Sunday, November 09, 2003
I arrived at the Grass Roots Tavern at 7:15 PM after a swim. I order a
seltzer, sit down, and read Gas Station by Joe Torra, one of my favorite
A few minutes later Charles Wolski arrives. We wonder where John Coletti is.
The Roots is his office, we thought he'd be here by now. A few more minutes
later Jon Allen walks in. He says Coletti is still at work. Unexpectedly Ed
Berrigan steps into the bar. He asks, "Are you having a meeting?" He laughs
and sits down.
Finally, Coletti arrives. Everyone gets a drink. I see Chris Martin across
the bar. Wolski asks if Frank Sherlock is coming to the bar. I say he's
probably making-out or doing push-ups to get prepared for tonight's reading.
Wolksi asks who Tracy Smith is? Coletti says he thinks she is a spoken-word
poet. I say I think she is involved with Cave Canem. I say that my few
experiences with Cave Canem poets has made me think it's a very middle class
scene. Coletti argues with me. I don't make a coherent argument so we give
up and agree to go to the reading instead of speculating on things about
which we know nothing.
Anselm calls me leaving on my cell phone a message, "Hey, leave the bar and
get over here, the reading is about to start!"
Smith reads first. Her work is about living in a new city, her family and
upbringing, her life as a writer, he husband a painter. Smith's new book won
a Cave Canem award. Her style is pretty straight, a little sentimental. She
definitely has chops yet surprisingly is a little nervous. Maybe it's the
solemn, serious, classroom-like setting of the Parish Hall.
Sherlock reads second. His work is about Philadelphia, media, a world in
turmoil, sex, and violence among many topics. His style is outside,
alliterative, disjunctive, and up-close. Sherlock's delivery is rockem'
sockem' tough. For some reason he used a chair as podium, he made light of
that being an awkward decision, but he held to it.
Afterwards many of us returned to the Grass Roots. Tracy and her crew
unfortunately did not. John Fisk told John Coletti and I to never shoot up
whiskey. Later he told us Evacuation Day was the biggest United States's
holiday. It celebrated the evacuation of the Brits from colonial America
after the revolutionary war. Fisk said people would disrobe and have orgies
at Bowling Green in lower Manhattan to celebrate the day.
Anselm Berrigan came into the bar holding a Subway sandwich. Coletti teased
him. Berrigan just shrugged his shoulders and walked to the end of the bar
to watch the football game on the television.
thanks for this great e-mail Greg,