Thursday, June 12, 2014

I'm too tired to remember everyone who read tonight (well, actually last night since it's past midnight) in the celebration of the publication of a special edition (it includes a preface by John Ashbery and an editor's note by Lawrence Ferlinghetti with some of the correspondence between him and  O'Hara when the book was first coming together) of the never-out-of-print-in-that-half-century LUNCH POEMS by Frank O'Hara, at St. Mark's (The Poetry Project) but it included many terrific readers.

One of the highlights (that I can remember) were Hettie Jones reading O'Hara's "Personal Poem" prefacing her reading with a beautifully evocative remembrance of her friendship with O'Hara and an illusion [woops, it's the next day and realize I meant "allusion"] not everyone in the packed church probably got to the fact that the poem included her then husband LeRoi Jones who was also O'Hara's lover (thus, quick call a therapist, Jones' AKA Amira Baraka's years later tirades against "Jews" and "homos" etc.).

Another was Justin Vivian Bond's perfect rendering of the snarky humor in "Ave Maria" ("snarky" isn't exactly the right word but it's late), Peter Schjeldahl's beautifully paced and performed
"Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul," Charles North's clarity of voice and tone in his rendering of "Five Poems," ditto Vincent Katz's "Mary Desti's Ass" and Edmund Berrigan's on "For the Chinese New Year & for Bill Berkson."

I was happy to not have had any of the problems that still often beset me (from the post-brain-op still lingering if mostly subtle effects, and old age) as in an almost trance-like state I heard myself reading and thought, "Oh good, you're getting all the words right and conveying their intent pretty well Michael." There were too many wonderful poets and pretty much every poem in this book is wonderful, to mention all, but it was good to read with old friends [and other highlights for me] like Bruce Andrews, John Godfrey, Tony Towle and others [like one I was just reminded of, Patricia Spears Jones's reading of "The Day Lady Died."].

The sound was sometimes off, unfortunately, due to the acoustics of the church and where you were sitting, as well as some mild feedback now and then, but in the end, as a friend [next day thought: should have said that friend was one of my favorite poets: Stella Kamakaris] said, just being there and being a part of this celebration of a book so many of us were impacted by at one time or another in our lives and which we still love was worthwhile.


tpw said...

Wish I'd been there.

Lally said...

Wish you'd been one of the readers.