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Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 10.24.01
Slam Junkie

I must confess... Back in September, I was starting to have serious poetry slam withdrawals. My life was beginning to feel boring without the rush one gets from performing in front of a crowd and being judged by five complete strangers. But thanks to the muses and the slam fairies, we are in business again!

Last night, another qualifying slam for the Hollywood team happened at Da Poetry Lounge. The place was packed as usual, Poetri and Shihan were hosting as usual, Big Al was calling out "woo-woo-woo, baby" as usual, there were lots of familiar faces in the audience and on stage as usual... Still, the first round of the slam somehow felt a little bit off. Don't get me wrong! We heard some great performances (Gina, Gaknew, Jamie, the newcomer - Kwabena). Still, it felt as though the real slam did not start until the second round. The third round was short but sweet, and when all was said and done, the undersigned (yes, my humble self!) placed 4th with a total of 58.8 points, Jamie was 3rd with 59 even, and the two poets to advance to the semis next year were... drum roll please... Gaknew with 59.6 points and Gina with a perfect 60.

So, the Hollywood line-up now looks like this: In-Q, Jovan, Gina and Gaknew. There are 8 more spots in the semis to be won, so if your eye is on one of them, make sure you stop by Da Poetry Lounge before March next year. They slam on last Tuesday of every month, but they won't slam their door in your face if you show up any other Tuesday night either.

Poeticizing at Da Poetry Lounge and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

John Kilroy 10.22.01
Caught Gerald Stern on Sunday, at the Rattle Poetry Series at the Skirball Center. With respect to Mr. Stern and his awards, the work had zero effect on me. It was heartfelt, to be sure, but sure seemed to march along straightforward as prose, with an eventlessness in its subject matter. However, he's a National Book Award Winner, and I'm, uh, not. I heartily recommend this series. Some of the most lauded poets in the country for $5. About 65 people in attendance. Small, friendly space. Go to www.skirball.com for the schedule. The next reading is Robert Creeley, at 1 p.m., Sunday, November 4.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 10.19.01
No Festoons, Just a Festival

L.A. Poetry Festival for that matter. It's been happening "in sequels" at different venues over a couple of weeks this month, and it finally zoomed over to Zen restaurant (and proud home of the Poetic License) in Silverlake last night.

Larry Jaffe and friends did it again: a perfect evening of poetry. Different styles, different subjects, different poets but one goal in mind -- to support the L.A. River project and have fun while at it. The evening was jam-packed, and it would be absolutely unfair to mention some poets and not others, but hey! Who said that life was fair?!? And, since I'm writing this report, I'm going to mention who I want to mention, and that's that!

But seriously, some people really "rocked my boat," and they deserve to be honored in this humble report. The evening started with an amazing (as usual) performance by Litrave's own Frankie Drayus. Neil Aitken was hot as well, and then another LitRaver took stage: the humble undersigned, who admitted she "couldn't write poetry any more" (which, by the way, was a blatant lie). There were poets and poets and poets following each other on stage, a "newcomer" from Ohio, Lisa, among them with a mellow love poem. And Mani Suri was there with his refined poetics as usual... And Brandon Backhous with his sharp verse... And Rachel Kann with her contemplative hip-hop something-or-other style... And a poet named "7" with an unusually revealing journal entry... And then Philip Martin brought the house down in his inimitable way, to be followed by Slim calling to Lovolution (that's "love revolution" for those who don't know Slim), and Mike Sonksen marvelling about being "alive in L.A." with a little help from his friends, Philip and Slim. And then Mr. L.A. River himself (Louis McAdams) took the stage. And that would have been all for the night had Larry Jaffe not decide to admit to having "unprotected poetry last night." Now, we all know that's not a safe thing to do, but nobody could deny the fact that it was the perfect ending to this evening of aural delights. Even though we did not travel to India, we celebrated our festival by washing ourselves in the waters of a holy river: L.A. River of Poetry. May we be blessed like those who bathe in the waters of the Ganges!

John Kilroy 10.19.01
Probably the coolest thing about moving from writing to reading one's work publicly is the opportunity to meet people in poetry. I read last night at the Pale Ale Poets gathering in Laguna Beach, held Thursday nights at 8 at the Laguna Beach Brewing Company. I think John Gardiner has been doing it for something like 10 years. He's the nicest guy. He makes everybody feel important. There were probably about 25 people there for the 2 features. I'd report on them, but I'm mixed up on who was which. Then, I met the guy who does the Next Calendar, G. Murray Thomas, and he's another nicest-guy-in-the-world. I just wanted to thank him for his work. I use the Next Calendar a lot. Then, someone named, I think, Carol Luther, came up to me and just thanked me for being there. Where else in the world does that happen?

