Odd Words May 12, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
Who says poetry doesn’t matter? This week Michelle Obama is being criticized by the Kool-Aid crowd, who’s idea of a poetry reading is a drunken Burns dinner, for inviting spoken word poet Common to this week’s White House poetry event. Circulating on the Internet is a video from New York Def Poetry of Common speaking a piece about young men on the street with guns. It’s a difficult line to walk, given the baggage of gansta rap. If Black poets talk about the street they risk being lumped together with the misogynist nightmares of urban format radio. The kook-aid crowd say its fair play to pile on the Obama’s for inviting Common because “left wing poets” forced the cancellation of a Bush-era event, but Laura Bush pulled the plug on that one herself when several of the guests announced they would read anti-war poetry. I guess poetry’s 15 minutes are up for this decade.
When I die I want Steve Early to play This City at my funeral. The song that ran under the credits of the last episode of Season One of Treme is incredibly powerful but it is just one song from a fantastic song writer’s latest album, I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive. Now Earle’s long anticipated debut novel, also named I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and will be in stores this Thursday, May 12th. The novel imagines the troubled life of Doc Ebersole as he is haunted by the ghost of his former patient and friend, Hank Williams. Patti Smith stated, “Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit and cinematic energy he projects in his music. I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive is like a dream you can’t shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades.” The damn book pile just keeps getting bigger.
And now yet another book I have to read. Glad I have a reason to take part of a week off (minor surgery; no worries) at the end of the month when I’m going to try to get caught up. From the smallpress.org mailing list:” Having devoured and loved most of his novels (all of which, with the exception of 2666 and The Savage Detectives, were published in English by New Directions and should be on the shelves of every library in America), I had huge expectations for Bolaño’s non-fiction. Many of his novels already act as thinly veiled tours of Central and South American poetry, and the handful of translated speech transcripts floating around the internet were a good warm-up. Whereas the far too brief book of interviews with Bolaño published by Melville House in 2009 was disappointing, this nearly complete collection of non-fiction work is stunning. The essays, speeches, and columns are opinionated and rowdy, and Natasha Wimmer’s translation is superb. If newspapers in this country ran articles like these, perhaps subscription rates wouldn’t look so dire. For lovers of Latin American literature.” From New Directions Publishing.
Local poetry broadside and chapbook publisher Verna Press is using the Kickstarter project funding tool to underwrite a West Coast tour by David Rowe in support of the recent release of Verna’s letterpress literary magazine, Dorado, and Rowe’s Unsolicited Poems, the press’ first full length collection of poem. You can toss something in the jar here.
One last note before the listings: I’m off to Austin to hang with Ray Shea and appear with him at Domby Books at 7 p.m. Friday reading and signing copies of the Chin Music Press anthology Where We Know: New Orleans as Home. If you’re in Tejas, come out and represent for New Orleans and hang with the cool kids. I’ll pack a stack of A Howling in the Wires as well. I get nothing from the sale of WWK so I can unreservedly say you want to own this beautiful example of the publisher’s art full of fine writing about the city past and present.
I better get to the listings before I run out of bits:
& OK, I don’t normally do children’s books but I think if you have children and they aren’t ready for the bleak and beautiful Bayou Farewell, you should get them a copy of World Without Fish, “Mark Kurlansky’s…riveting new book for kids about the threat to fish, the oceans, and our environment — and what, armed with knowledge, kids can do about it. In this amazing book Kurlansky tells how the fish we most commonly eat could beome extinct in fifty years, and the domino effect that this would have, from the oceans turning pink to seabirds, then reptiles, then mammals disappearing. It explains the complicated effects of overfishing, global warming, and pollution and the dangers of fish farming. Not this Thursday but next Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books
& On this Thursday 17 Poets! features the dynamic Kataalyst Alcindor, a slamming New York-style spoken word poet you really shouldn’t miss. I grabbed his CD the minute I saw him during the spoken word event hosted last year around the Frenchman Book Fair. Highly recommended. Followed as always by an open mic hosted by the dreaded Jimmy Ross and his crack team of sergeants at arms (and legs if necessary) to help poets overcome with emotion or, say, drink off the stage. Thursday at the Goldmine Saloon, eightish.
& Don’t forget the Shakespeare double header doing on in town this month. First the free staging of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus will be held here. OK, not exactly on the FB page but at 612 Piety. Through May 14th. And by all reports you won’t want to miss the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden hosted NOLA Project’s dusk time performances of Shakespeare’s whimsical A Midsummer Night’s Dream Tickets $10, $8 seniors/students, $6 children, free for NOMA members and students from many local universities with student ID. 7 p.m. May 27.
& I’m going to break my cookbook rule again because this one sounds delectable. Octavia Books will host Martha Hall Foose for her story and cookbook A Southerly Course. The Octavia site calls her “a unique storyteller, with traces of Eudora Welty and Willy Morris in her style.” OK, you’ve got my attention. And I’m hungry. I should never look at cookbooks right before dinner. Friday, May 13 at Octavia Books
& The Ebony Center at 4215 Magazine Street hosts a weekly spoken-word, music and open-mic event. Tickets $7 general admission, $5 students. 11 p.m. Friday.
& On Saturday, Poet Gian “G-Persepect” Smith and Alphonse “Bobby” Smith host Pass It On, a weekly spoken-word and music event at the George & Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art, 2003 Carondelet St. Admission $6. 9 p.m G-Persepect is the poet featured in the Treme trailer.
& The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) announces a new spin on the annual Home and Garden Tour called “Artists in Residence” on May 15th noon to 4:00 p. m. The participating artists live in the historic Faubourg Marigny Rectangle will open their homes, studios, and gardens. Among those in attendance and signing books will be authors Troy Gilbert (Dinner with Tennessee Williams), Jerry Edgar (The Café Degas Cookbook), and David Lummis (The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans), as well as Kristin Fouquet, Michael Allen Zell, Stephanie Bruno, and Tristan Thompson., Allso renowned painters George Rodrigue and James Michalopoulos; award-winning filmmaker Jim Gabour, producer/director of the Grammy-nominated film Flow with Terence Blanchard, and of the worldwide No. 1 music DVD, “Norah Jones: Live in New Orleans”; Glen Pitre, veteran author, director, playwright, and screenwriter (Belizaire the Cajun, Hurricane on the Bayou, Cigarettes & Nylons), who continues to collaborate with wife Michele Benoit in a variety of media. Sunday, May 15.
& On Sunday, May 8 the Maple Leaf Bar hosts the Everette Maddox-founded poetry reading at 3 pm (ish) with a second helping of Kataalyst Alcindor. If you missed him at the Goldmine, don’t miss him here. You’ll regret not being able to say you saw him when after he’s invited to the White House.
& And in the vein of World Without Fish, Octavia will host Donald Muir Bradburn with his book of photographs of the wilderness area Horn Island Last Barriers: Photographs of Wilderness in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. As we watch are barrier islands and other coastal features slowly wash away, such records will someday be all we have left. Tuesday, May 17 at Octavia Books.
& Don’t forget every Wednesday at 9 pm be sure to check out the open poetry forum hosted by Kate Smash in the amphitheater on Decatur across from Jackson Square. No list, no mic, just anyone who shows up free to read what they like. Musicians encouraged to join. Wednesdays at 9 p.m. in the amphitheater/steps across from Jackson Square.
& Also every Wednesday Thaddeus Conti will revive the Dinky Tao poetry meeting (reading, discussion, drinking–coffee in this case) at 8 pm 5110 Daneel at The Neutral Ground Coffeehouse. Every Wednesday. Click the link for the priceless Facebook page photograph of Conti and David Rowe.