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A Virtual Poetry Reading

September 21, 2009

Last Tuesday, I posted that I would be the featured reader at the San Buenaventura Artists Union Gallery on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and I promised to post the links to my reading. So here we go–a virtual poetry reading! Since everything that I read that night has been written and then published in the past 18 months on this blog, I am linking to those posts along with some commentary. I hope you’ll stick around for my virtual reading!

I started the reading by saying I’d be presenting 10 poems: two from my 50 States Project, three from the Shishilop Project, three from the 3:15 Experiment, and two poems published on my blog, and that in my work right now, and in several of these projects, I am trying to capture naturalized language and life, to find poetry in the moment.

I began with 50 States: The State of Optimism (posted 9/1/08) which set a particular tone, and which closes with the lines “Let us all be from somewhere./Let us teach each other everything we can.” Poetry does this for me, and I wanted to present that idea out front. Here’s the video:

I followed this with three poems from the Shishilop Project. The first Shishilop Project: Third Day of Kindergarten & Chumash Folkways (posted 8/21/08) continues with the idea of teaching, learning, and with being grateful for the opportunity to be given the stories that I use in my narrative poems.

Next came Shishilop Project: Surfer’s Point 9/3/08 which I also made into the video below. It made the list because it is timely–fall, a local city council election, and the poem takes place near the venue.

The third poem from the Shishilop Project is “To Heal the World, Sing Songs” (January 2009) based on a talk given by Julie Tumamait, to teach us more deeply about where we are as the poem focuses on Chumash place names. It might have made more sense to do the two poems which connect with Chumash folkways next to each other, but I liked how the theme of healing connected with the next two poems and how the theme of teaching connected the first two. I debated cutting the Surfer’s Point poem but since it was so timely with fall adn the election, and I had enough time, I kept it in.

The next two poems I read are more serious: “This Is Not My Story” (January 2009) about discovering an unknown brother, and “Four Sonnets for Brian” (December 2008) about the overdose of a friend of mine, the father of my nephew. It was difficult reading this second poem but I made it through; after one woman came up and said she’d never cried from a poem before. Several people were deeply moved as well.

I then read three poems from this year’s 3:15 Experiment: August 5, 2009 “It’s Lord Ganesh,” August 11, 2009 “Celebrating Lord Ganesh’s Birthday,” and August 20, 2009: “Lord Ganesh Returns.”

I closed with 50 States: 1 Kelp (posted 5/19/08) which has a lighter tone along with lines like “artists everywhere” –especially appropriate for a reading in an art gallery– and closes with

“Let us all be from somewhere.
Let us all teach each other everything we are.”

which I figured was a pretty good way to end the reading! When I practiced running through the reading, it went exactly 20 minutes; live it went a bit longer but not over my 25 minutes. I would have liked to have changed up and read some shorter poems as all these long poems can exhaust an audience but I wanted to do new work, much of which had never been read outside my blog, and aloud only to a small handful of friends and family. I’m sure some people would have preferred to hear some of my “greatest hits” like “I want to be that man” but I liked doing new and different work.

Thanks for attending this virtual reading! I hope you’ll click on some of the links and check out the words! For more poetry, ride the Train!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2009 3:02 pm

    Interesting post. Liked it.

    glaring nightmare

  2. April 26, 2010 5:28 pm

    Another great place to discover new poems is the new spoken word poetry album “Poetic License: 100 Poems/100 Performers” featuring Jason Alexander, Patti LuPone, Michael York, Kate Mulgrew, Paul Provenza and 95 other top performers reading a poem of their choosing. If you know anyone who claims that they don’t like poetry, you should get them this album so they can hear the magic that you already see on the page.
    For more info, to read the amazing reviews, or to purchase the album, visit
    “Poetic License” is available for purchase and preview on iTunes. Here’s a link to Part 1 of the album:

    More info:
    Said Trav S.D. on his blog Travalanche:
    “Three of my favorite poems happen to occur all in a row: Poe’s Annabel Lee, Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Tennyson’s Ulysses — it’s like back-to-back hits on the poetry Top 40. Furthermore, the indiscriminate mix of bold-faced names and literary classics produces more than usual interest. Florence Henderson reads Longfellow! Barbara Feldon reads Margaret Atwood! And a long list of others: Christine Baranksi, Jason Alexander, Cynthia Nixon, Charles Busch, Michael York, JoBeth Williams, Paul Provenza, Richard Thomas, Kate Mulgrew, etc etc etc.”

    More Links:
    Web Site:


  1. Happy Bloggoversary to Me! Art Predator Celebrates 150,000 Views in 2 Years « art predator

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