Archive for January, 2011

My Recent Poetry Reading at Detroit’s Scarab Club

January 25, 2011

Nurturing the Will

I did a rare poetry reading/performance at the Scarab Club, Wed Jan 19, at 7 PM.  The other poets who read included Julie Patton and Scott Farrow.  The Woodward-Line poetry series is curated by Kim Hunter and James Hart III.

This was last week as I write this.  I don’t read my poetry “live” every year.  Sometimes years go by before I do a “straight poetry reading.”  That is, I usually perform my poetics with my puppet shows and the Spaceband. 

It was tricky getting there by bus, I just barely got there on time.

I’ve seen Scott read before.  He was quite good, doing his poetry then taking “musical breaks.”  He’d play the flute and the moog, then do more poetry.

I brought my 3-headed toy monster and my red cassette recorder up to the podium.  I’d carefully chose a lot of poems.  Some were recent while others went back to the 1980’s.  They were all from my “zine” The Poetic Express.

I read them, roughly in chronological order.  There were a lot of tall tales involving animals and monsters, a disclaimer, a surrealist recipe and more.  I had the audience responding and laughing, good.  There were poems dedicated to St. John Perse, Kay Sage, Captain Beefheart and more.

I finished with a poem for blues man Blind Willie McTell, which I sang ending “a young boy dreams of endless snow” a duly Wintry image.  It rhymed as did several others.  I read quite a few poems, for just fifteen minutes.

Julie Patton was excellent.  I hadn’t been familiar with her work.  She  said something like “Manhattan isn’t the same since it became one big shopping mall.”

Much of her poetry played with language.  One consisted of the letters of the alphabet especially set up and spoken.  A guitarist backed her up.  She sang some, even bring to mind the late, great Jeanne Lee a bit.

She finished one poem, going around “shooting” at the audience with at toy  (cork and string) pop-gun.

For her last piece, she passed out little instruments and noise toys to the audience to jam around her words. The guitarist was still playing too.   Toward the end, she invited Scott and I back up to join the jam where I joined in with words, whistling, singing, kazooing and more.

The Poetic Express:

Information on poet Julie Patton:

2011: Work, play-work and more work

January 5, 2011

Yes, really, Happy New Years to you & yours (and best  for the year 2011).

Or, if you’re reading this blog from somewhere in the future, you’ll already know how it all turned out.

At the end of every year, I always seem to mention how little work I need to do for the rest of the year.

Yet, even though I get some time off my day job, I’m always working on something, usually even on New Years Eve.  Work!

I think there was an old gangster movie where Edward G. Robinson snarled “Work is for saps!”  In 1883, Karl Marx’s son-in-law, Paul Lafargue wrote an interesting tract entitled The Right to be Lazy

When it comes to work, there are plenty of  “discontents.”  Yet in ways, it’s the glue that holds the world together.  Some think money is that “wondrous glue.”  Where does that money come from?  Where does it go?

Work can be great (in ways) or it can be a drag.  These days, many people are out of work or just getting by with part-time, low-paying work.  It’s good to be able to be able to make ends me, to get by (if not “get ahead).”

At the start of each year, I think about how much work I have to do:

1. Work Work: the old “day job” (unless you’re doing night work).  This is how most of us “make money.”  I work in a university library, doing a lot of various jobs.  I enjoy doing book repair and helping put exhibits together. 

2. House Work: the “great infinite” and truly never-ending.  We sweep, wash, scrub, vacuum, organize our things, throw out stuff, recycle stuff and on and on it goes.

3. Play Work: all of the creative and adventurous work.  we dance, sing, play instruments, draw, sculpt, paint, write, make films, stage plays.  Often this is very solitary.  Yet sometimes we create with others in “grand collaborations” in musical groups, troupes of actors and so on.

4. World Work: This is what I call this work done in attempts to truly change things for the better or to make the world a slightly better place for your having lived in it.

This can seem a bit foolish, yet some of us continue to plug away at it.  These days it can be confusing.  One man’s good is another man’s bad?  Some people seem to hold opposite opinions.

If I continue try to work for the Earth, for nature, for the rights of women, children, poor people, artists, true poets (and so on) some would say this is wrong, a big mistake.  I only hope their work doesn’t “cancel out” mine (or others like me).

Yes more hard work, and plenty of it.  I once wrote a (spoof) manifesto Americans for Harder Work!

If some of us can make our creative work our “day job” as well, then that’s great.  More power to you!  For many of us, that’s easier said than done,

There is plenty which is not work.  Love, dreams, human conversations, friendships and relationships: these can involve work and “upkeep.”

Yet these things are not work.  These transcend it and are above and beyond it.  Work and play can be part of these, but to me real life is more than just hard work.

That said, it’s January 5 and I have an awful lot of work to do this year.  Onward!

workplay and playwork:

Two statements critiquing the whole idea of work, first Paul Lafargue:

then Bob Black: