March 31, Contemporary Arts Forum: David Starkey recognizes that many in the audience have been to recent readings, and so reads “from the B-side” of his book. Starkey admits, “I think my best poems are edgy and a little distasteful, and I don’t want to come across like that as a person you know.” Though Cecilia Woloch fusses about her reading glasses and asks us if we know where the Carpathians are, her poems are downright sexy. From a villanelle: “His eyes are Hindu blue and when he smiles / I taste the way he’d kiss me, hot and mild.”
April 3, City Hall: In a City Council chambers packed with firefighters, city workers, and poets, Perie Longo is invested as S.B.’s new poet laureate by Mayor Marty Blum. Longo accepts a laurel wreath offered to her by outgoing poet laureate Barry Spacks, and wears it with aplomb while reading a poem to the assembled councilmembers.
April 4, Good Cup: An open-mike miracle occurs: Everything is wonderful; not a single poem makes anybody cringe. Several emerging poets are heard in public for the first time including Nancy Lee, Hope Slaughter, and Lisa Merkel.
April 12, Muddy Waters: At an evening of poetry celebrating Langston Hughes, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle reads “Millennium Street,” a response to “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. Isaac Barba of the LIMBZ performs spoken word-a piece on consumerism and greed that ends with, “Time for us to exit from the lusting.” Twenty-one-year-old Chaye Alexander also ends one of his poems of hope for the future with an exhortation: “Now get up.”
April 15, Chaucer’s Books: John Ridland reads from his new collection of poems, A Brahms Card Ballad, to a charmed group crowded into the entrance of the store. Abandoning his table, Ridland is free to move around and gesture. At one point during “Lunch at Deer Creek” he traces with his finger “down the middle of the narrow sky / between the cedar and sugarpine tips / a solid white line of vapor.” We look up, half-surprised to see only the fluorescents glaring down.