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JC 10.18.02

Thursday night, the Pale Ale Poets held their monthly reading at the Jolly Roger in Laguna Beach. (Despite the name "Pale Ale Poets," the group no longer meets in the Laguna Beach Brewing Company, though if you're in the mood for a beer, it's right next door.) The usual host, John Gardiner, was not in attendance since he was attending memorial services for his mother who passed away last week. (My condolences and prayers for you and your family, if you happen to read this.) Hosting duties were carried out by Katya Giritsky, who oversaw a small but talented turnout for Leigh White's reading. Peter Wahl read poems about September 11th. Dr. Brucenstein read a timely poem about a Halloween remembrance. Jaimes Palacio read a funny piece about a sex shop. MC Bruce had to perform from memory about five seconds after walking in late at Katya's urging -- he did two poems and a funny a capella song called "Anesthesia" from his rock project "Two-Headed Boy."

The most laughs were saved for Leigh's feature, however -- her poetry is an impressive mix of wry humor, surreal transitions between images, and veiled sentiment. (A perfect example -- a love poem entitled "Soup Du Jour.") Standout pieces included "I Thought Mr. Rogers Was Jesus," "Monday's Poem," and "Fun On A School Night Bossa Nova." Her new chapbook, "Dropped As A Baby," is available from FarStarFire Press (farstarfire.com) -- highly recommended.

Readers: Katya Giritsky, Carole Luther, Peter Wahl, Dr. Brucenstein, John Casey, Jaimes Palacio, Jim Sandford, MC Bruce, Leigh White.

Upcoming features: Jaimes Palacio (11/21). (It's also Carole's birthday -- bring presents!)

JC 10.18.02


Rick Lupert hosts a weekly reading at the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park unlike any other in Southern California. The reading features the most generous open mike around (seven minutes!) and a predictably bad group poem exercise. This particular Tuesday night, Anthony (from the Cobalt) provided free Italian pastries. Rick (from Poetry Superhighway) provided free books for all of the performers. (In fact, the rule for the night was read your poetry, take a pastry, take a book, sit down.) And, Rick kicked things off with a deadpan hilarious question-and-answer session on any and all topics. Compare and contrast THAT to your favorite local reading...it's worth the drive out to the Valley.

Once a month, the Valley Contemporary Poets co-sponsor the reading and bring in a featured performer. Tuesday, the guest of honor was Myrenna, an amazing poet who had made the trip out from southern Orange County to share her work. On top of strong writing, her voice was utterly compelling, especially though the very loud sound system. The open reading had some highlights as well: Ryan Oba (an ex-VCP feature) started things off with some strong pieces. Ron did a piece called "Belly Bumpers" which reminded me of Dr. Seuss crossed with Richard Simmons. Elizabeth Iannaci, a co-director of VCP, read a wonderful new poem called "Just So You Know." Frankie Drayus, another VCP co-director, impressed (as always) with "The Goddess Of Loss," a seven-syllable sonnet. Rick Lupert stole the show, though, with some funny, insightful pieces from his journal: "Men Sharing Tupperware" and "Flight Attendant Conversation." (Also, some fine choices from a new book by Jeffrey McDaniel.)

Readers: Ryan Oba, Ron Dvorkin, Jeff Liebling, Lauren, Jeremy, Erica Abbott, Myrenna, John Casey, Evan, Ron, Quentin, Elizabeth Iannaci, Frankie Drayus, Marie, Rick Lupert.

JC 10.17.02

Seattle's Best Coffee on Montana in Santa Monica was the site of the inaugural Moonday reading, hosted by Alice Pero. John Schofield and Jim Bolt were both featured poets, and for a nice change, they alternated poems during their set. John read a strong new piece, "I Come From Los Angeles," and before the applause had died down from his poem, Jim had started his own poem along the same theme -- "where I come from, they still sell Coke in glass bottles." Jim's high-energy style was on full display throughout the set, especially in his piece "Something Wild." John read several of his classics, including "Tacos Mexico" and a very effective muted rendition of "Walking Down Winston," as a preview of his upcoming chapbook from Tangent Girl Press, "Even My Feet Are Sweating." (The text of the chapbook can be found in its entirety on John's website, coyotehighway.com.)

