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

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Season One: After the New Year

Thanks to the commentor below for thinking so highly of me -- it's probably easiest if you email me your questions directly. My email's now posted to the right, by the way.

Also, a couple new blogs: Goat's Head Soup, this is a group blog comprised of members, like me, of the Lucifer Poetics Group (a lot more on this soon.) On it we'll be reviewing various books, movies, performances, ideas, fashions, etc. that don't necessarily fall into the category of "poetry" or any of our more usual disciplines, though it may also be about poetry.

And, The Delay, Chris Vitiello's -- also a Lucipo member and Goat's Head correspondent -- previously dormant blog.

season one continued:
So the DCPS 2003 New Year began with a delay. Jane Mead was our scheduled reader, but the snow came to Winston, and fearing for the safety of the poetry community, we pushed it back a few days. I'd reviewed Mead's second book the previous spring on the prompting of D. A. Powell, who is among other things the editor of the Electronic Poetry Review.

I liked the book quite a bit. There's a development from her first to her second book that seems to reflect the sort of "breakthrough narrative" that Tony Tost started a discussion about, and Marcus Slease, Aaron McCollough, and Joshua Corey (others?) continued awhile ago. Her first is more narrative, more linear, more "mainstream"/"school of quietude"/whatever you want to call that style. Her second consistently uses the kind of stylistic differences associated more with "post-avant" writers.

Anyway, so I'd met Jane before. She, like Evie, was very supportive and enthusiastic about the series. Again, hers was the kind of support that got me and the series through the first year. When the reading did finally happen -- what can I say?, terrific all around. Knowing my aesthetic interests, she read a handful of sonnet experiments she was then working on.

February's reader was Pamela Uschuk, who had then recently been appointed the director of Salem College's Center for Women Writers. There was a mix-up with some books for the reading, but other than that, a good near-Valentine's event.

March's reading by Carl Martin easily made all of the effort it took to track him down worth it. About a year or two before the reading, I'd subscribed to Mike Magee's great little journal, Combo. With the first issue, he included a thank-you note that mentioned a couple other North Carolina poets: Carl and Patrick Herron (more about him soon.) I got a copy of Carl's second book at the local Borders and decided to track him down. After emailing an address somebody gave me, contacting his publisher, checking the phone book (he lives in Winston), googling him countless times, I'd given up hope: how hard is it to find a postavant poet praised by John Ashbery in a town of 150,000? Hard. Then one day I decided to ask Evie.

For me, Carl is one of those poets -- like Rod Smith, Standard Schaeffer, Cecil Giscombe, Ashbery -- whose work on the page is quite dense, but then when I hear them read, the poems clarify in a way that makes them as comprehensible as any. Once I have the poet's voice/intonation in my head, reading their work is a whole different experience. Anyone know if anybody has written at length about this experience/phenomenon by the way?

Carl's reading was another highlight of the first season.

April's duties I gratefully passed on to Ms. Shockley. She invited Camille Dungy down from Randolf Macon Women's College to close the season for us. Being an audience member was a gratifying experience in and of itself; Camille's reading made it particularly good.

And so it ended. I did my best to mix local and out of town talent. I invited Lee Ann and Cecil in particular because both were a big part of my own "breakthrough narrative." I'd never met Lee Ann, but Polyverse had a big impact on my writing. I wanted to meet and thank her. Cecil, as I've said, is a good friend, poet, person, companion, etc. Any time spent with Mr. Giscombe is good time, plus he fit in with the aesthetic I was trying to present: chiefly, innovative work that was different from most easily accessible (physically & mentally) poetry.

I paid Cecil and Lee Ann -- they had to travel -- with money from my parents (thanks, Mom & Dad), some friends (thanks, friends), and myself (thanks, me.) Otherwise, the poets -- as unfortunately usual -- donated their time.

So thanks to Evie, Jane, Pamela, Carl, and Camille for making it a great year.

Soon: season two, 04/05 schedule.....


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