Information about the Desert City Poetry Series, contemporary poetry & poetics, and poetry readings & events in central North Carolina.

Friday, August 27, 2004

DCPS Second Season & More New Books at the Internationalist

So with the help of a little encouragement and enthusiasm from the folks I'd met, I decided I'd run the series. The question was, of course, where? I really liked having the readings at PS211 -- such a great space and and unusual place for the kind of poetry the DC presents. I didn't know what would be comparable in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area -- actually, there unfortunately isn't anything like it in that area. A bookstore seemed too predictable; a coffee shop was also predictable, plus I don't like having to listen to poetry over that noise -- how to describe it? like someone's vacumming a fat cat's lips? -- that cappacino machines make. A bar would've been okay, but too noisy?

The first place I tried was the Carrboro Arts Center. Good space, good location, nice woman who organizes use of the space: they wanted to charge me $600 per reading.

[Side note: part of the difficulty of pitching the series was getting folks to understand what I was doing. Most folks outside of the poetry world seem to think readings are high school kids with poems about how much their parents suck or naked and bearded men playing drums and talking about driving nails or the true rock stars of contemporary poetry: the slam poets.

The readings I wanted to program were adult, published poets reading poems about how their parents still suck, how they used to beat on drums naked but now have mortgages, and how they really wish they could be more like slam poets. (I'm kidding of course.)]

So the Arts center was out. An art/art associated space was very appealing to me though. Then one day, my friend Norma suggested I try the Sizl Gallery in Carrboro. The space was terrific. A few weeks later, Karen Shelton agreed to host the readings, and we set a date.

Joe and Patrick were set as readers; the location and date were reserved; I started to do some publicity. I'd worked as the publicist for about a year at John F. Blair, Publisher, in Winston and learned a lot about working with the media to get coverage of literary events. For that first reading in Carrboro, I followed the same procedure I had in Winston. Carrboro, as many say, is different.

A couple days after sending out press releases, several reporters called; the reading ended up on the front page of the arts section. Then I started hearing rumors that the mayor of Carrboro was going to attend the reading. He didn't it turned out, but clearly, Carrboro was different.

There were about 30 - 35 people at the first reading; many of whom came in specifically because they'd "heard that their poet laureate was going to be reading." I was floored. It was, of course, a terrific reading. I'd never heard Joe read before: he's one of the best readers I've heard. His poems tend to be quite long, long sentences, big trains of thought -- his reading of them unleashes/reveals the inherent and inevitable momentum that he builds into them. Listening to Joe read is like standing on a very high cliff in early fall while the wind whips up from the valley, and you think that you're as close as you'll ever be to flying right off the ground.

Or, at least, that's usually the way I feel.

Patrick I'd heard and enjoyed once again. Patrick's readings, on the other hand, are like hanging out and laughing with the smartest, most disrespectful yet sensitive kid in your class. His readings aren't so much readings as they are assaults on convention that he invites the audience to be a part of in a nudge-nudge, wink-wink way.

While their reading styles are quite different, I was struck by how similar some of the content was.

Okay, more to come soon, but we got in some more goodies at the Internationalist -- come down and check them out:

Eleni Sikelianos -- The California Poem

Ben Lerner -- The Lichtenberg Figures

Joseph Donahue -- Monitions of the Approach

Ed Roberson -- Atmosphere Conditions

Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada

Joseph Donahue -- Incidental Eclipse

Trevor Joyce -- With the First Dream of Fire They Hunt the Cold


Blogger Tony Tost said...

Mr. Rumble --

Hey, just a random thought as I'm spending my Labor Day weekend listening to different poetry audio files -- how much of a logistic nightmare would it be to have audio from the Desert City readings available on line, maybe thru Ibiblio?



9/6/04, 3:59 PM


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