Poetry Reading at L’Osteria 57

It was a charming and intimate gathering in the downstairs wine bar of L’Osteria 57 tonight. Despite a moving van scheduled to show up at our door all too early tomorrow morning (and packing left to go!), I’m really glad that I made it out on a rainy London night to meet up with fellow poets and poetry lovers and read a few poems.

Ivy Alvarez read poems about both classical and contemporary violence, Collin Kelley read a range of humorous and poignant pieces in his striking Southern accent, Agnes Meadows read almost-love poems and paeans to womanhood, and Karen Head read a mix of revised Southern Gothics and down-but-not-out Parisian poems. The atmosphere was cheerful and inviting — so warm I had to take my jumper off by the end (it is, after all, supposed to be summer here).

Many thanks to Collin for inviting me, and Agnes for organising the evening. It was delight from start to finish.

Now, about those moving boxes…

Help Me Find Poets

When I was writing technical articles regularly, my blog was an invaluable tool. I could float ideas to a global audience and get great feedback that would help shape my thoughts before my writing went to press and international distribution. Given I have enjoyed dialog with a number of readers and writers whose poetic sensibilities seem similar to my own (Nick, Pearl, Michael, Collin, Carol and Jenni just to name a few), and given Pandora For Poetry doesn’t exist yet, I thought I might likewise solicit feedback on part of my reading list for my upcoming semester at Pacific. Here’s what I have so far:

  • B.H. Fairchild, Early Occult Memory Systems…
  • Robert Wrigley, In The Bank Of Beautiful Sins
  • Gregory Orr, Concerning the Book that is the Body…
  • Renate Wood, The Patience Of Ice
  • Li-Young Lee, The Winged Seed
  • Louise Glück, Ararat
  • Dorianne Laux, What We Carry
  • Joseph Millar, Fortune
  • Joan Aleshire, This Far

As well as a number of books (at least one each) from faculty members with whose work I am less familiar. I strongly suspect I will really like those books as well, but the ones above are an even stronger suspicion based on previous experience with the author.

So, given that list, what else would you recommend? Or do you think some other book by one of the above authors is stronger, or more in line with the rest? Or, if you’ve been following my blog for awhile and think you know what I like, what else might you recommend that has nothing to do with the above list, but still is something you think would inform my study of poetry? Or what do you like, that doesn’t have anything to do with what I might like, that you still think I just have to read?

The Problem of Accessibility

By now, I have heard many poets complain about accessibility in poetry, and how it waters down the art. In fact, I have always firmly believed that poetry is about communicating an experience through art. The reader necessarily has to bring their faculties to bear, and maybe do some work. But beyond some pretty basic requisites, I’ve always felt that poems should be accessible.

Writing poetry has likewise become evermore accessible. The abundance of open mic readings, the explosion of small presses, self-publication, chapbooks, online journals, and MFA programs tells it. People write poetry, perhaps now more than ever, and naturally want to share their work. I don’t claim to fully understand why, exactly. But I have some thoughts on how we got here and what this means.

Continue reading…