Sunday, November 04, 2007
Pats won, Sox still are champs, and a nifty reading at Demolicious today, featuring Charley Shively and Tom Beckett. nice weather too. I'll speak of the reading. Beth in NYC with her mother so I trained in. killing time I walked from Porter Square to Central, then rambled some more. finally, in front of the gallery, I saw a familiar, from photos, figure, and the clincher that he's tall: Tom Beckett. I introduced myself. I've 'known' Tom for more than 20 years, I imagine. his journal, The Difficulties, however I came to it, was integral to my development as a poem making type writer. I think Tom's contribution to poetry as an editor is worthy of whatever Hall of Fame that exists for poetry (none, I realize, but pretend one does), just as Babe Ruth's pitching stats could put him in Cooperstown, forget about the 714. Tom's poetry, as I discovered in the spare publications of his own works that I got, is a strong, definite statement. we have the further category of blogger, tho he's seen fit to shutter his latest blog. Tom was accompanied by his daughter and son in law, who live in Brookline, home town of Theo Epstein. as he and I were conversing, I'm an awesome converser, he told me that a friend of his was behind me. this friend, I heard his name as Jeff Booth. from NY, near Albany, I think. it wasn't till Tom read a poem dedicated to this Jeff Booth that I gleaned that Jeff Booth was in fact Geof Huth. Geof Huth is a wonderful, I'll even say cruciual, poet and, dare I say, scholar. his work is really avant in the visual context. I hope he can be persuaded to read locally. the reading, as usual, began with the local poet, Charley Shively. I only knew him by name. he was a friend of Wieners. he was also, and I'm sure still is, a legendary gay rights activist. he's a retired history professor. none of which did I know before he read. his reading was quirky and charming. think absentminded, if not dazed, professor. by dazed I am trying to describe an ephemeral quality. a very present and unencumbered attention. I mean, he wore unmatched shoes, and he said whatever sluiced into the main channel first. I can imagine he was a popular professor but drove a cetrtain few students crazy. such students would not just wonder what his last remark had to do with the Peloponnesian War but what the Peloponnisian War had to do with anything today. his observations and tangents were integral to his reading. given his general driftiness, which I do not present as a negative quality, his muscular sense of syllable was maybe a surprise. his poems appeareed to be short-lined affairs, and he read them with a careful syllable by syllablpe rhythm. he didn't exert much vocal dynamics, but the words came thru with a strong metric. he read for quite a while, timelessly, you might say. no way that I can replicate his performance. his 1st poem, which was to Wieners, and in fact was edited by him, included an aside about a dream he had in which Wieners was blowing Bob Dylan. I don't know what I can add to that. happily Jack Kimball attended and his reportage will no doubt supply a richer impression of the event than I can supply. from the small sampling I am willing to suggest that Shively is a great poet. Wieners class, that is. that was a hard act to follow but Tom gave a terrific reading too. he read entirely from Unprotecxted texts. which is a wonderful book, highly recommended. he read the entire Zombies series, which is funny, quirky and inviting. the lengthy, self-revelatory piece that followed, argh what's the title, was a tour de force, and solicited deserved applause even as he was starting his next set of poems. Tom read in a dry but involved way. his last reading was 7 years ago. you'd think the powers of NYC would be enlightened enough to invite someone of Tom's credentials to read. special thanks to John and Andrew for bringing Tom to town. let's get it straight: Tom isn't just sputum from an mfa program, he isn't just the newest vanilla to write a poem, he isn't just that friend of the friend of the friend, he isn't the latest advertising approach, he isn't the glory of sneer factor. no, Tom Beckett is a writer and editor of poetry, a poet living not on the cushy pulse but in the rugged definitions of the hinterland. do you see that the colostomy of networking is a failed sizzle, New York New York? the heroes aren't the ones who tell you they are heroes, okay? Beckett and Shively are clearly under-regarded. and Geof Huth, unexpected guest, should be given David Ortiz level praise as an innovator. as per, extra innings occurred at a pleasant Irish bar down the block (food's pretty good, tho I didn't partake today). where I sat didn't allow me to enter the conversation of Tom, Geof, Charley and Jack, but I had a good conversation with John Mercuri Dooley, who helped bring the event to fruition. I didn't start writing till I was 16, which is later than a number of writers I know. John didn't start till he was in his 40s. it is curious how we come to our expressions, how the necessities declare themselves. John and Andrew deserve commendation for the variety of readers that they've chosen for their series. that inclusion extends to the friendly nature of their events. the gatherings after the readings are as important as the readings themselves. alas that I had a train to catch. I scooted while things were still bubbling. great event, even so.