Monday, April 30, 2007

Summary of the Weekend

Last Friday, Jack Morgan became a real poet in the eyes of people who shouldn't matter but always do: people with money and influence. I was invited to read to a group of people whose faces I had never seen. It would not have been a big deal if it were just that, but seeing as how itt was an exclusively academic audience, it was difficult and nerve-racking. I thought that this was more of a Jack Morgan thing than a Trainwreck Union thing, so I wasn't going to put it on the blog, but now I realize that what happened at that reading is everything I've always wanted.

While I was facing the most daunting reading I have thus far experienced, while sweat ran down my sides, while my face burned red, a little sub group showed up. Three of them were reading later that night at Mama Buzz and had their own things to worry about. One of them was the regular emcee at our open mics. The point is that I did not expect to see any of them there. I did not expect that degree of support from anyone. And it occurred to me that that is why we started this thing. The Trainwreck Union is about supporting each other when no one else will. No one ever seems to give artists what they need. They don't seem to know what they need. What we need is each other. In an age of distance, we need connection. I am touched that I am privileged enough to be a part of the Trainwreck Union, a collective of true artists.
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Friday was a big reading. A lot of new faces.
I hope we see them all again at 21 Grand on May 13th for our Grand Central reading.
+++++++++++++++
Sunday, there was a reading at Pegasus. It was an ok reading, but for some reason we thought Chad Sweeney was going to be reading his own work, and he didn't. Cool about the night, though, we ended up hanging out with him and his crew after the reading thanks to Clay Banes, who is certainly a valuable trainwrecker.
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The new Switchyard, No Hands, is out! It's an impressive little book with an owl on the cover. It's available at Pegasus Books, Nabolom Bakery, or you can place an order with any of us at any time you see us.
Poets in this issue are:
Tyler Williams
Sara Mumolo
Beatrix Chan
Lijia Xie
Nikol Polidoro
Hannah Fisher
Landon Phillips
Alexandra MacArthur
Arron Pawlowicz
Jack Morgan
Chad Vogler
Pablo Lopez
Jarrod Roland
Yowzer!

Anyway, I wanted to thank the Trainwreck Union for everything and everyone else who supports the Trainwreck Union, the local Avant-garde, and art and poetry in general.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Reading at Mama Buzz

It's a long way down from here.

We had a reading at Mama Buzz last night in the heart of the art scene of the East Bay. It was a great location (aside from the fact they don't take cards) and a great night. It was so full that it was, once again, standing room only. There were even people sitting on the floor. WOW!

Everyone read alarmingly well.

Can we stay on top forever? Well,,,
as long as people like Jarrod Roland keep keepin' it real as purple jelly, as long as people like Arron Pawlowicz keep spreading joy like peanut butter, as long as people like Connie Coady keep baking up that crazy bread, as long as people like Sara Mumolo keep bringing security blankets, as long as people like Beatrix Chan keep bringing the napkins to make it clean, as long as people like Gillian Hamel keep bringing the extra sugar,
word is born!
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Stork Club was empty last night because all the hipsters had run to Coachella. The after party was not as epic as it could have/should have been.
But the reading did not disappoint.
I think many of us are going to Pegasus to see Chad Sweeney &c.

Friday, April 27, 2007

MAMA BUZZ TONIGHT!!! HOLY CRAP!!!


Oh my! Oh dear! Eee-Gad! Who knew it would happen again so soon? Have safety precautions not been observed? How have we let it occur? Another Train wreck? Another rail that has gone awry? Man 0h man! What a disaster!

Tonight at Mama Buzz Cafe, 2318 Telegraph, at 7:30 PST, the Trainwreck Union will represent.

J-Rod Roland
Gillian Hamel
Sara Mumolo
Nick Roth (Musical Intermission)
Connie Coady
Arron Pawlowicz
Beatrix Chan
Jack Morgan (MC)


How have we gotten all of these huge names in one place at one time, defying the laws of physics? Like I told you, the Trainwreck Union makes the impossible possible.
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It has recently come to my attention that there are several of you out there who do not get the reference of the title of this event. Throw Mama from the Train is a movie starring Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito in which two writers become hapless killers. Don't worry, though, no one actually gets murdered. So don't be afraid and come out. Out poets might seem like criminals sometimes, but they're really quite cuddly. They won't hurt you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The last New Yipes!


