July 10, 2010

The Bernadette Mayer 11th Annual Poetry BBQ, July 3

held at Bernadette Mayer's & Philip Good's homestead in East Nassau, NY. This is the first year I'd been able to make it & damn glad I did -- great weather, great food, great poets & poetry. As we gathered in the "main hall" for the poems, we were treated to 2 "humorous poems" from Ed Sanders, via speaker-phone. Later Andrei Codrescu called in with his rant, & still later Harris Schiff with a poem from Paris.

Dave Brinks was in from New Orleans to be the MC & to make his Alligator crawfish Jambalaya. He read about half way through, a couple poems by Bob Kaufman (the New Orleans connection) & one written right here, yesterday, for Bernadette & Philip.

Speaking of whom, Bernadette read a poem early on about the wrens who had built a nest on her porch, & who accompanied her, if you listened closely, in her reading with their singing (& throughout the other poets as well). A little later Philip read what he called "poems in the past" from his notebook: snow storms & train rides.

Pierre Joris & Nicole Peyrafitte were up from Brooklyn with their son Miles, taller & more hairy than the last time I saw him, who played guitar while Nicole performed "Golden Invocation" (or was that "Invoice"?) with the great refrain, "can you vulva clap the light?", then a poem of hers in French with Pierre reading his translation. Then Pierre read 2 poems, one on the invention of Belly-dancing (was he there for that?).

It was a friendly crowd with tributes to other poets here often the theme, such as Elizabeth Willis reading a poem for Dave Brinks, or Tom Gizzi doing a song with his guitar made up of words from Brinks' writing, & Peter Gizzi's poem for Bernadette "A Note on the Text." Even some of the youngest poets had their references to the place, such as Miles Joris-Peyraffite reading poems from his pocket notebook written here the last couple of days, or his friend Tommy Panitz including a poem about the upstairs room in Bernadette & Phil's house where he spent the night.

Another recurring theme, often with a nod to Dave Brinks, was the oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. These included Tracey McTeague's (with daughter on hip) "A Curse from the Ancestors," Jamey Jones with notes from his journal for Pensacola & the Gulf, & Cara Benson's stuttering sound poem.

When it was my turn, Dave Brinks did a very kind introduction about the Albany poetry community; I read my very new, very NYC "Poem" then the older piece, "Ordering Lunch". Alan Casline followed with a few, including "Sardines." I enjoyed Phil Johnson's poems, one based on a poem by Philippe Soupault, another from 1968.

Other poets filling out the day included Brendan Lorber, dapper in a suit, who read "I Used to Live There But Now I Don't". Roger Van Voorhees' long, long poem was a strange narrative. Ben Tripp was the most technological, having to turn off his ringing cellphone, & reading a couple of his poems from his laptop. Eric Alter's poem was a funny, jazzy foray into philosophy, then "Jamey's Head" about another poet here right now. Jonathan Skinner brought the afternoon to a close with environmental poems, one on wet lands, the other, "Common Yellow Throat" read from a laptop.

That was just the poetry (& the poets who read -- there were others justing listening). From there the discussions & eating continued on to the sunny backyard, the smoke from Pierre grilling lamb-burgers keeping the mosquitos away. From all reports the partying kept on into the night, but I left while it was still daylight, filled with all the good things (most of them, anyways) that fill one's being with light.

1 comment:

Jason Crane | jasoncrane.org said...

Wow -- that sounds like a great event. Very cool.