Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ten Years After

Not the band, just a mark on the calendar. Beth and I attended the Boston Poetry Marathon in the summer of 2000. It was an important event for me, and a new one is this weekend. Tempus fugit.

Beth and I were not married yet as of that poetry gathering. It was an exciting meet and greet for me, who had only just got connected to the wider world of poetry via the Internet. Beth and I met thru the backchannel of  the Poetics listserv. We decided to go to this grand event.

Another person who I met thru backchannel was Stephen Ellis. He asked if we could put him up the Saturday night of the readings.

Memory is fuzzy. We attended Friday night, paying $40 a head. Wow, paid attendance! The locus was the Art Institute of Boston, near Fenway. I cannot recall that night, but I know that it occurred.

Saturday we were to meet Peter Ganick at an Indian restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge. Beth met him online. I had for years bought books from Potes & Poets Press but never met Peter. Peter brought Sheila Murphy, whose work I knew from its online appearances. We went to the reading together. Peter skipped out early, I think, but Sheila remained. She read at one point, and was one of the better readers. My favourite reader was Michael Gizzi. His delivery was dry, measured, and skilled.

Before that, not to mess chronology too much, someone entered and I knew it was Stephen, tho I had no clue what he might look like. I recall sitting next to Sheila thru much of the reading. We both busily scribbled. I filled 25 notebook pages writing and doodling. I don’t know if I ever looked at what I wrote and I presume it is now in the Ohio State Rare Books archive, which houses my papers.

Jack Kimball, perhaps freshly back from Japan, was pointed out to me. We would meet the next year. Sheila started to introduce me to Nada Gordon but someone interrupted with a greeting to Nada and that literary moment flew away.

This meeting with Nada was reminiscent of my meeting with Robert Creeley at Franconia, old story that must be told again. Robert Grenier tried to introduce me to Creeley three times at a post reading party for RC. Each time, something distracted the probably drunk or stoned Creeley. Fear not, however. At one point, I was by the record player and Creeley sat down nearby. He started clapping to the music, so I joined him. Not just clapping but stomping to make the needle skip. So I have that memory of staring eyes to eye while we syncopated. No words were exchanged.

Anyhoo, lots of poets and poetry. Creeley himself read Saturday, star attraction. I’ve seen him twice, many years apart. Not a great reader, tho of course an important and engaging intelligence.

Patrick Herron flew up from North Carolina for the reading, someone else I had met online. I think Stephen, Beth, Patrick and I had breakfast together Sunday. Sheila, Stephen, Beth and I had dinner the night before. It was an exhilarating time for me, being amidst this scene.

The upcoming one this weekend seems just perfunctory. A handful of people interest me, a huge number are unknown to me, and what the heck, I should be reading.

Of the organizers, I have met them all. Jim Behrle, before going all New York, arranged a reading of me and Henry Gould, two unamalgamated locals. I think Jim ran out of readers. Michael Carr and John Mulrooney both run local series. I never made effort to get in their readings. I am not so sure if I need to attend this marathon (the 8 minute per rush format does not attract me), but here is the batting lineup.

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