Mary Peelen, Toni Mirosevich, and myself,
all smiles at the
James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center
Yesterday I wrote about performance in poetry. Then last night, I got a chance to read in two very different spaces. I thought I'd have plenty to report back on about performance, but the truth is, the thought hardly crossed my mind. Each person I saw read was performing in her or his own way, adding not fluff but the natural movement of a writer with her words, and in the end all it came down to were the words.
It wasn't just poetry. At "Our Oblique Strategies," Toni Mirosevich giggled and told tales between her readings, while Mary Peelen tried her best to give the literary crowd some context for her mathematical poems. I loved every minute over it. Then, I left the library to venture into the rainy Mission District for New Poetry Mission, hosted by Sam Sax, Nic Alea and Andrew Paul Nelson. Local poets signed their names to an open mic list and read their words amidst music and cheers from the loving crowd.
The experience of reading at both was so much fun. They certainly felt different. Following the thrill of reading at the library, I had a renewed energy and a whole new delivery when I spontaneously closed the show with one of the same poems at New Poetry Mission.
My closing the show was part of an exciting announcement: I'll be the featured reader at New Poetry Mission on March 10! I'll provide details at it approaches. I'll be thinking about performance until then, though not worrying about it so much, as I remember now that it will just come naturally.
Click here for the poem I shared at both readings. Let's see how it stands without performance. Yes to words!
this is how you’ll know you’ve found her:
you’ll wait for her as time slows to seconds
that can only be counted in the rising of smoke
from an incense stick, a gray line, straight and thin
like a clock’s second hand.
you’ll catch the wind with deep, heavy gulps
tasting the air until some of the sky reaches
the bundle of bones that is your ribcage
you’ll keep the air there, ready for release
knowing you’ll be singing soon.
and when she reaches you, she’ll reach between
your bones, saying she’s always wanted
to soar. together you’ll drink the sky and it will taste
like sour diamonds, stars cutting your tongues
as the night air blackens the black of your insides.
you’ll know because you’ll catch her in your breath,
and there she’ll stay, in the back of your throat
with a hum like bees harbored in the hives of your head.
it will be just like you to mistake knowing for tasting,
to envision the magnificent by placing it on your tongue,
and you’ll be so addicted, even after the pain, that you’ll
just keep drinking. keep your eyes up, for on the gray
sidewalk below, black cracks are open mouths
speaking, saying you may not always have this ground
to rest upon. rest now, before the mouths open wider
and swallow you whole. and when there’s no more darkness
to hide within, will you still watch her soar? will you
remember how you knew you’d found her, or will you
turn away and let her be lost again?