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Nancy Lambert 8.17.01

Rapp-sody: Rapp Saloon

Poetic partners Pete Justus and Gary Justice have one of the warmest venues in town. Located in the International Youth Hostel in Santa Monica, Rapp Saloon has been getting bigger by the week, with poetry and singing and guitar music and story-telling and mock-Shakespearian couplet-ing and much more.

This week, Jim Gautier featured, a ball of poetic fire. Opening with some fine dust-bowl harmonica accompaniment, Gautier skated the floor like it was made of ice -- the guy moves that fast -- scatting out poems and stories ranging from the reverent to the playful, from the heartbreaking simplicity of "Rainfall" ("you ever miss anybody so bad it hurts all the time?") to the multi-tiered "Monkeys and Sparrows Chasing the Wind" ("and nicotine and anxiety is a strange kind of clarity"). This is only the second time I've seen him do his stuff, but a more complex and multifaceted poet you're not likely to see.

The open-mic part of the evening framed Jim's set beautifully. Brenda Petrakos, with that wonderful Jersey-City voice (sounds Jersey to me, even though I know she's from Colorado) brought to life, as she does in all her stories, a family outing remembered as "A Perfect Day," in which a child's love of adventure and hope for healing is served by the strength of adults who help make the day possible. Next up, Anthony Maldonado ("I put a smile on her face and she wore it to town"), followed by Rick Weinberger, whose meditations on war ("Aftermath") and women's lives in pioneer America ("Sea of Grass") culminated in a playful neo-classic ("Leda and the Schwinn" -- yes, as in bicycle). Two straight-from-the heart poems from James Washburn ("Abandoned Headlines," "A Happiness Instead") were followed by some straight-from-the-hip Hollywood satire by master-of-the-deadpan Terry McCarty ("anything can happen when you're wearing the right clothes"). I'd crash a Hollywood party with Terry McCarty any day.

Jim Gautier featured next. And then, as we reverberated with Jim's performance, Neil Aitken got up and read two gorgeous poems, "Nocturne" and "Genesis," whose potent and assured lyricism served as a perfect introduction to co-host Pete Justus's remembrance of his father in the moving ballad "California Son" ("there are so many parts of me that are just like him / his impatience and intolerance / his weariness and sin"). Following Pete was Tracy Witt ("all god's crash dummies" and a poem about receiving an unexpected kindness), followed by me, then by Michelle Daugherty, whose a capella song in French (what a beautiful voice!) introduced her thoughtful poetry ("morning draped my feet in dread / now lightening with the flow of clouds").

Next up: Augustus Saunders, who displayed great versatility in three very different pieces of work: "Golden," "Girl from Before," and the lushly satirical "The Regal Bees" (think: Monty Python as performed by Dylan Thomas). And who better to follow on the heels of British parody than the dulcimer "Lawhead Girls" -- Natalie Lawhead, then her sister Tanya. Natalie's sharp-tongued take on American education in "The Student" ("I will go to school and become an educated fool") was matched by Tanya's sweetly imaginative folk stories: "The Book of Wishes" and "The Man Who Painted the Sky." Rumor has it the Lawhead girls have a totally cool animated website.

We finished the night with three great poets: Pat Bowser (whose affection for animals warms the heart); L.L. Berger (offering new and revealing ways to walk inside another man's shoes); and finally, Gary Justice (the second half of the Justus/Justice hosting team), whose piece about a much loved person ("she was the door beyond ordinary and sublime") completed the evening by conveying generosity and warmth, which is what makes Rapp Saloon one of the sweetest venues in town.

And then we all went for coffee at the Interactive Cafe. People were promenading, and we vanished into the crowd.