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 10.15.01

No, BDPS does not stand for Bashful Dragon's Poetry Special! BDPS is actually Big Damn Poetry Slam which, if you didn't know, takes place in Long Beach every Sunday between 3:30 p.m. and whenever (usually 6:00). The setting is upstairs at The Blue Cafe on the Promenade. The hostess is Mindy Nettifee. The atmosphere is laid back. The DJ is spinning, open mic readers are reading, feature poet is poeticizing, slam poets are slamming, judges are judging, and the audience is having a good time. Especially when, like this past Sunday, the featured poet brings the house down as only Besskepp can.

Besskepp (or Cory the Superhero for those in the know) came to Long Beach like in that Roman saying: "Veni, vidi, vici." With him, he brought his faithful "cohortes" -- Mark Gonzales, Abbye, and the undersigned. But victory was not won through a fight. It was won by love... some of that same love that flows freely at Besskepp's own Friday night spot in Pomona. And you know what they say... all you need is LOVE. So, give some poetic love to Mindy and visit her at the BDPS one Sunday afternoon! Oh, and don't forget to mention we sent you.

Loving blissfully in Long Beach and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

Wayman Barnes 10.11.01
The Horseshoe Raid

Rumor had it that the Horseshoe open mic was mostly music with a dab of poetry. We thought it would be fun to pack the place with poets and piss off the musicians. So we had a raid! But to our surprise, they seemed to dig us.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Go be a dab, enjoy some good music, and tell Garrett we sent you.

The Horseshoe
14568 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks
(Off the 101N exit, Van Nuys Blvd.)
Sign up - 7:30

Wayman Barnes 10.12.01
And one more for the road ...

Wayman Barnes 10.11.01
I'd like to add that Don Deedon was superb. The man oozes poetry.

John Kilroy 10.11.01
Just wanted to say how much I have come to immediately appreciate LitRave.

On Monday, I sent a note to Wayman to sign me up for the LitRave news, and he was kind enough to post a poem and my website. Then, on Wednesday, I caught the LitRave crew at a reading in Orange County, and enjoyed the evening immensely. Great fun. Big talent. And Frankie Drayus absolutely blew me away. Her work cooks in print, and became almost cinematic at times in her live delivery. Wow. A moment of transportation that reminded me once more of the powerful voodoo of which poetry is capable.

I am most grateful, and a sudden LitRave fan.

Wayman Barnes 10.10.01
If you ever go down to hear the Redondo Poets you'll find this to be true, Wanda VanHoy Smith ROCKS!!!

Wayman Barnes 10.9.01
Uncommon Common Grounds

There is a new open mic you will want to support in Northridge. It's hosted by Relic, whom you may know from Da Poetry Lounge and Co-lab:Oration. There is musical accompaniment (if you want it) and a good sized audience after 9. Get a group together and go. And tell Relic that we sent you.

Common Grounds
8pm (closer to 9)
9250 Reseda Blvd.

John Kilroy 10.8.01

Our anxious eyes of scattering crows
will see this town obliterate us back
to little more than insect tracks--
numbers: phone, address. Love ends
in smoking silk numerology, launching
airy ashen streamers & fakir ropes
of steam dissipating from 3s
and 9s, until 3319 is postal code
and geography again, not a church
where the risen held each other
into a jumping forest of sleep,
for a sure exchange of dreams.
I had the ambition of jet engines,
while you could lay out time soft
and easy as a picnic blanket.
When I die, your antique pendant
will rush again, gold creek
veiny into the palest apple hills.
I hope to stroll upon your last breath,
as more than a speed of men in doors--
rangy evidence of your boldest miles.
We sail as comets close round
the Earth, then off to the grevious
cold, the interstellar dark. Proof,
we have become: space expands.
We turn, the door clicks bone shut,
then strangers form the heavens
once again for astronomers like us,
each sky chaotic, fine as quantum light.

Copyright John Kilroy

Leslie Moore 10.6.01
Poetry Everywhere!

Hi LitRavers. There is an article in the current LA Weekly about poetry and current events. What do you think?

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 10.6.01

Another noble poetry reading attempt ends in untimely death. Rest in peace, Poets Cabin! As of October 6, 2001, Poets Cabin is officially "closing shop." It's a tough world out there, but I am sure Apple and Ursula will come up with something else really soon. Don't give up, girls! We love you!

Paying last respects to Poets Cabin,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

"Sullivan's Travels" Fan 10.4.01
Preston Sturges' golden rules for successful comedy:
A pretty girl is better than a plain one
A leg is better than an arm
A bedroom is better than a living room
An arrival is better than a departure
A birth is better than a death
A chase is better than a chat
A dog is better than a landscape
A kitten is better than a dog
A baby is better than a kitten
A kiss is better than a baby
A pratfall is better than anything.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 10.3.01
Poets & Patriots

It was a strange night at Zen last night... And not only because the Moon was full and Mercury was retrograde, but because we were saying a poetic farewell to one of LA's poetic "fixtures," Jeff Jurgens.

See, Jeff is re-enlisting in the Navy today, and last night was his last time in town for a (long) while. So, Larry came to a great idea to give him a Guest Poet spot at last night's event and let us get a fill of his poetry to hold us until he returns. And, that was the right thing to do, for Jeff had some mighty words...

