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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Two of my poems, “Orpheus on the 74” and “The Resurrection Spell,” are now in the anthology Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam: Gay City Anthology V.  Queer writers explore the meanings of monstrosity in this collaboration between Gay City Health Project and Minor Arcana Press.  I am honored to be featured alongside well-known queer writers Dorothy Allison, Evan J. Peterson, Ocean Vuong, and Imani Sims, to name a few.  You can buy a copy of the collection here.vol_5

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Berkeley slammaster Betsy Gomez and me

Berkeley slammaster Betsy Gomez and me

Coming from Seattle, where we take ourselves very seriously, the Berkeley slam was a fresh take on the playfulness of the slam.  Sevan Boult hosted, and reminded everyone to turn off our “asshole alarms,” because if our phones went off, everyone would know we were assholes.  The word of the day was homunculus, and throughout the night, poets substituted the word in their poems.  In the second round, when the audience response was waning, Sevan punished the audience by reading us Suzanne Somers’ poetry.  The spirit of the Berkeley slam reminds me that the slam is a gimmick to get people to listen to poetry, and it’s supposed to be fun!

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Teaching Kevin Holmes to dance, getting photobombed

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me and Casey with the show organizers

Poetry Center San Jose and San Jose State Poets and Writers Coalition graciously hosted Casey and me for our fourth stop on our tour.  Our show was originally planned for the Spartan Memorial Chapel on the San Jose State University campus, but on the night of the performance, the organizers saw that it was sort of an out-of-the-way place, and asked a small coffee house, Philz Coffee if they could host us instead.  They not only agreed; they set up a stage and a full PA system.  The organizers’ resourcefulness in finding another performance space improved the impact of our work.  The excess unoccupied space in the chapel probably would have distracted the audience, but the cozy cafe packed everyone in pretty close.

Most of the cafe’s patrons had not intended to hear a poetry reading that evening, but they were appreciative anyhow.  The San Jose crowd showed us so much love, in coming up to talk to us and in buying our merch.  We weren’t even the only performance poetry show in San Jose that evening.  David Perez also had his Oversocial Mofo Revue that evening, of which we caught the end.  San Jose has enough interest in poetry that it can muster substantial audiences for two shows at once.  I will definitely go back.

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Glassless Minds organizer Rolland Tizuela and me

The love was palpable at the Glassless Minds show in Oceanside, CA, about forty minutes north of San Diego.  Most of the poets and audience members showed up wearing Glassless Minds shirts and patches.  The open mic was packed with talent, and Rolland Tizuela, the organizer and host, hugged each performer as they got up to speak.  Rolland said that we were the first touring poets to come through, but the audience showed us so much love, like they knew how much touring artists need that kind of support.

Several fundraisers were going on at the show.  One person was selling donated books to get to the AWP conference in Boston.  I bought an amazing pop up book there.  Another person was selling empanadas for a different fundraiser.  After the show, there were so many hugs and handshakes.  A woman approached Casey and me and offered us empanadas.  She introduced herself as Rolland’s mom.  

I recommend every touring poet stop by Oceanside for Glassless Minds to hear good poetry and experience this kind community.

 

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Minor Arcana Press, a new Seattle-based publisher, will put out Evan J. Peterson’s new collection Skin Job .

The book trailer is below, with Evan’s poem “Rebirth is Always Painful.”

Evan has such a gift of bringing the grotesque to life.  This video shows a lot of throwbacks to old school horror: the dripping blood, Evan’s deep, serious intonations, and even clips of old horror movies.  Even with the liberal sprinkling of camp, this video is scary, but it leaves me with questions, so I can’t look way.   I look forward to reading more from Evan in his upcoming book.

The book release party will be at 7 p.m. on on Friday, September 7 at Richard Hugo House.  Also performing will be local poets and favorites of mine, Okanomodé, Morris Stegosaurus, and Lydia Swartz.

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Photo by Rae Ludwig

I will double feature with Casey Tonnelly at Seattle’s queer poetry show, Spit!  Casey’s style and mine complement each other well.  I tend toward magical dark imagery, while Casey tends toward humor and story telling.   Seattle Spit has been a great community space since I moved to Seattle, and I’m excited about my second feature there.  An open mic follows our feature, so bring something to share or just come to listen.    See y’all there!  8:30 Thursday, August 9, The Wild Rose, 21+, free.

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At a house party on Capitol Hill, a chain mail shirt was hanging between two horns on the wall.  More than fifty cute guys shuffled through the kitchen out to the deck.  Delicious local brew and sangria flowed from taps in the living room.  When I arrived, the door guy gave me a  badge, like ones I’ve worn for Dragon Con or NPS.  This was no amateur party.

Since the first time I heard Morris, I’ve loved his bizarre images and the visceral sense his work makes.  Morris’s performance was as engaging as ever. He appeared to be possessed by each poem, channeling its full intensity.  Morris travels from silly to existential in the space of a few minutes. Here are some of my favorite moments: from his poem “Narcissus,” “You can’t slice open a zebra, expecting to find sparklers.”  From “Recession,” “I had my wings clipped so I could get at job at a nice factory,” pretty much sums up the sacrifices and compromises we make in order to get by.  From “Undertow,” “The moon contemplates the man.  I ride the bus to the bus.”  My favorite performance of the night was “Incomplete Outline of the Thirteen Steps to Becoming,” a bit during which he appeared shaken up, correcting himself as part of the poem.  From that, “The first step is to accept that you might be crazy.  The second step is to realize you’re not crazy.”  How gorgeous and affirming!  His final piece of the night reached new heights of surrealism:  “You will find a box the size of the sky,” “You will swallow the banyon tree and spit toothpicks into the sea,” and “humming like an egg begging to crack.”

Morris was accompanied by a guitarist and a cellist during his set.  My favorite accompaniment piece was “Rude Mechanicals,” which featured a lot of noise and screeches on the cello and guitar, to set the mood of a dystopic future.  I often find that unconventional instrumental work can really bring out the mood of a poem.

Morris’s book Zebra Feathers is forthcoming from Minor Arcana Press on December 1.  I am already excited to read this book.  Minor Arcana Press is a new, Seattle-based imprint of Squall Publishing, and its first book, Evan Peterson’s Skin Job, will be released in September.

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