Neal read “Bookstore Suite.”
  9. Ricki Mandeville read “Ode to My Derriere.”
  10. Eric Lawson read “Madame, Your Perfume Evoked Rimbaud References.”
  11. Suzanne Allen read “Love and Zero, Doctor Martin and the Egg.”
  12. Daniel McGinn wrapped things up with “It’s Ten o’Clock, Do You Know Where Your Mother Is Tonight?”

It was indeed ten o’clock, so we all left to try and find our mothers. Mine was where we left her, I presume. If she’s not, I’m going to be very, very upset.

Notes on a Fourth Annual Writers’ Weekend Reading – Mt. SAC – 27 April 2012

Wow! I spent this weekend at the Fourth Annual Writers’ Weekend at Mt. San Antonio College. It was amazing, inspiring, a crucible where the next generation of litterateurs could engage with some established writers and publishers. Big thanks go to organizers John Brantingham, Lloyd Aquino, Michelle Dougherty and all who led or attended the panels and workshops. In the session I taught Sunday morning, I got to gush about Duotrope.com and Poetix.net. I hope to see some of this weekend’s newest voices start appearing in print journals, in online magazines, and at local readings.

Too many people showed up for me to list here. Holy moley.

Friday’s end-of-day reading featured published Mt. SAC writers and everyone’s favorite fuzzy Canuck, T. Anders Carson.

  1. Andrea Montoya read “In Less Than a Minute,” which will appear in Carnival, and “Beyond the Fence.”
  2. Charlotte San Cuesta read “Cara Linda,” which will appear in Solo Novo and Turbulence, and “Where We All Seem to Be Going.”
  3. Michaelsun Knapp read “August” and “No More Fruits.”
  4. Marta Chausée read a piece that starts “You said my dad was gay…” and “Garage Sale.”
  5. Michael Torres read “Guidelines,” from his chapbook The Beautiful Distraction, and “Medias Res.”
  6. Dylan Gosland read a non-fiction piece from Creepy Gnome.
  7. Kevin Ridgeway read “Writing a Bad Poem in Central Park,” from the Swedish anthology Lush, and “Seventeenth Street.”
  8. Adrienne Selina read “Paint,” also appearing in the upcoming Carnival, and “Hungry.”
  9. Jeffrey Graessley read “Last Saturday.”
  10. T. Anders Carson read “In a Chinese Buffet,” the list poem “Things That Are Wonderful,” “Doing Gymnastics” from his collection Death Is Not the Worst Thing, “My Wife Cuts My Hair,” the list poem “Pressing That Button,” and “This Is Just to Say That You Didn’t Leave.” After the reading, during the Q&A session, Anders talked about being a postmaster and city councilman, about being the current People’s Poet of Canada, about some of the experiences that have shaped him into the enthusiastic, charismatic figure he is today.

So that’s how the tip of the iceberg looked.

Notes on a Bank-Heavy Variety Show – Gatsby Books – 26 April 2012

Uh-oh. For the first time in months, I took no notes last night. I was one of the featured poets, so I wanted to calm down, focus on my breathing, and put on a good performance. I think I did all of that. But now I wish I’d taken notes. I do have a couple of photos, but that’s to Raquel’s credit, not my own:

The three minds behind Bank-Heavy Press: Karie McNeley, Zack Nelson Lopiccolo, and Cory De Silva

Superheroes

Okay, let’s see what I can remember. I was waiting at home for Raquel to get back from work. I wore my formerly-classy, purple striped shirt and a black, merino-wool cardigan, but that ensemble was too warm. But I couldn’t take off the cardigan, or everyone would see the big hole in my formerly-classy shirt’s armpit. So I put on my fluorescent green shirt. Raquel got home, ate a little something, freshened up, and grabbed her camera bag. Off we went.

Good gravy. Traffic wasn’t too bad, but now that the 24-Hour Fitness near Gatsby Books has finished renovating, its main entrance faces the parking lot. Finding a parking space thus became five or six times more difficult than usual; although we arrived a half-hour early, we had to park at the far edge of the lot.

Uh, who was there? Owners Sean and Alisha, of course. About a dozen of my students were there, albeit only to get ten points of extra credit. G. Murray Thomas arrived, freshly shorn and hoarse from throat surgery. Sarah Miller was there. I caught a glimpse of the hat of Daniel McGinn. Clifton Snider came a bit later, missing my set, but I was nevertheless glad he made the effort to come. And representing the close-friends-and-family contingent, along with Raquel, were Andy Davis and Sonia Groves.

Readers, readers…crap, this is why I usually take notes… Luke Salazar started things off. At the end, the Bank-Heavy crew — Cory, Zack, and Karie — read from their press’s latest offerings, a split chapbook and the Avoid Ninja Stars anthology. In between, the audience also heard from Nicole Street, Tamara Madison, Graham Smith, Will the performance artist, and a tattooed woman of a certain age, who recounted in verse her erotic escapades.

