August 17, 2009KR BlogKR

Very Much Titillated Is How I’ve Very Much Titled This

The woman walking in front of me was wearing blue tights with ankle boots, so I knew she was going to the poetry reading, too. It was Saturday night, so I knew I was supposed to be having fun. The Henry Art Gallery was chockablock with poets. Someone said, “There’s Mary Ruefle.” She was outside, as if for a smoke, but I couldn’t be sure, and don’t want to make any assumptions. I was inside, as if for a reading, and so I picked up my packet for the The Wave Books Poetry Weekend. The packet had expected things and unexpected things. Unexpected (but welcome) was a suggestion that we should pick blackberries, and a suggestion as to where. Expected (and welcome) was a list of the fourteen poets who would read over the course of the weekend, seven that night.

Now I was in the auditorium, so I knew I should be sitting. I knew I was in a room full of poets because three people in front of me were wearing woolish hats even though it was August. One was a black pageboy on a boy who was likely not a page. One was a red brimless jellyfish of a thing with edges like the crimped cap of a beer bottle. One was a turquoise beret. I was two-thirds back and so I cannot speak to the hats that may or may not have been behind me, though I wanted very much to make a count. Of the “very much” in the prior sentence, I must say this is cadged from Mary Ruefle, who upon entering the auditorium after maybe or maybe not smoking, listened to six fine poets and then was fine herself. In one of the poems, the phrase “very much turned on,” made more than a guest appearance. I liked it. Here is a line I wrote down on the paper bag-like packet which was serving as my note-taking place: “I think God was very much turned on.” Other things were turned on, such as my mind. My mind was very much turned on by this poem.

Prior to Mary Ruefle, Dorothea Lasky read her poems, which are awesomely funny and sad and good. I had heard Dorothea read before, and so was prepared for the shouty monotone, but I did find myself thinking less about the poems and more about about what’s gained and what’s lost from this style of reading. There is something striking about the distance between the emotion in her poems and the lack of emotion in her voice. It’s like the deadest of deadpans. But maybe I like my pan a little livelier.

Prior to Dorothea there was a man who did not introduce himself as he was supposed to. Using my powers of deduction, I think he was Jon Woodward. “Where before I’ve said blank,” he said, introducing a poem, “tonight I’m going to try not to say anything.” It was as if his own name was a blank which he did not say.

Prior to Jon was Matthew Zapruder, who is an editor at Wave as well and an excellent poet, and who complimented the audience on our “good clapping keeping going” as one reader exited the stage and another entered. Matthew spoke of having an office where he went to his job (which was to be a poet) and reading Wordworth’s “Prelude” and beginning a poem with, “Oh this diet coke is really good.” Oh, it was a really good poem, as all of his poems were really good.

Prior to Matthew (this is like a reverse beget), Geoffrey Nutter read and while he read he kept laughing at himself, but which was more charming than annoying especially because the poems were actually funny and this was one of those times when laughter begets more laughter (even when from a microphone). He read a really funny (to him and us) poem in which everything was made of dope.

Prior to Geoffrey, Rachel Zucker read two poems about motherhood and happiness and marriage and poetry. The first poem asked “What if you“?” over and over again. “Do you think I’m all known up?” she asked, and a little bell rang inside my head. I loved these poems.

Prior to Rachel, Anthony McCann read and was surprisingly iambic (at least in one poem)(at least to me) since I think of the Wave poets as a generally non-iambic crowd. But I was wrong. “There are three or four songs I like better than friends,” one poem said, and the audience made a recognizing noise.

Prior to Anthony there was Joshua Beckman who wasn’t reading but who was introducing the evening in slim suspenders and was like the person who we could trace ourselves back to, for that night, at least. Which made sense, since he’s also an editor, and most of the people in that room could beget their way back to both Joshua and Matthew.

And after all the prior had occurred, I went to the after-party but felt shy and was shy and talked only to my non-poetry world friend whom I had happened to run into (which was very nice, hello non-poetry world friend!) and then I left and half-ran to my car very much turned on to the words and then I very much turned on my car and very much turned left onto 50th Street and drove home where I very much turned in.