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Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 1.12.03

Family reunions usually spell out joy, love, and. trouble. Not so for the poetic families, though. When poetic families reunite, creative sparks fly and poetic rivers flow. And that is exactly what happened last night at Zoey's in Ventura.

"Alley's All Stars," a poetic after-birthday bash, is quickly becoming a tradition at Spoken Word Sundays @ Zoey's, and it's not just another excuse to mark the solar return for the venue hostess, Gwendolyn Alley. It's a poetic excuse. and a family thing. This year, it was the Taos Poetry Circus family that got reunited. And what a family it is!

The evening started with the featured readings by Minnesota Twins, a.k.a. Fish Boy Poets, Scott Vetsch and Michael "Spam" Hall. Quite appropriately (concerning the events that took place at Gwen's birthday party the night before), Scott kicked off his feature with "Waders and Lingerie," a poem about fishermen as closet drag queens. ("Hey, it catches fish!") Then, he took us on a stroll through "Writers Colony," talked about "Pay-Off," "Buckethead" and some interesting "Beer Space" only to profess the simple truth in "A Thing I Loved": "use beautiful things, but when they break, let them go." Yes, we did hear more fish poems from him ("Whitefish and Beer," "Ice Fisher"), but we also heard his views on "Nepotism," "Religious Teachings," the inevitable "God Bless America," and the good old "GI Joe." Scott's words made some of us nostalgic, others intrigued, and yet others quite interested in taking up fishing as a new hobby.

Michael "Spam" Hall started his feature by offering us an early breakfast. "Breakfast at 4:00 a.m. in Spamland," to be more precise. With quite a few sexy references, the poem suddenly made us crave pancakes and syrup for dinner. Michael then digressed to "God and Bowling," only to return "Slow Dancing" to that "First Sex." Then, a poem about Uncle Tootsie followed, which will certainly make some of us think twice before we buy Little Sizzlers at the grocery store next time. Not to mention a completely different outlook we'll have on the endearing qualities of our family members prompted by his "Farting Songs of Southern Minnesota." Humor and subtle black humor abound in Spam's work, as it was evident in "Pickled Pig's Feet" and "Ashes of a Friend." However, one of my all-time Spam favorites (and I may be biased here) is the "Air Stream," a poem about coming of age in Spamland (could have been any town for that matter), where we needed so little to be happy and felt so completely free in our little separate pieces of (trailer) heaven, and "the only thing that tethered us was the electrical cord plugged in the parents' garage." Spam also shared some of his most recent work and work in progress: an innocently humorous, heartfelt, and warm "Trout Fishing With Princess Fatima" from "Mr. Spam and The Somali Princess," over several short, aphorism-like poems, to poems written for Baby Drowsy, and the darkly humorous "Making Love To An Alien." Michael Hall at his best, indeed.

After the features by Minnesota Twins, other members of the poetic family joined the reunion. Nila Northsun was "Trying To Get His Attention" (he = an ex-husband) and "Falling Down To Bed" only to wake us up to a "Truck Stop Randez-Vous." The reigning Taos Poetry Circus Champion, Pat Payne, told us a story in which "Spunky Gets Saved," and followed by "Surreal Pastoral Poem," a beautifully crafted and profound piece inspired by watching the Nature Channel at 2:00 a.m. Gauvin offered a poem to Gwen "by way of explanation" for his shoe-hurling behavior at the party the night before, and Phil Taggert read a collaborative poem written with a poet from New York (by way of Texas), and another targeted at ACLU and titled "Ooops!"

As the tradition at Zoey's calls for, an open mic followed. It was officially opened by Karen, a first-timer at Zoey's, who read a poem about water. She was followed by your humble reporter reading a fish poem in honor of the Fish Boy Poets. Frankie Drayus asked, "What's Breathing Us?" and Roe Estep shared an "Ultimate Decision." John Gentry showed no hate toward "The Hatemonger," and Ron Bradshaw took us on a ride on his motorcycle "On Highway." Cindy confessed to being a "life tripper," Rose read a limerick about "Monkey Whore and Twat Rose," and Gwen Alley mused about the shoes left on the trail. (Do I see a footwear theme developing here?!?) Again, as the tradition calls for, the open mic was closed by Gauvin "leaving St. Christopher's house," which reminded us it was time to leave Zoey's. But only for the night, not forever. only until February 9th, when some sensually hot spoken word will light up the place again.