Apart from the "farewell party," the rest of the night was as usual: quite unusual. There were open mic readers and a PL mic virgin among them, B. Jonsie ("...and all of that from across the room"). There was a featured poet, Iris Berry, accompanied by some mellow guitar sounds. There was the newly refurbished stage, the mic, and the poetic warmth of the audience... There was Zen. And, in the spirit of zen, we went into the night in silence.

Zoning out at Zen and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

Leslie Moore 10.3.01
Greetings fellow poets and LitRavers! There is a nice article on the poet laureate, Billy Collins, in the current Village Voice.

Wayman Barnes 10.1.01
Like that would prove anything. You'd probably make it wrong just to make your point. Yeah, I know your tricks, too. But I will accept your challenge. I want to see if you are brave enough to actually invite people to a Cosmo party at your humble abode aka Clutterville.

Frankie Drayus 10.1.01
All right, Wayman Barnes. You think if you are willfully stupid about the flavor of Cosmopolitans that I'll be forced to have you and a bevy of other witnesses over to my place for a Cosmo Tasting Party. I am on to your tricks. You think you know my weaknesses. You think I always have to prove my point. But you have unfair knowledge of exactly how many martini glasses I own. You know about the multiple cocktail shakers. You were there when I read the ESSAY about Cosmopolitan at Beyond Baroque. Well let me tell you, it's not going to work...no sirree... Not yet, anyway.

Wayman Barnes 10.1.01
Dear Frankie,
This is further proof that you are absolutely insane. Who in the hell would want to go to The William Faulkner Martini Party? That doesn't even have a nice ring to it. At least, The Martin Amis Martini Party has a poetic-ness to it.

In Cindy's defense, a drink with vodka, cointreau (orange-flavored), lime, and cranberry juice qualifies as a sweet drink. William Faulkner wouldn't have been caught dead drinking a Cosmopolitan, let me tell you.

But Martin Amis might.

Frankie Drayus 10.1.01
Martin Amis? I was toasting William Faulkner - same birthday you know. And he wrote that brilliant Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Or maybe I was toasting F. Scott Fitzgerald - his birthday was also this week. But after so much vodka it is possible that I was actually toasting Preston Sturges, who did not have a birthday this week but saved my poetic life with Sullivan's Travels. Note to Cindy: that pink drink glowing on the bar was NOT a sweet drink. That was a Cosmopolitan, which is vodka, cointreau, and lime with just a splash of cranberry for a triangular glass of perfection.

Leslie Moore 9.30.01
Thanks for telling me about the Rapp Saloon. It was cool getting to meet everyone.

Wayman Barnes 9.28.01
The Martin Amis Martini Party

Martin Amis would have been proud. Our belated birthday (8.25) for him turned into an all night drink-a-thon. We started at the Broadway Deli where we had lots of martinis and great conversation and ended at Wayman Barnes' apartment where we settled for straight vodka and Jan Terri videos. With the exception of having a hangover the next morning, it was a wonderful LitRave.

Our apologies to anyone who went to the Broadway Bar & Grill. They had neglected to tell us that they turn into a dance club on Friday nights. The bastards! We went across the street instead.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 9.28.01
Wham! Bam! Wanna Slam?!

For those who've been sleepin' in on my writing skills, it's about to be on... it's about to be on! Ooooops! Rewind!

Thought there for a moment I was channeling Wyclef Jean... What I wanted to say is, for those who have slept through the 2000/2001 slam poetry season, it's time to wake up. The 2001/2002 season has begun.

This week, both Hollywood and Los Angeles had their first qualifying slams of the season. Da Poetry Lounge hosted a large crowd (as usual) on Tuesday and chose the first two slam semi-finalists in a tight competition. Five poets made the final round: In-Q, Jovan, Jerry Quickley, Azikiwe, and (Litrave's own) Jelena. In the end, In-Q came out victorious with a score of perfect 60. Jovan also qualified for the semis with the score of 59.7 points.

Los Angeles team held their first official slam of the season on Thursday night, and also got their first two semi-finalists: Thea and Gimel aka King Lyric G. In the final round, the two of them competed against Shihan and Azikiwe, and even though Gimel scored a perfect 30 with his poem "Reflections," that was still not enough for this current LA Team member to beat the "rookie," Thea. You go, sister! It's good to see that female energy is appreciated in poetic circles.

So, congrats to In-Q, Jovan, Thea, and Gimel! And for you sleepyheads, the next qualifying LA slam is on the last Thursday of October. Wake up and smell the coffee at Tanner's! And while you are there, soak up all that good poetry and Jedi's positive vibes. It's good for your soul...

Slamming, jamming, ranting, and raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

Leslie Moore 9.26.01
Peace & Love to everyone!
I went to Poetic License last night. It was so nice to see everyone. Thea Iberall was a great feature. I loved her poem, "Abracadabra." Just what I needed.