THE UN-URBAN CAFE
Since I'm going out of town for a few weeks, a friend wanted to meet up to properly say goodbye. We settled on the halfway point of the Un-Urban Cafe to knock back a few drinks. (Before you call the vice squad -- it was hot chocolate, kids.) As it turns out, the ol' Un-Urban has an open mic hosted by Tony on Wednesday nights, and my friend thought it would be funny to volunteer me to read. So read I did -- "Barbie And Ken In The Garden Of Eden," if you care, although I was tempted to extemporize (is that a word? is it in the Fred Durst vocabulary next to "agreeance?") a poem called "I Am Holding A Microphone On A Stage And Therefore You Have To Listen To Me Hah Hah Hah Suckers." If you're in the mood for an open mic where the "only rule is that there are no rules," be sure to hit the Un-Urban on Wednesday nights. And hit it hard.
Readers: Tony, Michelle Daugherty, Mike, Adam, JC, Ray Lanthier, Doug, Jabez, Greg, FrancEyE (yes, THE FrancEyE -- rumor has it that there will be free cake at her upcoming Redondo Poets feature), Zack, Libby, Pancho, Nigel, Larry, Suzanne, and Keenan.
Upcoming features: None. (What part of "no rules" did you not understand?)
Orange County stalwart Katya Giritsky was the featured poet for the weekly Redondo Poets reading at Coffee Cartel in (you guessed it) Redondo Beach, CA. (Latitude, longitude, and height with respect to the WGS-84 ellipsoid coming soon.) In addition to reading a wide variety of work from her many chapbooks (which are very good, by the way), Katya read eight new poems of her own, as well as the classic Allen Ginsberg poem "A Supermarket In California." (One wonders if Whitman would have joined the Ralphs Club.) Set list: "On The Road Back," "A Supermarket In California" (Ginsberg), "On Reading Allen Ginsberg," "9 Verses 3 Lines Each On Baseball," "Park La Brea Tarpits," 8 Observations On Winter," "Write Effort," "Snow At Midnight," "Blue Like Starlight," "Poem For The First One, Sort Of," "Three Poems, Or Five Minutes," "Travels With My Aunt," "Shopping For Used Cars On Harbor Blvd.," "Poem Written On A Napkin..." (full title too long to write down and still listen to the poem), and "TV Documentary About Stalin's Gulags." If you'd like to see Katya, she can usually be found at the monthly Pale Ale Poets reading in Laguna Beach -- she's the co-host.
The open reading that bookended her feature was [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE EUPHEMISM FOR 'STRANGE' HERE]. Gary opened with a drum solo on a conga-esque drum. (It might have been an actual conga, but I'm not the drum expert in the family, so I shouldn't speculate.) Wanda Van Hoy Smith read "What The Hell Is X," which contains the line, "I know LA stands for Los Angeles, but what the hell is X?" (I'm looking forward to the inevitable sequel, "What The Hell Is O," about San Francisco International Airport, and the trilogy completion, "Why The Hell ORD Stands For O'Hare.") Diana Hansford read two rhyming "anti-war poems" about the war which isn't happening yet. (For those of you keeping track at home, there were three anti-war poems read, which is a little under par these days. Expect a separate post on anti-war poems soon.) Snake read a poem, but I was too distracted by the fact that he was alternately twirling some kind of knife (I'm not the knife expert in the family either) to listen very effectively. Jerry Hicks read a poem about a sexually active 15-year-old girl. Gary (the drummer) read a parody of that very poem written by someone else, which involved that same 15-year-old hooking up with Dad. (Jerry is now holding a workshop before the reading starting at 6:30 PM, if you're interested.) Zack Wolk arrived at the reading very late, read something five minutes later when the host called him, and left the stage to go immediately out the door again. (Since he didn't sit and listen to anyone else, one can only conclude that Zack came to the reading solely because he needed an audience for five minutes. I feel used. Under different circumstances, I might even be annoyed.) Powers@Large read a rambling extemporaneous "piece" about his dog breaking its leg while going down a playground slide in which he continually refered to the dog as his "daughter." (Sometimes, you just have to say, "what the f?ck?")
Readers: Gary (drums), John Casey, Wanda Van Hoy Smith, Diana Hansford, Snake, Larry Colker, Katya Giritsky, Jerry Hicks, Gary (poetry), Zack Wolk, Dana Campbell, Rose Dement, Power@Large, Cathy (first-time reader).
Upcoming features: Ivan Smason (2/25).
