Posts Tagged ‘poetry reading’

MINIMALISM

January 6th, 2014

Okay, so I’m on a roll here.  People are “liking” the poems.  So, being as I’m a poet, that encourages me to post more poetry!  Funny how that works.  Maybe people will like the poetry they see here enough to buy the book.  Anyway… I’m not normally a fan of poems about poetry, but occasionally I perpetrate one, because what are you going to write poems about if not the things that are important to you?  This one reports on a reading I attended twenty years ago.  I can’t say I’m a normally a big fan of Louise Gluck’s work, either, but that’s mainly a question of personal taste.  Her artistry is undeniable.  I arrived very late, having gotten the time wrong.  Perhaps if I’d arrived earlier, I would have been bored, whereas arriving close to the end the few minutes I experienced retained all their impact.  I’ll never forget the high-pitched sing-song in which she read, or the apparently almost physically painful effort it seemed to cost her, which put a premium on every word.  If that is what writing is like for her, as well as reading, she must lead a life of exquisite torture.  I hope not.  I am not sure what impulse made me give this poem its long, loud, heavy-on-the-prosaic-details title – the exact opposite of Gluck’s poetry – but it seems to work.  Sometimes a title is like a frame.

LAST FIFTEEN MINUTES OF LOUISE GLUCK’S POETRY READING AT McCARTHY ARTS CENTER, ST. MICHAEL’S COLLEGE, COLCHESTER, VERMONT, DECEMBER 2, 1993

 

truthfulness pared

to the hard minimum,

mum almost

but for what must escape

lips – the line

a birch branch carves,

white as a whisper

 

finishes

asking for questions

(second thought) short ones;

when none come

painful thanks, lips wrenched

crooked as apple tree boughs

 

Yes, I’m available to do readings!

February 6th, 2013

I’ve been involved in a nascent writers’ co-op, here in Burlington, and this past weekend we had our first public event.  I thought it was a grand success.  Apparently this reviewer thought so, too.  In case anyone was in any doubt, I am available to do readings at just about any venue – libraries, schools, theaters, stadiums, meadows, NASCAR rallies.  I promise you it will be a different kind of thing.  I might even bring along Dante himself!  Just contact me through this web site.  While you’re at it, you can buy a copy of the book.

Why people don’t care about poetry #14137

April 20th, 2011

Over the past weeks I’ve received a couple of invitations from a poetry professor at the local university, to a reading this evening by poet Natasha Trethewey.  I am totally unfamiliar with her work.  So… why should I go?  The publicity that Professor J– has sent me includes a picture of an attractive woman of indeterminate age, perhaps in her thirties?  That’s not enough to entice me out of doors on a rainy evening.  It says she’s a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Well, good for her, but in today’s literary environment that tells me nothing.  Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer last year.  W.S. Merwin won it the year before.  These names may mean little to you.  What they mean to me is that you can win the Pulitzer with a lifetime of great work behind you and a recently popular but relatively weak book, or even despite the fact that your work sucks.  Trethewey’s won several other prizes, too, none of which I’ve ever heard of.  Today’s poetry world is full of prizes.  Every issue of Poets and Writers magazine has pages upon pages in the back, listing all of that month’s prizewinners.  I’m not sure that every one of them is great and fully deserving of our attention.  Finally, there’s a quote from the introduction to Trethewey’s most recent book.  The introduction was written by Rita

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City with a wounded heart

November 7th, 2010

During my week and a half in New Orleans, I heard people talk about Katrina only once.  That was while waiting for the Everette Maddox Memorial Poetry Reading to begin.  This reading has been held weekly since 1979 at the Maple Leaf

Everette Maddox

Bar, except for a few weeks after the storm.  Now hosted by Nancy Harris, it was started by beloved local poet and legend Everette Maddox, who died  at age 45 the year the Berlin Wall fell.  Some of his ashes are buried in the outdoor terrace at the back of the bar, where the readings are held, with the epitaph, “He was a mess.”

I arrived at the bar at 3:00 in the afternoon, the advertised time for the reading, but the Saints game was still going on and it was clear that nobody would be reading poetry any time soon.  The Maple Leaf consists of a long, narrow wooden bar under a high, pressed tin ceiling, a long, narrow back room with a stage from which great music can be heard many evenings, another squarish room in back of that, and behind that the outdoor terrace, furnished with wrought iron tables and chairs and lush vegetation.  On the stage in the back room was an enormous TV screen, supplementing the TVs in the bar, all turned up loud, with a rapt and vociferous audience at every one.

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