Thursday, August 26, 2004

e-mail from Buck Downs in response to queer boxing 

I was listening to some sports talk last week, and the subject of gay athletes came up, b/c one NFL loudmouth was slagging a former teammate as alleged-to-be-gay. One on the many meandering threads of the topic was the periodic speculation that Lennox Lewis, the current heavyweight champ, is gay. I think that mostly stems from trivia like he speaks with a british accent and is comfortable saying names like Gaugin and listens to Mozart & Beethoven. The class/sexuality prejudice thing worms in from another angle -- since the dude likes culture & isn't a wife-beater, he must be a fag. Boxing is a sport that has lost a lot of its prestige in the last 30-50 years, so its remaining fans can be pretty defensive.
Buck, thanks as always for your clarity,

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Republican Like Me 

Republican Like Me
Through September 20, 2004

Rabble-Rousing Performances

Oscar Bermeo, Eileen Myles & Sparrow
Poetry reading
Saturday, August 28th, 6 PM
@ Downtown Bronx
141 E. 149th St. @ Walton Avenue
2, 4, 5 Trains and Bx1 and Bx 19 buses to 149th St. & Grand Concourse

Did you know? that both Sparrow and Eileen Myles have run for the Presidency? Come join in as Myles and Sparrow join Bronx-based Bermeo for an evening of inspired lunacy. A perfect post-protest activity!
Jack Doroshow (a.k.a. The Flawless Sabrina), with Special Guests! "The Good Republican Wife"

Tuesday, August 31st, 8:30 PM
@ Parlour Projects
214 Devoe St., Apt. 1
Brooklyn, NY 11211
L-Train to Graham Avenue (3rd stop in Brooklyn). Devoe bet. Bushwick and Humboldt Aves.

We never know what's up her sleeves, but following close on the high heels of her performances in Philadelphia and at Passerby in New York, La Sabrina gets her ire up, works through it, and
registers you to vote in the process.

Moving Images Screenings

Rachel Mason's "Let The Eagle Fly" (a sing-along) and John Water's "Desperate Living"

Thursday, September 9th, 8:30 PM
@ Parlour Projects
214 Devoe St., Apt. 1
Brooklyn, NY 11211
L-Train to Graham Avenue (3rd stop in Brooklyn). Devoe bet. Bushwick and Humboldt Aves.

Come see what the US could be like if we don't get Bush out of office - citizens ordered to walk backward, and other despotic rules abound in John Water's "Desperate Living." And as a warm-up, join in a sing-along to Rachel Mason's interpretation of John Ashcroft's "Let The Eagle Soar."


Tuesday, August 24, 2004


ever since i placed my ad for a transvestite boxer in The Philadelphia Independent i've been getting death threats on my answering machine. the first was an old man who was screaming into the machine about gassing faggots and saving the children. that was wild. then the younger guy who said he wanted to break my legs and torture me by ripping my skin off while i screamed for mercy. this guy kept SPITTING the word FUCK, like he was jerking off or something while speaking into the machine.

i feel like some anthropological study is going on while i listen. i'm not upset by any of them, even though none of it so far has been said in jest in any way. it all sounds very very serious. more than anthropological, it seems like an anthropathological study going on, getting my ear on the drum of reflected and fractured emotional body. these people are so damned wounded sounding, that it's sad and creepy.

Frank Sherlock heard today's caller. i played the answering machine into the phone so he could hear her. he suggested i transcribe it.

we both guess she's about 40 or so. no younger. she called twice. she was so crazy, you could just picture her at a witch burning, rationalizing everything taking place. the second call was even angrier sounding. here's a transcription of the two calls:

(first call)

(second call)

i keep trying to figure out WHICH part of the ad has them so bent out of shape? is it really JUST the queer element? could it be?

see, part of me feels it's mixing the boxing into it that does it. the boxing may be the real irritant because i'm talking about putting queers in the category of those who can really WIN from the lowest rung. it's so easy to see Will & Grace, because it separates queers into a class category. to think of queers as working class might wig some folks out. there's safety with wealth, and distance.

anyway, what are your thoughts? oh, and if you haven't yet read the ad, here it is:

- - - - F O R � I M M E D I A T E � R E L E A S E - - - -

- - - - F O R � I M M E D I A T E � R E L E A S E - - - -


The pink, frilly, faggy clip to the chin of oppression! �While
the fringe of the queer community is forgotten, even censored,
we will make our way through the ranks all champion boxers
made as an emblem for their minority outcast peoples throughout
history! �Looking for the world's toughest, queer transvestite
boxer dedicated to winning the heavyweight belt. �Must be willing
to wear pink gloves with drawings of Judy Garland's face hitting
the high note to punch out Tyson's woman-beating sorry ass
once and for all! �From there we will take the gay and lesbian
community back from the money-sucking gay republican scum
whose 1969 counterparts fled out the back door of Stonewall,
leaving the revolution in the hands of the fearless queens and
dykes! �Can you resurrect queens as backbone of queer leadership?
Do you make the high heeled, bitch hammer grade? �Do you have
Sissy Pride? �Interested in victory? �Contact CAConrad at
(215)563-3075, or CAConrad13@AOL.com

Farouk Abdel Muhti 1947-2004 

It makes perfect sense that the Philadelphia media (with the exception of the City Paper) said little about the passing of Palestinian human rights activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti. It reflects a larger ignorance of the injustices he spent his life resisting. The WBAI radio host & former political prisoner died in Philadelphia on July 21 after giving a speech calling for progressive unity.

The American Friends Center & the activist community remembered Farouk at a memorial gathering last Thursday. His longtime partner/comrade/recent fiance Sharin Chiorazzo & Farouk's son Tariq spoke about what the life & death of Abdel-Muhti meant to them & us. They testified to the unstoppable spirit that fueled him, his sense of humor & solidarity. They expressed Farouk's sincerest gratitude for those who supported him in mind, money & court during his two year detention. He was set free just 100 days before he died.

For more on the life of Farouk Abdel-Muhti:

Democracy Now
Free Farouk
Blue Triangle Network

Frank Sherlock

Sunday, August 22, 2004

notes from the 2004 HOWL FESTIVAL 

(notes written saturday morning in Tompkins Square Park)

last night's reading is burned in my memory for permanent record

HOWL IS FOWL---but right now there's an angry old man with chalk, writing this critique of the festival on the sidewalk, and i believe he's the same angry old man who tried to climb on stage to read a poem while John Giorno was performing last night. security had to pull him away, and now he's here this morning to get his revenge. he's really pressing hard with the chalk, like he wants to tear through the cement, man is he angry.

the parade is coming through right now with queenly poet Taylor Mead as the The Grand Marsha(ll). (a side note, Taylor Mead is in a wonderful new documentary about Jackie Curtis called SUPERSTAR IN A HOUSEDRESS) the parade is a little disturbing in that giant heads of the Beats (Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg...) are on polls, and no fabric to resemble clothes, so, it looks like this band of crazed and excited freaks has killed a bunch of giants and are now showing the world the trophies from their conquest. but it's a great parade, with a lively New Orleans-type hyped-up brass band, lots of drag queens and mimes and kids handing out material for the Republican National Convention which is on its way

someone just handed me a BILLIONAIRES FOR BUSH sticker (did you hear what protest Toni Torn did with them recently? very funny, but get Greg Fuchs to tell you the details, because i was a little drunk when he told the story, and don't remember all details)

two drag queens Nanna and Banana heard me read my classified ad/poem on stage last night POET-AGENT IN SEARCH OF QUEER TRANSVESTITE BOXER, and wanted to know if they qualified. Nanna in particular has very big muscles, but Mike Tyson would flatten her pretty nose in no time i told her. she agreed, and wished me luck in finding a champion.

the poets i was thrilled to share the stage with last night were: Kazim Ali, Erica Kaufman, Anyssa Kim, Dinze Lauture, Janine Pomy-Vega, Edwin Torres, Tracie Morris, John Giorno, and Bernadette Mayer

i've always wanted to hear John Giorno and Bernadette Mayer read, BUT i never EVER thought i'd hear them read while reading in the same event WITH them! the event was fantastic, with Greg Fuchs and Christopher Stackhouse working the many aspects into a memorable frenzy

it's hard to believe that Bernadette Mayer had a stroke, and taught herself to speak and write again. she does walk with a cane, but has a mind as sharp as anyone's, and it was an honor and pleasure to hear her read. John Giorno was the only one of us to take a cordless microphone because he recites, instead of reads, bouncing all over the stage while he does so.