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Eskimo 2.23.03
Sitting Pretty in Sitka
(poetry and leadership in small-town Alaska)
I bet most of you have never heard of Sitka in your lives. I bet most of those who have don't know that there are two college campuses in Sitka. I also bet most of those who know there are two college campuses don't know poetry readings take place there. So, your humble reporter took upon herself a difficult task of proving that (contrary to the popular misinformed belief) Sitka, Alaska is NOT the place of polar bears, moose, and Eskimos, but rather a fertile ground for cultural understanding, poetry, and leadership.
The month of February is recognized nation-wide as the Black History Month, and different events take place in cities and towns all over this country to further the understanding of the contributions African Americans made to our society. Even with an unusually low percentage of African American population, Sitka was no exception to this.
Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka hosted a night of poetry on Friday, February 21st, devoted to the African American history. Organized by Sean Conner, an SJC student, and supported by the college and the community, the evening turned out to be a resounding success. Top floor of the Stratton Library was filled with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community well before the evening of "Passionate Words" started. The program opened officially with thoughts about diversity from Michael Santarosa, Dean of Student Life. He was followed by Sean Conner, who acknowledged contributions African Americans made to the history. Then, the poets and the audience were greeted by the Mayor of Sitka himself (how cool is that?!?) who also treated us to a reading of a poem by Claude McKay. Violin solo by Sarah Smith introduced us to the "Negro national anthem," the famous song by James Weldon Jackson, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Then, yours truly had a chance to share her own thoughts about diversity and oneness by reading two of her poems, "Why" and "Color Coded."
Sean Conner opened the open mic portion of the evening by reading the poem "America" by Claude McKay. "Stevenson Sisters" followed singing a song by Thomas H. Dorsey, and Kyle read "The Rose That Grew from Concrete" by Tupac Shakur. Students, faculty, and members of the community followed each other on the open mic reading poems by such greats as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Amiri Baraka. Ken Bartline read his own work inspired by meeting Maya Angelou in person. An open discussion on the personal meanings of the Black History Month followed, and then the winner of the essay contest on the role of affirmative action in today's society was announced. Sean Conner closed the evening by reminding us to continue bringing our dreams into reality and creating a better world without forgetting those who walked that path before us.
A note for the trivia buffs: Sean Conner is one of only 3 African American students currently attending Sheldon Jackson College. He almost single-handedly organized the whole "Passionate Words" program, and is a fine example of the leadership young African Americans today are hoping to achieve. This young man is preparing for a career in education, and I am sure he will come to positively influence many a young heart and mind. Let us just hope there are more leaders of Sean's caliber out there.
Frankie Drayus 2.19.03
Speaking of POETRY, yesterday at the Getty, Joe Parisi presented a delightful serving of scandal and gossip in the form of correspondence between founding editor Harriet Monroe and soon-to-be-famous poets over the years. Some of the juicier exchanges were between Harriet Monroe and Ezra Pound, who became their foreign correspondent, and between H.M. and Amy Lowell, one of my favorite cigar-chomping female poets. Actually, there were quite a few exchanges with poets who are now considered the Great Poets but at the time had egos that bruised just as easily as anyone's - fame does not appear to make one thicker skinned. Rejection also doesn't appear to get easier with practice. I had no idea that William Carlos Williams (M.D.) was at times petulant and contentious, specifically about edits to his work. Edna St. Vincent Millay was perpetually short of cash. And then there were all the rejections of Robert Frost's work, who was anything but an instant success. Reading/acting excerpts from these letters were Michael York, Blythe Danner, Dana Delany, and Paul Blackthorne. I wasn't familiar with Blackthorne, but he swictched accents with facility and did an amusing impression of Dylan Thomas. He was also what I would call *hot* and he would not get kicked out of bed for eating crackers. Michael York did a wonderful Ezra Pound - very flamboyant - and Blythe Danner as H.M. will now forever make me confuse the two women... POETRY magazine is 90 years old and has never missed an issue. Edna St. Vincent Millay got credit for burning HER (proverbial) candle at both ends, but it sounds like Harriet Monroe also glowed with quite a lovely light. www.poetrymagazine.org
Sholeh Wolpé drove all the way out from Redlands on a rainy Tuesday night to feature for the Redondo Poets at Coffee Cartel in (you guessed it) Redondo Beach. For those few in attendance, they were treated to a wonderful set of poetry from this charming, talented artist. The first half of the reading was a set of poems themed around the Middle East: "Butcher Shop," "Jerusalem, August 10, 2001," "Another Look," "Statue Atop A Hospital In Bethlehem," "This Colorful Show," "I Didn't Ask For My Parents," "Rhapsody," and "'I Never Seen Such Days As This.'" During the second half of the reading, Sholeh revealed a more personal (and often humorous) side with poems such as "Death," "The Poet Laureate Of The World" (inspired by her son), "You" (for her daughter), "Bathe Me In Red," "D. Buster," "Mice Grow Big Brains With An Extra Gene," and "If I Make It To 80."