Oh, and the featured poets. I amused Olivia Somes by calling us “thunder and lightning.” Olivia featured for the first time last night. I really enjoyed her set. She read “THE ONE NIGHT STAND,” “To Be a Kid Again,” “Anti-Ode to That One Guy at Every Party,” “Before She Can Utter Two Words During Our Secret Break-Up Dinner at the Olive Garden,” and “The Life of a Relationship.” Before she went on, I delivered my own set. I read “Saturday, 10:30 AM,” “Progress,” “A Promise,” “Protagonist,” “A Man and a Woman and a Bird,” “1953,” “An Existentialist Children’s Story,” and “Eco-Poem.” Overall, I found the audience attentive but perhaps on the subdued side. I did get some audible responses. Cory said afterward that he didn’t know I was so funny. Surprise!

After the show, Andy and Sonia wanted to take Raquel and me out to dinner, but we had already eaten and Raquel had to get up early. So they gave us a gift and we said our goodbyes.

Once again, I really appreciate seeing all those who were able to make it. It’s no fun to read in an empty room.

Notes on Two Idiots Peddling Poetry – The Ugly Mug – 25 April 2012

We’re still effectively broke. The change jug at home has no more bills or quarters. I found an ATM that disburses five-dollar bills, enabling me to tap into the less-than-twenty-dollars in the bank account, leaving fourteen cents there until payday this weekend. On the bright side, I was left with enough cash to buy poetry admission, peppermint tea, and a microwave tamale plate when I arrived for Two Idiots Peddling Poetry at The Ugly Mug.

You know who was sitting at my regular table? John Perry. Where’d he been? I talked with him before the show began — what he’s been doing, my plans for fall, his son’s future plans. I hope John’s knee heals up soon.

I sat with Robbi Nester, Robin Hudechek, and Robin’s husband Manny. At first, when Robbi put her stuff next to mine and started telling people that she was saving the other two chairs for her friends, I thought, feeling a bit petty in the process, “Wait, what? I got here first. My friends don’t get to sit with me?” But when Robin and Manny finally arrived, I was happy. I know them and like them. In the meantime, Robbi and I talked about publishing, features, the night’s theme, and other topics germane to the writer’s life. I was impressed that her creative ideas helped her get more complimentary copies of her book, Balance. She even sold a copy to the night’s co-quasi-feature. The older I get, the more I finally understand the value of gumption, of what my frustrated former tee-ball and soccer coaches called “hustle,” back when I didn’t display any.

Who else showed up? Lots came who didn’t read. Lori McGinn. Martha Stothard and LilBob Lanphar. Leigh White. Jaimes Palacio. And more!

Lots came who did read. Most came armed to celebrate the night’s theme: “Down with O.P.P. [Other People's Poetry]” Viddy the litany:

  1. Poetry Idiot Ben Trigg started the proceedings with co-quasi-feature Brendan Constantine‘s “Richard,” from the ubiquitous Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug. The poem concerned a transsexual’s new breasts. Ben’s reading a co-quasi-feature’s poem about breasts, particularly fake ones, would become a mini-theme for the night.
  2. Robbi read “Making Whole-Hive Mead,” “Night Patrol,” and “The World to Come.”
  3. Daniel McGinn read Richard Brautigan‘s “Family Portrait #3,” “Photograph #12,” “Photograph #8,” and “Image.” He read Wislawa Szymborska‘s “Seen from Above.” Then he read W. S. Merwin‘s “Losing a Language.”
  4. Andres Chavez recited a stream of puns and intentionally bad jokes, some of which seemed designed to provoke a response through possibly ironic appropriation of offensive cliches. I just don’t know.
  5. I read Thomas Lux‘s “The People of the Other Village,” Martin Ott‘s “A Confused Grandmother Places Child Through Airport X-ray,” and Elisabeth Frost‘s “Happiness.” People responded well, although less effusively to the Lux poem than I expected. They seemed to like Ott’s poem the most, which is cool, since Martin’s my good friend.
  6. Brendan Constantine and Elizabeth Ianacci mounted the stage like Titans of yore. Something like that. They took turns. Brendan opened with Ron Carlson‘s “Room Service,” which made me hungry for square footage. For her own part, Elizabeth began with David Kirby‘s “Broken Promises.” Brendan moved on to Mandy Kahn‘s “The Tour Guide.” Elizabeth followed that with “The Brothers on the Trash Truck and My Near-Death Experience” by Belle Wearing (sp?). Brendan’s next offering was Joseph Di Prisco‘s “My Mission Statement.” Elizabeth then read two in a row,  Ellery Akers‘ “The Word That Is a Prayer” and Mark Strand‘s “The Coming of Light.” Brendan outlined “What Depresses Me” by Juanita Brunk. Elizabeth presented “Before Roe v. Wade” by her friend Jane Author/Arthur, the vivid imagery in which visibly affected the women at my table. Suddenly, Brendan lunged forward with David Hernandez‘ “Dear Professor,” from the latest issue of ZYZZYVA. Not to be outdone, Elizabeth summoned forth “The Weight” by Linda Gregg. But Brendan looked deep inside his mind’s core, where he found the epiphany that culminated in Carolyn Kizer‘s “Election Day 1984.” After we finished rubbing our eyes from the afterglow, Elizabeth channeled her kiinto a puissant beam of Barbara Hamby‘s “Ode on My Wasted Youth.” What could be done after that? Brendan Constantine seemed to suspect he knew; he stepped neatly to the side, as if space still had meaning, and executed a precise reading of Ted Hughes‘ “Apprehensions.” Identity became a sham, an empty, rippling rubber glove filled with the ghost of a zephyr’s never-met grandfather. Dorianne Laux‘s “Anti-Lamentation” filled our hearts, but who was the reader and who was the audience? Soon, there was only the shadow of a nom de plume called Paul Celan, an echo born in 1920, a Romanian, a Jew, a poet, the instrument played by an acceptance speech for the Bremen Prize, the author of “Speak, You Too.” Bowels turned to silver and kidneys to yttrium; alchemy ran riot and Belgian-kissed half-imaginary sailors in the street.
  7. Sometime before all of this, Robin offered Robbi and me a piece of Manny’s and her big cookie. Sometime during the break, Lori McGinn opened her bag, displaying cookies, and offered me one. At an unremembered moment, Mike Cantin offered me some cookie. Tales of fake boobs in Ben Trigg’s mouth and the cookies of generosity recurred throughout the night. Case in point: after Mike’s cookie-offering, Ben ended the break by reading “Cheap Tits” by co-quasi-feature Elizabeth Iannaci, from Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug.
  8. Carrie McKay read an ostensibly-untitled piece (“Death Spiral Pantoum” works well enough, I think), plus “Jane Austin [sic] in Retrospect of Her First D&D Game” and “The Girl Scouts [sic] Secret Guide to a Bad Trip.”
  9. Mike Cantin read “The Final Moments of Eli and Meleus.”
  10. Seth Halbeisen read “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by some obscure poet. Then he read two of his 30/30 poems, “A Single Truth” and “Torque.”
  11. James Kelly read Mark Strand’s “From a Litany” and Randall Jarrell‘s “Seele im Raum” (“Soul in Space”).
  12. Heather Love read Marty McConnell‘s “Joan of Arc to the $2000 an Hour Woman.”
  13. Graham Smith read five haiku by Jack Kerouac.
  14. Heidi Denkers read “The Lake of My Bones” and Eve Ensler‘s “I Am an Emotional Creature.”
  15. Phil Aldridge read “The Inevitable Love Poem,” “Moving Walkways,” and Paul Suntup‘s “That Day on the Floor with the Phone Book.”
  16. James Ysidro read Chilean poet Enrique Lihn‘s “Jonah” and three of Vikram Seth‘s Pushkin sonnets.
  17. Jacob Slobodien read Rudy Francisco‘s “Scars” and his own “Skype Love.”
  18. LeAnne Hunt needs to go to Las Vegas. She read “The Inevitable Love Poem” and Stacy Gnall‘s “The Bee’s Reoccuring Dream.”
  19. Steve Ramirez read “Serial” for James Kelly. He read “A Poem in Search of Another Rejection Letter” for Robert Wynne. He read “Letter Addressed to Hansel and Gretel, from a Westinghouse Oven.”
  20. Ben read “Just One More Thing” and “God of My Pancreas.”

It was a long night, lasting an hour later than usual. I rushed home on the wet freeways to discover Raquel had been worried about my safety. This is the part that the audience exclaims “Awww…” with little irony.

Notes on a Redondo Poets Reading – Coffee Cartel – 24 April 2012

Once again, I got to Coffee Cartel before Jeff and Tobi. I sat at the table near where the mic would eventually be. But then I felt guilty for not securing my friends’ table, especially after a strange family sat there and started talking about staying for the poetry reading. Fortunately, after I started making sustained eye contact and softly, insistently mooing, the interlopers left and didn’t come back. Tobi and Jeff eventually arrived and claimed their regular spots.

While all that was occurring, Kevin the animated punk-rock guy was arranging printouts of his art and taping them in displays across the windows. Some looked like neurons. Some looked like embryos made of fish roe trapped in giant Day-Glo DNA strands. Some looked like close-up photographs of eye irises, if they were made from birds’ nests. They were creative and interesting and trippy. I also appreciate how much work he put into constructing his impromptu exhibit.

Most people I recognized read tonight, all but James Ysidro.

