Thursday, May 13, 2010


Just got home from a lovely evening. Lots of good friends from old days and new, some I hadn't seen in decades, others just last night, but all attentive and welcoming.

My friend Ray DiPalma gave a wonderful presentation of some excerpts from a few books, starting out with his ANCIENT USE OF STONE and then a bunch of new work all of which was terrific and which he put over like the great actor he also is (he acted in a play of mine back around 1981 in NYC and brought such nuance and flavor to the part that I wish we'd filmed it for posterity).

He had me and the audience laughing and more importantly thinking deeply about language and meaning(s) and what we do with them, deep and light at the same time. One of his great laugh lines was something like: "Narssicism is just a case of mistaken identity" or maybe "usually" or "nothing more than" a case of mistaken identity (I'm sure if he reads this he'll help me get it right).

[He did, so here's the line and the context:

Narcissism is no more
than a case of mistaken identity

The unwise harmony brought
from infatuation and confused
self-disclosure to a shallow
contentment with individual imprint

Look again]

For the first time in the over fifty years now that I've been reading my poetry outloud in various venues, I couldn't rely on my usual speed thinking to make last minute calculations as to what I or the audience might be in the mood for this time and instead just let my brain pick what IT wanted without thinking, which seemed to work out well.

I'm grateful to everyone who showed up and felt the presence of those who wanted to be there but couldn't be. And I'm grateful that my mind seems to have slowed down since the brain surgery and that I was able to handle the whole event and enjoy it as if it had been a recital to a standing room only crowd at Carnegie Hall. It's all relative, and if the love is in the room, no matter how erudite (Ray) or raw (me) the language, the connection is made. Indeed it was.

[PS: Just added the photo of me & Ray after the reading. I call it soul patch & moustache! But you can call it two old guys who go way back. (And thanks to my good friend Phillipa for taking it)]

[PPS: I forgot to mention the insightful, generous and well thought out introductions for Ray and myself by the Poetry Project Artistic Director Stacy Szymaszek.]


Anonymous said...

How are so cool...please give Ray my regards...
love, suzanne

Elisabeth said...

It sounds terrific. There's nothing like presenting your work to an appreciative audience to give you the sense of it's all being worthwhile.

Peter Bushyeager said...

To reiterate my comments last night: It was a wonderful, exhilarating reading. Like the best readings, it was generative: by example, it stimulated other people to get on with "their thing", too. It was a pleasure to hear you again after so many years!

AlamedaTom said...

Speaking of narcissism and soul patches, here is line from one of the greatest soul patches we have amongst us, Tom Waits:

"...You end up taking advantage of yourself. There ain't no way around that."

~ Willy

Miles said...


Sounds like a blast! Sorry I couldn't be there, but it's nice to imagine it through your retelling...

Anonymous said...

Still got the juice, friend. And then some.


Lally said...

Thanks everybody.

Rain said...

yes, I was one of those...
..."and felt the presence of those who wanted to be there but couldn't be.
I know it must have been amazing.
with love,