Sunday, April 19, 2009

Operation April 19th Reading is complete

If you missed the poetry reading at the Scarab Club today, well, sad for you. There was a really good turn out (there were people who didn't even have anywhere to sit). The audience was moved to tears of joy and everyone got a free iPhone.* It was like being on Oprah but, you know, with poetry.

I was one of the readers (really, I was. Even if I am not listed on the Metro Detroit Writers Web site) and I was very happy to be reading alongside some friends and some folks I've never met before. Reading today were Sophia Rivkin, Liz Volpe, Rebecca Rank, George Dila (who read short fiction), Brett Lott (who also read short fiction) and Michael McClure (that's a picture of him on the right).

Seeing/hearing Michael McClure read was an interesting experience. I had never heard of him before today, which probably has a lot to do with my age and the fact that I've never been into the beat poets. But McClure used to hang with Dylan and Ginsberg and Janis Joplin and other people who are dead now.** So, you know, McClure is walking, talking, poetry reciting history.

He reads his stuff in a really growly, breathy way (reminded me of that radio host of Pillow Talk that used to be on Lite FM or something at night when I was a kid. I could never understand why the ladies would call in and say how much they loved his voice) with his mouth really close to the mic. I am glad I didn't have to read after him since I would have wanted to swab the mic with an anti-bacterial wipe. Nothing personal, I just fear germs.

In any case, McClure wasn't really my thing, though he's good at what he does -- not very many people can recite Chaucer in Old English on a whim, for example. At least, that's what he was purportedly doing. For all I know he was just making it up as he went along. In fact, he did make up his own language and he read one of the 99 poems he told us he's written using "beast language." A good lot of it was in English, but then there was plenty of guttural growls and grunts (which, again, could have been Chaucer for all I know), which sounded like noises a male gorilla might make when trying to woo lady apes. As much as I love primates, I have come to the conclusion that poems containing grunts are creepy to me.

The grunting poem made me think of Robert Bly who McClure took a shot at (in good fun, I'm assuming) before reading his last two poems, both haikus. "Now I could be like Robert Bly and read these four times until you got it," McClure said. The audience chuckled because, ha ha, silly drum beating Robert Bly. But then McClure DID read the poems more than once which was, just as when Bly does it, unnecessary, and, because McClure had just made fun of Bly for doing it, annoying. However, his two haikus were quite good and the best thing he read.

The reading was put on by Springfed Arts Metro Detroit Writers. They do a lot of good for writing in the Detroit area, so support them and stuff.

*Not true.

**I know Dylan is not dead.

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