On Sunday there was a reading. It was a New Yipes reading. I always like New Yipes readings...
Several trainwreckers got stuck in San Francisco with countless hipsters at a concert, so it was just Sara Mumolo and me, which is great because I always like going to readings with Sara Mumolo.

It was all great. There was a video that I can't stop thinking about, and I am embarrassed to have forgotten the director who made it. "Joe DiMaggio!" Anne Boyer was fun and Sara loved her reading. I like her poetry a great deal. David Larsen was a wonderful and courteous host as always. He's having a coloring contest for his next flyer. Brilliant. Jasper Bernes was there, and I was like, "yo Jasper," like I'd known him for years. It's fun to say "yo Jasper."

But who really stole the show was William Moor.

This guy gets up on stage and starts reading what he says are just emails between friends. If that is true, I want to be his friend in the worst way just so that I can be his digital pen-pal. I would love to receive such pearls in my inbox as he read on Sunday. That sounded kind of dirty. But his reading was hilarious. He had the whole audience in proverbial stitches. Then he moved on to what I will call murder poems.

The murder poems are basically formula poems about murdering people; how to do it, when to do it, why to do it, who it should be done to, how to get away with it. His tone did not change at all. I looked at Sara, and her mouth was open. I looked at the rest of the people
in the room, and all of their mouths were open. Their jaws had dropped. Holy crap! that is exactly what every artist should aspire to, that expression on people's faces. I was so jealous, I wanted to murder him.

Many of us went to Luca's after that. Luca's is one of those places that manages the unbelievable feat of serving great food and great beer at the same time. They also have a cool logo, which is always nice.

There might be something cooler than a night like that, but I don't know what it is. We ended up at the Grad where I wrote in the corner like a freak.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MAMA BUZZ VIDS!!!





7:30 MAMA BUZZ CAFE, 27 April

Trainwreck Union.
Throw Mama from the Train.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Readings

A bunch of Trainwreckers ended up at the Unitarian on Thursday. The Unitarian is a cool venue because they put you in a cylindrical room of concrete that should be as cold as the grave but ends up rather cozy.

The itinerant librarian was there. If you haven't been around her, you should look around for her.

David Larsen read his Asiatic Lion piece. The piece was completely cool of course, but that's too broring/easy to write about. The way the guy reads is all about fun first. He makes sure that everyone has a good time, and that is rare. Most readers seem entirely indifferent to the audience's enjoyment. It's annoying. If you don't care about the people in the audience, why bother doing this? David Larsen is fresh. He doesn't make the mistake of taking the avant-garde so seriously that everything has to be some kind of revolution all the freaking time. He doesn't treat it with flippancy either. It feels like his poetry and performance/reading is true to the original intention/purpose/tradition of the avant-garde. And what I mean by that is that he does not seem to be a poser who uses poetry like a latex glove.
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The next night, a ton of Trainwreck Union members went to Maude Fife to see Jorie Graham. A lot of people think she's great, but just as many hate her. She's very controversial. So, to stick with the theme of this blog,,, Jorie Graham read in a way that Charles Altieri asked her a crazy question about music. No one beside Jorie Graham seemed to know what he was talking about. But her answers to all questions were entertaining. There is something about someone who is so comfortable up behind a microphone that is simultaneously admirable and contemptible. Like a rockstar.

Jorie Graham is a rockstar. I wanted to ask her how important being a rockstar is to being a successful poet. Everyone, though, especially Jorie Graham, I think, would say, "what is being a successful poet?" And I would say, "ahhh," like she'd just illuminated an age-old question with a new question. So, even at dinner, I didn't ask her. I really wanted to and now regret now doing it. Maybe you all have thoughts on this. I just wonder if the the romantic idea of the recluse-poet is just a myth, and the people we remember, the ones that make it into anthologies for generations to come, are actually rockstars. And we remember them for being rockstars not really for their poetry.

I didn't hear much grumbling from the wreck, so it seems like everyone had a good time at both readings, which is rare and awesome and beautiful, too.

Tonight is New Yipes. David Larsen does the MC-ing at those, and I have never been to a bad one. It's at 21 Grand. 25th and Broadway. Should be right solid. Word.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Jorie Graham


Jorie Graham is one of those poets who don't need much introduction because she is totally fucking famous. She's won the Pulitzer and tons of other awards. She's controversial for all sorts of reasons. There are sites out there calling her a criminal. There are sites calling her a genius. Sounds familiar? Well, the Trainwreck Union is going to be at UCB on the third floor of aWheeler Hall, rm 330, in the Maude Fife room, to see what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Accolades

Last semester, Beatrix Chan won the Campus Movie Fest with her film, Tell-Tale Heart. It is one of the coolest short films one can watch on good old Youtube.

Pablo Lopez just got into Brown with a full ride and has won the Lee Yang memorial poetry award.

Chad Vogler won the incredibly hard-to-get Haas Scholars award for his project proposal on the Harlem Renaissance.

Nick Roth just got off the set of "Lost" where he appeared in an upcoming episode.

Justin Botros keeps on making architecture students cry by winning all the internships and leaving his lessers to make missions out of sugar cubes.

Alex Snipes has caught the eye of people like Jack Hirschman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti with his astonishing translation skills.

Jack Morgan just won the Judith Stronach poetry award. He fancies himself a real-life poet now.

Between us, we've won more research positions than I can list here.

Connie Coady worked with 826 Valencia. Do I need to tell you how cool that is?

Jarrod Roland won an award for eating the most pies in ten minutes at the national pie-eating championships.

Sara Mumolo is the winner of a teaching fellowship at St. Mary's.

Sam Urfer slew a dragon.

Arthur Klepchukov won "best-dressed 2007" in Us Weekly for a white suit at a reading.

Gillian Hamel shot a man in Reno just watch him die.

Diallah Haidar won an award for most obscenities utters in an inappropriate setting.

Caroline Hamel stopped a train with one word: stop.

Arron Pawlowicz once laughed so loudly that a cease-fire occurred in Beirut.

I might have forgotten somebody, but who can keep track?

Such amazing accomplishments.

David Larsen


I know I have been talking about David Larsen a lot and that all of you should know that he is reading tonight by now, but with all the ranting and railing, some people might have forgotten.
He will be reading at the Unitarian in S.F. at 7:30. I hope to see all of you there. ALL of you.
Maybe he'll punch me in the head, and everyone can have a good laugh at me.

An Uplifting Reminder


We are not the Beat Generation. I don't want to compare us to them. But it is uplifting in these trying times to remember what people called them. The accusations, the insults, the police investigations, all because they were poets who wanted to do something different from everyone else. Shaping one's own reality and art is always deemed dangerous by the self-righteous.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Besmearers of Lions and Getting Used to Fame

The picture on the last post looks like it is a lion roaring. He is actually yawning. As rumors circulate about us, it become apparent that we are the ones everyone wants to talk about. Are we such a threat? Whatever rivalry people think is out there makes us tired. We yawn. But, we would like it to stop.

The Trainwreck Union started as a bunch of people who were sick of the establishment choking and stifling our creativity. Old-school ways of doing things bore us. We don't want to be like everyone else. We have no use for established poetry groups or publications. We want to work with the people we think are cool and do the things we think are cool . . . have cool readings and publications that are for us and by us. The thing is, though, trying to get away from the establishment is like Jack running from the giant in the beanstalk. They want to crush us. The only golden egg we have is our zest for all that is cool about poetry, that is, what's left of it. That is always what talentless people want to smash to bits. They are jealous of our small successes.

