I noticed in the blog calendar for October that Art Beck was in town again, and was going to be featured with former Tule Review editor, Jane Blue. Art Beck recently known for his publication, "Summer With All It's Clothes Off" was joined by CSUS professor Mary Mackey instead, who read from "Breaking the Fever." Nostalgic for a familiar place on this Thursday night, I slipped into the cafe just before it began brimming. I noticed someone in the corner, scribbling on a napkin, another had one sheet of paper covered with discriminating characters, lined out, some boxed in pen. B.L. Kennedy, the host, definitely had control of the mic. Central and galant in his introductions, he produced an evening that slowly unravelled into a successful symphony of poetry lovers.
What was shared tonight, was an inaudible tension. One that perhaps exists outside of the cafe and into the lives of these individuals as they carry on with what they do in the real world. I have heard some claim that they live and breath poetry, but tonight, we were all breathing it live and uncut. Poems on death, seduction and discontent drew darkness over the day just passed. After the final reader, I happily escaped leaving another piece of emotion on that stage; another poem was created, ready to be dissected.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
A Perfectly Affectless Enthusiasm displayed by Joshua Clover
Joshua Clover read many of the pieces from The Totality For Kids as well as "Zone," the epic poem by Apollinaire as translated by Samuel Beckett. "Das Kissenbuch" and "The Other Atelier" were among those that were featured.
At the end of the evening he ventured into some new work. One of these was a poem entitled, simply Poem. In it Clover displayed his typical biting wit and critique of "capital" which he addresses as an old friend. In "Poem" he also makes apologies for the poets who don't understand the vagaries of the beast of capital.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Richard Beban headed out on the road from LA and arrived at HQ on Monday evening. Voyaging was still on his mind. The first poem he read was called “The Voyage” and it was dedicated to Li Po in which Li Po, “He knew the river merged with something grander.”
The second poem picked up the voyages theme also. It referred to the homonym via the word tao (the way) and dhow (a boat in southeast Asia). In the poem Beban confessed,
All problems occur in boats and I am not a swimmer.
Beban then related that he had spent a night or two in a Super 8 Motel and lamented the fact that in the drawer where there should have been a condom somebody stashed a Bible.
Beban read a poem about Noah and a poem where Noah had trouble naming the things that departed from the ark. Beban mused that perhaps if there had been more women in on the naming, then we would have had more interesting names for animals.
He read "Mental Block" from Young Girl Eating a Bird
Then he dedicated a poem to the parents of a young child named Isabella who was punctuating the reading with shrieks of delight every time Beban said the word “joy” The poem/song was deidicated to children who don’t have parents who look out for them. It was entitled “Canaries.”
He read “Fooling a Living” about his father in which Beban offered that his father was “changing into a stranger. . . something he perfected when I was a kid.”
He read another poem about boyhood and his father entitled “The Impressionable Boy on the Bridge;” then he read a poem for his mother entitled “For My Mother the Movie Lover in Intensive Care” where he wished his “magical childhood myths godspeed.”
Beban then waxed nostalgic about how all the old Lucky’s had been replaced by Albertson’s (a very unpoetic name to be sure). The poem about the old Lucky’s was called “Customer Satisfaction.” In it he stalked about the smoothest riding grocery carts, how carts were like small cages, how he danced with one like it was a partner he had long desired. The cart contained morning oatmeal, fat free turkey, and when it was time for him to part, he wondered if that was all there was between them. The speaker noted that the place where he once was lucky, and he set it free.
Beban read a series of love poems. One was a triolet, a mash note to Medusa. Another one was “Dinner and Conversation, Athens” where the speaker tells of the spilled guts of fish. The fish cleaners are talking of ex-lovers. At the end the speaker notes that the old lovers are picked clean as the fine bones
A love poem was dedicated to his wife, Kaaren Kitchell. Beban held an image of her (waving goodbye as he left on his tour). The poem was called “Aubade,” and in it Beban recalled the sight of her “in her leopard skin silk pajamas.”
the last poem of the evening was a delightful little exercise given to Beban by Richard Garcia at Antioch College in LA. Garcia had given his students a series of 1000-year-old Old English words, but he had not given them the meanings. They were then supposed to create a poem using those words (though their usage of the words was based mainly on sound). So he wrote the poem he read in a sort of Jabberwocky style. The poem was entitled “Wifthing” (after one of the words from Garcia). Beban was sure that this would have some relevance to wife. The subject matter was a rather spicy love poem. Only after he had finished the poem did Garcia reveal that “wifthing” really meant something like “side woman.”
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Andy Jones and Brad Henderson arrived at the Sacramento Poetry Center ready to go in matching shirts, a bit sadder that they had not forced all those who had attended an earlier reading at the Natsoulas Gallery in Davis to sign a contract to be in Sacramento.
Brad and Andy collaborated on a book put out by Natsoulas Press entitled Split Stock earlier this year, and they read several pieces from that book as well as a number of newer pieces, some from their self-imposed mission set upon each other to write a poem a day for 40 days (a la David Lehman).
One poem in which Brad bemoaned his fate of being a Midwesterner was Uncle Larry, a rather droll look at the world according to a man from Indiana.
Andy read a piece that was dedicated to his family, his three children: Geneva, Jackson and Truman. It was written and read primarily for those people whom he had expected to make the trip over the causeway to hear his reading, and it was partially inspired by Brad who had kidded Andy about his coming from a dysfunctional family. So, Andy mused about what it might be like to write a poem about his young family. the resulting piece was Functional Family.
Andy also read a piece about a particularly well-placed poet, but . . . well, er, more about that later.
The two of them also read pieces from Split Stock. Brad read Mr. Yippy-I. O, starting out the first line in a drawl, then thinking better of it.
Andy closed the evening with a poem about a sinister bathtime predicament [Rubber Duck]. You may never want to take a bath alone again!
During the open mic, two of the locals read pieces. Tim Kahl read Ohrwurm whose title is derived from a word that literally means "ear worm" but refers to any song that sticks in someone's head and the listener can't get it out.
Finally, Indigo Moor read two poems of his "Tinder" and "Ethos" about two paintings of Jacob Lawrence.