Thursday, November 04, 2004

Saturday! Brenda Iijima & Chris McCreary at La Tazza 

November 6

1895- Russian cultural theorist Mikhail Bakhtin born, Orel, Russia
1971- Onondaga Nation, NY protests intrusion of interstate highway
1986- Iran-Contra scandal begins to break in US

Saturday November 6, 2004

La Tazza Reading Series presents

Brenda Iijima & Chris McCreary
108 Chestnut St. Philly
7PM cocktail hour
Readings @ 8 sharp

Brenda Iijima's 2004 publications include AROUND SEA (O BOOKS), COLOR AND ITS ANTECEDENTS (YEN AGAT) and EARLY LINOLEUM (FURNITURE PRESS). From the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn she runs PORTABLE PRESS AT YO-YO LABS. A compact disc of Friedrich Holderlin's poems read in German by Erika Uchman and in English (using Richard Sieburth's translations) by Iijima will be released shortly. Other involvements include painting, photography and lately video.

Chris McCreary is soon to bring ixnay press out of hibernation. Honest. In the meantime, look for his work in an upcoming issue of “The Poker.” He’s the author of “The Effacements” (Singing Horse) and the manuscript “Dismembers,” which is currently making the rounds of potential publishers. Any takers?

Reading Report from CA Conrad:

When Frank asked me to guest host, I was interested in something which would speak to the upcoming presidential election, and would include local activists who have struggled against the war, and organized against injustice in its many forms.

So the night turned into a fundraiser for The Global Women Strike, an international organization with 60 participating countries, whose US headquarters just happens to be right here in Philadelphia. My friend Mary Kalyna has been an intricate part of the organizing that goes on with The Strike for many years, and she spoke to us about the recent Million Workers March she and the The Strike group had just participated in down in DC.

To start off the evening, I talked about an elderly woman I see a few times a week at work, who told me just the other day that she and her daughter were in Atlantic City, and saw police attack and beat striking workers who were marching, demanding fair wages and benefits from the casinos. She said she was horrified, and that she couldn't believe it was happening, said that she thought this was a scene from the past, when her husband would strike decades ago.

The bulk of the evening was of course, readings. Mytili Jagannathan read from Mahmoud Darwish's Memory & Forgetfulness, something you really don't forget after you hear it. The section she focused on was the struggle for water for the family in Beirut during the war. The landlord was a tyrant who would shut off the water when any tenant was critical or demanding of the landlord or his family. As soon as the water was turned on, the family would quickly fill every available container, even leather pockets, because they didn't know how long they would have the water coming from their faucets, sometimes for only half an hour or so.

Hassen collected the money, and The Strike brought in an amazing total, which means some folks in the audience where being very generous. Thanks VERY much to whoever you were out there, and thanks to everyone who donated, these women will put your money to work, you can count on it.

Frank Sherlock read Nazim Hikmet, and a fantastic Kaia Sand poem. Then, he read the haunting, long poem "Puerto Rican Obituary" by Pedro Pietri. The music of the poem refrained the anger among people who had nothing, and who were always angry at one another when one had a little more than the other. The sad, dark song of poverty, of how the injustice of a world where the wealth is in the bank, and it ain't going to your end of town, and you have to scrap and struggle an entire life.

Jena Osman read Charles Bernstein's new "Girly Man" poem. She also read Peter Middleton, and Marianne Moore. The Middleton piece in particular ispretty wonderful, but the poem that really sent the message --at least for me-- was by George Oppen. Oppen was the water Mytili spoke of waiting and waiting for and gathering it in every way once it arrived.

Thanks to all three poets for donating their valuable time, and for everyone who showed up to hear the poets, and to support The Global Women Strike. And Leslie still makes chocolate martinis better than anyone!

See you Saturday.

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