We keep turning around and asking the drooling giant to stop trying to crush us, but it barrels forth. We plead with it to let us be us, and it only intensifies its insulting vituperations. Their blood lust is frightening. Where will the lies stop? When? We're not going away. People who we like like us and believe in us. The despicable efforts of the giant tick on our tails is ugly and petty. There is someone out there trying to destroy a really cool poetry group and the careers of those in it. New groups like ours are bound to draw negative attention from people who hold on to relics of the past. There are hurtful, bold-faced lies flying around about us; please don't believe everything you hear. It's likely just another parasite trying cut us at the knees.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I will call you who hide Lymoges.

Dear Lymoges,

Your recent attacks have not been appreciated. The only rape any Trainwreck Union member has ever committed is that of the mind. We do it every day with cylindrical instruments called pens, writing and riding our own lightning. Perhaps you should try doing the same instead of hanging onto ours like a hideously fat tick on our tail. We are lions, and you are one of the parasites that vie with numberless others to live off our spoils. Our nerves are of the Nemean sort, and our eyes are affixed in our heads and on the future. You may wear the skins that you have pilfered from our fallen, but you should rather hang a lambskin on your recreant limbs.

Your concentration on the history of your publication turns you into an insolent child who fights with his father's sword with a fraction of his skill. You are an embarrassment. A disgrace.

I encourage you to read and write and have fun with poetry and all forms of art. Violently rape it if you want to; wrap yourself in its arms if you'd prefer. But leave us alone, please. Everyone knows who it is that continues this sad game, this blood-sucking. Stop talking about us. Your old, dusty publication makes us sneeze. It makes us look like you make us sick, but it's really just an annoyance.

Yours, with no need to hide my identity,

Jack Morgan


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For those of you who don't know what this is about, google us, read what someone has been saying. I suppose we shouldn't mind the buzz, but certain allegations are a bit hard to just ignore. Trainwreck Union Poets are the good guys! Or you can click on the link below and read all the awesome things people are saying about us. http://dareiread.blogspot.com/2007/04/trainwreck-union.html

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I hope to see all of you at the Jorie Graham reading and the Throw Mama From the Train reading. Until then, keep writing and reading and doing all of the things that give you the illusion that you might be alive.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Handle It?

I once heard that the people involved in poetry, the people really involved, don't like poetry. Marianne Moore wrote a poem to that effect once, and I think that the statement is very accurate. Most poetry readings are not good or are just barely good. Most poems are bad. But every once in a while, hearing, reading, or writing a poem gives us a high. It makes us or allows us to do things in our heads that we love. It is a drug. We look for that, so we go to the readings, we keep throwing money at Pegasus for their books and begging for another Hippocrene. Or a heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night. We know it's out there because we've felt it, we've seen it. Junkies all of us. We don't love poetry but what it does to us when it is pulled off perfectly.

Last night was it. I came to Pegasus and Graham Foust said to me, "got gum?" I said, "You're Graham Foust." He said, "Yes I am." I said, "I am Jack Morgan from the Trainwreck Union, and I am going to get you some gum." I knew I could get him gum. Do you know why? Because I was with the Trainwreck Union, and when you're with the Trainwreck Union, anything is possible. It's not that we chew a lot of gum or anything, but when you put enough people together, one of them has what you need. Lisa Price was the one who really came to the rescue, having the actual gum, but he could have asked me for a tire iron, and I would have gotten him one––not that we carry tire irons everywhere we go.

Graham Foust read, and it was amazing. It was the first time many of us had seen him read, but we had all read quite a bit of his work. His new book is a work of art from cover to cover that can't help but inspire everyone who peers in. I love Graham Foust so much that I kissed him on the forehead. I didn't really kiss him on the forehead, but I would have if he'd asked me. The Trainwreck Union carries kisses in their pockets like tire irons. He sold so many books to the Trainwreck Union last night that I don't think that there are any left for anyone else. That's good, though, because we want him for ourselves.

David Larsen punched me in the head. He really did punch me in the head during the intermission. It was grand. Sometimes I need a punch in the head to keep me grounded.

Linh Dinh. Oh my fucking God. LINH FUCKING DINH! Can anyone tell me how to write about Linh Dinh without adding f-words for emphasis? You know when you get goosebumps or when your jaw drops when you see or hear something incredible? You know how right after you say something like, "I can't fucking believe that just happened"? That's what Linh Dinh does to people. Graham Foust almost fell out of his chair. Right after the reading, Gillian Hamel looked skyward and screamed Hallelujah at the moon while tears streamed down her cheeks. I was reading his book, Borderless Bodies today, and I never want to finish it so that I could read it forever.

After the reading, we were all so happy that many of us were bouncing, literally bouncing around the store. We decided to go to Becket's. Becket's is a nice pub.

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There is a former member of the Union, who I will call Iago here. The thing about Iago is that he left the group even though everyone wanted him in. There are many theories as to why he left, but I think it is because he thinks that I was writing mean poetry about him. I wasn't, but Iago will never believe that. I think Iago is a talented person, and while he was in the Trainwreck Union, I was always begging him to stay in it because he always wanted out. If I thought he would come back as a contributing member, I would beg him all over again. Iago, though, has never really left. He pits members against one another, and he drives a division in the middle of the group. Iago always seems hell-bent on destroying the Trainwreck Union. I don't know if Iago means to do this, but it doesn't matter because it is, in fact, what he is doing. I don't know why you would ant to destroy something you helped create, Iago, but Iago's motives have always been unclear to me. And that is the reason why the party split.

It was unfortunate because four of us, Connie Coady, Elizabeth Howe, Nick Roth, and I, went to a party that was one of the coolest ever. EVER! It was the party that we have been waiting for all year.

There were hundreds of people. Organic wine made right there at the compound. There was a place called heaven. Another called hell. There was a bonfire. A band went around to each room making music with an accordion, a guitar, and a washboard contraption. They were everywhere. We sang, we cavorted, we were the masters of the universe. There were drums. There were vegetables and fruits. There was a kitchen filled with vittles that titivated everyone's evening. I wish that the whole Trainwreck Union had it instead of just us four. If the rest had come, there would have been chewing gum and tire irons.

National Poetry Month Celebrates Cpt. Jack Morgan



I (Chad) won't steal Mr. Morgan's thunder on this one, because I'm sure he's been screwing around all day with a new post about the last two readings at Pegasus and the alternating destructions and rebuildings of the souls who stuck around afterwards, but I will say that the Pegasus readings that Clay put together this week have been absolutely, (excuse my language), good. Real good.

It got me thinking about Trainwreck and the periodic frustrations we all go through when working with a large collective. Jack and I recently spoke about how we and others can piss each other off with an almost mesmerizing regularity, yet we know that they and we are essential to the organization and, truly, the beauty of this collective is that we can all walk away every so often, only to come back when some other poor bastard has had enough abuse for a while. Point is, we've pulled off some great shit this week that will soon come to light, most of which would not have happened without the adept coal-slinging of Mr. Morgan. Cheers to everyone in this group who continues to propel it, and take a moment to tip your hat to Mr. Morgan. At least buy him a drink, for God's sake.

Also, and I'm not confirming anything yet, the third issue of Switchyard is looking like it's going to be something else. I'm honestly giddy about it, as you can tell from the picture.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Last Night on the Open Observation Car

Last night was our second open mic, "Nabolom, Nabolom!" at Nabolom Bakery on Russel and College. It was big. We are big shots, criminals, gangsters, pirates, poets. This one ran a bit more smoothly and effectively. The Trainwreck Union learns and fixes and alters and pushes envelopes just see what will happen next. And we don't seem to be compromising. This blog entry is a bit disjointed already, but it is because I am still reeling and giddy and shocked about how well that reading went.

Alex Snipes MC'd in a way that daunts me because I will be MC-ing "Throw Mama From the Train" soon, and will never be able to be as good as he.

Chad Vogler wrote a new poem that still has me repeating one of the lines in my head. Cricket and Fish hooks? Genius.

Arthur Klepchukov threw some new stuff out there thrilled me to hear. Watch out for that cat.

Stephen Holmes read from his novel in progress, and it did not fail to turn heads into boiling pots. It was his first time reading, and he did a great job.

