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Charlotte O'Brien 11.4.02

I always enjoy performing at the Rapp Saloon. It's always friendly, there's no extreme competitiveness, lots of support and an easy-going atmosphere. Friday night my good friend and former co-host Michelle Daugherty featured. It has been a while since I went to any readings on the Westside and was so delighted to walk into a room full of friends and familiar faces.

The Rapp Saloon certainly hasn't lost its charm. LitRave's very own Mani Suri has joined Pete Justus as a co-host. I'd never seen Mani host before and I have to say he did a wonderful job, with a quick wit and a disarming smile. It was also refreshing to see Pete perform at his own venue being introduced by someone else. It gave us the ability to really concentrate on his work. He read from his self-published book: Truths, Taps & Time and graced us with a new piece which I thought was very personal (the kind of poetry I enjoy most).

On the whole, I thought that everyone's poetry had grown. Highlights were Jim Done reading old pieces and Wayman Barnes reading Jesus and the Two Older Women. Blossoming poets were definitely John Casey whose airport piece was phenomenal (Welcome back John!) Marie Lecrivain who read a haunting piece about her father and opener Mia O'Brien (almost 4) who has transcended "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for Halloween poems. A sorely missed reading was John Schofield (who didn't feel like it) There was even a little musical interlude with Yelena -no not Anjelkovich-, Danielle, and Michael doing a sing along of "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" dedicated especially to Michelle.

Michelle read from her new chapbook "A Prism from Coal" which was dedicated to her friends. And who needs family when you have friends who "get it"? Although I was around for a couple of birthings of the pieces Michelle read I was inspired and even a little jealous by all of them. Michelle has the ability to capture the essence of a moment with the most profound insights and the picking out of detail so that the listener really experiences it. I can't tell you how real her bus ride is to me. I am there with her just noticing, noticing the teenage girl wanting to be somewhere else and the mother with a small child on her lap.

When I got home I devoured her chapbook and was just astounded by her insight and ability. Her poetry is raw and startling. I kept stopping to read pieces aloud to my boyfriend whose responses were "Wow! And she's how old again?" Which is not at all an insult, only there's this sense of "If she's writing poetry like this now ..." One can only begin to imagine what the future holds. I strongly encourage you to check out Michelle's work. Below is a sample:

It wasn't a month,
it was twenty-nine days, no more.
I don't care if it was February.
I did not waste a whole month dating him.
I did not pour my attention down a dark hole of regret.
I spent twenty-nine mornings making breakfast in bed
for a man who did nothing but make me feel uncomfortable near that
It was not a month!
I refuse to believe
I allowed this farce of a mating ritual to continue for a month.
Months are for bills, rent
And the moon to fully awaken twice
shining its mug at the sky.

Not for missed movies and broken planters.
We never meant for a month.

We were a bad excuse for human -together.
Each morphing into a leach that sucked out the other's life source.
We devoured whatever we thought we would need later,
fully knowing the impermanence of the supply.
It was not a month.
It was a one night stand without a watch.

In all the reading was a great success. So much so that as Mani was wrapping up with poetry announcements, an audience member sprang from her chair to tell us "anonymously" how inspired she was by everyone and went on to recite a poem she wrote when she was 13(?) Without a beat Mani responded "Well, thank you for that. I'm so glad that we're finally able to put a face to the name Anonymous"!

I love to go to a reading and realize that I belong somewhere, that there are people who get me and understand this obsession with poetry. Fuck AA meetings, Friday nights at Rapp will more than suffice.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 11.4.02

Unlike the western tradition, most indigenous cultures view death as the “fertilizer” of new life, an ending that implies a new beginning. There are many traditional religious observances honoring that point of view. One of them is Los Dias de Los Muertos (Day of The Dead), traditional Mexican holiday observed on the 1st and 2nd of November.

This Sunday, November 3rd, in honor of the holiday, Spoken Word Sundays at Zoe's Café in Ventura had a community altar constructed by Gauvin, and a double Latino feature: “Pseudo-Chicana,” Los Angelena Liz Gonzalez, and “Mexican Bob,” Taoseno Amalio Madueno.

The evening started with a brief history of the holiday and instructions on how to construct a traditional Dia de Los Muertos altar by the gracious hostess, Gwendolyn Alley, followed by Gauvin's presentation of the motivation and multi-cultural (Latino, Yoruba, and western) influences behind his community altar project. And then, the first feature was introduced… If I had such impressive credentials as Liz Gonzalez, I'd be shaking in my boots getting up on that stage and trying to live up to audience's expectations. Still, Liz seemed completely calm and very, very confident. I guess, that's what one gets from performing all over California and Arizona.

Liz opened with three Dia de Los Muertos themed poems: an extremely powerful piece about 300 raped and murdered teenage girls in Ciudad Juarez, followed by a short poem dedicated to her father who died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24, and one written for a dead ex-boyfriend. After that, she decided to switch to lighter topics, but first had to issue a disclaimer. The love poems we were going to hear, she said, “were not about her and her husband” who was sitting in the audience. (Yeah, right, Liz!) I do understand the motivation behind the disclaimer… Which man wouldn't squirm in his seat if his wife were calling him from the stage to “pluck her with his teeth like Jimmy Hendrix plucks his guitar”?!? To bring the temperature down after the hot love poem set and wrap up her feature at the same time, Liz confessed to being a “Pseudo-Chicana” who learned how to make tortillas in the home-economics class at school. So LitRavers, if you find this mixture of topics interesting, you can hear Liz at different upcoming readings in the L.A. area, so keep your eyes open for the next one.

The second feature of the night was Amalio Madueno from Taos, New Mexico. Apart from his extensive list of publications and his involvement with the Pan-American Championship poetry bout in Guadalajara, Amalio is a founder and fixture of the Taos Poetry Circus. He is the Mexican Bob of Mexican Bob's Poetry and Performance Camp in Taos. And if you haven't heard of the Taos Poetry Circus, you know nothing about the contemporary poetry in this country, nothing at all! Amalio honored the Day of The Dead with two poems: one dedicated to his Taos Indian friend Blacky, and another inspired by the soldiers sent to fight the Gulf War, “Death of a Soldier.” Now, Amalio writes a lot of interesting stuff about “keeping a box of things he found in dreams,” about dogs who “are not pets, they are saviors,” about a coyote's view of humans (“Coyote Observes Humans”), and about a mysterious man named Garcia, who walks, travels, observes, declares, doesn't take pills for “there is really no pill for suffering,” and does all sorts of other usual or quite unusual things. Although Amalio's insights are deep (“the beautiful is longed for, and has no top and no bottom…”), personally he is quite humble and unpretentious. Of course, I could not resist taking advantage of his approachability, and as any conscientious reporter would do, I asked him who the infamous Garcia was. So, Amalio told me a secret: nobody knows who Garcia is. Nobody! Not even Amalio.

Features were followed with an open mic reading. It started and ended with Gauvin, who read a poem about his late friend whose picture he placed on the altar, as well as an excerpt from the novel he is writing, “The Colored Cemetery.” Mr. Gauvin was followed by Mr. Aguilar, who improvised (as they say in Ventura) or freestyled (as we say it in L.A.) a poem about God. Way to go, Mr. A! Yours truly read a poem titled “Why,” and another one about fishing for destiny. Gwendolyn dedicated her first poem to Bunny, her ex-mother-in-law, and in her second piece titled “Ashes,” she talked about California forest fires, death, peace, and renewal.

All in all, we all had a great time at Zoe's, and y'all should have been there. So, don't miss it next time! The feature on December 8th will be Danika Dinsmore from Seattle (she is the bundle of energy behind the Seattle Poetry Festival and the 3:15 a.m. Experiment) performing with a live jazz band. I promise you this one is going to be good… a real treat.

Spoken Word Sundays @ Zoe's Café
In the El Jardin Courtyard
451 E. Main Street
2nd Sunday of every month at 5:00 p.m.

Wayman Barnes 11.1.02
Hey everyone! Our friend and fellow Slammer, Thea Iberall, is not only a poet. She is a playwright. Or should we say PLAYWRIGHT POET. Her one act play "When I Was Called Tony" is being produced next month in Long Beach at the OUT Theatre. And we are told that it is filled with her poetry. Cool, hunh? Go support!

Truth, Tony & Zenith...
an evening of art echoing life

An evening of exploration and discovery with two one-act plays and a performance piece produced by the OUT Theatre of Long Beach.

Fri and Sat 8PM
November 8,9,15,16,22,23
Sun 2PM
November 10,17,24

Tickets $15
Reservations Recommended

2101 Broadway, Long Beach
adjacent to HotJava
in Long Beach
see www.theouttheatre.org for more info.

Wayman Barnes 11.1.02
Monday Night Poetry is now SATURDAY Night Poetry. So don't go to Altadena this Monday, unless, of course, you are going to eat at The Hat.

Saturday Night Poetry
Featured and Open Poetry Readings
from 8:00 to 10:00pm
on 490 N. Lake Ave.
(northeast corner of Lake Ave. and Villa St.)

Wayman Barnes 11.1.02
A great big CONGRATS to Mike the Poet and Lady Yvette on tying the knot. Da dum d-dum!

JC 11.1.02
(subtitled "Frankie Drayus, please get well soon!")

Jet lag, BBQ sauce hangovers, minivan drivers who insist on driving in the left lane 10 MPH under the speed limit, a general overdose of "y'all" -- none of the above were going to keep me from flying back from Texas in time to see Frankie Drayus feature at the Rapp Saloon on Friday night. Unfortunately, I should have checked my e-mail from the airport -- Frankie had to cancel due to laryngitis, so I could have stuck around and had a few more onion rings if I wanted.

Still, the show must go on, and host Mani Suri tried to keep things lively for the small crowd which showed up anyway, even permitting a "bonus round" at the end to squeeze in a little more poetry. Mike Brosnan did a piece called "Orpheus Got Dumped Last Night" acompanied by some high volume new-age style background music. (Think of Yanni putting the "boom" in "boom box," and you'll get the picture.) Greg Ennis -- a first-time reader in So Cal who just moved here from the Bay Area -- read two very strong pieces. Hopefully he will share some more of his work other local venues -- it's great to hear a new voice. Mani Suri told stories about his recent trip to Scotland and read a hilarious found poem about world-historical Scots which included everyone EXCEPT Mr. Scott from "Star Trek." (Wait -- you mean he isn't a real person?) The next time you see Mani, INSIST on hearing his Scottish accent -- the "Ach!"s during the piece slayed me.

Readers: Rick Weinberger, Mike Brosnan, John Casey, Brenda, Erica Abbott, Mani Suri, Greg Ennis.

Upcoming features: Michelle Daugherty (11/1). (DEFINITELY worth checking out...)

Personal messages: Get well Frankie! Also, Greg says hi -- he showed up to the Rapp just to check out your performance. Finally -- congratulations to the world champion Anaheim Angels, who are collectively responsible for wrecking attendance at all of the Orange County poetry venues for the last few weeks.

Wayman Barnes 10.27.02
I could hear the poetry as soon as I walked into the store. But I couldn't see an audience or any poets performing. So I roamed down the different aisles looking for where the poems were coming from. Finally, I found them! Sitting in some comfy chairs in the middle of the store were a group of about ten poets. They were passing a microphone to each other and taking turns reading. Very surreal. Barnes & Noble
Last Thursday of each month, 7 pm
1800 W. Rosecrantz
Manhattan Beach

Knowledge 10.26.02
knowledge posting:all girl feature at the Bourgois pig:Bridget performed '7 days'"I will survive...maybe i can write myself into a better day, maybe i can write the pain away"Rachel"look a gift horse in the mouth and kick his teeth out.Nafeesa did 'Fractions'Tracy"Thin young women repeat the mantra'I can't believe you're going to eat that' then retreat to the bathroom after 3 bites of salad"knowledge signing off.

