Thursday, January 03, 2008


Many thanks to Stacy Szymaszek, Corrine Fitzpatrick, Arlo Quint, John Coletti, and the many others who made this year's marathon at St. Mark's Poetry Project such AN INCREDIBLE DAY! It's one of those days where you realize WITHOUT A DOUBT that we are living in a time of magic and power, and you JUST HAVE TO GO AHEAD AND SAY magic and power AND NOT FEEL GOOFY DOING SO, because it is true.

Here's the list of readers (then I want to write a little more AND BITCH ABOUT ONE THING)

Philip Glass, Eric Bogosian, Ernie Brooks, Tony Towle, Open Music Ensemble, Brenda Coultas, John Godfrey, Patti Smith, Jordan Davis, David Henderson, Frank Sherlock, Rich O'Russa, David Mills, Jenny Smith, John Coletti, Joanna Fuhrman, R. Erica Doyle, Dan Machlin, Cat Tyc, Jessica Rogers, Renato Rosaldo, Stefania Iryne Marthakis, Rodrigo Toscano, Yoshiko Chuma, Elinor Nauen, Frances Richard, Phyllis Wat, Ed Friedman, Christina Strong, Stephanie Gray, Evan Kennedy, Lydia Cortes, Kim Rosenfield, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Shanxing Wang, Lauren Russell, Marcella Durand, Marc Nasdor, Brendan Lorber, Alan Davies, Stephen Motika, Bob Rosenthal, Susie Timmons, Eliot Katz, Maggie Dubris, Peter Lucas Erixon, Eve Packer, Chris Stackhouse, David Kirschenbaum, Bill Kushner, Tom Savage, Rob Fitterman, Cliff Fyman, Tara Betts, Jennifer Coleman, Allison Cobb, Jill Magi, Gillian McCain, Emily XYZ, Todd Colby, Elliott Sharp, Paolo Javier, Eileen Myles, John Giorno, Steve Earle, Donna Brook, Bob Hershon, Jen Benka, Carol Mirakove, I Feel Tractor, Lenny Kaye, Anne Tardos, Sharon Mesmer, Greg Fuchs, Douglas Dunn, Wayne Koestenbaum, Renato Gomez, Rebecca Moore, Michael Cirelli, Joe Eliot, Tracey McTague, Jess Fiorini, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Vincent Katz, Merry Fortune, David Vogen, Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Jackie Sheeler, Penny Arcade, Michael Lydon, Filip Marinovic, Yuko Otomo, Steve Dalachinsky, Adeena Karasick, Barbara Henning, Tisa Bryant, Bruce Andrews, Sally Silvers, Corrine Fitzpatrick, Arlo Quint, Stacy Szymaszek, CAConrad, Keith Roach, Daniel Higgs, John S. Hall, Maggie Estep, Michael Scharf, Wanda Phipps, Leonard Schwartz, Miles Champion, Citizen Reno, Jaime Manrique, Dael Orlandersmith, Uche Nduka, Laura Jaramillo, Nathaniel Siegel, Jim Behrle, Anselm Berrigan, Dustin Williamson, Macgregor Card, Amelia Jackie, Simone White, Hal Sirowitz, Peter Bushyeager, Guillermo Castro, Simon Pettet, Max Winter, Tonya Foster, Judith Malina, Hanon Reznikov, Ted Greenwald, Patricia Spears Jones, Avram Fefer, Taylor Mead, Lee Ann Brown, Denizé Lauture, Thom Donovan, Franklin Bruno, Drew Gardner, Kyle Schlesinger, Don Yorty, Kimberly Lyons, Katie Degentesh, Tracie Morris, Val Jeanty, Chris Rael, Michael Brownstein, Sparrow/Foamola, Ben Malkin, Erika Recordon, Mónica de la Torre, Emil Bognar-Nasdor, Bob Holman, Janet Hamill, E. Tracy Grinnell, Nada Gordon and Harris Schiff.

