Saturday, November 15, 2008
Memories of a Love Song A La Kerouac: MassPoetryFestival
Memories of a Love Song
A La Kerouac
By Portia Brockway
It all began with my visit to see Julian Agyeman, to talk about Just Sustainability, Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability joining forces, at The Diesel, in Davis. Upon entering, my first hopeful encounter of the morning was with two fellow writers, we who necessarily swim upstream through layers and swells of emotional portent. Well, Timothy Gager was looking fresh and youthful, sitting tall in his stiff parlor chair by the freebie bar, sheet on sheets of piled papers, purposefully organized.
As I stood by with the poets, Julian reared his black plaits at the crowd-out. I touched base before entering my queue in to the Nexus for Sencha with lemon, joked how coming to The Diesel fulfills my dyke tendencies; he mentioned the wonderful cappuccino folds he finds here.
Timothy was going to read that night at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival out in Lowell, MA, that wide-slung, bug-shuttered photogenic art capital of a canal city. Hinged water flats made of governors’ wishes and men’s hard work slow the rush of glitter through pools, reflecting up into the serene factory windows. The black waters creep the brick bank of moody bars; trot cat-hot down the steaming alley ways; dodge the industry and eateries on the cobbled Market Street. The stray poet slips back inside the soft bowl’s incline.
Timothy feared desolation, that no one would show, and that he would be reading to his beer. Instead the house brewed, bristled, snapped, e-hawed as Tom blunders through life’s knots.????
Alice and I that night enjoyed the untamed emotionality of Victoria in Barcelona (name?) at the Kendall, where Woody, tastefully for once, engages us in the heart art of the guffaw, weeping craws’ uttered roars, seizing at our funny thoughts.
Lit up, we descended, numerous-countenanced, into the royal-velvet-canopied Sedan, our sturdy heave ho, JJ the Grey Spirit, 5728, Dodge, held us as I invited her to the Saturday anti-regimen, the MassPoetryOrgasm. We both wanted to hear Martin Espada and Robert Pinsky speak the truth.
I told Alice that later on at the “Evening of Poetry” we might be (fearfully) engaged to “Write (and Read It Out Loud) with Robert”, the 3x Poet Laureate, hero and local Red Sox fan, and we wanted to hear our friend Charles Coe.
The next evening, after a day of street theater at the Peace March spiraling the Boston Commons, Ben, Alice and I engaged JJ, with Markus Surrealius along at the helm, his head foaming with ideas, then, just as quickly, it dropped to the side, silent, in the passenger seat.
We emerged onto a bobbling studio center, a tilted egg hollowing the Earth, under a net of paths. We followed a sign pointing in toward the yolk, for the Poetry Art Galleries, ending at 5 pm.We found a kiosk with a glossy flyer pasted inside. There were no addresses listed for the noted Feature events. So we meandered around, searching on foot for directions, or a full program.
We enjoyed crossing the wide boulevards and peopled plazas, conferring as to which residents might actually know about the missing Massachusetts Poetry Festival. A Program Guide was procured at a restaurant/bar where they looked at us as though we were strangers in town - we quickly found the reading at the High School where we finally arrived 1-hour-and-40 minutes late.
Robert Pinsky was delivering his last Feature poem “Canto de Paradiso”: truth, complete, and curious.
So, we stayed on, found ourselves out over at the joint consuming smooth sounds from the Jeff Robinson Trio. I especially enjoyed the visiting bass player from Lowell, Rakalam Bob Moses; they sound gustatory, something satisfying.
Poetry encounters came up with the souls of two young women on view, h’ordeuvres, pearl oysters opening, two Venuses, each smoothly beautiful women.
One’s urban, urbane, mild in countenance and accoutrements’ words went up without a trace; perhaps I was overly concerned with her neat prettiness and did not pay attention to what was inside.
The second affair up there had a tribal air to her long neck. She slinked purposefully yet elastically in her indigenous wear; she spoke of mis-placed powers as though the Queen of Sheeba. There was substance in her telling performance.
Charles Coe deserves his own paragraph. As I listen to him my brain halves bond as ether in a warm dark cloud chamber, void at the beginning of the Universe, Now. Charles is never so graphic that we have to leave our own bodies out of the fear of the artist’s moment, that acute, astute, lucid observation that confronts and affronts audience sensibilities. I am not for that, no matter how much I would not argue the point.
Yet, even small mishaps jolt us sometimes, just as Charles’ echo chamber sounded his own cantos, now off, the Organizer spins, hands leading into the crowd, to be congratulated, to congratulate, to find one lost eye turned inward and slightly to the side, I, Portia, the hypnogog, awe shocked.
The rat-a-tat-tat of the next act clattered tight across my bones; I chose to retreat from my prized seat cross-legged under the window, with People’s leather pouch and Tahitian bamboo cape moving largely unprovoked at the back of the large, lovely wooden room ready to revive my senses; perhaps Regie would enjoy a few Yoga classes somewhere safe.
I spoke with the also-waiting Robert Pinsky and wondered if he would laugh at my telling of our “Writing (and Reading It Aloud) with Robert” fear dilemma. I didn’t dare tell the poetry guru, originator of the “Favorite Poems” anthology (project?), friend to all, my story, for fear it would flop.
So, now it is our turn to wait for Pinsky to give forth the voice he has gained, waiting for Pinsky, we grew very tired of still waiting for Pinsky so that we could Ride with Robert’s fertile crest of an imagination for a while. Was it worth it? We began to wonder. We found ourselves returning to the car to find that Ben had lost the ignition key.
With Pinsky finally free to leave we four again arrived at the Hall, just in time for Robert to bid “Portia and Ben Good Night”, in itself a poetic expression coming from his personal power and grace. Charles Coe, a 2008 Massachusetts Poetry Festival Master Mind, with his habitual Metta (kindness), charioteered us back to Cambridge, slung up snug in his silver sedan to dream deep that night.