Monday, November 21, 2011

Poet's Corner at Vanderbilt: Houston A. Baker

The other night that got me sick I'm sure of it: the Houston A. Baker reading at Vanderbilt's Scarritt-Bennett Center, in The Front Porch. It's a cozy place to have a reading, part gallery, gift shop, socially-countered cafe, intimately lit reading room, always gentle crowds. And they do it once a month.

The reading was a joyous one, which is to say that poetics was not the sharp thrust at the wound which poetry readings tend to replicate. Smiles and graciousness were the foreground as Mr. Baker read for a mixed hour of storytelling and poetry, talking on jazz, The South ( "One has to do certain things in the country to escape the sense of country" ), The 60's, Leadbelly ( "I don't think you can be black and not be invested in The Blues" ), juking, how his wife became his wife (who was lovely as soap), and what he called an 'ancestral past' that remains present in his work.

Mr. Baker teaches at Vanderbilt and is the author of many books on black literature/cultural studies. Mr. Baker is an eloquent, intelligent, graceful person. As such, one is not able to determine, or perhaps does not care to determine, the point at which storytelling and poetry part ways ( there is a point ). While the evening was entertaining and interactive, only with the last poem of the evening did he move past traditionally communicative/descriptive language and address the sense of trauma ( this being one of the origins of The Blues) in events that necessarily lead to a creative exorcism of their inarticulate nature/ forming alternate avenues in order to address what is itself alternate ( of articulated/logical/known experience ). Mr. Baker's poetry is a poetry rung out of personal story, validated by his having lived it.

O, and he's down with Nate Mackey.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Psychic Meatloaf Poems Up / Horseless Stubborn

I dream of playing the saw with detachable bronzed fingernails, a nasty-crooked knife with a USB tip, inhaling quickfright at someone's sherbet-colored pet golem, dragging pallets of canned beer to the shack.

These dream-slips must needs be a result of gloving at Ward Schumaker's Moon Atlas repeatingly.

Hooray, veterans: Psychic Meatloaf has its latest issue ( #4 ) up and guess who forms the prow (?) Meanwhile, Horseless Press continues to hold its breath on issue # 10 of The Horseless Review ( with work by Cori Winrock, Chris Hosea, Molly Brodak, and Becca Jensen ), so listen to this while you wait...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Another Nashville Poetry Reading: Dino's

First off, bless Dino's, let's start with that. For the cheap beer, the unashamedly patriotic as heck ambience, the smoldering balls of black meat that her working-class patrons put in their stomachs, and for existing as the strongest counterpoint I know of to bars that require trim posture and a social mouthpiece. But she cannot support poetry.

Even visiting writer, Jake Adam York, associate professor of English and the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Denver Colorado, could not meet the enthusiasm I'd garnered for a night of poetry at effing Dino's (!) The speaking voice was absent, the local nod to local-natives heavy. I have a pile I'm working on without wanting to add to it. Nashville, I should've known, but I can't know, I cannot ever know. I will consume your creative arts and burp out 'Pider for this city.

So send 'Pider your translation of the dog's claw marks at the wood, a recording of howls, a list of ceramics terminology, a recording of you whistling, and send it to

And watch ( listen to ) this, foxers: