Saturday, November 7, 2015


Went to a reading at The Sidewalk Cafe on Avenue A and 6th Street Thursday evening to celebrate the publication of some sections of the downtown art and poetry scene icon Martha King's memoir OUTSIDE INSIDE. Several poets read excerpts from it, along with memoir poems or prose of their own. Though unfortunately my friend and I were late (NJ Transit), everyone we got to hear was terrific and the sections from OUTSIDE INSIDE they read were brilliant.

The magazine itself is so well produced and appealing, I suggest you get it just to have as a work of art itself. But especially for the bits of OUTSIDE INSIDE. As described in the table of contents ("Baz and I had Fame and Rejection. We lived in a flow of contradiction.") and as its title suggests, Martha and her husband, the artist Basil King, lived the classic bohemian roller coaster lives of making and being a part of cultural history while at the same time being overlooked and/or dismissed at certain times by those writing that history.

But now Martha has written her own take on that history and it's a fundamental document of survival inside and outside that world. Here's a sample paragraph describing the eighteen-year-old Martha who had her moment at the famous Black Mountain experimental school and collective of creative originals:

"If I had not been. If I had not been always in transition, always the new girl, the one no now knows, the one with the Southern accent, the one with the Yankee accent, the rich or the not-really-rich one, the one from the house with all those books, on East Eighty-Sixth Street and then in Chapel Hill. If I had not been the faculty brat. If I had not had such comfort with poverty, which gave me a feeling of calm and normalcy. If I had not been any of those things I would still have been just as desperate to leave home the summer I was eighteen. And I would have found a bohemia somewhere, a gang of people at odds. All runaways know this. Black Mountain was accidental. I was passing through my days without deep attachments. I felt everything could be exchanged. Everything almost was."

Check it out.

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