The open reading attracted a decent crowd -- chairs were in short supply. Neil Aitken read an amazing piece called "Lone Wind Over The Rocky Mountain" inspired by a translation project, as well as a poem from his book-in-progress "Letters To The Unknown Wife." Terry McCarty earned laughs with "Clint Eastwood In Italy." Ross Cantalupo did a great piece about rock piles serving as trail markers.

Readers: Rick Weinberg, Keith, Marie Lecrivain, Alice Pero (x3), John Casey, Anne Silver, John Schofield, Jim Bolt, Michelle Daugherty, Neil Aitken, Terry McCarty, Frankie Drayus, Ross Cantalupo, Andrew.

Upcoming features: Anne Silver and Lee Rossi (10/28).

Knowledge 10.17.02

Knowledge posting: Unsaen featured at my spot. He did the longest feature I'd ever seen.Not 42 minutes long but 42 minutes short. He kept looking at me to see how he was doing for time. I unstrapped my watch and threw it on the ground.Unsaeen soundbites. His version of the alphabet song starts it"Cute girls rest in my SUV...somebody put out an APB. I hope nobody is taping me...Adam and Eve couldn't even endure an Eden...put down the malt alcohol and get out of the mall, another tower tall is about to fall...there's danger in the safest sex...put all my stock in the casino and mingle with Dino, so I can drink all his vino...why are so many people born in September? I've got to find somebody to inseminate by december...my dandruff won't be the reason I scratch my skull...the only serial killer who will kill you with a Cheerio... I always liked Master P but it always sounds like he has to pee incessantly...pussy control has taken its toll...you know you're nobody until somebody kills you...Michael Jordan...he won't win Oscars, he won't hit homers...you and me, we're really sunk, can't be like Michael 'cos we can't dunk'. He ended on that, his signature piece. Knowledge signing off.

JC 10.16.02


The Ugly Mug Cafe was the site of the latest round of the Big Damn Poetry Slam, hosted by Ben Trigg. Nine poets were brave enough to sign up for the competition, and the audience and judges were treated to some excellent performances. Rachel Kann made the drive down from L.A. to compete...and to celebrate her birthday. (Happy birthday, Rachel!) Michael Cirelli did a wry piece about visiting the zoo. Mindy Nettifee did an outstanding piece about being in love with a poet's words -- "I want to be there when you're speechless" -- which tied RAC for the highest score in the first round. Speaking of RAC -- she was her usual mind-blowing self, dropping some newer pieces on the crowd, including a love-poem-that-isn't-a-love-poem-since-I-don't-write-love-poems piece to her husband, George McKibbens, who was visiting from the East Coast. Watching him perform, it's easy to see why they click -- his intense style won over the judges in every round, and he even earned some coos of appreciation from RAC's son Holden! The highest score of the night, however, was reserved for Daniel McGinn -- his second-round piece was a masterful performance that closed out the qualifying rounds with a bang.

The only shortcoming of the evening was the highly uneven scoring from the judges. Scores were extremely low across the board, and in some cases brutally low. Four of the nine poets scored lower in the second round, despite the usual phenomenon of "score creep." Rachel Kann's first poem didn't break 20. She earned the only 10.0 of the while disqualifying herself by reading a Daniel McGinn poem in the finals because she didn't want to compete any further. Michael Cirelli, a veteran slam poet, barely made the final round. Strangest of all, Daniel McGinn had both the lowest score of the night, a 13.8 (say what?), and the highest, 28.1 -- I'm still trying to figure that one out. Still, despite the scoring mayhem, the judges got the end result right -- the newlyweds took first and second place and swept the prize money. (George placed first with a cumulative score of 78.5; RAC placed second with a score of 77.5.)

There will be more rounds of the Big Damn Poetry Slam upcoming -- check for schedule and information at poetryidiots.com.

Competitors and score (first round/second round/finals): Daniel McGinn (13.8/28.1), RAC (25.0/25.6/26.9), Mindy Nettifee (25.0/23.3/25.5), Howard Yosha (16.9/14.7), George McKibbens (23.7*/26.8/28.0), Michael Cirelli (23.0/20.9/23.9), Ryan Rice (14.6/13.8), CJ Amos (15.8/19.8), Rachel Kann (19.1/24.0/17.3)

* -2.0 time penalty...but it was worth it. AMAZING piece.