  1. Jim Doane was off celebrating his first or seventy-fifth wedding anniversary, so Larry Colker flew solo tonight. He began the reading with Howard Nemerov‘s “To the Mannequins.”
  2. Tresha Haefner read Naomi Shihab Nye‘s “Famous” and her own youthful, “snarky” (according to her) response to it, “That May Be So.”
  3. Peter, whom I’ve seen once or twice before, read “Lonesome Whistle” and “Afterlife.” He lauded the Redondo Poets readings for giving him the poetry bug.
  4. Gabrielle read “Weather Report for the Road Ahead” and “What Is Red?”
  5. I read “Misdemeanors” and “King of the Road.” They went over okay, I think.
  6. Tobi read “To Those Who Occupy My Heart” and “Day After Day on the Town.”
  7. Hildy Lee read “Borrowed Time” and “Where Did I Go Wrong?” Apparently, according to the second poem, Hildy is entirely innocent while her husband is entirely to blame for how their son turned out. I briefly contemplated the experience of being married to or raised by Hildy Lee. While Hildy was reading, tonight’s feature, David McIntire, arrived with his wife, Cat.
  8. Michael C. Ford, a familiar name if not a face yet entirely known to me, read “Final Entries from the Diary of Jesus Christ.”
  9. David McIntire was introduced very well by Larry. David began with two poems from his most recent chapbook, Exit Wounds: “Fuck the Poets” and the title piece. He moved on to “This Is What You have Allowed” before reading two 30/30 poems, “This Is Where I Live” and “This Is Something I Need You to Understand,” the latter based off a Rachel McKibbens writing prompt that I also used. Also during the latter piece, Jeff’s chair collapsed under the force of David’s verbal passion and ideological integrity, so David started the poem over again. I was sitting even closer to the epicenter of poetic energy, so I sat very carefully while that piece was being retransmitted. Then David read “This Poem” and “Only in on You.” He thanked Jennifer Bradpiece for improving his next piece, “Unpronounceable.” “Impossible” followed; it’s a combination of found poem and cut-up poem. From his previous chapbook, Other, each copy of which has a unique cover designed by David and/or Cat, he read “But Your Nothing.” Finally, he read “Stare,” also from Exit Wounds.
  10. After a break, Larry read Ernst Dowson‘s Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae (which Larry translated as “I Am Not What I Used to Be When I Was Ruled by Cynara,” which is pretty accurate, aside from a missing “Good”), the source of the phrase “gone with the wind.”
  11. Jeffrey C. Alfier read Frank Gaspar‘s “Mission,” from Mass for the Grave of a Happy Death, and his own “Overtaking the Union Pacific.”
  12. Wanda VanHoy Smith read “Keypunch Secrets,” which Rick Lupert selected for the Yom ha-Shoah issue of Poetry Superhighway, and “The Love Song of a Deadhead,” an adaptation of Eliot’s poem.
  13. Cory De Silva read Ron Koertge‘s “Signs and Miracles,” from Geography of the Forehead, and Koertge’s “Skeletons.”
  14. Jennifer Bradpiece read two 30/30 poems, April fourth’s and another one.
  15. Kevin spent his time at the mic explaining his artistic philosophy and his visual poetry.
  16. Betsy, Jen Bradpiece’s friend, read her 30/30 piece “Trace Elements,” which was inspired by Peggy Dobreer‘s prompt about exploring the lake of one’s bones. Betsy thanked Jen for helping her get it into better shape. Betsy also read “Ode to Peg’s Poetry Salon.”
  17. Peggy Carter read “I Will Do What You Like” and “What’s Left,” the latter also inspired by Peggy Dobreer’s prompt.
  18. Cat read “Entropy”; a 30/30 poem named after a Bauhaus album, “The Sky’s Gone Out”; “Fifth Quarter”; and “Unacceptance Speech.”
  19. Luke Salazar…whoops. Luke had had to leave to go to work. Larry felt bad he hadn’t called Luke up earlier. Luke now has an official website; I wish all my friends and colleagues had official websites, so I had proof that they really exist in a twenty-first-century sense. Trusting the physical universe can be so confusing.

It was getting rather late, so there was no lightning round. I was disappointed, since I had wanted to read my own response to that Rachel McKibbens prompt (“This Is Something I Need You to Understand”). But hey, I’ll get to it eventually.

Notes on The Valley Poets Reading Series – Village Book Shop – 21 April 2012

The bad news is that Village Book Shop will be closing June 10. Proprietor Deborah Gould will go back to working as an Army sniper, or so Scott Noon Creley might have noted while he was making up lies about people last night, had that been one of the lies he made up rather than my own.

The good news, Scott announced, is that the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival is now officially a non-profit organization. The spaghetti dinner last Saturday (with celebrity guest Donna Hilbert) raised enough money for them to pay the fee.