Wayman Barnes 10.26.02
Close the Book on Hate

This was Close the Book on Hate month at Barnes & Noble and we were invited to participate. We performed at the store in Pasadena (Hi Ellen!), which is in the heart of Old Town. If you have ever been there on a Saturday night, you know that there are gobs of people walking around. We set up near the front of the store and built up an audience from the people as they walked in. It was very exciting to see the reaction of the people as they were suddenly confronted by a bunch of poets. Lots o' fun!

Barnes & Noble
111 W Colorado Blvd

Knowledge 10.23.02
knowledge posting:unknown poet at the Lounge"Bush elevated the incomparable Dan Quayle to Mensa states...New Rome has its new 21st century Nero"Big Al"I began a mission to sugarcoat the truth so people would eat the shit, and then they'll say 'what the fuck did I swallow?"Soft fire"This earth is all I've got. In this massive ass cration I'm only a dot"Truthseeker"You need to wear a condom on your brain to stop the rest of us catching your mental disease...brothers talking about how long and hard their willy is, but their mind is limp...ho's ...sisters that live up to the title, open your mind and keep your legs closed"Truthseeker was the shit.Hope to see more of him in the future. Some shouted that they wanted an encore.Knowledge signing off.

Wayman Barnes 10.23.02

Hey poetry nuts,
Here is a nice little music about classical music. If you put the word poetry in place of classical music, you might find it to be an interesting think piece on why we do what we do. www.salon.com

Wayman Barnes 10.22.02
Congratulations to Larry Jaffe for receiving his Artists for a Better World award. It couldn't have gone to a more deserving artist.

Wayman Barnes 10.21.02
Brain Candy R.I.P.

Alas, Brain Candy is no more. It has followed the footsteps of so many other poetry spots into the hazy fog of memory.

For those of you who never made it there, Brain Candy was a one of a kind reading. Located in the highlands of Altadena in a coffeehouse backroom (painted to look like you were on a plantation in Guatemala), this open mic/music/improvised poetry grab bag of a mischief was one to tell the folks about. <BR.
We were planning on going there last Thursday, but, unfortunately, we stayed home and watched TV instead. And now it is gone! See what happens when you don't go to a reading! It disappears!! So dust off those old poems and get out there and read before we lose another one. Okay?!!!

We don't want you to have to live with the guilt.

Knowledge 10.20.02
Knowledge posting: Poetry in the park.Echo Park to be exact. I got to join the featured readers and was second to last before Barnabus Briefchatter.Soundbites. Reverend Dave."Slow, rolling hills are your landscape"Roni,who has been in poetry 15 years."As she walks barefoot on burning stone she will inherit the wind and be baptized at the ocean of truth...I wrap my soul around yesteday's heartaches...I'm spinning broken eenglish into poetic gold...she cries ancient tears into oceans filled with spirits that know her struggle...I sometimes dream of hamhocks, fatback and crackling...I am a born again vegetarian, please pray for me...women who rock, they make hits that become double platinum prisons"Dave Nordling"Sail for as long as you can on a voyage called poetry"That one made me flash back to 'Voyage to Atlantis' by the Isley Brothers.E.Amato"The Wave is not jazz, but it pays for it".Barnabus was introduced by Marie as the progenitor to the 4 deadly horsemen"My old man was as cool as the cucumbers hee now coaxes through compost...pop will eat itself and still find a way to profit off of its death...rock and roll, you know I love you, you birthed me and reared me"He finished on his signature piece that I don't know the title to"...I saw no bra straps on her shoulders and it turned these balls to boulders...hit the money spot, pulled my honeycomb out of her glistening honeyspot...I'm that unnerving, fucking asshole giving you itches in places that you can't quite scratch"Poetry in the park is the shit. Lying on my back gazing into the branches made the poetry even better.

