Oscar has photos and video from yesterday evening’s political poetry reading at Pegasus in Berkeley. Videos include Michael Palmer reading from Mahmoud Darwish’s Unfortunately, It was Paradise, and Joseph Lease reading from a long-ish, Whitmanesque America piece infiltrated with infomercials, sound bytes and other things. Awesome readings by these two, and some great energy. Palmer also read (not on video) one of my favorites, “Madman with Broom,” though I enjoy the poem with much less explanation beforehand. I like not being introduced to the realist crows; I like them menacing and just being there.
And then there’s me on video, sputtering consonants saliva-less through “We, Spoken Here,” which begins with the “We” epigraph of Major General Antonio Taguba (this poem is a hard read), and my Bob Kaufman, “No, I am Not Yours” poem.
In attendance were former Pegasus readings curator Clayton Banes, and Eleven Eleven editor Hugh Behm-Steinberg, who very kindly introduced himself to me and was thrilled to hear me read my “Worry” poem which he has included in their latest issue. Also in attendance was Adrien Salazar, a young Pinoy poet, UC Berkeley alumna, and former Maganda Magazine editor-in-chief. Whoa, seeing him is like having a conversation with my younger self (that is, if I’d been a less crazy young person).
We got to talking a bit about my being the lone not white writer for the evening, which I had started thinking about as Oscar and I were walking into the bookstore as the dread was knotting itself up in my belly. I know, I am pretty sure I should be used to this by now with group readings, but usually there’s one other writer of color in the same boat so we can feel like minorities together. It’s like this too, in situations like being the only woman reader in a group brimming over the top with testosterone. When there is one other woman writer who latches onto me in relief, there is some small comfort in this.
As well, I am reading with a whole group of Filipino American writers on Saturday at Litcrawl, and so maybe this is a nice balance.
Nonetheless, as I said above regarding Michael Palmer and Joseph Lease, there was pretty good energy in the place, and as I did not previously know Garrett Caples‘ work, I can say I am sure glad to have heard him read. You have to listen for yourself here. I’d like to spend some time with his work sometime soon.