Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Poetry Bus Hits Manhattan, Part 6: More Typing, More Signing, More More More

We last saw our hero at the intermission of the Poetry Bus Tour stop at the Dia Center for the Arts on the West Side of the island of Manhattan.

Scroll back through BillyBlog if you need a refresher course on what transpired between 4:00 PM and 6:45 PM on the afternoon/evening of September 30, 2006.

We re-enter the scene with yours truly standing in line for a second go with the Typing Explosion.

This one, also scanned below, wasn't as good, but may still be interesting.

tastes like chicken

or shark

or dormouse

you are a delicacy

wrapped in layer after buttery layer

of pastry.

flakes floating gently

upon my chest and chin.

eat it!

Not on the menu

it came in through the back door at
5 a.m. on Fridays and they served it just the sam e...

What kind of fake maple syrup flavoring

is this place?

When I said PANCAKE I meant:


Cast iron, all the better to bop you over the head with.

it was a dance

not unknown to me.

i was simply observing for my studies.

there is no accounting for taste.

There is no accounting for eggs. Lick the calculator. Beep. Cheep. Cheep

Ok, so that was that.

I sat down and looked at my poem. I had come up with the title again but now wondered if I should have let the Typing Explosion work with one of their own titles from the card catalog. Oh well, live and learn.

The I heard the funniest line of the evening, uttered in conversation by one of the Poetry Bus poets: "Amanda Peet's getting married next door--so they need us to back the bus up about five feet."

In my wanderings during intermission, I discovered some troubling news, several of the advertised poets, including a major writer, James Tate, were not on the schedule to read. I had 5 Best American Poetry (BAP) volumes exclusively for Tate, as well as 7 other anthologies that I could have had him sign. Now, I didn't think I'd get them all signed, but I was hoping for just one, at the very least. Also, the poets Marie Howe and Ann Lauterbach were also off the list.

At 8:00 P.M., the reading was scheduled to resume, but there were still very few people present.

Poets from the second half started trickling in. Vijay Seshadri was among the first. I had missed getting Vijay to sign my books at the Best American Poetry reading, so I went up to him and had him sign the '03 and '06 volumes.

He seemed to recognize me from a previous event or two and asked, "You're a writer, too, no?" Of course I had to acknowledge this, although rather modestly. I am often asked by poets at readings if I'm a poet as well. It's always difficult for me to say I am, even though I am, especially when asked by a poet I admire and respect. It's that feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt that many of us have, especially if we do not have the credentials to back it up. Between June 1993 and August 1998, I had perhaps 50 poems accepted for publication in small magazines and journals in the U.S. and Canada. As impressive as that may sound, if you rattle off the names of the publications, none are "household names" in established poetry circles. Some that were accepted never saw print, or the magazine vanished, or they were ultimately published and I never saw a copy in print. Maybe three of the two dozen publications are still active. Maybe. The small mag game is a fleeting one.

So, asking someone at a poetry reading if they're a poet is like asking someone in L.A. if they're working on a screenplay. After a while, you stop volunteering that information.

Anyway, I approached Vijay Seshadri, asked him to sign my books, and we
chatted briefly about a reading he had done at a nearby gallery, in a collaborative effort to interpret found pieces, like graffiti and other anonymous writings in the public eye. I think he mentioned that this was done in collabortion with the media artist Kenny Goldstein, but my facts may not be 100% straight on this matter. I am having trouble finding supporting information on the web. We also talked about the Typing Explosion and how there is so much interesting, experimental poetry being performed nowadays.

Twenty minutes later, the reading had still not resumed, but the place was filling up. I was able to grab Christian Hawkey (who had read earlier) to sign his poem in my BAP '06 and approached the yet-to-read Eileen Myles and had her sign my BAP '02 and BAP '04.

Shortly thereafter, the second part of the readin progressed, with a similar performance by The Typing Explosion (only this time, poet #2 read with a French, not German, accent). Then, the reading resumed in earnest.

To be continued.....

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