This past July I had the opportunity to represent, along with Sydney Hartlove and Catherine Fletcher, the Boundless Tales Reading Series at the NYC Poetry Festival on Governor’s Island. Without going into details, I recommend a look at both the festival and the island if you’re around next summer. The Poetry Brothel crew in French 19th century period costumes doing private backroom readings is an intriguing twist. Google as needed. I’ll help: NYC Poetry Festival The Poetry Brothel Governors Island
I was told that if not for morning showers, attendance would have been at least twice as large. After seeing pictures of the 2015 event, I was looking forward to seeing more faces; but it could have been worse: happy the rain finally stopped and simply had a chance to read with the others.
I wrote Metropolis to Matrix, the poem I read, in 2004, so my thinking/feeling has changed since then; but the problems I surface in the poem still exist in low income neighborhood public high schools across the nation; and in some urban and rural areas the dehumanization may even be worse than before. The monetized school to prison pipeline is real and documented. The large scale replacement of emotionally invested career teachers with ivy league careerists who go slumming and then skip after a couple of years has also been uncovered; and don’t believe the hype about rich philanthropists and corporate backed charter schools coming in to save the day: just read what well-respected educators and researchers report on this subject. Thank all the gods (and alternative news sources along with young people) that the truth is finally getting out (whether we care and act is another matter). As for the poem’s other political aspects: a realistic look at the state of the world and our place in the mix (up), just a small dose of Trump’s warped hate speech and a recognition of how easily he got so much of the country behind him, tells me the poem remains relevant. Scary stuff. The girls on cell phones and eating behind me weren’t too impressed with my reading though. Scary stuff. Scary too that I catch myself worrying about writing anything that will alienate anyone, scare anyone away. Yet, here I just finished this rant. What new mind space twelve years later?
I have good reasons for trying to maintain a meditation practice along with a poetry practice. Then I worry about the value of words on the page or stage. Then there’s the seduction of meditative equanimous detachment from the world as salvation. I would like to know: when exactly did we move from the age of anxiety to the age of distraction and denial? And where doesn’t the ground keep moving under our feet? This was supposed to be a celebratory positing about the festival reading. I don’t suppose the poem in the video lifted your spirits either. I’ll settle for it making you angry. Sit and meditate?
Until next time.