Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scenes from the First Annual New York Poetry Festival

July 30th & 31st. Governors Island, New York City

Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres
Sublimi feriam sidere capite

Note: video quality seems choppy on my machine, and is best viewed with the audio turned off.

Brooklyn Ferry to Governors Island from Pier 6 from Douglas Manson on Vimeo.

The Ferry ride is quick, but fun. The readings were held along the beautiful & stately Colonel's Row, under a colonnade of ample, lush sycamores.

I spent most of my time at the Admiral's Stage, and heard poets from FOU magazine, No, Dear and the Southern Writers Reading Series.

Here was the first great MC at the festival. Please help me identify some of these presenters and poets!

The first poet was Claire Donato. She's a great poet:

"The kindest poet lives alone." She intoned. She insisted.

Next up was Cynthia Arrieu-King:

Great poet and owner of Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop, Farrah Field read next:

Happy to provide gender equality was the wonderful Chris Martin:

Next was a poet, whose name I missed:

I then heard poets from the Southern Writers Reading Series. Author of Painkiller, Patricia Spears Jones raised the volume!


Just before I was drawn away by the siren song of the Poetry Whores at the nearby brothel, I heard the distinct cadences of the well-received Yusef Komunyakaa, whose most recent collection is The Chameleon Couch (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2011):

At one point, thrown off his line by the booming PA sounds from the nearby "Brigadier" stage, he smiled and asked "How does this work?" I'm not sure he heard me, but I responded, "It doesn't!" Usually the sound systems worked quite well, but at times one heard a kind of mixed combination of lines from different stages, that was sometimes interesting, but usually disruptive. I stood directly between the two stages once and tried to find a point of dialogue, which worked for a few moments as two poets read, but then found it less exciting than it could have been. Perhaps more coordinated presentations of "naval word battle" could extend the dramatic possibilities of holding simultaneous readings. Too bad there weren't some semaphore poems in the mix. My two cents.

It was all free, in an amazing place, on one of the most beautiful days we've had this summer. If you see this in time, go out today (31 July) and check it out! Take water and food with you, though great food and drink were available for purchase. Please support the poets! This is an event to look forward to in coming years. Where O where were you, Boo-Boo??????? Zoom-zoom???


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If You'd Only Known / It's Hid From Your Eyes

Hör auf Mich un Conseil

Focus constantly to make your work
a celebration of the joys of human existence.
Trace the lives and live the traces
of all that surrounds you.
Notice children first and see
in their eyes the world is small,
smaller than the mile in which they move,
the smaller circle of a parent’s hand
more alive than a thought that revolves
& devolves on the edge of pluto's ellipse
or such men who calculate by millions,
pretend visions in heaps of this
& hillocks of that.

Find that each person is innately kind,
& anger is sudden confusion.
Despair is only a longing
for impossible wealth or threats
which cannot present themselves to be realized.
Pain comes with only knowing what is seen.
Comprehension of everything is a pain
created out of false consciousness,
laying your mental history upon objects
unaware of your calculation.
Chaos creeps on the edge of such knowledge
and cracks the foundation of all
that is supposed to be true.
There is a wilder truth
that the mind cannot overcome
once the eye beholds it.

Trust your senses, for they do not lie.

Sun Solo from Douglas Manson on Vimeo.