reading series

April 30: David Larsen and Rodney Koeneke

This evening was more obviously and vehemently a "family" reading, as everyone in the usual crowd knows and loves Rodney and David, and that was fine, that made everything feel very relaxed and cozy, a few people trickling in early and then everyone -- poets included -- bursting in all at once right around 7.30. As usual everyone crammed into the kitchen drinking and eating and listening to Kind of Blue, which was my safe, cocktail hour choice of music pre-reading. Surprise -- my friend Jason Kleinberg of local legend band 86 showed up, and so did experimental filmmaker/maven Konrad Steiner, less of a shock but still a first.

Rodney had been threatening for months to work out some kind of "special thing" for him and David to do this night, but in that amounted to them switching off as they read, not swapping poems as Clark Coolidge and Michael Gizzi had done at the Poetry Center earlier this spring but sort of lopsidedly going back and forth, so you never knew when one person was done and another set to begin, an oddly effective approach.

It's been written about on some of the blogs how effective it was, too, that both of them delivered their poems more or less by heart. Ditto that. Not enough care is taken in general by poets with regards to delivery and David especially is a master at this, sounding out each of his words so you feel why he chose and placed them where he did. Rodney has an almost business-like delivery that's nerdy and funny and heartfelt, by turns. But David wins the prize for somehow pulling off the dreaded "paper recital" -- a trend I'm noticing wherein poets tend to read more researchy type work instead of actual poems -- and actually wowing us with the erudition and wit of the paper, which centered around a "pre-Islamic" Arabic prophet rumored to have no bones but that of his skull and hands... fascinating stuff.

The desire to begin asking questions of both the poets about process afterwards was palpable, and yet it felt like we'd been sitting there a long time by the time it was through. Looking forward to getting my hands on Rodney's new Pavement Saw book Rouge State, which will afford more in-depth perusing. When we staggered back into the kitchen it seemed someone had drunk all the beer, but people hung out anyway, raiding the liquor cabinet and talking about poets' hair (I don't have any).

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