Knowledge 1.9.03
Knowledge posting:Details of the 6 month anniversary of the Hot Spot.Soundbites as follows.Kristoff'Can you live off of the land when the supermarket's gone?'Peggy'My social security number...I feel it might as well be tattooed on my arm...military arsenals continue to flower...sometimes I feel I was not meant for this world, my heart breaks too readily...it's time for us to stand up and make this world more...Jasmine'from the slums of London this angel was constructed'...Derrick'Value our soul more than gold, and if we do that we'll never fold...Kelly'He is a star brighter than any sun...He is Michael'...Peggy'I'm standing at the edge of the ocean...I am not going in...'Travis'I wannna sit on a rock and drop a deep thought'Fucking Floyd'She's got a bark that whispers sweet nothings in your ears and gives you a hard on at the same time..'Kristoff'All of us should be involved in what's going on around us instead of watching the game on TV'Peggy turning up made the 6 month mark special. She brought a magazine that she'd been published in.Knowledge signing of.

Wayman Barnes 1.8.03
Sadly, Jelena Andjelkovic aka Helen the Bashful Dragon is leaving LA for parts unknown. Her final feature in the Southland will be this Monday at Moondays (Seattle's Best 1015 Montana Ave in Santa Monica at 7:30). Please come and try to talk her into staying.

Knowledge 1.8.03
Knowledge posting:In a funny way I got to be hosting the biggest poetry spot in the country.It's called 'Ignition' and will be every Sunday.So now I host Saturday and Sunday.Love the 2 extremes.From coffee shop to what has never been done as far as I know.Poetry in a disco.I love what Dufflyn said after she came down and saw the place.She called it the million man march.It's 650 capacity.It's Club Blue in Hollywood.Just about 2 or 3 blocks east of Highland and Hollywood if you're coming from Santa Monica Blvd.Opening night was January the 5th.I did what no one has done before to my knowledge.I grouped together all the poemcees I'd seen in 2 years in poetry.My way of saying thanks to them because their hip hop flavor kept me in poetry.Also it was my ambition to form the Wu-Tang of poetry.So I hope female poets will stop seeing me as a male chauvinist.Are N'sync chauvinist?Backstreet BOYS?Temptations?Wu-Tang?Sugarhill Gang?Let's get real.Poetry needs poemcees.They make poetry more palatable to the masses.They got me.So anyway we have an open mic and Dufflyn, Beth, Catrina, Buddhahat, Diamond, and Manuel put it down.Manuel imitated Raging Bull at one point.I did something else I'd never seen.I became the almost invisible host.I said the catchphrase on the flyers then announced everybody one at a time offstage.The catchphrase is'Words are the spark, the audience is the fuel, together we are explosive'.I feel that made it more intense for each poet.All they'd see would be that mike and stand.Pitch for the club.It has the best and longest bar I've ever seen.Very big and comfy cubicles and five sofas that I got lining the wall.Joshua and Inq teamed up.I had about 15 poemcees on stage.Azikwe, Babu, Brutha Gimel, In-q, J.Walker, myself, Sekou, Slim and Unsane and Wise Fool and Evolve and Proton.We will be doing this every Sunday.The main act poemcees will put it down for three hours max and believe me you'll be entertained the whole time.Ask anyone who came.Dj Jedi and Dj Sayan span hiphop for two hours before we even started.The club opens at 7 and closes at 2am.It's the new thing, people.Poetry in a disco and I myself can't wait to get with it again next Sunday.Knowledge signing off.

Wayman Barnes 1.6.03
Charlotte O on the Radio

Okay, maybe we're a bit biased around here, but didn't Charlotte sound great on the radio?! We've heard her a million times and she still knocked our socks off. Wow!

If you heard it, let us know what you thought (Charlotte O on the Radio). Or let us know about you and the poetry you write. And check out the Website for the show she was on www.feministmagazine.org . Let them know how much you liked hearing poetry on their show and how you want to hear more. And if you heard about this lil' Website from their show ... Welcome!!!

Wayman Barnes 1.6.03

A belated congrats to Frankie Drayus for winning first place in the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY POETRY QUARTERLY. SGVPQ: http://www.home.earthlink.net/~palabraproductions/

Wayman Barnes 1.6.03
Congrats to Dave Nordling for possibly getting into the 13th issue of the Electric Acorn by the Dublin Writers Group in Ireland. www.dublinwriters.org

Wayman Barnes 1.5.03
Congrats to Gaknew and Thea on their engagement (I am soooo out of the loop these days) and for the article in the LA Times. Very, very cool.

