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[3.10.04][2.5.04]

Wayman Barnes 2.1.04
A Conversation with Ben Trigg

Ben Trigg is half of Two Idiots Peddling Poetry and the slammaster of the Big Damn Poetry Slam, an organizer of the Orange County Poetry Festival and an admirer of turtles. For several years he has been a co-host of one of the Southland's best open mic poetry readings: Two Idiots Peddling Poetry at the Ugly Mug.

Along with having topnotch features and open mic readers, the Ugly Mug is always packed with people who are there JUST TO LISTEN to the poetry a true testament of the quality of work being read there. But part of the success of the reading must be attributed to the hosting of the Two Idiots, Ben Trigg and Steve Ramirez. They keep things fun.

They are also very good friends and there is always a lot of warmth and camaraderie whenever they host. As a fan, it is hard to imagine one without the other. So for this interview I gave them the same questions about each other. The deal was that they would have to answer them without talking to the other one.

Their reading is on Wednesday nights (8 PM) at the Ugly Mug Caffe (261 North Glassell Ave, Orange, CA)

They also have a Website: www.poetryidiots.com and merchandise for sell: www.cafeshops.com/poetryidiots

Wayman Barnes: How did the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry begin?

Ben Trigg: Through a series of host defections and venue changes that left the North Orange County Poetry Continuum reading series in our hands, and a desire to improve the name, make it more true to ourselves, and brand it as ours.

Wayman Barnes: How long had Steve been writing poetry before that?

Ben Trigg: a few years? Not sure.

Wayman Barnes: Which of his poems is his favorite?

Ben Trigg: Depends on his mood, and how comfortable he is with a poem at any given time. If I had to pick one, though, I'd guess "The Unbearable Torchness of Being," part of his Fantastic Four suite. It's starts out with, "Your kiss reminds me of being born, because I can't remember it at all."

Wayman Barnes: Which of your poems is his favorite?

Ben Trigg: Probably "Wet" though it may be "Alcatraz Looks Beautiful in the Distance" because he's in it.

Wayman Barnes: Who is his favorite dead poet?

Ben Trigg: Anne Sexton, probably.

Wayman Barnes: Which superhero would Steve most like to be?

Ben Trigg: Starman - wouldn't have to wear tights.

Wayman Barnes: Which superhero do you think he would more likely be?

Ben Trigg: The Hulk - Steve smash puny humans. (ok, he probably wouldn't be the Hulk. I just wanted to say "smash puny humans.")

Wayman Barnes: Which of you would win in a fight?

Ben Trigg: Probably him, 'cause I'm a wuss.

Wayman Barnes: What has been Steve's favorite thing about hosting at the Ugly Mug?

Ben Trigg: The incredible features he's been able to line up.

Wayman Barnes: Has he ever fallen asleep during an open mic?

Ben Trigg: I don't think so. He's too busy monitoring the sound to fall asleep.

Wayman Barnes: Which poet would he most like to have feature at the Ugly Mug?

Ben Trigg: Sherman Alexie

Wayman Barnes: How many chapbooks does Steve own?

Ben Trigg: Couple hundred?

Wayman Barnes: What percentage of those has he read?

Ben Trigg: At least part of most of them.

Wayman Barnes: How long has Steve lived in Orange County?

Ben Trigg: All his life

Wayman Barnes: How does he feel about "Reagan Country?"

Ben Trigg: What is that, some 80's band or something?

Wayman Barnes: Does he really know Gwen Stefani?

Ben Trigg: Lucky him, if he does.

Wayman Barnes: What is his best advice for young poets?

Ben Trigg: Read. A lot.

Wayman Barnes: Why should people come to the Ugly Mug?

Ben Trigg: Because they'll hear quality poetry every week. Our features rock, and we have one of the best open readings around. Plus, we don't take things too seriously, so we have a lot of fun. Plus, you haven't lived until you've heard Steve introduce a feature.

Wayman Barnes: Who is the bigger Idiot?

Ben Trigg: That's a rather personal question, don't you think?

Wayman Barnes: 175 + 339=

Ben Trigg: 514 (hooray for calculators)

Wayman Barnes: What is Steve's favorite Two Idiots Peddling Poetry item for sell on your website?

Ben Trigg: It's the Big Damn Poetry Slam license plate frame, actually. Or maybe the clock.



Wayman Barnes 2.1.04
A Conversation with Steve Ramirez

Steve Ramirez is half of Two Idiots Peddling Poetry and a major mover and shaker of the Orange County Poetry scene (He is a member of the Five Penny Poets, co-director of the Big Damn Poetry Slam, and one of the organizers of the OC Poetry Festival). For several years he has been a co-host of one of the Southland's best Open Mic poetry readings: Two Idiots Peddling Poetry at the Ugly Mug.

Along with having topnotch features and open mic readers, the Ugly Mug is always packed with people who are there JUST TO LISTEN to the poetry a true testament of the quality of work being read there. But part of the success of the reading must be attributed to the hosting of the Two Idiots, Steve Ramirez and Ben Trigg. They keep things fun.

