Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fully Linked

In my experiences as a poet, I’d never hosted an open microphone reading before, even though I have attended and read at hundreds of them. The first time I read a poem publicly (a pretentious attempt to sound literary that included the word “trillitrumpetings”) was in 1991 at Brady’s Café in Kent, Ohio. True to the 1990s, the Café was bought out by a Starbucks, and the musical portion of the Café moved to the town movie theater and became The Kent Stage, and the readings moved to the Standing Rock Arts building on Water Street (which could lead me into more nostalgic/nauseate reminiscence about venues, poets, and music in Kent in the mid-1990s). The Jawbone Open readings were organized by Maj Ragain, though there had been another poet (or writer) who helped begin the readings in the 1980s, and whose name I can’t recall. Ragain and others had been part of a reading series at Shelly’s Book Bar back in the 1970s, and it is significant that Mark Mothersbaugh, who is the fine DADA-sophic writer of "My Struggle" (by Boojie Boy), would offer some of his early, trenchant DEVO ideas for them before the "band" transmutated into new wave/punk phenomena. I was too young to witness the beginnings of these series, though the strength of Mothersbaugh & others’ work made Kent in the late 1970s, still in many ways in shock from the student shootings of May 4, 1970, into a destination for filmmakers, musicians, progressives, and new american poets, the ripples from which I was able to feel.

This is a long introduction to my acknowledgments here to the many people who came together to make the first Endocrinology open microphone “jam” such a good time. Even if the microphone was never used! But it is personally important for me to acknowledge the influences I am cognizant of, so that I can thank those who set a precedent tone, and those who were participants and audience at the thursday night reading. Thanks are due to everyone for coming out on a evening of stinging, bitter weather, and for bringing such a high quality of serious and damaged works to read and perform on a Thursday night.

So my thanks go to Michael Kelleher, who inspired the open-mic idea in me when he picked me up one morning as I was walking to work and listed out all the reading series that had closed in Buffalo recently (among which the Spoken Word Sundays readings hosted by Liz Mariani, the Just Buffalo Open Mic Series hosted by Livio Farallo, and the Buffalo Poetry Slams hosted by Gabrielle Boulaine). Thanks to Ryki Zuckerman, first for reading at Endocrinology, but also for her tireless effort in organizing and hosting at least three or four open mic series in town—Earth’s Daughters, the Gray Hair Series, and the Wordflight readings at the Crane Public Library—and to Jennifer Campbell who now hosts at least one of these. Thanks to Aaron Lowinger, for not egging my house when I scheduled my reading for the same night as the Anselm Berrigan (no show) and Dorthea Lasky Small Press Poetry reading series. Thanks to Dorthea Lasky for reading the inaugural Endocrinology poem “Real Boobs” before her main feature reading down the street (diplomacy works!!). Thanks to Eric Gelsinger, who forwarded the text by Robert Kocik (“Stressogony”) that formed the basis of almost all my remarks between readers. Thanks to Michael Basinski, who put his own health on the line to make to the reading, and who gave a brilliant (first time?) reading from his book Of Venus 93, and to whom I must apologize for not introducing in an appropriate way. Thanks, big thanks, to RussellBloodbeamsPascatore for creating the Facebook event page, inviting hundreds of people to attend, and for his encouragement, accurate perceptions, fortitude amidst a no-alcohol policy, bright lights and printer problems, and especially for his all-around sucky attitude. By the way, Russell, the first band to admit they sucked was, I believe, Primus. Thanks to Gina Pennock for designing the flyer & scientific acumen in understanding “open slots”. Thanks so so so much to the Sugar City artists and organizers, Aimee Buyea, Tom Van Deusen, and Morgan (?!) for their amazing work and vision in creating the space, and for attending. Thanks to Eco Joe, Richard Cimbalo, David Gluchowski, Josh Smith, John Markle, Zach Keebaugh, Jack Topht, Chris Fritton, David Lewitsky and Zev Gottdiener for filling the open slots and reading/singing/slurring & stretching into such a range of linguistic permutations. Thanks to Thea who didn’t see the reading, but gave me a ride home. And to the audience. And even though she was stranded far off on an island of artists with a bag of Cheetos, thanks to my very own Homestyle, for all her sweet supporting sustenances.

More jams, and all-around devoluted suckiness to come for Endocrinology Open Mikes in March: national small press month!!

--Douglas Manson


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