Edwin Torres and Tracie Morris both had some poems using sound outside formed words, the way both are separately known for. Morris did that amazing poem i heard her do in Philly at the ICA, it's a takeoff of "Working On A Chain Gang"

Erica Kaufman is one of my new favorite poets and people, she was GREAT. and she's an Elvis fan, and the two of us drank HOWL punch (which has a punch) later and talked for hours about Elvis, and being queer Elvis fans, and about Elvis as super-angel, etc., and much etc.

HASSEN, Erica is also a BIG fan of you, and your poems! we spent time talking about you and your poems in the midst of our freakish Elvis hysteria, right where you belong honey

Allen Ginsberg was the ghost host, of course, and so i wanted to perform something he had written. many folks don't know that he had written alternative lyrics to AMAZING GRACE. these lyrics are about homelessness. so i decided to sing the song with Ginsberg's lyrics, and i dedicated the singing of it to Marsha P. Johnson, the first person who threw the first brick at the Stonewall riot. about ten years ago i had heard Marsha P. Johnson give an angry, memorable speech in that very park about how she had become homeless and forgotten, and how it was drag queens like herself and butch lesbians who duked it out with the police (it was a brutal fight), while the frightened republican-type queers FLED out the backdoor. Marsha P. Johnson (sorry to keep using her full name, but she deserves respect) was murdered soon after that speech, strangled to death and found floating in the river. it's hard to believe anyone could strangle her, she seemed so strong, POWERFUL, like a superhero and invincible. to this day i can't remember whether it was her or someone else there at that speech who was wearing the T-shirt that said STONEWALL WAS A RIOT NOT A TRADEMARK!

anyway, i sang the song, dedicated to Johnson and Ginsberg, 2 great American revolutionaries, and then i read my letter to the president, since he's on his way, and everyone loved it. people came up to me to tell how weird it was, but that they liked it. i read Frank Sherlock's poem CLINK, and Frank, you need to know that when i first said i was going to read your poem, lots of folks in the audience cheered. i ended my reading with Bob Kaufman's poem BELIEVE, BELIEVE. a leaf fell on my arm while reading this poem, which was odd because there were no leaves falling, and no wind, and so i put the leaf in the book, to mark this poem. by the way, the poem is from his book, GOLDEN SARDINE

"Let the voices of dead poets
Ring louder in your ears
Than the screechings mouthed
In mildewed editorials.
Listen to the music of centuries,
Rising above the mushroom time."
--from BELIEVE, BELIEVE by Bob Kaufman

it's so goddamned humid, and HOT. and i'm so FAT! a young woman is going up to everyone on these benches in her CRUNCH GYM shirt asking "would you like a free week at CRUNCH?" she got lots of folks to sign up. she came to me and i said, "do they have free snacks? i'll show up for the snacks and cheer everyone on while they're swimming laps or lifting weights." she laughed, she needed to laugh, she's very nice for someone in peak physical condition

last night after the poetry, and after a few too many glasses of HOWL punch, i was telling someone (was it Brenda Bordofsky?) something like, "yeah, yesterday i was so thin, but there must have been extra fat molecules in the oxygen above my bed because i woke up like this! none of my clothes fit! i had to wear a bedsheet to the store to buy more clothes!" but seriously, i'm always the fattest ass when i visit New York City. there were a couple of fat people on the train the day before, but they got off in Trenton. i arrived at Penn Station the fattest. and being the only one of my kind, i introduced myself to the nice man selling vegan sweet rolls. YUM!

one of my FAVORITE quotes from the evening we all spent at The Telephone Bar:

STEVE: So I guess I'm going to the sex party.

CHARLES: Now, when you get in there, play it cool, don't appear too eager.


those notes above were written saturday morn. later, it rained, and the poets who were to read at the Poetry Project didn't read. but the drag queens didn't fizzle. Alison Collins went with me back to Tompkins Square Park where we watched WIGSTOCK on the very same stage as the night before! it was wonderful! Lady Bunny said, "If you're a gay republican, you're either greedy, or stupid. Oh, that's not true, because you could be both!" i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE WIGSTOCK, i want everyDAY to be WIGSTOCK, i want EVERYONE i know and LOVE to be part of WIGSTOCK, because it's fun and weird and lots of hair and jewelry and well, why not

it's no surprise that, while even poets won't read because of something like rain, drag queens just go ahead, as though NOTHING'S gonna stop 'em!


Friday, August 20, 2004

NEW POETRY INTERREVIEW, #2: Shirley Shirley by Alica Askenase 

"she had to drop her bomb

on the wrong nation under God"
--Alicia Askenase, Shirley Shirley

NEW POETRY INTERREVIEW is an occasional PhillySound webzine which reviews new books of poetry by interviewing the poet about the book.

issue #2
with Alicia Askenase on her new book SHIRLEY SHIRLEY

questions/review by CAConrad

poet's biographical information and contact information:

Alicia Askenase was born in Waterbury, Connecticut (formerly Mattatuck, aka Holyland, USA). She has lived in Puerto Rico and Spain, and for the last 20 years in the Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown, NJ. She is the author of the chapbooks The Luxury of Pathos (Texture Press) and most recently, Shirley Shirley (Sona Books). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as The World, Kiosk, Feminine Studies, Rooms, Chain, 5_Trope and sonaweb, as well as the anthologies 25 Women�s Perspectives and 100 Days. Her work will also be published in the forthcoming PhillySound anthology. She was a founding co-editor of the literary journal 6ix, and literary programs director at the Walt Whitman Art Center for many years.

For copies of her new book, contact her directly at AskeAlicia@AOL.com

Alicia, your humorous and disturbing serial is a lot of fun, especially the disturbances. My favorite thing when I first opened the book was the handwritten form for the Women's State Correctional Facility / Inmate Evaluation Data:

Inmate name: Shirley Shirley

Offense: Seducing a minor man, Attempted suffocation of Authority

Oh yes, and, the note in the top margin, "get in by Tues!!" The "Dream Analysis" section was all I needed, and I went to the front of the book and read my way through the serial, hooked on finding out WHO this woman was!

How did Shirley Shirley originate as a character to serialize?

Believe it or not, Shirley was a typo. I don�t remember what I was trying to write, but when her name appeared, I discovered this character, and took off with it, the line Shirley Shirley was the First Lady of Agitated Depression followed, set the tone, and has always remained the first line of the series. Though I shelved the project a few times, whenever I went back there was always so much to write, and later revise. I had a limit on the number of pages for this chapbook from Sona Books, but I still have enough material left for one book, maybe two chapbooks. I�d like to do a Shirley Outtakes, and then Shirley Shirley: The Musical.

What was your process in writing the material, especially in how you came to weave the various forms?

As I said, this was a project I set aside and returned to so the process became a series of processes. I played around with the material a lot and even converted it all to prose at one time. My focus shifted to form as the content grew, and what had begun as a relatively linear narrative transformed into a more complex series that included multi-genre work. All of this led to changes that would require what you refer to as a weaving of forms, their placement affecting so many aspects of a text, from timing, tone and meaning to visual aesthetic appeal, ad infinitum. In the end I fine-tuned all these components to the maximum benefit of the text, in other words, to death. Fortunately I had a deadline.

You start the book with a Vaclav Havel quote:

"The cliche organizes life; it expropriates people's identity; it becomes ruler, defense lawyer, judge, and the law."

Most of those front page quotes evaporate as I go on to read the book, but not so with this one. You gave us something solid, something to pivot across an entire page of your poetry with, to see how Havel's statement comes alive, in all the bristling agitation the world musters. Did you set out to give us this with Shirley Shirley? Or was the quote a happy accident? I'm interested in hearing how this quote made its way into the book.

I didn�t plan to use the Havel quote with Shirley at first. It was one of those happy accidents. So many happy accidents, so little time.but as soon as I read it, I wanted to use it as an epigraph because it helped articulate where I was going with Shirley, and then where I could take it further.

Of course Havel struggled against a totalitarian regime�s control over minds among other more blatant forms of power, like tanks, and greatly suffered for it. But eventually he was instrumental in the Velvet Revolution (that�s a gorgeous name, and no, this was not the same as Elvis�). So in the book the quote is meant as a cautionary summary, and the stories behind it offer hope.

The front cover is of a woman's naked torso, and she's pointing to her pussy, which is covered with a cloth turnip (or potato?). Tell us about this photograph, and why you feel it works with the poems?

Well actually it�s a cloth radish, a stuffed vegetable. In the original black and white photo, it�s colored-in red. A few years ago, I was on the board of this uninteresting art center, you know, good for your resume, or something, where a friend of mine also worked. Her husband had taken the photo during art school, late Hippy style, and one year he donated it to the center�s silent auction. When I arrived, it had been banished to a corner of the host�s pantry--the board members had refused to use it! When I was thinking about a cover for Shirley I remembered the photo, felt it was perfect and got permission to use it.

I think the image works with the poems on a few levels. As an entity the photo can initially manipulate the viewer through its suggestion of sexuality. In her more pathetic phase Shirley does the same to her lovers, who however have control over her thoughts and actions. As such the cover is organically bound to the parts of the text.

I also like this mischievous element of shock because the cover is really tongue in cheek, if you�ll pardon the expression, there is a lot of playfulness in the book! And the photo is beautiful, as our semi or naked bodies are, it dares the viewer to retract the programmed reaction of seeing it as SEX! Bad, titillating s-e-x!

The photo is paradoxical like Shirley herself, manipulated and manipulator, fragile and powerful while coyly seductive, among other inconsistencies. As Mrs. Shirley might say, "You can�t judge a book by its cover", which is yet another way photo and text can overlap, even after the book is finished! Shirley cannot be easily "nailed down" as she is eventually unpredictable, and surprises.

If Shirley Shirley were given a $10,000 gift certificate to Home Depot, what would she buy?

I have to say that I don�t think Shirley would have any use for a gift certificate to Home Depot, but if so, it would depend on which stage of her development she was in when she received it. If it�s pre-prison, then she�d probably go to the local Home Despot and look for a cute construction worker and try to hook up with him. If it worked out, she�d give him the certificate, and if not, she�d either move on to another, or offer it to her old lover Frank in return for cigarettes and gas.

If Shirley Shirley were given a plane ticket to go wherever she wanted to go, all expenses paid, where would she go? What would her vacation be like?

If Shirley were given a plane ticket to go anywhere she desired, all expenses paid and it was pre-prison, she might go to Cancun or Vegas and stay in an ugly high-rise hotel. She�d take Mrs. Shirley along in order to guarantee that the trip was perfectly miserable.

If she got the ticket post-prison I think she�d feel overwhelmed and visit her psychic/therapist Consuela Dolores to ask for advice. It would just so happen that Consuela would be leaving for a visit to her small Central American country and invite Shirley along. She�d go on this long journey by plane, bus and taxi to the mountainous village of Consuela�s family. To the suburban townhouse-bound Shirley this would be a life changing experience, and a great place to go after her incarceration. She would have the best time she�d ever had in her life. She�d meet the village poet/shaman and might decide to stay in this tranquil sanctuary, adore sleeping under the stars at night, and learn to weave and cure. She also might not stay, but she�d have earned some flying mileage, and I�m pretty sure she�d return many times.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

checking in, not yet checking out 

hello from CO. i'm writing from the computer room at Naropa U's Sangha House where my son is dorming. at the moment, i think the boy's talking to his 'c.a.' (community advisor, rather than 'residence/t? advisor') about hooking up internet to his laptop. it's raining outside. came over the mountains in buckets.

going to meet poet mark ducharme later this evening & looking forward to it. met mark in june at the Carrboro Poetry fest. please be sure to find his audio file at the carrboro poetry fest link (you may find in my recent post re Carrboro as i don't have it handy). i only caught the end of his reading, but enjoyed what i did hear. i especially like this bit of his online: http://www.litvert.com/mducharmethebetweens.html

as for this trip at least from land, not sea (won't go there here) --
i've been reading leanne brown's The Sleep That Changed Everything a little bit about every night & the flavor & word is perfect for travel & tenting & the foothills of mountains or is it just timing in my own reception.

yeah, as some might guess, this process is surreal & overwhelming at times. oft feeling weepy, or was before i got a good tent nap in yesterday.