Rapp Saloon
hosted by Pete Justus and Gary Justice
Friday nights, sign-ups 7:30 p.m., reading starts at 8:00

Located in the Hostelling International building at 1436 2nd St. in Santa Monica (between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd.) Parking available in nearby parking structures.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 8.17.01

All You Need Is Love... Or At Least, A Mic And Dim Lights

Walking down the streets of Pomona after 9:00 PM, I'm thinking I'm on my premature way to Hell: hot, dark, no living soul in sight, and nowhere to get a glass of water to drink. Then, I stumble upon the Millennia Lounge. In the doorway stands Cory, glasses on the tip of his nose and a big smile on his face. We exchange hugs like relatives who haven't seen each other in years, and he invites me in. I decide to linger around a while longer, and next thing I know, it's after 10:30, and Cory has turned into Besskepp, and that notorious Friday night poetry reading is about to begin. And Besskepp ain't no Jill Scott, but you can feel the love, and the audience is giving him love, yo, and the poets are blessing the mic lovingly, and you can breathe love in the air. Love for poetry, love for spoken word, love for hip-hop, love for the grooves the DJ is spinning, love for God, love for other human beings... Some faces I know: Mark, Bridget, Rafi, Macho, Wayman, Mani, DeAngela. Others I see for the first time, but their words and songs are speaking to my soul. The lights are low, incense is burning, the mic is open, the host is awesome, and the love is flowing freely. Now, was Pomona by any chance on the way to Heaven? What?!? Did I say Hell first? To turn Hell into Heaven, all you need is love... or at least a mic and dim lights. My man Besskepp has the right idea.

Poeticizing in Pomona and Raving for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

Wayman Barnes 8.17.01
Pomona Road Trip

Still looking for the perfect poetry high, LitRave hit the road again. This time going to the warmer than warm town of Pomona. We had been hearing about the "A Mic and Dim Lights" open mic for some time and were excited to see what it was all about. We were not disappointed.

The festivities began around 9:30 with a DJ and a guitarist jamming for about an hour while everyone mingled about. The venue was an art gallery with a couple of murals on the wall. There were artists selling paintings and jewelry by the door. And someone making drinks in the back. The whole thing felt more like an event than a normal old poetry reading.

It was nice to see Mani Suri show up. Bridget Gray was there, looking very beautiful. Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon happened to come wearing the same hat as Wayman Barnes (a fashion faux pas, for sure). Macho brought his group the Tunnel Rats. Scrap Lover Zulu from the Café Future in Inglewood was hanging out. In fact, there were people representing from all the different poetry scenes. A very cool surprise.

Sometime after 10:30 Besskepp got the poetry portion of the evening started. They had a nice blend of poetry and acoustic music. Two women even acted out a poetry sketch. The variety made for a very enjoyable evening.

The Poets: Besskepp, Wayman Barnes, Mark Gonzalez, Unearthodox, Davooa, Ami & Sid, Ghettosphere, Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon, Man Child, Bridget Gray, Glori, Abbye, Mani Suri, M & M, Mr. Perry, Tamara, Mikal & Emily, Yvonne Jones, Tunnel Rats (Macho, Rafi, & Donovan), JB, Scrap Lover Zulu, Darnell, Sesi, MC Trey, Noni, Mecca, and Inena

A Mic and Dim Lights
Fridays at 9:30 (closer to 10:30)
The Millenia Café
181 W. 2nd

The Exorcist 8-16-01
This is the Exorcist reporting the happenings at the Lounge August 14th. Saul Williams guested promoting a show that he's doing downtown I think. Somebody gave out flyers for it. I think his poem was about 10 minutes long. He received a standing ovation from about half the crowd. Slim did his hiphop sellout rap and brought the house down. Sekou did a piece I hadn't heard before. Poetri won the bet he had going between him, Shihan and Gimel. They had to do one new poem a week. They repeated so they had to buy him dinner. One guy ended the night with a poem on his love of 18 year old girls. Shihan felt so weird about the poem he decided to end on someone else. Babu and another poet had it like Wu-Tang. Attack of the killer B's. They both did poems that had a lot of B words in. One girl did a very moving poem about a guy that flew from one state to live with her, leaving his family and after three weeks she realized he wasn't for her but he still loved her. They slept backbone to backbone. In two weeks they're going to have the slam and in the first half they are going to have a bachelor and bachelorette auction. The women will be chaperoned. I forgot to say that Poetri's poem was about what he learned from other people. This has been a message from the Exorcist.

Da Poetry Lounge
Tuesdays at 9
Greenway Court Theater
544 N. Fairfax Ave.

Wayman Barnes 8-10-01
It was nice to see everyone back at Green last night. We got to hear all about their near victory in the Slam Nationals. And a bit of gossip (always my favorite part). Everyone was in great form, poetry wise. Gaknew, in particular, blew me away. That guy is really on a roll. And Poetri told the worst joke I have ever heard in my life. Absolutely terrible.

