Any time you make it into The Daily Rumpus, you know you’re in the right place. You might not be doing the right things … well, you probably read them.
We hung out with Stephen @ The Underground Panel and told him not to miss the 5th installment of the Tenderloin Reading Series—a bold recommendation, since on the very same evening Bang Out was doing their thing @ Amnesia and Writers With Drinks was filling up the Makeout Room. And if you made one of those decisions, please feel free to comment below. But we could not resist the lineup @ the TRS, a quarterly show run by Jonathan Hirsch @ KoKo cocktails. See why:
I saw Stephen the next day during the taping of Rumpus Radio #7 (coming soon) and he commented on how excellent the event was (he was right, as perhaps you just saw). I’ll let him describe it, from the Daily Rumpus:
I was out last night listening to poems about rape and love. The kids took the stage, one after another, smacking their fist against their hands, bending at the knees as if readying to fly, lowering their heads as if the loose sheets in front of them were actually the body of Christ. I wasn’t there to read; I was there to check it out.
The other night at the Mechanic’s Library someone quoted Ferlinghetti saying if Ginsberg hadn’t written Howl somebody else would have. It was in the air.
Last night a kid stepped forward in a t-shirt that said he was too young to be a poet and a hat that said he would write for food. Toward the end he played a ukulele. Where did all these ukuleles come from? His publisher waved books behind him as if guiding a plane.
I wanted to stay but cycled home thinking of a poem I wrote twelve years ago about watching the trannie hookers on Polk Street, calves like baseballs, strutting in their incredible see-through heels in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken and disappearing into the alley nearby.
It made my throat dry. I was experiencing nostalgia for smoking crack in a bare hotel room on Ellis.
I was talking about narrative. A character 200 pages into a novel realizing he’s depressed. A mother who drinks too much when visiting her daughter’s college. An album called Nameless Lake. The small thing that changes you completely and the big thing that has no impact at all.
The kids weren’t reading narratives, not fully. That’s hard to pull off at a reading in a bar. But I wasn’t there for that. I wanted to hear them. I wanted to document them before, one by one, they piled their ukuleles, their beautiful voices, their dreams, into a hatchback and made their way back east, or up north, or to some farm nearby. Before they got real jobs or became disillusioned with their audiences. So many hurdles! You just hope half-a-dozen survive their generation with something to say and the desire to say it.
It isn’t hard to see why we made this decision. We want to hear them too. We want to be them. We stand on the corner and say what we can before we have to leave. We all have to leave.
It’s going to be really tough to make a pick of the week on Sunday. Stay tuned for that.