Monday, April 2, 2007
Black Oak Books Last Night
Nikol Polidoro and I (Jack Morgan) went to Black Oak Books last night after Mama Buzz Café in order to see Brian Teare and Betsy Andrews. Nikol never says anything bad about anybody. . . I always do. Perfect.
Brian Teare's poetry, what we heard, was pretty great, and I liked the way he read. He also read a prose/essay piece on Virginia Woolf that I would have totally enjoyed had I heard it any time else. We came in begging for poetry. Last week the bay was a barren desert when it came to poetry readings. I couldn't roll with such a long prose piece. Plus, I don't think anyone goes to these things to get themselves educated. For example, I like a lot of the scholarly pieces Jasper Bernes writes, and I read them from time to time when I am thinking I need a little more education than normal. . . but if he read one to me at a poetry reading, I would probably hate it. I didn't hate Brian Teare for reading his Woolf piece to me, but I was begging for poetry.
Betsy Andrews read from her book New Jersey. It was powerful writing. It was good, well-constructed poetry. I liked it, , , when I wasn't looking. I would have bought her book had she not moved her hands so much when she was reading. She read a little like a slam poet. There's nothing wrong with a little slam poetry, but the problem with all that stuff is that when your writing is as powerful and poignant and zeitgeisty as Andrews's is, you don't need to jut your hands out and do weird things with the pronunciation and emphasis of your words. I'll know it's heavy; I'll know it's strong; there's no reason to be so pushy about it. I feel justified in this opinion because Nikol said it first, and she never says anything bad about anyone. It's as if Betsy was pushing us away while we were trying to get closer. Now I regret having not bought Betsy Andrews's book, and I will promptly do so. Then the whole Trainwreck Union will read it.
Yesterday was also a kite day. When we aren't meeting for business on Sundays, we go to art galleries and the Berkeley Marina. We went to Rock Paper Scissors and bought poetry zines and to Lanesplitter for pitchers. We flew kites and read poetry at the marina until it was time for Black Oak. Everyone is on a Graham Foust kick. It's a good kick to be on. And Chelsey Minnis! And for some reason, I am rediscovering Carolyn Forché.
After Black Oak, we went to see the Host at the Californian. Some people laughed very loudly through the whole thing; I guess someone told them it was supposed to be funny. All genre film is supposed to be funny, but not the kind of funny that sends you rolling in the aisles. Laughing at the top of your lungs through an entire film like that is analogous to clapping after every poem at a reading. It is completely annoying and ruins other people's enjoyment. You take note of what is funny and in retrospect laugh with friends about it. You take note of what is poetically amazing and clap when the poet is finished. If there is any doubt, like it's your first reading or monster movie, just do what everyone else is doing. Yes, I just compared a monster movie to a poetry reading.