April 19, 2016

Split This Rock, 2016 Featured Reading, Friday Night, April 15


I mentioned in my Blog on the Thursday sessions that I was surprised to see the name of Albany poet Paul Weinman in the list in the program of poets who have passed away since Split This Rock, 2014, & was surprised  -- again -- when I saw his picture among the slide show of these gone poets that was shown in the Grosvenor Auditorium of the National Geographic building as folks gathered for tonight's reading.


Tonight’s Master of Ceremonies was Split This Rock Board of Directors Chair, Dan Vera, who started off the night paying tribute to the gone poet/activist John Trudell with a recording of Trudell reading “Shapes of the Earth.”


Again, the reading started off with a performance by one of the DC Youth Poets, tonight Cedric “Remedy” Harper, who did a piece about reacting to a black child’s laughter.


He was followed by the 2016 Split This Rock contest winner, Lauren K. Alleyne, who read her winning poem “Self Portrait with NeoNazi Demonstration” riffing on “black.”

Jan Beatty is one of the perennial hits at Split This Rock & she was back again with her sassy, funny, in-your-face-with-humor poetry. A few of her pieces took on her own tendency for anger, such as “Shooter” which was a list of men who had exploited/harassed her, a chilling vignette about a 12 year-old at an abortion clinic, “Abortion With Gun Barrell.” “Dear American Poetry” was also angry, scurrilous, & speaking of Poetry, read her poem “Stricken” from the April 2016 issue, again a poem with a gun in it but sad & tender. Also tender was “The Kindness” & the anaphoric “Against Suicide.” She ended with a sexy memoir piece about being pissed on at a concert by Jim Morrison, “Drinking the Lizard King.”

Jennifer Bartlett (see my Blog about the eco-poetry panel) was the next reader. She draws heavily on her experience with C.P. & just being a person living a world that has its own ideas about what she should do. Her first piece played on expressions like “to be crippled,” & comments like “your child must be angry because you are disabled.” Another piece was written for the annual New Years Day Marathon reading at the Poetry Project in NYC, a “controversial” piece about a relationship, & about being upset by a scene in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. (On the train on Sunday I ran into her & her son & we found that we shared a love of the work of Charles Olson.)

The final performer for the night — & he had to be the final performer — was Regie Cabico (who can follow him), who pranced unto the stage to disco music & flashing lights, wearing a feather boa & spangling pants. His first piece was titled “Lucifer Does Stand Up Comedy in the Garden of Paradise” (much like himself). His work is full of pointed humor, with his queer Asian point-of-view, such as the poems “He’s Gonna Fuck Him” & “Arctic Lover.” He also read his poem from the April 2016 Poetry “Daylight Saving Time Flies Like an Instagram of a Weasel Riding a Woodpecker & You Feel Everything Will Be Alright.” He ended by handing out chocolates to persons with chose Zodiac signs, & then reciting a poem as a Nina Simone tune played in the background.

Who says poetry isn’t fun?

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