Kyra Davis read for her first time, and she broke everyone's hearts, that little cutie, in a good way.

Seriously, though, everyone who read and everyone who came contributed to my personal enjoyment of last night and my life, really.

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Tonight and all weekend, Pegasus is holding readings that promise to be memorable. You can catch us all there, if you're not a crybaby. Or you can stalk us from afar; we won't tell anyone. We don't mind.
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Last but not least, the translation project seems to be hauling ass and ashes all the way to the top. We've somehow caught the eyes of some heroes of poetry, and when I heard who they were, I shat myself.

Everything is going swimmingly. We are careening toward glory. Nothing will ever be as good as this.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Translation Station Initiation

Wouldn't be cool if there were a publication in which one could find translations of the things that Trainwreck Union members loved? I mean, almost all of us speak multiple languages, and we all have different tastes and interests and skills to pay the bills. Wouldn't it be cool if we could kick it on up to the international stage while bringing that stage down to our level, interpreting the this world's words and symbols in a way that excites the teeming masses while propelling this train forward to places it has never even imagined? Of course it would!!!

Tonight, the Trainwreck Union has a few cars on the track to make such a project come to fruition. It's risky in that we will be doing things in a new way. . . it could spell disaster, but hasn't that been true of everything we've done? We have pulled off the rest because, well, we're the best.

Also, don't forget about the open mic at Nabolom tomorrow night. It'll be scary as hell. No crybabies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Trainwreck

The thing about the Trainwreck Union, that is, the thing I like about being in it most today, is that it lets me know that I am talented. I am hanging out with the most talented people I have ever met, there's only one reason why they would want to hang out with me and put up with all of my crap.

Monday, April 9, 2007

An Excuse, a Meeting, a Rant about the Intrinsic Beauty of the Darkness of the Night

Last night was Easter. We had brunch at Barclay's where we dropped three bills. The idea was to Joseph Lease, but 3pm?! Come on! Who can make that date? I wanted to go very much, but it didn't work out.
• We had our meeting. That was good. There was much to discuss. We're actually coming out with a translation publication spear-headed by Alex Snipes, who is simply incredible in many ways--languages in particular. Many of us are very excited about this ambitious new project.
• There's going to be another open mic this week at Nabolom.
• A few of us are starting a band.
• Some people read poetry.
• Others worried about the fate of their souls.
• Still others were preoccupied with the fate of their theses.

+++++++++++++++++++++

After that, we proceeded to break as many laws and taboos as possible in one night, filling our pockets with cocktail napkins covered in unintelligible doggerel.

Shake your heads and wag your fingers at us. We are shaking our heads and holding them while we freshen our pens to start again. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
I read today that life-styles like ours are myths. . . such a statement is ridiculous. Writers who don't drink always look at the ones who do and put their hands on their hips and cluck like chickens. Tsking tsking tsking. That is fine. I don't mind the name-calling too much. I don't mind them not understanding the lure of the night. It isn't a problem that they sit on the sidelines like armchair generals while we battle for something, some undefinable thing. We are hungry for different things.

But here's the problem: we exist. I've heard from numerous people who say things with great certainty and authority that writers like us are not successful, that writers who indulge in the darker parts of life are unable to produce, to deliver. We're right over here in the street, we're waving at you from the battlefield, you can hear us laughing on your stoop in the middle of the night. We're right over here with our latest masterpieces, our 4.0's, and our acceptance letters to the places everyone wants to go. In fact, we're always at those places everyone else wants to be, it seems impossible when you just saw us in that place where you wouldn't be caught dead. But gravity seems impossible. . . and rainbows.

The way we live is not mythological, it is the stuff of legends.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Murmuring about Art and Money

The Trainwreck had a meeting last night at Barclay's. Barclay's is a great bar because it has a remarkable, rotating selection of beers on tap and because they still serve beer in glass pitchers brought to you by waitresses who seem to actually care that you are there. This is all quite shocking around the bay, methinks.

I lost $13,000.00 last night because I am simply not able to convince people that I am intelligent. I had the chance to lie, but I didn't, and now I am wanting $13,000.00. It goes to show that people like lies better than anything else. I wish I were a liar. Chad Vogler is $13,000.00 richer; he didn't get it for lying. He was able to convince people that he was intelligent. At least one Trainwreck Union member will be able to participate in the prestigious Haas Scholars program. We seem to be in everything at the moment. It's hard to keep track of everyone's fancy awards and laurels and recognitions and all of that.

And I wasn't the one who cried at the bar last night altough I think I had the best reason to. The police issue, as a result of the actions taken by certain members of another poetry group, made someone cry last night. It is unfortunate how many people this touches.

It'll all be over soon, though. Just a few more days.

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Art murmur was fun. We hit Mama Buzz and 21 Grand and Ego Park and all of the places one goes to during Art Murmur. There were the dances in the street, the poet on the sidewalk who typed with the furious speed of a 40's secretary. Sara Mumolo fronted cash for him to write me a poem about robots and academic failure. He wrote her one about trains and how they crash.

How we ended up back at the Grad or how I got home are mysteries that I don't need to solve because we are all safe and warm for the moment.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Police, Joanne Kyger, and Celebration


This week has been a trip for the members of the Trainwreck Union.

We aren't entirely sure what we should or are allowed to discuss in an open forum such as this blog, but something must be said about what has been going on because so much is already flying around that it is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. Please excuse the ambiguity of this post, as it is necessary to tread lightly at the moment.

Two nights ago, three of the Trainwreck Union's founding members were informed by the UCPD via email that they were the focus of an investigation. Someone whose name will not be mentioned here filed a false police report against us. The accusations ranged from the petty to the ludicrous and are the subjects of many of our current laugh-chocked conversations, but to not take them seriously would be erroneous as well. When the police get involved, it's serious. Some of us are outraged, some of us are scared, and some of us are hurt. We were called in for an "interview," which is a euphemism for "questioning." The difference is that we didn't have to sign anything. After speaking with us, the police agreed that the claims were unfounded, and we were released without even a threat of a follow-up. The thing about police is that they can generally smell bullshit from a mile away––that is one thing they excel at, the good ones. They were professional and friendly, and didn't go out of their way to try and make this thing bigger than it actually is. We all appreciated that. . . after all, I am one of those unfortunate few who have been on the business end of a cop's bad day (j-walking tickets cost $117 in Berkeley). . . I've had a few bad experiences with the police. . . these police were johnny on the spot, though.

Anyway, we all hope that the berkeley poetry review's continuing harassment of our group will soon come to an end. It must be painful for them to see us do so well. We try to push envelopes, we try to create, we try to be at our best, and when they sit on their hands wondering how we're dong all that we are doing, how we have attracted the most talented people in the area to support us and be a part of what we are doing, it must be really hard being them. But I cannot give them talent. . . I cannot really give them anything. Their lack of talent, though, is no excuse for this.

Many of you might have read retaliatory blog threads and facebook threads that seemed to cross lines, and I am not defending those. They were stones in a battle of stone throwing. They were unwise maneuvers. But a false police report accusing us of crimes that could land us in jail if they were true? Nothing warrants that. That is a serious crime.

What's next? We hope nothing. We all hope that this is over. The police report will be available to us in ten days, and we will be able to tell more of the tale. We have been laughing about it, but we all know how we've been wronged. Things like this ruin careers and futures and all the fun, too. If you've been reading this blog, or if you know any member of the Trainwreck Union, you know that we are very much about the fun of it. We may get dark about things from time to time, but we are all about the fun of poetry and art. We love it. We live for it. It is the only toy worth having. How dare someone threaten that.

We feel kind of like poetic gangsters right now. I wonder if I am Sonny, Michael, or Fredo. I am probably Fredo. . . he's the stupid one.

