The Oxygen bar reading of the postcard poem books published by Cafe Expresso (Cassie Lewis) consisted of each set of poets who did postcard poem books doing readings of six of their poems alternated between the two readers. The books are handmade, beautifully printed and are rapidly becoming collector's items-they sold well at the reading and are available from Cassie Lewis. There was much made at dinner about how Cassie had shrink wrapped them so well and Del Ray was so delighted, he dropped the shrink wrapped sets on the floor several times at dinner in the Ethiopian restaurant just to demonstrate the solidity of the package.My book written with Stephanie is coming soon and will most likely include one of the collages, about 15 poems by Stephanie and 30 by me.
Duets are an engaging form for readings because of the interaction with the other poet you are reading with which is personal and is informed by the experience of exchanging the poems and the medium of this interaction is the relationship between the two readers. When I read I had to make mention of the feelings of shyness that meeting this group of close friends brought up in me. Since I am a relatively new friend of one of the group- Stephanie- there is that inevitable feeling of being, well, kind of looked over. Did I pass muster? Only time will tell. I can say I think this is a group of excellent poets who are close friends who are spurring each other on and inspiring each other. The work is in every case engaging, moving and thought provoking. Since I read in the first half I felt more relaxed watching and listening in the second half. Patrick Durgin, who I will be reading with this coming Sunday at 21 Grand was there, Taylor Brady, Stephen Vincent, Kasey Mohammed, Bill Marsh and his companion Octavia, who Toni talked with about nineteenth century novels and other things.Toni got a chance to talk with Stephanie, Clive and Clive's son. I explained to Stephen Vincent that probably the dream Brian K Stefans wants to publish is the one he reported on the poetics list about garment workers sewing poems into people's clothes, the one that led Maria Damon to sew these beautiful needlepoint poetry pieces for Stephen and me. At one point Kasey, Bill, Patrick and I think Tim talked blogging, while laughing a lot the whole time. Always that subject of the strangeness of meeting bloggers in person when you know them fairly well through blogging and letters. Tim talked with me at dinner about his dissertation and read his work powefully, as did the others. I recognized Kasey immediately. He said maybe I recognized him because of Jim's cartoons. Toni mentioned Kasey's great links.
I was not surprised that I enjoyed reading with Stephanie, and that a lot of feeling was brought out, but I was surprised at how much I learned about her poems by watching and listening to her read them. Although it seems like ages ago, we wrote these poems together in the month of May. Many postcard poems that Stephanie wrote were lost in the mail, unfortunately. I sent her one every day for 30 days, each with a collage made by me for my collage book "Free Fall (2001)" chosen for the card which I made myself from blanks I got at an art supply store.These had been passed around by Stephanie to the audience at one of her recent readings (probably the one at David Hadbawnik's place, because he immediately put them on view in the library he works in.) (By the way, Stephanie is reading with him in Elizabeth Robinson's backyard readings series on Beacon this Thusday) Stephanie chose her favorites, which were mostly short, lyrical poems. Over 20 of my poems were parts of one long poem which I used for this collaboration. Circumstances made it impossible for me to respond to her poems as they came in, as I had to construct all my cards at once, over a period of a few days, and then mail them to her one by one. Cassie and I had a long talk after the reading. I noticed she mentioned Ted Berrigan in one of her poems so I mentioned that I had taken a workshop with him and that he had helped me to get some poems published in the 70's. Cassie and I had a lot of ideas in common, including the fact that poets are always in danger of either isolating themselves, or becoming pretentious windbags (my phrase) or self absorbed bullies. I let Cassie know that the Bay Area poets are a breath of fresh air for me, that the postcard poem form is a powerful one because it arises out of friendships. We agreed that people are more important to us than concepts or theories. Kasey then joined us, then Taylor Brady who kindly gave me a copy of his Krupskaya book "Microclimates." Toni and I were glad to give Patrick a ride back to Berkeley and we got a chance to plan the visit he made to us today, which included a beautiful walk on the Quarry path in Tilden Park.
Gorgeous weather today. Have to go watch the sunset from my bedroom window which has a view of the bay. Reminds me of my collage age poem, "The Dream Bay." Maybe I'll post it one day for you.
Sunset obscured by the fog. Every day starts with fog and coldness which usually burns off in the afternoon.