Friday, October 31, 2003
for the face
I had Before
--William Butler Yeats
the above quote greets you at the front door of Angelica's Kitchen, where Hassen and i celebrated her birthday before the reading. wanted to share it with you.
not sure how that quote fits into the feeling for the rest of the evening, but it feels right in that way that's hard to put into words.
the Poetry Project--at least in any memories i have--has never been so exciting! here's to the exceptional start to a new era of new poetry!
why the HELL haven't i heard Tracy K. Smith read before? where have i been? she started off with a couple of poems to calm herself in a "different" (?) voice, she said. one was a very cool tribute to the film "Betty Blue"
her "Fire Escape Fantasty" poem was one of my favorites. in "Night" she asks, "are all dreams silent? & i had to stop thinking of my answer in order to focus on the rest of her reading, but now... no, they're not.
Tracy's husband is a visual artist and she said she's jealous of images he creates, but i'm thinking she needs to get over it, because she's creating plenty of images with her poems. ah, god-DAMN, did i just say that!? i sound like a therapist for poets!
Frank Sherlock always reads like his poems are all he needs to build with, doesn't seem he's wishing for other mediums. at least, if he DOES wish for another medium, he never says so. that said, he DID HOWEVER make one disclaimer today, and that was at the top of reading his "Apocraphyl Personals," to say that the reader/writer was not personally serious about actualizing the content. but this had no way weakened the impact of the pieces, which are as funny as they are disturbing, as the best deviance will have us see things, challenging our sense of safety and pleasure at once.
his tiny poems for Jenn & Chris McCreary's newborn twins caused Hassen to lean over with a smile and whisper "Nice!" in my ear. they were titled (i think i'm right about this), "Baby Baby" and "Ouch Ouch" the 2nd for when they're older. these two were part of a series of much shorter poems he's working on, not necessarily haiku in form, but in witness to detail.
i've heard Frank read many times before, but his night at the Project delivered a crispness well above most of any of the other readings he's given. although it takes some getting used to, seeing him read, rather than recite. it doesn't take away from the work, but it is a different experience however.
something we ALL need to put our heads together over is WHAT is going on with his reading of the poem "Elementals With A Suggestion" ? this is the THIRD time now that he's read it before an audience that i've seen, where he is somehow interrupted JUST before the line, "some days Yellow really does change the world" THE THIRD TIME! the first was by hecklers at La Tazza, the second by an elongated pause at the ICA, now, this third time by someone thrusting open the doors in the Poetry Project from the connecting doors to the cavernous room next door. the first time was in a smallish, or medium-sized bar. the second time was in a space roughly three times larger. the third time was in a space comparable to the second, BUT the interruption COMING FROM an enormous connecting space. or maybe it's not the size of the space we need to look at, but the dates on which they occurred or maybe not the dates for the numerology, but for the phases of the moon. or maybe it just needed to happen three times and the poem is ready for home plate? did i just make a baseball reference? what's the matter with me? anyway, or maybe it's to do with the explosive psychic build up of the poem itself yeah yeah it's maybe in the poem itself. it's THAT LINE, or rather, JUST BEFORE that line where the interruption has taken place, each time. right there, with Yellow, the color Yellow, all Yellow has going for it, going into the space of time JUST before the line.
it was a great reading. the kind of which fortifies my earlier statements that the Poetry Project has a newness which has sharp, fine blades. John Fisk seems to agree, and he's been there the longest, over twenty years.
this was also a great trip. Matt and Nicole and Heather also came up from Philly. we all hung out after, over at The Grassroots Tavern with Carol Mirakove, Cori Copp, Anselm, Eddie, and a whole bunch of others from the reading.