WOW! WHAT A GREAT FUCKING DAY! Let me bitch about something first though.

When Eileen Myles was introduced to the stage she walked through the enormous crowds handing out copies of the poem she was about to read. As she did so she talked to us about the buildup of the poem, and of how it was a fragment from a much larger poem she is working on. All of a sudden THIS ASSHOLE from the audience started yelling at her, which threw everyone off as we were preparing for the poem. He was yelling this shit about how, back when she was the director of the Poetry Project he asked her for a reading and that she REFUSED to give him a reading and that she ranted at him about how much she hates men. He was ACTUALLY accusing her of hating men, and that he couldn't get a reading because HE was a man and SHE was a man-hating lesbian!

Some of us yelled from the back of the room SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU ASSHOLE! Eileen marched to the microphone and yelled back at him THAT'S AN OUTRIGHT LIE AND YOU KNOW IT! He said something else and she yelled back BECAUSE I'M A LESBIAN!? STRAIGHT WOMEN HATE MEN TOO! And of course anyone who has read her work knows that there are all kinds of amazing men who are her friends, they show up all over her work.

AS A MATTER OF FACT I'M A GAY MAN AND I BET YOU I HATE MORE MEN THAN EILEEN MYLES DOES! This JERK OFF really pissed a lot of us off. I turned to the woman next to me and said, "MAYBE HIS POEMS SUCK! BUT NO, IT COULDN'T BE BECAUSE OF THAT OF COURSE! IT HAS TO BE BECAUSE SHE'S A MAN-HATING LESBIAN THAT HE DIDN'T GET A READING!" Her boyfriend laughed but she looked at me like I was a little crazy. Oh well, I thought it was funny.

BUT SERIOUSLY! HOW FUCKED UP AND COWARDLY IS THAT!? You CHOOSE THAT time to confront Eileen Myles about a reading you didn't get! And by the way, she hasn't been director of the Poetry Project for at least two decades, right? WHAT AN ASSHOLE! She handled him well though, YELLING BACK AT HIM! AND WHY NOT YELL BACK AT HIM!? HE NEEDS SOMEONE TO YELL AT HIM!

There's a certain type of straight man I've encountered over the years like this dude. They are a minority, this group of yahoos, but they think their cocks are dipped in gold, or something, and when lesbians are involved in any kind of dispute with them THEY GO RIGHT TO THAT RIDICULOUS PLACE OF ACCUSATION! The leap is so incredible that it's mind blowing when you witness it. I've seen it a lot over the years, and every time it happens I take a deep breath and say REALLY!? WOW!?

Lesbians are the one group (besides celibates of course) NOT consumed by men. Straight women are consumed by men, and GAY MEN are obviously consumed by other men. But lesbians are completely REMOVED from that arena of centuries of what and how to do and say and act for the sake of some men. I say some men because of course it's ridiculous to say ALL MEN. A lot of men I know don't seem to have any problems with lesbians, in fact I know quite a few straight men who have fantastic friendships with lesbians. But there's this type of straight man who is threatened by lesbians and becomes completely unreasonable, and sometimes it's with women they've NEVER EVEN MET BEFORE, but we're all at a bar, or out somewhere, and a debate ensues, and they ACTUALLY GO THERE with this accusation about how she just hates men because she's a lesbian. NO, MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE SHE'S NOT USED TO HAVING TO AGREE WITH YOUR DUMB ASS ALL THE TIME TO KEEP PEACE OF MIND, AND MAYBE YOU'RE NOT USED TO A WOMAN WHO ISN'T INTERESTED IN KEEPING PEACE OF MIND FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR SICK EGO!

