How’m I doing?

I am near the end of my current journal–the one where I keep all my notes from workshop, first drafts, half thoughts, and stolen conversations. It’s also holding the quickly jotted lines and author banter from the last few readings I’ve attended. These notes is what has been helping me recall the little details at a poetry reading and transfer that to my recent blog recaps.

While it is a task to listen to the reading and scribbling observations; it’s also a great joy to look over these lines of poetry that are not pure lines of poetry but my best memory of these pure lines of poetry. I try to differentiate what is a perfectly transcripted line and what is my attempt to hold together a start word and end word with what I heard and what I saw or felt as I am processing the words.

But that’s part of the joy of a good live reading, which to me is still the purest form of poetry. Yes, I love books and the feel of a book in my head and the experience of having the text speak to me but I also realize that I am prone to read in the most comfortable place I can find and at the hours it is most convenient to me. I also have a bad habit of putting down a poem that I am not ready for, maybe it’s hitting too close to home or too far from where I am but either way it’s a struggle for me to get through some books even the ones I love, or better stated, have grown to love. The live reading is cool in that I give myself up the event and the poet: Ok, hit me with your best shot.

For the most part, I remain optimistic about readings and try to keep my expectations for the poetry high but my presumptions of the poet low so that I can let the key poet factors sink in: voice, cadence, stress, tone, arc of movement, ambient noise, silence, pause, facial expressions, et al; while also taking into account the external factors: venue, curator, sound system, ambient noise, audience, et al.

So am I doing a good job at these recaps? Well, you can be the judge as YouTube has been my new poetry vice and I am having a blast looking for true gems in poetry. Recently found: Neruda in his own voice, Felipe Luciano of the Last Poets introducing Salsa great Eddie Palmieri with a poem, and an interview with Ocatvio Paz.

I’ve also found some videos of reading I have recapped which is a good opportunity to see how accurate my recaps really are.

Amiri Baraka at Lunch Poems and at the Holloway Series. Recap can be found here.

Craig Santos Perez at the Holloway Series. Recap can be found here.

This reminds me that I should get around to posting more on Mackey’s half of the Holloway reading, the influence his work has had on Craig’s newer work (some of which I heard on Saturday at the Artifact series), and some other good readings I’ve been lucky enough to attend lately.

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *