Aug 10, 2011
On Sat Jul 30, I attended the Bay Area Poetry Marathon, hosted by Donna de la Perriere, a poet of distinguished pedigree herself and faculty member of the MFA program at California College of the Arts.
Reviewing the remarkable lineup ahead of time, I knew I was headed into a promising evening. But I was somewhat discombobulated when I learned that Ms. de la Perriere has a strict “no camera” policy. This meant I would have to say something about the event without the crutch of video documentation.
I go to events throughout the city, without trepidation, but I have to admit that the corner of 16th and Capp is noticeably sketchy, which heightened my mood as I walked through the doorway of an ancient building beneath a sign announcing, “The Lab.”
You enter The Lab via an impressively narrow staircase into a lobby decorated with political murals. There is a theatre as well as a gallery where the reading took place. This strikes me as an archetypal venue for alternative and experimental art of all sorts. The very air seems to be haunted with the voices of visionaries, crackling with creative electricity. It jumps.
The readers jumped too.
Ms. de la Perriere’s introduction was unusual. First she explained that the readers would appear in alphabetical order – no other hierarchy acknowledged. Then she completed all the introductions at the very beginning of the evening, once and for all. The poets then read without interruption for the next hour and fifty minutes: a marathon, indeed.
We heard work that was varied, challenging and engaging the entire time.
My one complaint is that the event was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and didn’t get rolling until 8. Normally such a late start would irritate me, but this crowd was friendly and enthusiastic and the time flew by quickly.
From late start to finish, The Bay Area Poetry Marathon is a no-nonsense reading series that makes serious demands on both poets and audiences. It will reward your attention.