Thursdays at 8pm
Tanner's Coffeehouse.
4342 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City

The Exorcist 8.8.01
This is the Exorcist reporting on last night's happenings at the Poetry Lounge. As usual, Shihan and Poetri hosted. They told us that they lost by a tenth of a point to Dallas. That had to hurt. Better to lose by a wide margin. Gimel told me that LA won the first three rounds. Hollywood came in 17th. A New Orleans rep said it was a humbling experience so I guess they didn't do too good either. She did an excellent poem last night. Started using the letter A a lot then B and so on in a very literate way. I thought X and Z would mess her up, but she handled it. Walking home later with Babu, he tripped me out doing a poem with every word beginning with B! Boston crew came to the Lounge and one of their team blew it up. Only line I remember, "Gave the moon a swig of her own moonshine till she couldn't walk a straight line." A few people stood up, clapping. I think that's the highest accolade a poet can receive short of throwing them roses - the way Charlie Parker had it. One black guy did an awesome poem about a house slave striking back at his repressive master. It was tight. "Wisdom" and "Knowledge" were two young rappers that were off the hook busting battle rhymes. Forgot his name but if I say "Woo Woo Baby" you'll know who I mean. His poetry is always like a conversation and always engaging. Three minutes, he went over. I didn't mind and didn't feel he should have to observe a time limit. He was that interesting. Poetri called Gimel and Shihan to the stage without explaining why. They got a surprise when Damon came out with two birthday cakes. Gimel's was a vegan cake as he is health conscious. Poetri had everyone singing the Stevie Wonder 'Happy Birthday'. The second half was more packed than the first. One poet did a poem about how overdosing on poetry got him writing it and he needs it like a junkie needs a fix. Spiffy was the last poet and did a good piece. BET covered it again. This has been a report from the Exorcist.

Wayman Barnes 8.5.01
Last night's "In the Flow" poetry reading happened in a place where I imagine there has never been a poetry reading before - on the Venice Beach basketball court. It was so much fun. We divided into two teams of poets. The person with the ball would freestyle a poem. When the ball was passed, so was the poem. The exciting part was stealing the ball and taking the poem in a whole new direction. Or finishing the poem as you made the basket. I doubt Kwame and Jelena had planned on mixing poetry and basketball, but that is the great thing about "In the Flow" - you never know what is going to happen.

Wayman Barnes 8.3.01
Frankie and I checked out Brain Candy once again. They have a ritual where the audience yells out suggestions for each poet to improvise a poem from (if they want to) when they first get on stage. Things like: "Worse than Detroit," "Elephants Eating Rotten Papayas," "Sqeaky Floor Boards," "Nike in North Africa," and, my favorite, "Chocolate Covered Donut People." We had a lot of fun.
The poets: James, Jack Bowman, Terry McCarty, Bruce Arnold, Pearl Took, Cal Oakey, Frankie Drayus, Me, Larry Jaffe (feature), Sean, Francis, Gary Justice, Donna Evans, Thaine H. Allison, Jr., Stephanie, Richard, Raphael, Mia, Jennifer, Andy, Kevin Pollard, Angie Cardone, and Ed.

Brain Candy - The Coffee Gallery Backstage
1st and 3rd Thursdays of Each Month at 8pm
2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

The Exorcist 8.2.01
Hi, this is the Exorcist speaking on 2 Poetry Lounge sessions. July 25th they had the leaving party and Poetri invited up various friends to do poetry in the first half and in the second half they had the slam. The San Jose team turned up and rocked it. Deep poems. One was about a father who had to decide whether a newborn child should live or die if living meant going through life with physical problems. Another was about a guy who's sister was molested by his best friend and how he got his revenge. They injected new blood into the Lounge, I felt. Slim did a great poem on women. August 1st had Dante filling in for Poetri who went to the slam. He did a good job. Later on I found out he was Rufio in "Hook." Babu did "Squares and Rounds." One woman did a poem on the trichotomy of women which was the shortest poem I ever heard. It brought the house down. She ended on "I am a red apple. Eat me." Spiffy did a poem that ended with "a hard dick is hard to find." Dante said he was going home with both women. Dante did a great poem that broke down the Filipino history. Enlightened me. They ended the night with a freestyle session. This report was brought to you by the Exorcist.

Da Poetry Lounge
Tuesdays at 9
Greenway Court Theater
544 N. Fairfax Ave.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 8.1.01

A Zen Moment of Bliss

Occasionally, in my life I had taken poetic license to describe certain events, but last night was the very first time I took myself to Poetic License at Zen Restaurant in Silver Lake. And I must admit, it was a perfect Zen moment of bliss.

Larry Jaffe has done it again: a perfect 10 for his choice of the featured poet for the night! As a matter of fact, the flyer announced two perfect features - Kamau Daaood and Lewis MacAdams. By some strange twist of fate, The Gentle Warrior didn't show up, but Mr. MacAdams (or should I say Mr. LA River) more than held up his end of the bargain. Still, before the evening ended in a crescendo in the form of Lewis MacAdams, open mic readers did their part quite successfully, too. It was a showcase of different poetic styles blending into a tasty poetic brew. Larry's co-host, Brandon Backhaus started us off. After that, Bruce Arnold made a bee-line for the mic to talk about bee sex life and to lament over loss of hair. He was followed by Neil Aitken who was "Restless" to take us on "Vacation." Then, Litrave's own Helen (that's me!) made her PL debut explaining what her "Nia (Purpose)" in life was and giving Larry second thoughts about visiting Belgrade with her poem "Lament Over My Nation." (No, Larry, you can really go now -- Milosevich is in jail!) Art Fisher followed with a sad love poem and another not-so-sad love poem. Nathalie Lawhead informed us that her life was not hers to live, and Sean sounded like a very mellow version of Ben Porter Lewis. Next up was Tanja Lawhead, followed by Anthony J. Maldonado. Then, another Litraver took the stage: Frankie Drayus. She read two brand new poems - "Lullaby," inspired by Rielke and talk during sex (!) and "If I Opened My Mouth." And no, it's NOT what you think it's about!!! Thaine H. Allison, Jr. told us how he was "punished for lustful thoughts," and James welcomed us to the future and offered some interesting thoughts about dirt. Mia read an older piece titled "Forgotten Abacus," and Mike got us all thinking about the place of a human in the age of communication. Then, Philip Martin joined him to tell us about "American Avant-garde." Philip then proceeded solo to bring the house down with a hip-hop tinted insight in how "the spirit joins the flesh, so that all elements can positively mash." After Philip, VonEnemy took the stage (himself) with poems titled "Myself" and "3:00 AM." And then, (fanfare, please!) it was time for Lewis MacAdams. His "dissertation" on many faces of the Los Angeles River left us all in positive awe. I bet most of the poets present last night would agree with my statement: "I want to be like Lewis when I grow up!" And I'll never look at the LA River with the same eyes again. Although he lamented about "setting out to be a hero but becoming a lobbyist," one thing cannot be denied: Lewis is a bard par excellence. Thank you, Larry Jaffe, for the amazing feature!

Scoping out Lyricism in Silver Lake and Raving for Litrave,
Jelena aka Helen The Bashful Dragon

Poetic License
Tuesdays at 8pm
The Zen Restaurant
2609 Hyperion Ave.

Wayman Barnes 7.29.01
It is going to be hard to explain exactly what "In the Flow" is. It is not a poetry reading in the traditional sense. There is no stage. No microphone. It is more like a poetry conversation. Everyone sits around and reads poems inspired by what the other people have just read. Or they talk about how it has affected them. Or they just listen. Or they sing. Maybe something by Whitney Houston or Henry Rollins or whatever. The whole thing is about being in the moment (In the flow, if you will). Everyone thinking about and discussing something they would never have foreseen when the night began. And that is always a cool thing.

Paul Kornhauser 7.28.01
Impressions of the 3rd Street Promenade, Outside Midnight Special, 7/27

Street Performance

Two small sisters dance in the street
Of musician guitar cases papered green
Parents in a throng of smiling to the beat
Sun roasting heads like peanut
Air tainted with cigarettes and cotton candy
Black silk Asian women thin round faces
Drifting passed muttering homeless
Invisible demons sandal tones long bones
Under sheer panties and perfume
Old wrinkled men crawling their paces
Young men pierced and purple
Or no hair blonde cinnamon peaches
Coffee dust clouds congregating moments
Gone again into lamp posts
Leaning by well-fed trash cans picked clean
Glazed storefronts reflecting ocean glint and murmur
Shuffling concrete vanilla ice cream cones dripping down
A small boy's chin perched on his father's shoulders
Teen girls giggling their new breasts
Eye flashes hunting hormone babes hopping boy to boy
Like bees and flowers mixed inside crowd
Merchants juice performers sweat sing chant
Beg dance mime mingle slither
Lick the fountain
Stalk stories for spare change
The afternoon herd
Mobilized, rubbing, crushing
And pulsing open flesh rhythms.

Wayman Barnes 7.28.01
Last night was a very combative night at the Ol' Midnight Special. Many of the poets came out swinging with angry, political poems. Some of it as a response to poems from previous readings. It was hard to agree with a lot of what was said on stage, but it was certainly entertaining and thought provoking. Hell, I might even write a poem and come back to tell them what I think about some of those views! Grrr!!!
There was also a lot of levity and some very sweet moments. The host, Dante, read a specially written birthday poem for Christmas Rini which I really liked. And a group of us from Green brought her a chocolate cake. I also took a group photo of everyone before we chowed down. Which I think was the perfect ending. We may have all had very different opinions on politics, but when it came to chocolate cake and Christmas' birthday - we all agreed. Mmm!!!

The poets were:
Flash, Nelson, Vasco, Jacob the Invincible, Dave Nordling, Me, Anette Robinson, Ivan, Kurt, Ron Stark, Raymond, Joy Buckley, Kwame James, Enrique, Derek, Eric Eric, Bailey, Dante, Bill Bolt, & Paul Kornhauser

Midnight Special
Fridays at 8
1318 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica

The Exorcist 7.27.01
Hi everyone. This is the Exorcist writing his first piece for LitRave. A very cool site, checked it out for the first time today. I went to the Knitting Factory Slam on July 19th. Loved the look of the place. They have computers set into the walls that you can use for free. There is an alternative room where poetry takes place every other Sunday with Rachel as the host, I believe, but for this slam they got the main room. Loved R-A-C's poem 'Monk to Midnight' but the judges didn't. They gave it a 21.7. Boo. She was a sacrificial poet. Gina did a piece called 'Somewhere There's a Poem' I think, which was off the hook and the scatting that she is known for. Rachel did the 'I want to receive you like' poem. Ben Porter Lewis did a great piece. Gimel was styling sitting on a speaker box while reciting. Shihan got the highest score from these judges who were the most severe I'd ever seen, a 29.7. I think Bridget got the second highest at 29.4. Bowerbird has all the scores. He did the scores on his Apple computer. D-Knowledge dropped the Motherfucka is a word poem and Assaholics Anonymous. Another feature did 'The Bambi Lamp' poem. Sorry, dude, I can't recall your name. A woman called Lisa sang with a band. Sax, drums and the big bass guitar. I joined in the jam at the end because I had a song that fitted the groove but Slim brought the house down doing his poem over the music. Made me want to write some beat poetry. The night ended at 1am. Jerry Quickley was a very funny host bagging on the judges. He was a sacrificial poet and got 25 something. He said it was okay because one of the female judges was his ex. He was joking. He dissed a judge for losing her black marker pen and crawling under the table to find it and said another was slow with the scores because he was smoking blunts. Had the audience cracking up. Flying Brown Dragons did a cover of 'I Need Love' which tripped out Damon. They did a breakdance session. I liked the opening the most where they Run Dmc'ed it. Sekou and his partner rocked it. He was Uncle Fourlips that night. It was the first time I'd heard him flow over a beat so I'd heard it acappella and without a beat. This message from the Exorcist.

Wayman Barnes 7.27.01

It was another great night at The Green. Sorry Green. I have been informed by Damon that there is no The in the name. So let me begin again

It was another great night at Green. Hmm, that just doesn't sound right. Green needs the The. It sounds better with it. If someone were to ask me if I wanted to go see "The Green," I'd say, "Oh, yes. Definitely." But if they were to ask, "Would you like to go see Green?" I'm not sure what I'd say. And don't even ask Damon what Green means. It's not worth your time.

Anyway, it was another great night at _________.

The Green or Green
Thursdays at 8pm
Tanner's Coffeehouse.
4342 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City