Anyway, this incident PISSED ME OFF and STILL has me pissed off! That fucking JERK! I don't even remember the poem because I was so irritated! He really needs his ass readjusted! WHAT KIND OF ASSHOLE DOES SOMETHING LIKE THAT!? Someone nearby said to me, "Oh maybe he's not well." "FUCK THAT!" I said back! I'm so tired of shit like that being said! YEAH, MAYBE IT'S TRUE! BUT SO WHAT!? This man has obviously been carrying this invented LIE in his head for so many years, and has probably been telling it to so many people he knows in New York or wherever the hell it is he's from, that it's just NATURAL to yell at her in public! HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD HIM TO SHUT HIS FUCKING MOUTH BEFORE!? It can't be possible! I would hope he's told to shut the fuck up at least once a day if that's the sort of shit he goes around yelling at people! Slandering people! I wish I still had George Delaney's poem A CURSE UPON ALL SLANDERERS to send to him!

Besides THAT ASSHOLE, it was a great day! It was also my birthday, and my 20th anniversary of being vegetarian, and I was happy to get to go to ANGELICA'S KITCHEN with my friend Laura Jaramillo. Starting off the new year with miso soup and brown rice and seaweed was nice. Laura kicked ass at the reading later that night. Frank Sherlock blew everyone's mind, and John Coletti read a BEAUTIFUL poem about Frank that made us all really happy! Here's that poem by John:

Gary Larson

I heart Michigan’s closest ally

Frank’s mini-heart-attack

now nothing to say

passed out “Vinegar”

tattooed on hand

cock-block brain covered

in Emmy slumber

earshot sun holes collar out

one great anti-band-aid

doing blow in the frozen food aisle

don’t you swear in private sometimes?

all your public private language

Jessica Fiorini, John Godfrey, Thom Donovan, Tonya Foster, Stephanie Gray, Greg Fuchs, all were so good, and the music of I FEEL TRACTOR and SO LIL were also great! There's something about THE LAST HOUR, and if you've never been to this marathon before you would probably think, AH MAN HOW CAN IT POSSIBLY GET ANY BETTER! Even if you're burnt out, THAT LAST HOUR! Ending with Corrine Fitzpatrick, Arlo Quint and Stacy Szymaszek WHICH WAS PERFECT!

Every year I look forward to hearing Philip Glass. When he sits down at the piano I want to THROW MYSELF under it and listen like George Sand did when she fell in love with Chopin, but anyway.... I don't. I haven't. Not YET!

Sparrow's band FOAMOLA was pretty fantastic! And Sparrow has this GREAT new poem:


My bicycle has grown
up, into a motorcycle:
now so manly, and loud.

Patti Smith sang a haunting, beautiful (as well as creepy) song about the recent assassination of Bhutto. It was good, but I get so tired of her Jesus injections. First of all, WHY is Jesus, and Jesus being a baby from Bethlehem even coming up in a song about Benazir Bhutto's assassination? Bhutto was Muslim, her assassin was also Muslim. I don't know, I just don't get that at all, but it's a good song so long as you don't try to figure such things out. And not that I have anything against Jesus in her songs, it's just it never seems to make sense when he appears.

I missed a lot of people I had wanted to hear, but it's impossible to sit through the entire event. I arrived just a little too late to hear Carol Mirakove and Jen Benka, but they were handing out copies of the poem they read, and it's so good, and want to share that with you now:

It Is Possible, Today, in 2008

(C) 24 hours in a day, one full revolution

(J) It is possible that public policy affording civil rights will be won as the result of litigation.

(C) The president is insignificant, but what the president does, matters.

(J) It is possible that elected officials will introduce legislation affording civil rights in response to public demands, and that other elected officials will vote to enact the legislation.

(C) "Once things are out in the open, people have to deal with it." (nader docu)

(J) It is not possible that they will act on such demands unless the culture has changed first.

(C) Everyone has a sexual orientation. Some towards greed.

(J) It is possible that resistance to poetry and the resistance to political participation in the United States have been rooted in the same fear, and that this fear has been, in part, one of feeling deeply;

(C) 28 we'll always have february

(J) and that this fear has been, in part, one of assuming responsibility that is the interconnectedness of our lives;

(C) 20 four fives & five fours, reflexive a double ten

(J) and that this fear has been, in part, one of accepting our power.

(C) 25 a perfect square

(J) It is possible that we will not allow lies to accumulate truth.

(C) that we will give impermanence a chance to prove itself

(J) It is possible that we will vote for the candidate who will kill the fewest people.

(C) 26 twice unlucky, tread careful

(J) It is possible that in the revision we will have been in love.

(C) actually we are in love

(J) It is possible that we will lay mirrors in the street

to bring heaven down to earth.

poem for New Year's Day, January 1, 2008, by Jen Benka and Carol Mirakove

Also out is the latest edition of BOOG CITY, and it's the best one I've ever read! It's a BOOG CITY Reader of New York City poets, edited by Laura Elrick, Brenda Iijima, David A. Kirschenbaum (David's also the publisher of BOOG), Mark Lamoureux, Christina Strong, and Rodrigo Toscano. 72 different poets are included, and it's an anthology you really should get your hands on, it's SO GOOD! I read it from cover-to-cover and wanted MORE! Write to David Kirschenbaum at editor@boogcity.com

One of the first things I like to do when I arrive on New Year's Day is attack the book table! It's only once a year that they drag these gems out of the basement! There's also a lot of books for sale that people bring in to donate of course, but the books they bring up from the basement are books you CANNOT find anywhere else at this point! The prices are fixed, $5 for ANY paperback, $10 for ANY hardback! I bought four books (I would only allow myself to find four I first saw that I really wanted AND THEN LEAVE THE TABLE! It's impossible otherwise and you'll want to spend your rent money). Lewis Warsh's 1977 book THE MAHARAJAH'S SON, which made my jaw drop when I saw it! There were four copies of it, and in PERFECT condition! I almost wanted to spend my $20 there and give three away! Barbara Henning's SMOKING IN THE TWILIGHT BAR, a terrific 1988 book put out by United Artists Books. Jim Behrle's book SHE'S MY BEST FRIEND, put out in 2006 by Pressed Wafer. And Ted Greenwald's book WORD OF MOUTH, put out by Sun and Moon in 1986.

THE GREAT THING ABOUT THESE FOUR BOOKS was getting to hear three of them, Ted Greenwald, Barbara Henning and Jim Behrle read later on! It was my first time hearing or seeing Greenwald, and he IS A SEXY OLD MAN! GRRRR! Barbara Henning is also someone I had never heard read before, and now I want to hear a much longer reading, read more of her poems. Jim was FANTASTIC, his readings always are! Stay tuned for Jim's reading as part of Dorothea Lasky's tiny tour, online someday soon!

Joanna Fuhrman gave me her new book MORAINE for my birthday, which was terrific of her! And Erica Kaufman gave me a book she co-published with Belladonna by Lila Zemborain called MAUVE SEA-ORCHIDS, translated by Rosa Alcala & Monica de la Torre. Ben Malkin gave me the latest CD from GOODBYE BETTER, with his band SO LIL, I FEEL TRACTOR, IFWHEN, and others.

It was terrific spending time with Thom Donovan, who let me crash on his couch. He showed me books I hadn't yet seen, ALWAYS MORE NEW POETRY TO FALL IN LOVE WITH! In particular I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the books STREAMING, by Larry Kearney, and SLEEPING WITH DEMOCRACY, by Gregg Biglieri.

2008's first day is PROOF of our unending supply of talent! I was sure to say at the microphone when it was my turn to read that, "when I was a kid, first learning to Love poetry, I was reading poets who were mostly dead, SOME OF THEM FOR CENTURIES! But today I'm 42, and I'm TELLING YOU that my favorite poets today are my friends!" And it's SO TRUE! And it's SO WEIRD! Weird because, when I think about that KID that I used to be, he had no idea, NO IDEA that by 2008 he would hear, and know and like and befriend such talented poets! It's a great life, so far!


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