Sunday, June 10, 2007

Reading at the Shooting Star

The Shooting Star is the homeground of the Montauk Theater Productions. It is a long room, with chairs arranged in rows of five, and a narrow side-aisle. It feels much more formal than Cornelia Street Cafe, and the audience, both at my reading and the one before me, was polite and restrained. Unlike at Cornelia, no one applauded the open-mikers when their names were announced, and so readers walked in deafening silence up to the mike. The sound system was excellent.

Since only 6 signed up for the open-mic, Nemo asked me to read first. I read four poems from Payday Loans, the ones about my parents, and then spent the rest of my feature reading from my series-in-progress, The Book of the Body. The latter choice was a little naughty of me because not only does it swear quite a bit, it is non-metrical. Written in quatrains, with an end-rhyme in each last quatrain, it is certainly formal. But not metrical. Features are a good time for me to test out a sequence of poems on an audience; open-mics are too brief for such an exercise. The audience seemed to like the reading. Nemo was especially warm in his response.

During the open-mic, readers solemnly announced the form before reading the poem: sonnets, sapphics, rhyming couplets. Robert Donoghue read a likeable sonnet about a Bible-themed recreational park. Nemo read, among other poems, a moving villanelle about death and a garden growing behind him. Roxanne Hoffman, my publisher, read a narrative-poem in rhyming couplets about a woman who married soon after her husband died. Anna Evans (first met on-line at PFFA as Sestina) read two witty sonnets, one of which, "As You Like It," is consummately crafted.

Another PFFA participant, Rachel Bunting, came with Anna. Meeting them was a pleasure alloyed with the dross of reality. A voice on the page, or on the computer screen, is ethereal; it is always disconcerting to hear that voice coming from an earthly body. We moved to a cafe next-door after the reading. Anna was disarmingly frank and opinionated. Rachel was eager but less self-assured. Glad that Ray and Rick was carrying the burden of conversation with the two women, I was quiet, mostly.

I had a lycee martini and a very good shrimp po boy. Roxanne paid for it. I sold two books, one to Anna, and another to a guy whom I've heard twice at Cornelia Street Cafe. He was there last Friday when I gave out the flyers.


Harry said...

I like the idea of a lycée martini. How sophisticated those Frenchies must be; I can picture them sitting at their little desks and discussing the relative merits of an olive or a twist.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Harry,
Is a lychee martini french in origin? I had my first one in a NYC bar. It is a little mix of east and west; lychee originated from south China.