JC 10.15.02

Visiting poet/musician/raconteur/main attraction Jack Shafer pulled in a huge crowd at the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica on Friday night. In addition to the twenty open mike poets who shared their work with Jack, well over a dozen other non-performing audience members were content to sit through the nearly three-hour reading. Jack broke out the guitar and cracked one of the best one-liners of the night: "I suck at guitar -- first three years, I thought you blow into it!" He opened his set by singing a delicate version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," then followed with several strong spoken-word pieces. The biggest cheers of the night were saved for crowd requests, including the stirring "Blues For The Poet" and the hilarious "Bob." (Think "The Devil And Daniel Webster" set at a poetry reading, minus the trial nonsense...or something like that.)

The open reading had its share of memorable moments as well. Rick Weinberger sang a funny song about the attempted secession of the San Fernando Valley from Los Angeles. Peter Coca dropped an amazing story about the demise of a baby bird in the city, alternately funny and heartrending. Maitreyana and James Gautier performed a highly abstract piece on acoustic bass and flute-like object (respectively). (Imagine a perfume ad without the perfume and you're on the right track.) Terry McCarty did a sweet piece about buying an engagement ring for his wife (who was in the audience), then did a satirical piece about John Ashcroft. (Favorite Ashcroft fact: he lost an election for governor to a DEAD MAN...then became Attorney General.) Michelle Daugherty read two strong pieces: "Not Enough," and "The Reading Of My Will." James performed another abstract piece (accompanied by shaker) at the end of the reading: "The other day, the poet inside of me died -- thank God, that guy was a pain in the ass."

Readers: Sharmayne Walks Far Woman, Marie Lecrivain, Ion James, Dave Nordling, John Casey, Gary Justus, Rick Weinberger, Peter Coca, Ariel Dresser, Jonathan Aurthur, Maitreyana, Terry McCarty, Leslie Maryann Neal, Jack Shafer, Larry B, Michael Zeltser, Jim Bolt, Michelle Daugherty, Ed Houston, James Gautier, Pete Justus.

Upcoming features: Gene Silver (10/18), Frankie Drayus (10/25), Michelle Daugherty (11/1).

Knowledge 10.14.02

Knowledge posting: Thursday night at Green. Christmas did a cool thing that I was resistant to at first. She arranged a circle to create a more intimate atmosphere. I had recently got into sitting in the cubicles. She said only those in the circle get to read so I meekly took a chair making my way to the inner circle. Soundbites. Bronwyn "For one second you truly take hold of me. Not with your hands but with your poetry". Damon rocked everybody. He broke down how some people had disrespected him poetically for not flowing that often. His piece was tight and he ended it saying that he doesn't recite much but when he does he has something to say. Very emotional piece. Did I see you wipe away a tear, Christmas or was I just imagining it? No shame if so. It hit that hard. One of the most emotional pieces I've ever heard at poetry. It spoke to me. Damon"I'm just an average guy living out his 3 minutes of fame at an open mic poetry spot." Jahira "It was your misconception of reality that led to this brutality..you saw me bleeding and pleading..you're my father so i love you but I think I'd love you more if you'd just stop breathing" I remember the first time she did this Jedi nailed it by playing 'Cleaning out my closet'after. Jahira performed this on her knees. Afterward Slim got on his knees and said we should all perform on our knees. Barnabus said 'Bowling for Columbine' got him writing the piece he did. He said it affected him so much he had to take off work for a whole day "I say that everything that's wrong with Bush is what's wrong with the majority of this country" Christmas "My wings are too big for cages...I'm stalking strength like the Son of Sam" I wondered if she was doing what I did in a previous poem, anagramming Samson. Big Al"It takes a lot of maturity to make love, it takes a level of emotion that you share with the one you're with...your heart is intertwined with someone's heart, your mind is intertwined with someone's mind....LSD ain't got shit on making love. Once you make love you're an addict. You thought crack was some shit. Crack ain't got shit on making love" Annie did a piece called 'The drug of negativity'. She was a first timer at Green "I say I love me, I accept me and I am down for me so get me off of this drug of negativity" D-Lite "Grooving? You haven't heard that word since 1974" Javon "I want to put negroes in their rightful places. I want to put negroes with rifles in their places." Group poem. We all went in a circle. Slim wanted us to go from a dropped word but we all ended up just doing our own thing "If we have better men, we'll have better women" Unsaen "Everyone in my head is happy at the same time" Owner of Billiard's "If you can make them laugh, you can make them breakfast" Unknown "What do the words on the wall say?" Damon "The wall says 'Green'" Catherine "Dreams are nice but reality is what we have to face"Barnabus"Yankeee firepower can devour whole communities in the course of a few minutes and then be back two hours later to drop rations on their corpses" That was the shit right there. Knowledge signing off.

