Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Best American Poetry 2006, part 3

So, part of the BlogClog I have been experiencing is the result of attending two major poetry events in a matter of a couple of weeks, and my wanting to do justice to them in writing....Do them justice(?)...Something like that. Event #2 from last Saturday is forthcoming.

Throw in a few high holidays and the BlogClog worsens.

Here. I will try and put the BAP reading to bed.

First, let me talk about before the reading. I eavesdropped on the people behind me at Tischman Auditorium. Well, I guess it's not eavesdropping, technically, if all I was doing was sitting there listening to their conversation scribbling notes. I read some of these notes to Melanie and she was unimpressed. I won't let that stop me. I want to trash the paper I wrote this on, so I will transcribe for you, the readers of BillyBlog, what I heard. [Brackets will indicate clarifying words that will hopefully make the conversation make more sense].

[It starts with lunch]
Peanut butter
[then shifts to other topics]
one watch,
one car
[that's a] lotta money
for the watch or the car?

also got "A Hard Day's Night"
[The} Beatles [?]
[and a] trashy [movie]
"King Kong"
[I saw that too, want to know]
where I watched it?
In Holland.

I don't like the fact
that the monkey dies.
I don't mind the
and don't mind the
loving the girl.

Stuffed animals
for Dutch kids.

What does this have to
do w/the violence
in King Kong?

When the bats attack.

Want a mint?

[Did you] call about your cell phone?
Of course not.
I had to transfer money
to cover this thing.
The watch?
Dare I ask?
[You're] kidding
That's why [I think it was] kind of a mistake.
[I] wasn't thinking very well.

But I have this
feeling about it.

Since you moved out.

Seemingly extravagant
things in relation
to yourself.


Subaru or mini.

Hard call.


I found it interesting, so I thought I'd share. I didn't get a look at the man and the woman that had this conversation, nor did I get a look at the watch.


After the reading, I did my usual signing thing, scrambling to get the signatures of as many participants as I could. There were a dozen readers, and I got to eight of the twelve.

I first approached Rachel Hadas, as she was in the scarce 1988 volume of the BAP series. Ms. Hadas cordially signed the three volumes I had, in addition to a Paris Review and a Verse magazine.

She then did something that I have never experienced in all my life at signings. She was so flattered that I had asked for her signatures, that she gave me the copy of the book she had read from, that contained the poem "The Compact," which I included in the previous post. She inscribed the title page and handed me the book. I thanked her profusely.

By the time I had left, I had obtained signatures from Laura Cronk, Joy Katz, Jennifer Knox, David Lehman, Betsy Retallack, Tony Towle, and Paul Violi. All signed BAP volumes (9 in all) and Violi also signed his page in an anthology from the journal Exquisite Corpse. He also signed a journal for my friend Brian in Toronto, which he was amazed to see, saying it might have been his first published poem.

I finished the evening with 21 signatures in all.


If you're interested, there is a small controversy brewing about the BAP Series. There are allegations of nepotism and a bias in favor of Lehman's friends, students, and former assistants. I will not weigh in on this because I think that some degree of nepotism affects most aspects of popular culture and literature. The nepotism in the entertainment industry was one of the reasons I abandoned that venture in the early Nineties. I worked twice as hard as another production assistant on a Fox sitcom, but when the show returned from hiatus, I was not asked back but the other guy was. He was friends with the executive producer, I was not. But I digress.

If you'd like to read further about the allegations, check out the scathing commentary on the poet Jim Behrle's blog here. Warning: his opinions are brutal, scathing, and he often hits below the belt.

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