Scott added that people could now find this blog via The San Gabriel Valley Literature [sic] Festival website. As of two minutes ago, I can’t figure out where such a link to me and mine exists. I thought he said it was on the Associates page. Huh. Whatevs. On with the litany of performers:

  1. First-timer Donald J. Nielsen read “Cities of Light in the Dark.”
  2. Clint Margrave, doting husband of the night’s headliner, read “Internal Revenue.”
  3. K. Andrew Turner read a thousand words from his new fiction piece, “Expectation of Love.”
  4. I asked people whether I should read some of my new 30/30 poems instead of the stuff I’d initially planned to read. People in the audience, most loudly John Brantingham, cried, “No!” (Did it seem as though I were being irritatingly coy?) Anyway, I called their bluff, prompting some whining. (Hee, hee, ha. ha..) So I read my new pieces, after all. I just read April 1st’s and April 17th’s, since the two were relatively long. People found both of them quite funny. Village Book Shop always has such gracious, attentive, lively audiences. I’m going to miss it.
  5. Alexander Vogel, who would find his way into my warm embrace before the night ended, read an untitled piece, followed by “The Liminality of Limits and Whether It Can Speak or Not,” a poem comprised by collecting phrases by Homi K. Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak. His final poem, retitled “Friends, Not Masters,” is a translation of Pakistani poet Umair Khan.
  6. G. Murray Thomas read “This Song Always Reminds Me Of…” and “Green.”
  7. Sandy Howlett, who does not look eighty years old, read “Broken Open,” “Small Talk,” and “Christmas on Morphine.”
  8. Natalie Morales read “The Meaning of Life Is in a Pile on the Floor,” “Borrowed but Not Returned,” “Christmas Day,” and “Dull Sublunary Lovers’ Love.”
  9. Lloyd Aquino read “Poem for Anywhere,” “Poem for Things Left Behind,” and “Road Trip Villanelle.”
  10. Elder Zamora read “To a Small God,” which ended up in a journal after winning a writing contest. According to John Brantingham, when that year’s judge David Foster Wallace ran across it, he exclaimed, “That’s a good poem!”
  11. Tom-Squared read what he called his “bad attempt at erotica,” as well as two poems that begin “Nine girls sitting around my coffee table…” and “When I die, the water will take me…”
  12. Nicola San Juan read a poem about when her parents were staying with her, which begins, “If your insides are twisted with anger and resentment…” Her next poem, a happier piece, starts, “There’s a glow on the hills…”
  13. Michaelsun Knapp, who punched a fucking seagull that tried to steal his hot dog in San Diego, read “No More Fruits,” “Jesse James and the Magpie Go Painting at Night,” and “LA Rivers.”
  14. The night’s first feature, the one not married to Clint Margrave, was Jeffrey Graessley. He started with a number of poems about drinking and bars: “Bob’s Tavern,” “Nameless Nights,” “Most Days,” and “Side Street” Then he read some poems about love, romance, and family: “Room 204,” “Her Beat,” “I Did It,” “Remember That,” and finally, dedicating it to his date for the night or the love of his life, Marlena (?), “Ode to My Beauty.”
  15. The night’s final feature was the fearless conqueror known as Anna Badua. She read “Life Forms,” “Evolution,” “Theory of Relativity,” and “Eta Carinae,” all of which reflect Anna’s fascination with science. She proceeded to read “The Executioner’s Prose” and “Sargasso Sea.” Then she read two poems regarding her mother, “First” and “Scorched.” “Static” and “Transience” rounded out the set.

Enriching the audience were Michelle Thomas, Ann Brantingham, Archie Brantingham, Marta Chausée, Chris McMurray, Leah Gonzales, and fine people whose names are unknown to me.

After the show, I prevailed upon Clint and Anna to hang out with us at the Brantinghams for a bit, which they did. Anna and Clint are good eggs.

Notes on Poetry Stew – Artlife Gallery – 19 April 2012

In terms of emotional intelligence, I’m kind of a sub-moron, but still, sometimes, after a reading, I feel like crying for not-bad reasons. I think, “You are not sad. You are something other than sad.” I felt that way last night.

Artlife Gallery had migrated across the shopping center, moving next to Veggie Grill, an appropriate restaurant to be near for vegans like David and Cat McIntire. Or maybe that’s a dumb way to consider things. But whatever, there Artlife Gallery now is, hanging out near a meatless restaurant in El Segundo. And there, last night, Poetry Stew coalesced, rich and savory.

Some people I didn’t know, like the gallery owner, Vanessa. Others I recognized. But all the people I recognized were also poets who performed their work, so I’ll jump right into outlining who did what:

  1. David read a madrigal by Lorca that began, “Like concentric waves / on the water, / your words in my heart.” David used to not get Lorca, but now he appreciates him. I like that David shares his poetic education and evolution with us, instead of acting like a pretentious poseur who pretends to know and understand every poet in the world. Plus, it’s cool to watch growth and learn about epiphanies.
  2. Eric Lawson read two love poems addressed to inanimate objects, “Broken Beauty” and “Come Hither, Leafblower.”
  3. Luke Salazar read a sonnet, “A Fragile Urban Hawk.” Then he read those four haikus about the dog, the vacuum cleaner, love, and the scheme of things. Those were followed by the two-part “She” and by “To Her Coercive Master.”
  4. Betsy read Rumi’s “Bewilderment” and a highly-alliterative poem I think is called “My ABCs Start with F.”
  5. Marty read a serious limerick with an environmental message, “If a Massive Solar Flare Doesn’t Destroy Our Civilization First.” Then he read “Unstraight,” “Left Center,” “Things,” and “Christ-Killers.” Shit! Right around this time, I realized I’d forgotten to sign up to be an open reader; I was crestfallen.
  6. Jennifer Bradpiece read “In Love?” and “Overgrown.”
  7. Tobi Cogswell, who was flying solo tonight, read “Middle-School Fable,” “Bulls and Cows,” and “To the Goddess with Waterbed and Cable.”
  8. Peggy Carter read “Campfires of Pain,” “Recovery,” “Doldrums,” and “Do You Remember My Name?” The last poem especially made quite a splash.
  9. Peggy Dobreer, who now knows my name, read “Hidden Treasures,” plus her ninth 30/30 poem and one with an enormous title. I think the last poem’s title began “When Theresa Managed the Intimate Apparel Store…”
  10. I was very happy that David thought to ask whether anyone else wanted to read. I was so enthused that I gave folks a chance to hear some of my new 30/30 pieces instead of the older, maybe more mediocre poems I’d planned to present. I read April 5th’s, April 6th’s, and April 3rd’s. They went over pretty well. When the month’s over, I’ll have to give them titles.
  11. The feature was Daniel McGinn, also flying solo. He began with a long poem, a reworked, 30/30-ized version of 1997’s “How Do You Like the Poem?” Then he read “Daniel,” about his name, and “Hi, Mom,” about his mother, who has Alzheimer’s. He continued the latter theme with “The Aging Process” and “Alzheimer’s Yard.” The next poems were the multi-part “Tasty Grapes” and one that starts, “I am ready to sit when you are ready to talk…” “April,” his latest writing-in-a-lawn-chair-under-a-full-moon poem, came after them. “Alternate Endings,” with its positive ideological message, received a lot of applause. He ended with a poem about a bath pillow, which begins, “Is there a need for a bath pillow…?”
  12. After a break during which most people left, David initiated a lightning round. a) Peggy Carter read “Vanilla Milkshake.” b) Tobi read “Ode to Thunder,” her 9/30. c) I read “The Spam Can,” April 15th’s parody of William Blake’s “The Tyger.” d) Marty recited from memory “Strawberries Versus Zombies.” e) Daniel read “Zombie,” his piece from Aim for the Head. f) Eric read “Rain in the Marrow, Rain in the Blood.” g) And David finished the night with Mindy Nettifee’s poem from Aim for the Head, “The Thing about Having Dropped Acid an Hour Ago When the Zombies Arrive at the House Party.”

Announcements. People are doing things at places and times. David mentioned his upcoming feature for Redondo Poets at Coffee Cartel. Daniel mentioned the release party for News Clips and Ego Trips at Harvelle’s in Long Beach. I mentioned my upcoming feature for the Bank-Heavy Variety Show at Gatsby Books (Thursday, April 26, 7 P.M.!). Uh, somewhere in there, David mentioned the release party for his new chapbook, Exit Wounds. Ugh. I should have written down when and where that will be.

(Ugh, Part Two. I just checked the Write Bloody Press Submissions page and discovered its open-reading period was March 1-20! Damn it! I thought it was going to be in May, like last year! I’ve been waiting for the gates to open since June! Argh! Now I’m bummed.)

After the reading, I helped put the folding chairs away, and Cat gave me a copy of Exit Wounds, which I asked David to sign, which he did. I didn’t have any money, and won’t really have any for a couple more weeks, so I really appreciated David and Cat’s generosity, just as I appreciated the wounded comfort offered by Daniel McGinn’s poetry, just as I appreciated having a chance to read, despite my absentmindedness. I think that’s what got me choked up: gratitude. I left Artlife Gallery and Poetry Stew feeling very grateful last night.

Notes on Two Idiots Peddling Poetry – The Ugly Mug – 18 April 2012

I had no extra money, so I had to forgo the now-usual tamale-and-nachos plate at The Ugly Mug, but I did have a couple of bucks for a small peppermint tea. I eagerly await payday.

Who was there? Michael Miller was, because he’s the publisher of the new, second, greatly expanded edition of Lost American Nights: Lyrics & Poems, by the night’s feature, Michael Ubaldini. LilBob and Heather Love were there. Ricki Mandeville showed up with Kate Buckley and an unknown friend. And numerous others appeared, but I’ll get to them in the next, numbered paragraphs.