JC 10.19.02

Book Soup in the South Coast Plaza hosted a reading and book signing for an anthology of Long Beach and Orange County poets, "Incidental Buildings and Accidental Beauty." The reading was co-sponsored by PEN (Poets/Essayists/Novelists) Orange County and by Tebot Bach, publishers of the anthology. Hosted by Paul Suntup, the reading brought together an incredible lineup of talent rarely seen in one room. Sixteen contributors were able to attend: Michelle Ben-Hur, G. Murray Thomas, Robin Hudechek, Carole Luther, Jim Warren, Daniel McGinn, Michael Paul, Fred Voss, Lori McGinn, Katya Giritsky, Jaimes Palacio, Joan Jobe Smith, Barbara Hauk, Jim Doane, MC Bruce, and Paul Suntup. (Mel Bernstein also read as an open mike poet.)

Tebot Bach is at work preparing its next (as yet untitled) anthology, this time expanded in scope to cover all of California. Submissions being considered for the anthology include works by noted poets such as Philip Levine and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The next entry in the monthly reading sponsored by Tebot Bach will take place in Huntington Beach on Friday, October 25, when Robin Hudechek and liz gonzalez will be featured. More information about either anthology or the monthly reading can be found at tebotbach.org .

Knowledge 10.19.02
Knowledge posting: I did a two in one Sunday. First I went to Echo Park then way out to Lands End for the Nation of Culture. a very cool spot hosted by Artus Mansoir, a very cool brother. He always reminds me of Herbie Hancock. The turnout was low but it's only their second week. It's a very cool spot with a lot of potential and I hope it picks up.The card advertising it is the best I've ever seen but it says 724 N. La Brea when it needs to say 'Inglewood' too. Your roving reporter ended up getting off at Melrose and having to take the bus again. It's around Slauson Avenue.When you get to the Luckar Plaza in between Plymouth and Hyde Park and see the place you need to walk up the stairs to the left. If they get 10 poets there's a $100 prize as each poet pays $10 to register. I like the idea. Soundbites. Jonathan? "I'll make you come just from kissing. It's time to find out just what the rest of the world's been missing"Quick insert. Back to Echo Park. For info on the Wednesday readings contact Marie Lecriver at [barberella8@yahoo.com]. Back to 'Nation of Culture. Rastafarian "The gun life is very detrimental...lamentations, lamentations, me never put no trust in a no politician...politician descended from the Roman...see them promote a whole heap of abomination...you wanna know how fe dress...don't go out in the street expose nakedness, expose chest, catch cold in your chest...girl, cut like a princess...man, put no face under dress, no put your face in a mess, woman no put your mouth on a tool, rastafarian principle, no licky licky, no sucky, sucky". Concerning the low turnout Artus said "We're just gonna let ancient universal principles do their thing. It's called the trickle down theory "I really dug that and the poet before him said he'd been to jazz joints where there were only 4 people and still the jazz musicians would work it to the max. Artus "All I know, all I know can't be seen with a microscope.It's internal though...down to the depths of the spiritual so down periscope." He said somebody told him that there are no limitations except the ones he puts on himself and his craft. Gia Scott Heron, Gil Scott Heron's daughter was in the house. If you don't know Gil do the 'google' thing. Inform yourself. When I saw her name on the list I thought she was just joking. Gia"Make me believe again, black man. I'm sick of the good ones being like parking spaces..taken...I've been screaming for a lon g time and I'm losing my voice...if you're gonna approach me. please be about something, not about weak lines,'cos that just shows weak minds, not about bling bling 'cos gold digging ain't my thing, and if you take me out for lunch we can even go dutch, I don't ask for much...what is a dime anyway? A thin, weak fragment of pocket change. There is no such thing as a dime or a ten. I'd rather be a 9 then I know I can only get better"Check out the Nation of Culture, people. It draws some hot talent. Knowledge signing off.