& had auto trouble across pa & ohio. rental car felt like tread separating in rear tire, fishtailing around in the rain at 40 mph & gulping at possibilities of truncated everythings. switched after substantial effort & twice before situated properly & met parents in indiana. rest of journey O.K. enough. we arrived on saturday, dropped off J & gear & rental & piled into my parents' car. while searching in the mtns for proper campsites, our brakes exhausted & i pulled over in time with a "uuhh, something's up..." & oh damn barely stopping at all & the smoke from the brake fluid & more proper gulping as any endeavor to proceed at that moment & declination would have ended in certain death of one if not all of us (parents, son, myself) & the narrowly averted tragic denouement freaked me out. which reminds me. flash to moments before, as i'm whistling away at the wheel, my son sez to my ma re me, "i trust her but she really freaks me out." how 'bout that.

standing outside waiting for help to arrive i said i wonder if i'd have had the wits to tell you guys or myself to jump! & j said he would have as he did from the sunroof in the pine barrens when his friend went cruising down a ravine into water. i didn't remark that he didn't have wits to wear a seatbelt before careening into a tree & the windshield on another trip in the pine barrens. infinite possibilities, narrow escapes.

which reminds me, took j to see film What the *#($)! Do We Know last night. very odd timing as only a few days earlier on the road, we had a similar conversation wherein i again summarized my philo approach to/of Things to him about well i won't get intot that but it was comically similar to the narration of the film. which, if you see, or know what i'm talking about, may be understood to be evidence of one's creative manifestation. a very exciting prospect. i encourage anyone to see it if it's showing nearby. not the best thing on screen, but fun in any case. i was often annoyed & would have done it differently but i like Marlee Matlin's face & am really excited by contemporary physics & whatever tangential. so there's my movie review.

well, i'm off to check out david hess' blog. i saw his loveliness when i stopped in st. louis, by the way. for lunch. he mentioned he wrote something on the boston poetry massacre weekend, which i've yet to write about myself (have been planning to but i need a span of free time & correct spellings!). let me just grab his URL if you want to take a look as well - http://heathensinheat.blogspot.com/ now, i'm off to read!

with boulder love,

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Shell of History, Room for Experience  

The Poe House tour was brilliant because it called nothingness into question. Tom utilized the nothing as an opportunity for us to envision something (with some directional pointers from our tour guide, of course). In a time of information overload & mental fatigue, the Big Nothing made space for us to envision the amazing and/or ridiculous.

The imaginary PowerPoint presentation displayed important Poe-related figures on a blank & crumbling wall. Some were stately gentlemen with high collars & strong chins. Others had a sense of madness about them- with their unkempt beards & wild hair, staring back at us with murder in their eyes. There never was an image on the wall, only Tom's verbal suggestion & the crowd's memory/vision gumbo.

In one small room, the crowd squeezed in against the walls. Once everyone settled in & quiet fell, Devaney said "In this room, nothing happened at all." We filed out the narrow doorway in single file. I walked up the staircase creating my own narrative history of the room we'd just left. In a house filled with genius & illness, tenderness, suffering & rage- something had to happen in that room. "Nothing happened" equals nothing was recorded. We were graciously left to our own senses to reconfigure experience by dropping the tug-of war rope of present/past. We walked away from the mud puddle of history fueled with our imaginations, in search of a new game.

Frank Sherlock

Friday, August 06, 2004

Conrad on the Empty House Tour 

Conrad -- thank you for your post on the recent The Empty House tour. I've posted two photographs taken by Adam Marnie. --TD

The Empty House Tour third floor room of Poe's Philadelphia house.  Posted by Hello

Virginia's room: I invited everyone on the tour to lie down on the floor and to enter a hypnagogic state. (Photo by Adam Marnie). Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 05, 2004


"Any landscape is a condition of the spirit."
--Henri-Frederic Amiel, October 31, 1852

The Amiel quote is from several years after Poe's death, but it feels right. And it was written on Halloween/Samhain, which feels double right, a Poe kind of right.