  1. Ben Trigg, one of the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry, whose shirt I liked, started us off with a Rachel McKibbens poem about boobs.
  2. Michael Cantin read a response to Ben’s poem about poetry weight loss: “Yo-Yo and Plateau.” Then he read a two-parter, “Passing Acquaintances,” and “Amateur Fortune Teller.”
  3. Seth Halbeisen read “Flexible Math,” “In a Circle,” and “A Trail of Tears,” which involved the brutal forced relocation of Smurfs. (Before the last poem, Seth called himself a “sick bastard” — he might not have seized that title had he known which poem I was going to read. But we’ll get to that.)
  4. Martha Stothard read “A Daughter’s Love,” “Mother Nature,”  and “The Inevitable Love Poem.”
  5. OK, so…I try not to read the same poems in the same venue more than once. Since I’ve been at Two Idiots Peddling Poetry almost every week for ten months, there just aren’t that many poems of mine left to perform. But there are a couple remaining…tricky ones…ones I have kept deferring reading over and over. I decided to read them this month. One I read last week. This week, I did the other, “The Frotteur.” It was creepy. I then tried to cleanse the audience’s collective mental palate with “Inquisition” and “Hymn.” It partly worked, but…well, let’s just say I was left honestly wondering whether Kate would later take the stage to read some poems that would redeem the Buckley name.
  6. Michael Ubaldini came on with his guitar and harmonica. He began by playing “That Girl Looks Just Like Jean Harlow.” Then he played the brand new “Who Are Ya Sleepin’ With Now?” That was followed by “The Low-Down Poverty Blues,” “The Seventh Trumpet,” and “The World Ain’t What It Used to Be.”I thought the next song might be his last, but he was just getting started. He went on to perform “Honey, When You Come Around, My Whole World Comes Crashing Down,” “Highway Ghost,” and “Sweet Old Riddle.” The next song didn’t seem to have a title; it started by asking, “Did I thank you, my darlin’, for the heartache you caused?” and discussed a cheating ex-wife. His last three songs from the dozen he played were “Walk Through Fire,” “Moonday Mad,” and “Avenue of Ten-Cent Hearts.”
  7. During the break, Martha and LilBob left. So did Ricki, Kate, and their friend. Heidi and LeAnne abandoned my table to occupy the now-vacant couch. Heather stuck around, though. Ben got us back in the game with Raundi K. Moore Kondo’s 30/30 poem (15/30), “No One Gives Good Prophecy Anymore.”
  8. Cole Steffenson, who’s apparently only a senior in high-school, despite or perhaps underscoring his prowess as a beginner, read “For the Girl Who Knows What She Likes, But Not What She Wants,” an untitled piece, and “Iron.”
  9. Daniel Romo read “The Office” and “To Kill a Mockingbird Synopsis, Chapters 21-23.”
  10. Heidi Denkers was having a rough few days, so she picked angsty poems. She read two untitled poems that started, “I like to believe that I am the crawling on broken glass…” and “I like the burnt matchsticks best…” Then she wrapped up with a piece written before coming to the cafe that night, a multiple-part poem which began, “1. She doesn’t know a thing of her quills…”
  11. James Kelly was feeling fragmented and fractured, so he picked what he called “chaotic” poems: “What We Become,” “e. e. cummings in Respect to Asking William Carlos Williams for Twenty-Five Dollars, or, The Ballad of the One-Legged Girl,” and #5 in a series of poems written for the serial numbers of various items around his house.
  12. LeAnne Hunt read “Division of Labor,” “A Cannonball Midget on Her Coffee Break,” and the lengthy “Bearded-Woman Contortionist Bends Backwards.”
  13. Other Poetry Idiot Steve Ramirez, who once again got to relax on the couch because Jaimes Palacio had all Steve’s sound equipment, read “Fortunetelling 101,” “Word Problems,” an an untitled piece beginning, “I was driving the bridge that crosses the Narrows, when I saw her.”
  14. Ben Trigg wrapped up the night with “What’s Missing from My Skill Set” and “12/30, in Which #12 Is Reluctant to Exist.”

After the reading, I sat in my chair for a while. It was later than usual, almost eleven. People told me that my first poem had disturbed them, but nobody said he or she now despised me. Good. Phil conspicuously shut down the joint. It was an interesting night. I’m looking forward to next week’s “Down with O.P.P.” show. Looking into other people’s oeuvres will set me up better to re-examine my own, I hope.

Notes on a Redondo Poets Reading – Coffee Cartel – 17 April 2012

I didn’t want to be relegated to the couches and chairs in back, so I got to Coffee Cartel nice and early to grab a table. I thought about grabbing Tobi and Jeff‘s usual table, but that would have made Baby Jesus cry, so I got one over by the bookcases. It’s also good that I didn’t steal Jeff and Tobi’s table because Peggy Carter came back tonight with her bionic knee, and that table’s third seat is traditionally hers.

G. Murray Thomas appeared with a new haircut and sat with me at my table, along with a short stack of copies of his latest endeavor, a collection of articles from Next… magazine, called News Clips and Ego Trips. It was larger than I expected. Once I get money, I should buy a copy.

John Schlegel was in attendance, even though he had moved to San Diego some weeks ago. So was this anonymous, middle-aged Asian guy with a mustache whom I’ve been seeing everywhere lately.

Both Larry Colker and Jim Doane appeared. Tables got scooted; equipment got set up. The reading began.

