happy new year at the poetry marathon
There is something calming and grounding about sitting for three hours or more and listening to poetry on New Year’s Day… I try to last longer than that but hunger or my rear end usually starts to complain. (A better strategy, and one I will endeavor to apply next year, would be to arrive earlier in the afternoon, listen for an hour or two, go out for a break, and then come back by 6:30 or 7 for the prime time readings. I will also bring a stadium cushion.)
The usual suspects were right on target: John S. Hall with a new sing-a-long ditty entitled “American Torturer”; Lenny Kaye with unpublished liner notes for a now cancelled “Save CBGB” benefit album; John Giorno slotted just in time when we were all about to doze off, always high-energy and beautiful and wry; Steve Earle was there this year (was he there last year? Don’t remember) reading from a work-in-progress, a play about New Orleans; Taylor Mead unforgettable as always.
My own personal favorites this year: Avra Koufmann talking about New Yorkers, “those of us born here or born to come here”; Willie Perdomo quoting KRS-One and my notes fail me here; Kimiko Hahn with poems inspired by the NY Times science section; and the list goes on. And on. And on. The photo of the sanctuary above features Jim Carroll at the podium, looking so much better than last year (although last year’s reading was hysterical and I can still quote it: “Don’t forget the fucking cookies.”)
On principle, I always wait at least 30 minutes after Patti Smith reads (because there is always a stampede out the door once that happens), but yesterday I was too hungry and hung over to care. I was glad she sang “Gandhi,” just herself on acoustic guitar, glowing as always, instead of reading something new, because my big fear was that I was so worn out I wouldn’t have been able to absorb it.
This event is a treasure and one of the best things about living in New York.
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