JC 10.13.02


At the Ugly Mug Café in Old Town Orange, Two Idiots Peddling Poetry hosted Anne Silver and Lee Rossi at their Wednesday weekly. Lee read several selections from his book in progress, _Ghost Diaries_, which should be available in three or four months...time permitting. (He introduced himself as a "part-time poet" at the beginning of his reading, and gave a different sort of introduction near the end with the alternately funny and insightful poem "Blurb.") Anne Silver read almost exclusively from her new book, _Bare Root: A Poet's Journey With Breast Cancer_. Her poems, though sobering, spoke eloquently about her will to overcome the illness and make art out of suffering. Her book is currently available for sale from her website, www.annesilver.com -- PayPal accepted.

The reading also had a "bonus feature" in Jason Bayani, a slam poet visiting from the Bay Area who performed an extended set as the "sorbet poet" (the poet between the two features who "cleanses the palate" of the audience). He provided a nice counterpoint to the features and gave the crowd an experience of the talent elsewhere in California. Michael Paul continued his mini-tradition of being the "poet before the feature," Zainab Outlaw dropped an a capella Peggy Lee cover, Kimberly Kinsey and Carrie Seitzinger continued to impress with their work, Sid Shifter returned from a long hiatus with some funny poems ("f---ing stupid wasp!") and Dan Rubiano made his Ugly Mug debut.

Readers: Ben Trigg (x3), John, Jim Sanford, Bill Ellis, Michael Paul, Lee Rossi, Jason Bayani, Anne Silver, JD Clay, John Casey, Kimberly Kinsey, Nacho, Bryan, Sid Shifter, Zainab Outlaw, Carrie Seitzinger, Mike Cramer, Dan Rubiano.

Upcoming features at The Ugly Mug: James Maverick and Paul Koenig (10/16), Naomi Quinonez (10/23), Elmo Martin and John Gardiner (10/30). www.poetryidiots.com for directions, more information, or merchandise.

Knowledge 10.13.02

Knowledge posting: Review of the Underground Railroad at the Lounge. They had musicians and the performers were a woman whose name I didn't know who was a combination of Maya Angelou and Yoyo the female rapper. The others were Steve Connell and Jerry Quickley, Seiku, Jaha and Gina Loring. Steve "Revolutionary griots spit the revolutionary shit into the trees and it hangs from the branches like lanterns." Sekou "I want to speak antibiotic poetry that defeats your life's viruses...I don't want to be the astronaut, I want to be the space that he explores, not the artist but the canvas, not the choreographer but the dance. Steve "God didn't mean for me to fuck you with plastic...I have theorized a layer to keep you from God and I called it religion...God to man'You will never figure me out until I want you to so why don't you all just shut the fuck up...There's a danger in making cocoons too comfortable" Gina "I cry sometimes because Miles hits that note so beautifully in 'Kinda Blue'...you make me want to stare into space and reconfigure constellations into the image of your face" Jerry "Niggas is throwing signs, claiming blocks and don't own shit" Sekou "You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to get so loud you sound violent" Gina "Suddenly I see the sun shining through, suddenly I see the reddest red and the bluest blue." Jaha "Surely I have found laughter to be truest friend...This poem, if it is about anything at all, it is about dancing on hurt feet" Steve "If a government really wants to fight terrorism then it must also set its sights on itself" Jerry's shared poem was started off here by Jaha "Angry men with agendas calmly attend flight classes...I regret I did not honor you more when you were here. The results of conflict are only celebrated by fools.." Jerry "There's too many funerals crammed into a single weekend..It's like all that bullshit the president be speaking. Took that coward 4 days to visit my city" That's a brief idea of the 90 minute piece they did. Hope you enjoyed the ride on the Underground Railroad. Knowledge signing off.

JC 10.12.02

Tuesday night, the Redondo Poets featured Elizabeth Iannaci of the Valley Contemporary Poets at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach. Elizabeth turned in a wonderful set of carefully crafted work, including a deeply touching poem about her father who has been seriously ill. (She also sported an amazing pair of shoes -- dare I say that she looked absolutely regal in them?) Two of her fellow VCP members (Frankie Drayus and Brendan Constantine) made the trip to Redondo Beach to support her and to share their talents at the strong (and frequently hilarious) open mike portion of the reading. Albert Morrissey got a lot of laughs by admitting that he performs his poetry naked in his bedroom. Wanda Van Hoyt killed everyone with her hilarious poem about (among other things) sex and fungi, ending with the line, "...like a mushroom in heat." Larry Colker read a very interesting work in progress about the geography of a woman's body.

Readers: Alex Frankel, Ben Trigg, Frankie Drayus, John Casey, Brendan Constantine, Larry Colker, Elizabeth Iannaci, Jim Doane, Wanda Van Hoy Smith, "Pariah," Albert Morrissey, Dana, Max, David Knight, and Maria.

Upcoming features at Coffee Cartel: Alex M. Frankel (10/15), Michelle Ben-Hur (10/22), Jim Doane (10/29). www.redondopoets.com for directions or more information.

Wayman Barnes 10.11.02

The Midnight Special

Someone told me that the Midnight Special Poetry Reading has been going strong for over 15 years. FIFTEEN YEARS!!! When most readings are lucky to last 6 months, that is an achievement.

And it is definitely a one of a kind open mic. Like the bookstore itself, the reading is very political. Leaning heavily to the left (I doubt you'd make it safely to your car, if you did a pro-Bush poem. But the same could probably be said with most poetry readings.).

They do have a strict five minute time limit (Complete with timer) and are serious about making all the poets stay to support the other poets (You'll be forever banished if you leave early). And Rev. Dave is a very gracious host (He even throws an after reading party that is famous in and of itself.).

So go check out the reading. But please leave your “Bush 2004” poem at home.

The Poets:
Mel Bernstein - Fluffy Cat; Applecart; Stars; Taking My Shirt Off; Trick Horse; Jungle Cat; Second Wind; Vegetarians
Melissa D. - "Waxing Orb"; Lucy, My Light; "Soft trails of feeling ..."
John B. - To See Her Again
Margo - "You spin my mind ..."; Today; 10 am on a Tuesday; "Play upon my tongue ..."
Andre Jacobs - The Opressor and the Victim; "The shedding of skin ..."
Lee Sloca - Is It the Way She Picks Her Nose?; The Night Her G-Spot Got Away and All I Got was This Lousy T-Shirt
Wayman Barnes - Jesus & the Two Older Women
Quincy - Don't Read the God Damned Post!
Scott Kester - Head; At Sunset in October; Back to the Bar
Steve Baratta - Collected Thoughts
Rev. Dave - Black-eyed Susan; Questions
Ivan Mason - Socialista
Sweet Pants McCoy - Snuggles; On Writing the Perfect Poem on That Subject; Fun, Fun, Fun 'til I Take That Thing Away; Tight MTV Poem #1 & #2
Eric - Karate; Candystore; Toothfairy Acid; Dropped Acid; Back of Head; Rubberband Ball; Cold Turkey; Sick Chickens; Myself; No News; Bike; Horoscope; Trees; Paperclip; Glass; Pliers; Skywriting; Fortune Cookie
Lisa Chapman - Wandering Around
Maria - "No recourse ..."
Charlotte O'Brien - E-mail Poem; Ode to the Plant Lady; Funny Man
Rev. Billy Blie - "Tick-tock"
Tony Bird - Muskie Fishing
Trinity - Drawing Female Nudes
Lalani Squire - "Two cents ..."; "Severed head ..."
Pete - Fleeting Moment; Beauty
Vince Caravallo - Next of Kin; Background Information; The Day the Yankee Fired Me
Adam - Untitled; "Sick bang bang ..."; Hanging
Joan Zoric - On the Wings of Malcolm
Dana Snow - Merchandising Poets; Chaos Theory Joke; Brother Fred; Ben Franklin; Cosmo Quiz; Fragments
Roxanna - Opal and the Drain; Around the Teeth; When School Started
Suphie - Find the Hippie in the Corner; Famine Values; Coca Cola in Katmandu; Sweating in Cyber Heat; Who Made You Burn Up the House?
Barry Willard - Aging; Role Playing
Ray Lanthier - Fast Dance to Slow Brain Death; Scenes from a Food Court

The Midnight Special
Friday, 8 pm (7:30 sign up), Free
1318 3rd Street 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica