23 More People Who Made Me Care About Poetry in 2013 (From One of the Million People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013)
When I first moved to Manhattan in 2008, I roughly knew about three people in the entire city. I lived in a bedbug-infested apartment on 139th Street with a sugar baby, a Bubba Gump Shrimp waiter, and a digital retoucher. At the time, I thought I was going to work as an assistant in photo studios while applying to MFA programs on the side—a plan that ended up completely shifting (no MFA, au revoir photo world)—but that’s not what I’m here to write about. I knew nothing of the NYC literary world, especially that of poetry. One day I had wandered into a library near 103rd to check out some familiar books. I saw a flyer for POETRY DISCUSSION GROUP / TONIGHT’S THEME: DEATH and hung around, hoping to meet some poets. And talk about death, of course.
What I ended up was sitting in a circle with about a dozen people, myself the only person under 60. As one cantankerous woman pointed out—most of them were “sitting in god’s waiting room” & it was “foolish to romanticize death”. This lead to a shouting match between attendees. So there I sat, hands in lap, in a coven of curmudgeons, horribly embarrassed at how much I misgauged what I thought I would be participating in. This is not to say that these old folks couldn’t have schooled me. I perhaps have never witnessed a more intensely personal discussion of death with any group of strangers in such a short amount of time in such a public space. But my point is that geography is a strange creature, containing wheels inside wheels. I wanted to meet young poets in their early 20s who would show me who they were reading, where they were reading at, where they hung out. This Upper West Side library, much to my ignorance, was not that place. I didn’t find that niche for a long time, even though we all lived inside the same city. It took many misguided open mics and weird basement readings to find the people I wanted to be around.
In some ways, I’d say this year is the first year I’ve been asked to read at series that I didn’t have to creepily solicit (although I still creepily solicit). It wasn’t until my first chapbook came out last fall that people gradually stopped introducing me as “that guy who runs Moonshot“. Every day is baby steps, is one poem after the other. I think it’s important to highlight these gooey ‘writer journeys’ we hear about over and over again to show how people find their way to meeting writers and literary scenes they care about. It’s hard when you’re on the outside and suspect others are members of a literary cabal who are only interested in helping each other out. I’ve been there. I’m still there, in many ways. Not everyone who lives in NYC is geographically self-obsessed or entitled or had everything fall into their lap instantly. Does this even need to be said? It took five years just to reach a point where the lit projects I’ve started here (or been involved with) have been around long enough where it people come up to me and say they know who I am, what I do. It hasn’t gotten less jarring yet—maybe one day it will.
Perhaps this is why it’s equally surprising to find myself on a list called 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013. It’s even stranger to watch people—in response to this list—echo criticisms I’ve made of NYC’s poetry scene—white, exclusive, cliquey, centered around itself. Except, in this case, I was included on an exclusionary list. I’m now that person. Numbered lists are incredibly tricky to begin with because they seem so incredibly final, as if there are no others. Here are the 23 chosen ones. There is a glib part of me that wants to say we should take these kinds of lists with a grain of salt, that wants to point out that media sites have to churn out dozens of these insipid listicles per day—but I know that will incise—and I recognize that it’s my privilege that would allow me such flippancy.
Due to Betty Freidan’s pet rooster, or, as Mayor Bloomberg calls it, “Hurricane Sandy,” a lot of things were discombobulated, including The Poetry Brothel.
But now The Poetry Brothel has been rescheduled for this Sunday , 17 Nov. 2012. It will be from 8:00-1:00 at the Backroom on 102 Norfolk Street.
There will still be magic, music, burlesque, tarot cards (which I still don’t believe in), and tons of public and private poetry readings.
Dorothea Lasky and Ariana Reines will be there. So will the Princess of Brattydom, Carina Finn, and the Princess of Spanish Harlem, Jennifer Tamayo. What will happen when these two royal figures collide? Will it turn into a girly, more fashionable version of the exciting Israel-Hamas war?
Also, while I’m on the topic of prostitutes, I want to cite one of the most intriguing prostitutes ever (besides Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8): Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
Vivian’s long curly red hair is really fairy tale. If it would’ve ran for president of the United States of America I maybe would’ve supported it.
If you aren’t entertaining the possibility of viewing Pretty Woman right this second, then you are like the shop girls in the movie who are rude to Vivian/Julia, which means you are a brickhead.
So… please consider coming to The Poetry Brothel and contributing to a theatrical and glamorous poetry event.
Here’s another picture of The Poetry Brothel’s madam, Stephanie Berger:
On Sunday there will be a Poetry Brothel.
It will be held in The Back Room at 102 Norfolk Street, which is in the Lower East Side.
The Brothel will start at 8 and end at 1.
There will be masks, music, tarot readings (which I don’t believe in, but still), burlesque, magic, and lots of poetry.
All guests may purchase private readings with the poets, which include the splendidly shrill Dorothea Lasky and the plucky Harlem princess Jennier Tamayo. Also available for a private reading is Carina Finn (the East Village princess behind The Bratty Poets), Ariana Reines (if you haven’t read Mercury then you don’t have proper priorities), myself (Ann Romney 2012!), and lots more.
Throughout the evening, each poet will also give a public reading.
Please come and support poetry that is theatrical and fabulous.
Stephanie Berger is the madame of The Brothel. This is what she looks like:
For further information or to purchase tickets in advance please click here.
by Jennifer Tamayo
Switchback Books, 2011
88 pages / $18 Buy from Switchback Books
If “flesh is the reason oil paint was invented” as de Kooning claimed, then the natural antithesis of oils are collages, and it seems no coincidence this method is increasingly popular in art and literature as the materialization of an ideal smooth whole flesh feels rejectable in this era of multi-medium hybridity. Where a lens is fragmented so fragments the subject even beyond lenses; and tidy categories of language, race and gender follow, as in Jennifer Tamayo’s collection of poems/images in Red Missed Aches Read Missed Aches Red Mistakes Read Mistakes.
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October 10th, 2011 / 12:00 pm