Distribution Automatique

Sunday, May 27

Rae Armantrout and Elaine Equi

read at the BPC on Saturday, hosted by Tim Peterson and Erika Kauffman. This was the last reading of the season. When I arrived I found standing outside at the door Michael Lally, Anne Waldman, Jerome Sala, and Elaine Equi. Soon after, Abigail Child and others arrived. Plenty of people were inside already. After a few minutes of chatting Tim Peterson came to the door and waved us in. I needed to ask Michael for his New Jersey address as he has a particularly important cameo in my book *fait accompli* and I wanted to mail him a copy. This was surely one of the best readings of the year, if not the decade. Both readers read from new books. The place was packed. Elaine and Rae are close friends and have no doubt been following each others work closely for many years. Both write gnomic, terse poems of infinite wit, shrewd social critique and verbal grace; Rae seems to draw more from irony and Elaine from pop culture but these are only surface qualities. Hearing them together, you realize how much their combined work encompasses what is most treasured and loved in contemporary poetry:aphoristic insight, humor, pungent, but not complaining, satire, compressed imagery and sophisticated, imagistic word play. And this isn't even half of it. There is also not a small amount of tough love and self mockery. I could go on and on but they don't and that is one of the things we like best about them, no? Rae is a fairly infrequent visitor so may I share with you the inscription I wrote in the copy of my new book, I brought for her? OK, I will, thanks:

Dear Rae: Listening to your reading I thought of two things I wanted to tell you about your poetry. 1) It is sharp, but it doesn't wound, so this is maybe one of the reasons why my mind allows your words to go in so deep. 2) One of your poems says that you heard a couple bickering and why not. I am married to poetry and we have plenty to bicker about- and why not? Love, Nick

Next BPC reading is in October.