Wayman Barnes 1.5.03
Totem Maples are still going strong. Check 'em out: www.cdbaby.com/totemmaples

JC 1.5.03
Two quick updates to earlier postings...these would have been more timely, but work is causing my inbox to grow a frightening backlog:

1) An update on the new Tebot Bach venue (see original post 11/23/02) from Paul Suntup:

"The monthly Tebot Bach Reading Series now has a brand new venue. Beginning with our January 2003 reading, the new location will be:

Golden West College
Community Room 102
Huntington Beach, CA
Gothard Street Entrance

The entrance closest to the venue is on Gothard near the corner of Gothard & Edinger in Huntington Beach. Do not use the main entrance to the College as there will be a long walk across the campus to find the room.

Please ignore the sign directing you to the parking sticker vending machine. The Tebot Bach audience does not pay for parking.

From Los Angeles:
Take the 405 South
Exit Golden West (toward the ocean)
Turn left at Edinger (Approximately one block)
Turn left at Gothard (Approximately one block)
Turn left into the first parking lot entrance.
The community room is located just up the walkway into the college.

From South County:
Take the 405 North
Follow the same directions as above."

2) Marc Kockinos, host of the Poetic Brew @ Claire De Lune weekly reading in San Diego (see original post 12/1/02), was nice enough to drop me an e-mail a few weeks ago with a few corrections to my article and more information about poetry events in his area. I was intending to post a follow up adapted from his letter...but then I saw the January update to Poetix and discovered that he now has a column tracking the latest events in San Diego!

Wayman Barnes 1.4.03
I thought I should pass on the news of the death of my personal favorite LA poet. The man always made me laugh. This blurb was written by Rick Lupert.

Quick note to mention the passing of long time poet and 'dirty old man' William McClain. William was a mainstay at Southern California Readings since before anyone was every born (or at least the last decade) and his special brand of rhyming-gonna-get-that-girl-and- be-naughty-with-her poetry, although not necessarily the most vital contribution to the literary world, was certainly endearing enough to mention that he will be missed by many. William McClain passed away this past week at the ripe old age of 92.

Charlotte O'Brien 1.3.03
Ok here are my top fives

Top five overall poetry favorites (books, performances, moments) for 2002:

1) "A Prism from Coal" by Michelle Daugherty. Wow! someone publish this girl. I agree with John - bursting with lines I wish I'd written myself eg: "Who knew that sharp edges make beautiful alters?" At a glance check out Flat Beer, Progress of a Six year old, Reaction 1 & 2 and February. A strong refreshing voice.

2) "Divine Intervention" by Mindy Nettifee. I couldn't put it down. Comes complete with an "Our Lady of hangovers" tarot card and instructions for use. This poetry favorite comes complete with my sheer admiration and enjoyment of her feature at The Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach, not to mention her in the VCP/5 penny poet slam-off and various appearances at Rachel Kann's Knitting Factory gigs. Classy, sassy, a complete package.

3) Brendan Constantine, Frankie Drayus and Elizabeth Iannaci's performances at the VCP/5 Penny poet slam-off in Orange. This included Brendan considering his friends sex change, the friends new breasts and the tatoo of a ship sailing across the middle of them, Elizabeth weilding a gun, and Frankie's best ever rendition of "This poem is NOT about you!" also quite possibly her most moving performance of "Icarus".

4) "Haunted by want/Guided by don't need" a performance poetry piece by Rachel Kann. Rachel performed this at her own venue and it was the best I've seen her. She was sizzling in fact she was on fire. I think this is the most i have ever enjoyed myself at a reading and it was hardly a reading - accompanied by and comletely in sync with DJ LYNK aka Josh Gordon she just takes poetry to a whole new commendable level. I had her give me a hard copy after the performance (technically circa 2001) and dedicate March & April for me!

5) Tuning into KPFK one morning on the way to work just in time to hear a cello and suddenly a woman poet start up... and OH MY GOD! I KNOW THIS GIRL!Oh MY GOD IT's JAHA! IT'S JAHA! Sure enough Jaha Zanibu (current member of Soul... who appeared on the front cover of Sunday's Calendar section of the LA times even more recently) on air for KPFK's "Subversive thought" for the morning. This moment was HUGE for me -ever bigger than Poetri appearing of Russel Simmons Def Poetry Jam this year - I just felt like poetry itself had broken through. OK I know I'm a sap but I actually burst into tears.

