Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sometimes it's best to leave at the half...

Last night I made the journey downtown to the Chicago Small Press Showcase. And when I say journey, I mean, epic pain in the ass. First I missed the bus I was trying to make and waited an extra 10 min. out in the windy cold. The bus came around again and I jumped on, only to have it break down 2 blocks later, which was fortunately right next to the 47th street depot, or was it? The manager of the depot told the bus driver, "Try and make it back to 79th street, and we'll take care of it there." Ummm...what? So she kept on going and the bus broke down 5 more times on Lake Shore and finally reached its penultimate stop at the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt. So, I waited for another bus to come and pick me up, got on that bus, got off waaay too early and had to walk to walk four more blocks. All the while apologizing to my wife, who wasn't exactly thrilled about going to a poetry reading anyway. I felt like Charlie Brown, "Why is everything I do destined to be doomed?"

Anyway, we got to the SAIC, grabbed a couple of seats and prepared ourselves for three hours of poetry from 8 different small presses. I'd heard a few of the readers before, and had remembered liking them well enough, so I was kind of excited. Laura Sims and Larry Sawyer read somewhere in the first act and I've always enjoyed their irreverent, give-a-fuck attitude during readings, which more than not comes off as endearing and seems to say, "I really don't know why I'm up here and you're not." There was another poet that I like real well named Daniela Olszewska. Her poems can look like this:

Out of the Frying Pan

Four fires, some eggplants, a vague tile floor. And in this corner, they
are spicing the Slavic broth. A bubble-bell voice calls out from above,
“Don’t forget to cut off her tags!” A flash from the sharp shade of gun grey.
The stomach cut up into unequal pieces. They wrap it in rice paper
or cheesecloth. The girl patches get bathed in inorganic oils. A doctor
in a bird mask pushes mirror parts under the fingernails that are not quite
crisp yet. Look sweetheart! They made you a card in the shape of a brain.

Zombie: 24 Hours In The Life Of

Green glow, eel glow. I wake up.
Obliterate all traces of breadcrumbs.
Dig my way out up using an amethyst-
handled spoon. Don a dress made
of disco ball parts. Commit crimes
against nature; love myself tender.
Drink brain straight from the carton.
Exhibit self-diagnosing prowess.
Get hooked on phonics, the furtive
stroking of glossy covers.
Covet my neighbor's will.
Run for national office. Toothy brite.
Institute a tax on public displays
of precociousness. Institute a tax
on loaves and fishes. Spinning doctrine.
Place a crink in the public think tank.
Catalyze myself out of loop mode.
Perform telepathic abortions.
Raise snakes and hell for fun and profit.
Fall out of love with everyone taller than me.
Legally change name to animal/mineral/plant.
Denounce the ever expanding waistlines
of scientific inquiry. Denounce the backs
of eyeballs. Green glow, eel glow fade.

I was going to buy her book from dancing girl press, but saw a book by Kristy Odelius, and bought that one instead. I don't know why for sure, I suppose its because I think of her as this mythological creature...The Mysterious and Magical Odelius. It sounds believably greek. Anyway, I bought her book, "Bee Spit." It looks good, so I'm pretty stoked.

At this point in the evening their was a break, and when Laura Sims split, I should have taken that as a sign. The second half of the reading was full of old white people reading their blues/slam bullshit, and really being into it. One fucker even had a drum he beat on while he read his poem about drug habits. As much as I love Beat poetry, I hate that this is what it has become. It's a cartoon, it's fodder for satire, and these poets all bought into it. Besides the drum, there were no less than 3 mentions of Miles Davis, exactly 4 poems about Charles Bukowski, and each of them read an "anit-war" poem that had yelling in it.

I'm not one to dog on things I dislike, but the second half of the reading was miserable, and only added to my need to apologize to my wife for making her go with me. Long story short, check out dancing girl press, switchback books, and the Cracked Slab Anthology of Chicago Poetry for the New Century, "The City Visible."

Also, two weeks from today (April 12th, 2008) Matthew Zapruder and Forrest Gander will be reading translations for the Chicago Poetry Project at the Harold Washington Library. Cool.

1 comment:

Aaron James McNally said...

I feel bad for you. What you witnessed is the worst aspect of Chicago poetry. (midwestern catching the pulse way to late.)

Sims, though, you should read in print print print. I reviewed her "Practice, Restraint" in Rain Taxi and there is much late high Modernism to enjoy therein.