Monday, September 24, 2007

What a long, strange (beautiful) week it has been...(Pt. 3)

And then there was Stevie. When a friend of mine called a few months ago and left a frantic message about Steive being back on tour, I knew I had to be at at least one show. Last Sunday night, I walked into Baltimore's Pier Six Pavilion shining; I left aflame.

In case you were wondering: Stevie Wonder is the epitome of black American music, SOUL music. He is still every bit the performer he was here. This was recorded in Detroit in 1984. It's been more than twenty years since this was taped and he was still pure electricity. The crowd was on their feet and on fire. Genius is all there is here, there are no other words. I was thankful, my dreams bright and heavy with song, all night and the night thereafter.

What a long, strange week it has been... (Pt. 2)

On Thursday, Martin Espada made an appearance at Busboys and Poets in D.C. I was happy to finally get to witness him live. This i a clip of him reading his poem "Alabanza" and feeding the crowd. He fed us on Thursday, too. Listen and watch.

What a long, strange week it has been...(Pt. 1)


No other word will do. For that's what it was.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. "Don't weep for me,"
he said to his friends. "I'm a lucky man.
I've had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure Gravy. And don't forget it."

--Raymond Carver

Bob Shacochis read this poem at the memorial service for Liam Rector on Saturday. It was a poem Tree, his wife, gave him early on, a poem Liam came back to years later after he'd beat cancer, heart disease. It seemed so poignant at the service. So many people came and mourned or at least paid their respects. I had friends there; I saw people I loved there. At least that--even in grief, we had to acknowledge that he brought us together again.

The following is a poem from Poetry Daily. It's appropriate here, too:

There Was No Farewell

We did not weep
when we were leaving—
for we had neither
time nor tears,
and there was no farewell.
We did not know
at the moment of parting
that it was a parting,
so where would our weeping
have come from?
We did not stay
awake all night
(and did not doze)
the night of our leaving.
That night we had
neither night nor light,
and no moon rose.
That night we lost our star,
our lamp misled us;
we didn't receive our share
of sleeplessness—
so where
would wakefulness have come from?

--Taha Muhammad Ali
tr. Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, Gabriel Levin

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reading in D.C. on Monday, 9/24 @ 8:00 PM

Hey bloggers, friends, fam, poetry-lovers, if you're in the D.C. area, come and hang out with us on Monday night. I'll be reading in the Burlesque Poetry Hour Reading Series at Bar Rouge in DuPont Circle. It should be a fun reading; every poet has to auction off an item they're wearing to raise funds for the series, which should make for some interesting outfit choices :-) Please do come through if you're going to be around. You can check out the details on the Burlesque blog:

Hope to see you there!!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Georgia On My Mind

Last week, I went down to Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival and hung out with some very cool folks. I interviewed Natasha Trethewey, hung out with Dan Albergotti, had lunch with Kwame Dawes, went to a reading featuring Khadijah Queen and pseudo-shopped with Nicole Sealey.

The highlight of my trip, though, was a surprise visit to Georgia Perimeter College where I got to hang out with Lita Hooper's class. She's teaching my book this term and the students were shocked to see me there on Friday. They were sharp and quite attentive during the reading. They asked questions and requested poems, we laughed, we cried (not really), an all-around good time was had by all (at least I hope so).

They were beautiful and carried some serious names on their backs. Of the few I can remember, there was Jacquiese--tall b-baller who got into the word, Tenacity--sweet Southern girl with a wide smile and Teena (yes, as in Marie)--who embraced the music of her name whole-souled. Lovely group, lovely campus. Thanks, Lita, for the push :-)