Monday, July 7, 2008

I Felt like Basho at Bernadette Mayer’s 9th Annual 4th of July Celebration



Believe it. The drive upstate was beautiful, several shades of green along the road. Wonderful, tranquil, forests, fresh air, very meditive. We (myself, Amy, and Simon) pull up to the drive way around a little curve in the road. Drive took about three hours , we arrive and jump out:

Highlights: Philip and Bernadette’s house is gorgeous, converted church space, fresh paint on an outside porch , long sprawling field where two creeks merge. The inside of their home is warm, reminds me of the movie The Big Chill, this weekend reminds me of that movie somehow. There is a sense of family, a tricycle in the backyard, everywhere places for a child to play. I see children, outside as I reach for a beer from the cooler and roll a cigarette, start to smoke. A little boy comes up to me while I’m rolling, he tells me not to smoke, me thinking this is little Buddha, A tiny Buddha is here in front of me, I put out my cigarette, I sit down and watch these children play. I feel better, I start to get my papers in order to read.

Amy tells me that Bernadette has a laugh like her mother, it fills the house, she reads poems that she’s written in the last few days. Gems, her mind as crisp as ever.

Philip’s poems lead in wonderful directions. His voice and ear I have not encountered before. Later, as we drove away, I found myself thinking about his stanzas and line breaks. How precise and economic his images are placed. Great poetic chops.

Pierre and Nicole have made sangria. The sangria is no joke, I have two glasses and can’t feel my legs. Pierre shows me a book that he’s reading from that was published in Luxemburg (I think) his home town. The book is called Aljibar I , and is gorgeous. He tells me that he’s on his way to Naropa for the last week of the SWP. His class has elements of translation of text into new text that had been one text in the past. I love it. Pierre reads a poem for Kerouac and Nicole sings a Kahlo diary excerpt, her voice like a nightingale. Soft but great pitch and sound, clear to the audience and lovely..

Dave Brinks acts as a master of ceremonies, he is perfect. Before the reading starts he shows me three manuscripts that he’s been working on in New Orleans’s and abroad. He tells me that they are writing themselves. He makes a pot of Jambalaya that feeds twenty people, has crawfish and alligator sausage in it. I think he had to bring his own spices from home, the food is gourmet. His poetry is gourmet and his face lights up everyone in the room.


Brenda and Atticus, are by far the coolest people I know here. Atticus is wearing a straw hat and looks, no shit, like Errol Flynn. Brenda reads a poem for Brad Will, who we lost in Mexico to a fascist regime, thug motherfuckers who rape Mexico from the inside out. Brenda’s poem is heartfelt and stands in place of her friend who I’m sure is around this house in spirit.

Andrei Codrescu telephones in his poem from around the world.

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