he reading at the Bowery Poetry Club went well. Lauren Bender started us off with some very funny work. She’s usually performative in her delivery and calls attention to the artifice of poetry readings by engaging the audience directly and creating a dialogue, but this time, she really brought home what she’s doing with language by simply reading some of her playful dictionary poems. She’s working her way through the alphabet and is up to “D” now, I think. New Lights Press just released her first book. Does anyone have contact info for purchase? I can’t seem to find it online, and it’s well worth a foot in.We also heard some short fiction by Brian Evenson that took us to another world, literally. The main character was mistaken for Jesus by the people he was visiting, and well, this led to some great hijinks with serious implications.
I read some new poems and received nods & smiles of approval. I went home and edited a bit. I felt good.
Linh Dinh finished us off. I think everyone was grateful for the opportunity to laugh at themselves. Even when Dinh’s poems aren’t about me on a personal level (i.e. the persona might be a fraternity guy or a lonely drunk at a bar or a married man or an entire city about to lose his twin towers), they are still about me. I am laughing right along at my own desperation or hopefulness and am often on the verge of tears too. Sad tears, not the “that’s-too-funny” kind. I can’t even recommend his new book, American Tatts, strongly enough.
In fact if you want some background info on Dinh, you will soon be able to hear an interview I did with him prior to the Bowery Poetry Club reading. Dinh’s was the first interview I did as the new MiPo correspondent for New York City. My questions are rambling at best, but Dinh met the challenge of my virginal skills and offered up some incisive ideas about humor in poetry, his love of tabloids and pop culture, living between two languages, as well as some telling background information about his earlier ideas on poetry.
Didi Menendez and Birdie Jaworski will produce and edit out my fumbling and highlight Dinh’s thoughts on the current weight of and uses for poetry and the state of the world as he knows it, all for your listening pleasure — watch for it at the MiPo radio site! Go there, and leave your email address, and the nice people at MiPo will keep you informed of upcoming productions.
I also bought my copy of Rod Smith’s new poetry cd, “Fear the Sky,” from Narrow House Records and am going to spend tomorrow listening to it. The whole day. Once my guests go back to L.A. I’ve heard Smith read twice now, and I can attest: the man knows funny and can get a point across. A bunch of points.