Some tangentially-related news: Sholeh, in addition to being on the Tebot Bach board of directors, is also the organizer of the upcoming Tebot Bach "Poets of Southern California Swimsuit Calendar." (Yes, the calendar is going to raise funds for that non-profit organization...but the fact that Sholeh is IN the calendar is reason enough to buy it. Trust me.) If you're interested, you can get more information or place your pre-order at www.tebotbach.org , since there will be a limited production run. (The Los Angeles Times article about the calendar is supposedly archived on Poetix, but the link is broken as of this writing -- probably because the page doesn't end with an .htm extension. Once Larry fixes the page, you can read all about it on www.poetix.net .)
Readers: Wanda Van Hoy Smith, Chris Rimkus, Maria, Patrick Mooney, Pariah, Rose Dement, Larry Colker, Sholeh Wolpé, John Casey, Powers@Large, Diana Hansford, Jerry Hicks, Dana Campbell, Bruce.
Upcoming features: Katya Giritsky (2/18), Ivan Smason (2/25), Elena Karina Byrne (3/4).
JC & Wayman Barnes 2.16.03
Birthday Bash #2
We've now reached the "Terrible Twos" - Watch out!
Of course we had a birthday party and he are some of the things you missed (Compiled by JC & WB):
...and with that, I'm taking my sugar buzz to bed. (Context is 90% of the story. Absence and presence are each their own language.)
It's Valentine's Day, and I'm feeling sentimental enough to post a barely-reviewed draft...that alone should tell you something.
play some music without strings attached and
blow the dust off the catalog of old lovers:
809.2 - drama.
355.02 - the art of war.
616.89 - abnormal psychology.
930 P - ancient history.
stop wondering about the existence of the perfect woman,
the platonic form (see 184) who is anything but platonic.
thank your lucky stars (133.5), throw fate to the winds (124),
buy a lottery ticket while your fingers
still have the knack of finding good fortune.
(lucky numbers, if any, may be found under 795.)
tear up the black book, shred the diary, toss the card from a window -
this is an occasion for confetti.
and to think - you only needed to check her out once to know
she was the girl to file under REFERENCE.
(c) JC 2003
Mark Gonzalez 2.11.03
To: LitRave Readers
I noticed several readers posted mentions of NASA's Columbia explosion. Just thought you should know NASA, seeing they only receive I believe 5% (or. 5) of taxes for their budget, contract with the Pentagon to do missile and weapons research to supplement their income. If you recall, there was a warning not to touch debris, due to radioactivity. In a program on KPFK, a viewer pointed out that it is a possibility that the Columbia was carrying Uranium on board (which if you follow the "War" with Iraq, you know what Uranium is used for), and that is ONE possibility why the debris was dangerous. APP
A numb nation, a chilling sensation
A fireball streaking across the sky
7 inside that were fated to die
The spaceshuttle broke up at 200,000 feet
burning up in 3,000 degrees of heat
People couldn't believe just what their eyes saw
7 dead, only 3 had flown in space before
Each one of the 7 had proved their worth
Now doomed as the Columbia made its descent to Earth
Flying at 18 times the speed of sound
Disintegrating as it made its way back to the ground
Disintegrating in a rumbling roar
Many who witnessed it were left in awe
Anderson, the only black was a fan of 'Star Trek'
Now one of 7 consumed in a fiery wreck
He made a name for himself in a Washington University
Earning a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy
He did us proud in representing the black minority
He had always wanted to fly
One of 7 fated to die
As it streaked through the sky it sounded like rolling thunder
All 7 inside had once looked to space with a sense of wonder
Rick Husband had wanted to travel into space since the age of 4
Unaware that 4 decades later he'd be knocking on heaven's door
Ilan Ramon who got to fly was the first Israeli
He'd graduated from his country's air force academy
David M.Brown had the makings of a winner
The kind of guy who would fly to another state just to get himself a dinner
He was one of the 7 pilots that flew
He always thought that being an astronaut was the coolest thing that you could do
Kalpana Chawla qualified to be an aerospace engineer
One of the 7 that fate had decided not to spare
In India she was viewed as a source of inspiration
Countrywide after the crash there was mourning throughout the nation
Her brother who was saddened that his sister had to die
Said that his sister wasn't dead but a permanent star in the sky
He earnt a master's degree at the U.S. Naval Post-graduate school
Son, husband, father, naval aviator William McCool
The death of Laurel Clark left her family distressed
She said that representing her country made her feel blessed
England's first rapper
(rapping 23 years)
Knowledge aka 'The Wordsmith'
Copyright February 3rd, 2003
Knowledge signing off