Message today :
“We regret to inform that ___ Books, San Jose, CA will be closing (or sold) within the coming months. We have 9 copies of Heavenly Sex and 6 of Rosicrucian in the Basement on consignment. Can you have them picked up – otherwise they may be subject to donation or disposal. Thank you,
I read there 2 – 3 years ago and three people turned out, my wife, my co-reader, and the bookstore owner.
Poetry readings. Starting in 1957 at the University of Iowa I attended readings by Stephen Spender, Donald Hall, Allen Ginsberg… two or three readings a week… and on to the present, readings, readings, readings… it’s my favorite way of “getting” poetry. But I read too, books… and now, more and more, online. But I buy ’em, independent bookstore when I can, Amazon.com when I need to…
Lately attended another, this time in Santa Cruz. Scribbled notes, “this time feeling ‘out of it, though one reader a good and long-time friend. His reading is why I came… for friendship, for news of what he’s up to… and his WAS memorable… in the mid-1960s at the Huntington Hartford Foundation (no longer in existence), a poet’s wife said, “If I get one memorable line, one outstanding moment in an hour, I count myself lucky.” My friend’s reading provided several such moments. He sustained the “memorable” — unusual. I plan to write about it, what he did that was original.
I like to see what people do with their poems, I like to see how they ‘hear” what they’ve written. Even T.S. Eliot, a bad reader, I felt, provided some illumination into what he was up to. So at best it’s a sharing with them what they’ve done. I think of Gertrude Stein and her weekly salon and what that must have been like.
Am I resistent, emotionally “withholding…” what am I wanting? And then the people on a program with three or more readers who have already read more than their allotted time, who ask, “What time is it? Do I have time for one more poem?” How I’ve come to hate that. There’s only one answer to the question, “Do I have time for one more poem?” No, you stupid fuck, you’ve read too long as it is.
I catch a phrase here, a phrase there… then lose the thread of the poem as a whole. And then the ones who read into the page, who scarcely look up. How about a teleprompter? Or memorize your goddamn poems. But I’ve failed to memorize my own. Dana Gioia has memorized all his poems, says them effortlessly, as did James Wright… and those were two of the most successful readers… if I could I’d go back and hear ’em both again. And again.
So I go through my notebook, things I’ve jotted down, often at readings:
– Zeitgeist.com, a movie? Someone said something about Zeigeist.com.
– The brain, “a three pound enigma.”
– Neuroplasticity, how the brain re-grows, regenerates… learn to play the violin and your brain does what it needs to in order to perform in this up to now unaccustomed way.
– Then there’s this dog I’m writing about who says things that find their way into poems. I have no muse these days except this somewhat imaginary dog, a monologist. I wouldn’t know what to do if I had such a dog. But then again I DO have such a dog. And he’s my muse.