Real respect for aura of Place is how Tom Devaney got us to experience Poe. You arrived at the Poe House in Philadelphia, not really sure what to expect.

He made it clear at the beginning of the tour that Poe had written some of his best work in that house. And it was exactly what we needed to hear, to imagine, because for Poe to have been that inspired, then the house itself could hold our strongest connection to Poe outside of the work itself.

We were asked to rest on the floor and listen to a piano recording (Erik Satie, I believe), or to turn and face the cracks on a wall in silence. Follow the cracks together.

Tom planned it so we would be going into smaller and smaller rooms, testing our private space boundaries, as well as furthering the claustrophobic Poe sense. The smell of aged plaster, the dark, the music, or quiet, (except for the 24 pairs of lungs on the tour) all this tripped flash after flash of idea of what exactly this Poe house meant.

What the house, and Poe, meant, was personal, as well as universal, and Tom created space for that. As any good poet knows how to create space, Tom created this most beautifully.

Note to Tom inside this post:
Tom, it was remarkable, and I really do believe that a small film of the tour would be well received. Who doesn't have a special place for Poe?

Our senses can wrap place in memory, and it's where a lot of human work gets done, dark work often, but what needs to get done...

Alice Notley's Mysteries of Small Houses has that very work ringing throughout, as she revisits all her old homes/haunts, writing a poem for each, a poem written as it would have been written at that time in that home. That book is a good, steep, human set of steps to walk up, and it feels/smells/tastes just right at the top, and leaves you catching your breath.

But sometimes I believe there's not enough respect for Place. For instance, it boggles my mind that New Yorkers aren't more concerned about Gotham Bookmart, which is very soon to be relocated. To be completely HONEST, there are poets up there I've met who have never heard of it. Is that possible? REALLY!? Every time I go to New York, I go to Gotham Bookmart! And I don't just go to root around in the poetry, which I also do of course, but I really go there to BE there! For FUCK SAKES people! Dylan Thomas read there, Edith Sitwell, Auden, Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, on and on the list. You really can FEEL the great lumbering spirits in the air, especially up in the gallery on the second floor. Yeah, I love that place. I want to MOVE IN! I want to roll around, covered completely in masking tape, and pick up little skin fragments, skin flakes. I would LOVE to have Edith Sitwell's skin flakes on my taped-up body!

But it's shocking to me when I speak to poets about Gotham moving, and they just shrug, and say, yeah, I know. And part of me thinks maybe I'm being weird. Or maybe they just think they're so fucking cool?

Tom struck the core of Being in a Place in the Poe house. We were networking experience in some way other than speaking. Connection with everyone on the tour was strong, and felt.

The only other house where I also felt this way (other than ones I've lived in) was Graceland. I'll never forget the first time I entered Graceland. I wanted to have sex in there so badly, I really really WANTED to have sex in there! And maybe it sounds weird, but this desire was really more about connection with the spirit of Elvis, not just of Elvis, but with the spirit of Elvis which enters that house every single time someone walks in the door with their special love for Him. We enter with our hearts first, our minds wanting to take over later, to tell us that we're not really going to burst into tears, that we're going to be calm. But the heart wants us to cry, ball our heads off. Elvis will do this, His spirit which is in all His fans.

More than anything, I'd LOVE it if Lisa Marie would grant me JUST ONE NIGHT to sleep on the floor next to Elvis's bed in a body condom, so that I can pretend I'm one of Elvis's sperm, in the condom he just ripped off before rolling over to snore up the night. I'd stay awake all night long in my giant condom, looking at the moonlight out the window, imagining I'm Elvis's little baby sperm, in my little rubber suit. Lisa Marie might just let me, if I word the request properly. It's all in the wording, I'm convinced.

But we also enter the Poe House with our own special Poe vibe, and that's what Tom taps into when he gets us to relax together, to meditate together, to be sucked into the cracks of the walls together. This was a tremendous spiritual journey, and I am very glad I attended.

If he gives another of these doors, I'm going back for seconds!
Whoops, I just wrote "doors" when meaning to write "tours."
But it is a door, and I'll leave it that way.

Monday, August 02, 2004


happy to announce that patrick herron & his wife, janet, have recently produced a fine human!


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