  1. Larry offered up the sacrificial poem, Marie Howe‘s “My Mother’s Body,” which she had read for Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.
  2. Wanda VanHoy Smith read “Woody’s Birthday” and “Black and White Education.”
  3. I read “VIP” and “I’m Not Going to Lie to You.” My pacing was terrible, stultifying, glacial.
  4. Some young guy named Zack, whom I might have seen here before, recited a piece with a name I missed, because he didn’t speak into the mic, and then read an untitled poem.
  5. John Schlegel read “In a Tailored Suit, Holding a Flashlight” and a poem dedicated to all of his friends at Coffee Cartel, “I Don’t Drink Coffee.”
  6. Dina Hardy, tonight’s feature, received her bachelor’s in film, video, and animation at Pratt. Then she earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Then she became a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Basically, she has a pipin’ hot CV. More basically, the dame has artistic chops. She made a small box filled with one hundred poetry triggers. She wrote a chapbook called Grocery Shopping with Roy Lichtenstein. Tonight, she predominantly read from her latest creation, Selections from The World Book. She began with “Radio-Radio, Page 6744.” Then came the first piece she wrote for this project, “Home-Honduras, Page 3500.” That was followed by “English Sparrow-Engraving, Page 2360″ and “Dinwiddie-Diphtheria, Page 1996.” She concluded her set with “Wordsworth-Workers, Page 8857″ and “Folklore-Folklore, Page 2651.”
  7. During a break in which quite a few people left and Tobi amused Murray and me [Hi, Tobi!], I learned the name of the hitherto-anonymous Asian guy, whom I met in line for the bathroom. He’s Dana, as in Dana Point. After the break, Richard read the piece that had designated him one of the three finalists for the Aquarium of the Pacific‘s Urban Ocean Poetry Contest: “Salt Air and the Seal.” He also read a poem, “It Doesn’t Get Much Better,” from his upcoming book of beach poetry.
  8. Peggy Carter read “Across My Face” and “Doldrums.”
  9. Murray read a short prose piece from News Clips and Ego Trips, an article he wrote in 1994, “Poetry Bridges Across Cultural Gaps.”
  10. Alfredo, Dina’s husband, read “Mechanic.”
  11. Christian read two untitled pieces that respectively began with “It’s easier talking to strangers…” and “Pain relievers…”
  12. E. Michael Pearl dramatically recited “Waiting in War.”
  13. James Ysidro read “Noir” off his phone.

There was then a raffle. Dina Hardy agreed to raffle off a copy of her latest chapbook. Richard won with slip #12; he was having a good week.

During the lightning round, a) Peggy read “Clock,” b) John Schlegel read a haiku he’d written there that night, c) I (as Jim put it, “Not the other John, but the slower John…”) read my 30/30 poem from April 11th, d) Murray read a piece from Poetry about Patricia Smith’s meeting Gwendolyn Brooks, e) Christian recited a piece that started “Damn, homeys, in high school…,” f) Judy sang a song about shoes that isn’t finished yet, g) James Y. read “Conversations in Unknown Languages,” h) Jim Doane read a poem about a world in which poetry is a science instead of an art, and i) Larry read “The End” by Eric Roy from an issue of  Slipstream.

But the night was not quite over. Dina Hardy was invited back to the mic for an encore, a request she obliged by reading “Corona.”

Tuesday night. Wednesday morning’s tough. I went home.

Notes on After the Carnival – Exhibit [A] Gallery – 13 April 2012

Tonight marked the one-year anniversary of After the Carnival’s holding its second-Friday readings at Exhibit [A] Gallery. In addition to the usual wine and water, curator Sarah Miller also supplied beer and hors d’oeuvres. Sarah was also tonight’s feature, along with her co-curator, Mike “No Relation” Buckley. While people like gallery owner Evan Patrick Kelly, Tom Thomas, and Tamara Madison drank and nibbled, Detroit multi-instrumentalist Garland Campbell played jazz saxophone with French keyboardist Laurent ______, who supplemented his piano-playing with bouts on the melodica, or “piano-hookah.” (I made up that name.)

I’m terrible in cocktail-party situations, feeling nervous, awkward, and stupid. (Why did I come here right at seven?) So after I compulsively grazed on the food, I sat down and listened to the music. Eventually, I calmed down.

To kick off the reading portion of the night, Anna Something-mati read a section (“Section XIII: Dedications”) of the recently-departed Adrienne Rich‘s Atlas of a Difficult World.

Mike read two stories, “The Mysterious Contraption, or Why So Many of My Characters Suffer Forcible Amputations” and a selection from “Robot-Ninja Love Story.”

Sarah recited a poem, “Kiss.” Then she read a story, “Toledo,” and part of a book, Deciduous, on which she’s working. She followed that with five poems: “Dialogue,” “Bougainvillea,” “Oil Change,” “Imprint,” and “Abandoned.”

Then the jazz musicians played.

Then we went to a bar and grill, the very crowded Congregation. Then I remembered that I’m trying not to drink alcohol this month, that I’m trying not to eat too late at night this month, that I had very little cash on me that night, that I didn’t even have enough on me to repay Tom his $15. So I went home before I could get in trouble with myself, playing The Smiths’ Meat Is Murder album in the car and wading just a bit in a shallow puddle of self-pity and nighttime hunger.