Favorite actual Pieces 2002:

1) "February" by Michelle Daugherty can be found in "A prism from Coal" This piece ends: "It was not a month. It was a one night stand without a watch." Ouch!

2) "Blackberries (After Mary Oliver's American Primitive)" by Frankie Drayus. Can by found in "Ceci n'est pas Margritte." I couldn't write for a whole month after hearing this poem I love the way it ends but my favorite line is " I bet the man who invented the electric chair never belts his pants and sits on the floor when he watches tv."

3) "Bone poem" by Frankie Drayus. Can be found on her CD "Naked Voice" which nearly made it onto my highlights list but I'm sneaking it in here instead. The CD, incidently, is exactly how the title describes naked, intimate, raw and so close you could touch it. I love that it doesn't have any music and she has such a great voice it's very enjoyable listening.

4) "The first time we never met" by RatPack Slim can be found in "But my Mom calls me Rob." I'm a hopeless romantic and this one fills up all the criteria somehow. I LOVE this piece. I love it so much I'm going to give you the whole thing:

"The First time we never met"

What I'm about to tell you never happened.

i was at the mall looking for a store that sold a simple wicker basket, that's all i wanted, but as usual i picked up everything else but the wicker basket i came for, and i grabbed a seat in the food court to set down my packages for a minute and there you were. u were reading some book, i don't recall what it was, it didn't matter, it could've been mein kampf or bridges of madison county or the bluest eye for all i know, but what mattered was that it was a BOOK with WORDS and not a magazine, and u were smiling with or at the words, like u'd just been told a secret or an inside joke, and yr eyes were so full of wonder and wanderlust that i had to do SOMETHING- so i ran down to the record store and bought a cassette of coltrane's my favorite things, and i scribbled a note to u and stapled it to the bag and i rushed back to the food court and u were just putting a bookmark in yr book and i walked up to u and said, "this album is how you made me feel today just by sitting there" and i jotted my e-mail address on there 'cause it seemed less threatening, and a week later there u were in my inbox thanking me for the tape and giving me a langston hughes poem and thass how we met.

now i know and u know thass not how it really went down but since u give me so many good memories i wanted to give you one more for a rainy day.

Aaaaaaawwww. Shucks! Whadda guy! His chapbook is dedicated to his Grandpa.

5) "Evolution" by John Casey. I was lucky enough to read this one before it was brave enough to come out of the closet. And out it came last week at The Rapp Saloon. This has personal meaning for me as it's about - well, you'll have to ask him what it's about. Or be lucky enough to hear it live - I think his next feature Ugly Mug Feb 5th co-featuring with Laurel Ann Bogen Coffee Cartel March 7th and at The Cobalt Cafe for the VCP's in April 15.

Top 5 albums:

1) Bjork - The best of. With a lovely original track. Includes Pagan Poetry - gotta love that. I discovered over Christmas that Bjork might not be one for the parents!

2) Sea Change - Beck. Nice and moody just how I like 'em.

3) A rush of blood to the head - Coldplay. Ok so this list is getting old but i have to agree with Mr. Wayman -i'm a wanna be poet- Barnes, brilliant without the first track.

(Wayman: Only SOME of those poems were about you sir)

4) David Gray! David Gray! David Gray! This is my new guy. I'm driving W. B. CRAZY with this CD. It's a keeper. I'm gonna keep on playing it over & over & over again. The last track rocked me to the core one morning when Nick Harcourt played it on KCRW.

5) Churango - Morcheeba. Always been a big fan especially of they're big seller "Big Calm". These guys are so cool they're ice. Funky, a little sexy, very groovy (yes I can use that word without an Austin Powers accent or "baby" and get away with it). Getting big critical acclaim in Europe. You can hear them on KCRW archives they did an interview and live set.


1) Jelena Andjelkovic being able to grap a big Pasadena bookstore crowd's attention when no one was there to see poetry.

2) The BIG PICTURE at Beyond Baroque - by sheer coincidence my kid and my lecturer is in it! I'm in a picture with masses of famous poets and friends. How cool is that?

3) Watching Michelle Daugherty graduate from high school (against all odds) class of 2002! So funny to me that her poetry and comprehension of the English language so surpasses all her English teachers who've been trying to make her work straight and neat all this time!

4) A sad one: losing a favorite Coffee Cartel poet and friend Delane Morgan who thankfully died peacefully in her sleep.

5) A personal one: Getting into the master poetry class at USC!!! YEAH FOR ME!!!