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Positive thing(!):

Joanne Kyger at Lunch Poems yesterday was rad. That's right, I said rad. A couple weird moments, and political poetry wears me thin sometimes, but all in all, what a fantastic reading. She had a wonderful style in her presentation, her poetry is way cool weekdays, and she wore huge rose-colored rock-star glasses. Lunch Poems really saved the best for last. Also, say what you will about Robert Hass--I know it's cool to hate poet laureates like they would care--but he introduced her in such a way that made me feel like, "shit, I can't wait to hear her read!" He was great, she was great, and I bought her book and got it signed. . . something I almost never do. And when I got it signed and shamelessly told her about the Union, she was super, super cool and made me feel the same. Once I heard someone define "having soul" as being able to make a person, regardless of their situation, happy to be alive. . . Joanne Kyger has soul.

All around a great experience.
I kind of love her. So, to all of those who said I was guilty of Ageism, bugger off.


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After all of that we had a bonfire at the dwelling spot of one of the most talented people in Berkeley: Beatrix Chan. I don't know if I have mentioned her before, but she is an amazing film maker and a pretty good poet. She had a bonfire at her place where Gillian Hamel, Sara Mumolo, Alex Snipes, Beatrix herself, I myself (Jack Morgan), read their poetry. After we read it we burned it. Cliché? Maybe. . . but fuck you it was awesome. Casey played guitar, and we sang, and it was good. He's going to be our musical intermission on the 13th of May at 21 Grand if you want a taste of the genius we partake in when we are on these outings.

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.

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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.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Back Room Live, A Book, and More Fun with Poets.

First of all, have you seen this book? The Trainwreck Union has recently discovered Zirconia, and we are all rather excited about it.
I think that you will like it, too.

I am going to read it at the Mama Buzz today, if you come by, I'll read it to you. Or we could all take turns reading it aloud like we did on Friday at Ralleigh's.

This is also how I experienced much of Geoffrey G. O'brien's latest book, which is also amazing, if you didn't know already, which you must.

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Last night was Valyntina Grenier's Back Room Live. I always like the atmosphere in the back of McNally's, a loud bar, because it makes poetry seem subversive and in direct competition with what often appears to be dominant culture: yelling at a television. I love Valyntina for having it.

The first reader was Angelo Nikolopoulos. Angelo informed us all about how brutish and stupid straight men are. This was a relief because I've always wanted an excuse for my stupidity and now finally have one. Everyone in the room found it all very humorous, and lots of laughs erupted the mouths of the audience, and even I laughed at a couple of his straight-bashing poems, but I couldn't help but be a little sad about stereotypes. I think stereotypes are sad. Do straight men all smell like motor oil and gym bags? Are they really all thumbs with all things delicate? I don't think so. The male friends that I have don't. The heterosexual white man is the last group one is able to make fun of with impunity. That's all right I guess, but it makes me sad. So, Angelo Nikolopoulos's poetry evoked emotion of all kinds. That's good, right?

Challen Clark read a funny and charming story about turtles that I loved until the last page, which seemed unneeded and inconsiderate of the listener's patience.

Teresa Hovis was too quiet to hear, but I think she read something about her family. Nikol Polidoro, Trainwreck Union founding member, was in the front row and had trouble hearing her, too, but she said she really liked her stuff. . . she also said that she likes a lot more stuff than I do, that she has more tolerant taste buds. I envy Nikol for that.

Sarah Garrigan was also rather quiet, but she was fine for as nervous as she was. Let's face it, it's hard getting up there. She was a lot better than I expected.

J.P. Lacrampe was handsome. He went to ASU. Nikol thought his fiction was O.K.

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The highlight of the evening was talking with David Larsen about what he's going to read on the 19th at Unitarian church. Did you know there were 600 words for the Asiatic lion in Arabic? Neither did I. Larsen knows. I was on the fence about going to see yet another translation reading, but he has totally convinced me that the 19th will be off the hook and well worth the Bart to SF. His enthusiasm rubs off on people he talks to. Now I can't wait to see him read about lions.

Justin Botros was there, too, and he also cannot wait to learn more about the Asiatic Lion.

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Many of us ended up at Ben n' Nick's. We end up there a lot.
We are going to Mama Buzz today, and we will hopefully fly kites at the Marina, weather permitting. I can't say "weather" with a definite article without thinking about Lisa Robertson now.