They are also very good friends and there is always a lot of warmth and camaraderie whenever they host. As a fan, it is hard to imagine one without the other. So for this interview I gave them the same questions about each other. The deal was that they would have to answer them without talking to the other one.

Their reading is on Wednesday nights (8 PM) at the Ugly Mug Caffe (261 North Glassell Ave, Orange, CA)

They also have a Website: www.poetryidiots.com and merchandise for sell: www.cafeshops.com/poetryidiots

Wayman Barnes: How did the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry begin?

Steve Ramirez: It actually began as a different reading series. The North Orange County Poetry Continuum, hosted by Eric Von Mizener. After he gave up the reading a few years back, Heather Melissa took over, and Ben quickly began helping out. Shortly afterwards, they asked me to help, and I said no. A few months later they finally talked me into helping.

The reading didn't really begin to take it's present shape until we were kicked out of Diedrich's Coffee in Brea. It was the third or fourth venue in the span of a little over a year, and we moved to the Ugly Mug... and the idea was to find a permanent, or at least semi-permanent home for the reading. Without a steady place to call home, we thought it would be hard to grow any kind of readership, much less be able to attract some of the poets whom we really wanted to read for us, especially some of the poets from across the nation.

Wayman Barnes: How long had Ben been writing poetry before that?

Steve Ramirez: He writes? Oh, um, about 3-4 years. Ever since he took Michael Kramer's writing class in high school.

Wayman Barnes: Which of his poems is his favorite?

Steve Ramirez: Alcratraz Looks Beautiful in the Distance.

Wayman Barnes: Which of your poems is his favorite?

Steve Ramirez: The Ginsberg Section! Um, no... okay... I'd hazard a guess that it's either Black Canary in a Coal Mine or To Victor.

Wayman Barnes: Who is his favorite dead poet?

Steve Ramirez: Langston Hughes.

Wayman Barnes: Which superhero would Ben most like to be?

Steve Ramirez: Nightwing, or Oracle. Maybe both. Well, maybe Wolverine, but only the movie version, and only so he could walk around shirtless all the time.

Wayman Barnes: Which superhero do you think he would more likely be?

Steve Ramirez: Krypto. Well, okay, maybe Nightwing. Or Oracle. Not the movie Wolverine, because he actually wears pretty nice shirts most of the time.

Wayman Barnes: Which of you would win in a fight?

Steve Ramirez: Me. I fight dirtier. But only marginally.

Wayman Barnes: What has been Ben's favorite thing about hosting at the Ugly Mug?

Steve Ramirez: Not having to host every week. Either that, or the growth of the open readers... but that's way too happy and constructive of an answer, don't you think? Of course, being able to claim poets like Rachel McKibbens and Carrie Seitzinger as some of our regulars over the past few years isn't too shabby.

Wayman Barnes: Has he ever fallen asleep during an open mic?

Steve Ramirez: No, but I'm pretty sure he wished he had at times.

Wayman Barnes: Which poet would he most like to have feature at the Ugly Mug?

Steve Ramirez: Mark Bibbens.

Wayman Barnes: How many chapbooks does Ben own?

Steve Ramirez: Too many.

Wayman Barnes: What percentage of those has he read?

Steve Ramirez: More than should be allowed by law.

Wayman Barnes: How long has Ben lived in Orange County?

Steve Ramirez: His entire life.

Wayman Barnes: How does he feel about "Reagan Country?"

Steve Ramirez: He's pro-Disney, and anti-Republican. Figure that one out.

Wayman Barnes: Does he really know Gwen Stefani?

Steve Ramirez: Who doesn't in this town? Beside me, of course. I only wish I did.

Wayman Barnes: What is his best advice for young poets?

Steve Ramirez: Read. Edit. Repeat.

Wayman Barnes: Why should people come to the Ugly Mug?

Steve Ramirez: To see the strange carnival-like atmosphere. Or to see high-quality, entertaining features like Charlotte O'Brien.

Wayman Barnes: Who is the bigger Idiot?

Steve Ramirez: It's a draw. You reach a certain point in the Idiotic Process, and it's all relative.

Wayman Barnes: 175 + 339=

Steve Ramirez: Math. I don't like math. Especially long division. And Algebra. Or calculus for that matter. Come to think of it, if it's not on a check made out to me, then I'd really rather not have to sit down look at too many numbers.

Wayman Barnes: What is Ben's favorite Two Idiots Peddling Poetry item for sell on your website?

Steve Ramirez: Explore Your Idiocy boxers.

Wayman Barnes: What's in the future for fans of the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry?

Steve Ramirez: More Idiocy. More fine features (see our website for some of the incredible poets we've had grace the Ugly Mug, and for our upcoming features). More happy-dancing by Ben during the breaks (shhhh, don't tell Ben!). A shiny new era in Idiocy, as I've vowed to become the cruel host of the reading, thinking that Ben would vow to become the kind and benevolent host. I was wrong... he's decided that we'll both be cruel hosts in 2004. We'll try not to hurt anyone, but no promises.

[3.10.04][2.5.04]