Kate Bush earlier this week at Buckingham Place.

THE POETRY SHUFFLE & A KATE UPDATE: This has been an incredibly busy week, filled with poetry and life's little dramas along the way. Here's a recap:

First off, Kate Bush made a rare appearance at Buckingham Palace this week for an event hosted by the Queen to honor UK musicians. She told a radio dj that the album probably wouldn't be out until after the summer. Everyone is predicting a September or October release. I'm so excited I could just wet myself. She looks lovely and it's been 12 long years since the last album. Must remain calm. :)

On Tuesday night, I went over to the Avis Williams Library in Toco Hills to speak to the Village Writers Group. This was my third appearance there in about as many years and, as always, there was a very attentive, interested audience. I read some new work, talked about some of my latest travel adventures, advised on literary agents (never pay a "reader's fee" or any money up front), talked about publishing in online lit mags and probably crushed one or two folks by talking about poetry scams (those offering you giant prizes and publication in one of their anthologies you have to purchase for $49.95). I sold some CDs and books (thanks to everyone who bought one...hope you're enjoying) and was home in time for the Amazing Race. Off to a very lively start, but Rob and Amber have to go!

On Wednesday afternoon, Kodac Harrison, Cherryl Floyd-Miller and I went over to Oakland Cemetery to meet with the organizers of Art in the Park, a week-long event planned in May. Yes, that's right, an arts event in a cemetery. Of course, Oakland is not your ordinary cemetery. It's gigantic and filled with beautiful Victorian era mausoleums and architecture, not to mention famous dead folk like Margaret Mitchell and golfer Bobby Jones. Oakland is a favorite place for picnics, jogging, dog-walking, etc. so why not arts? I think it's cool. I'm going to organize a reading for the Georgia Poetry Society and host a Twilight Open Mic at some point during the event. Stay tuned for more details.

After the meeting, we retired over to the Carroll Street Cafe for martinis and to discuss upcoming projects we're all involved in...notably the final slam competition that will decide who is going to make up Atlanta's official team going to the National Slam in August. The Java Monkey Speaks Anthology is going to press (fingers crossed) on March 15, so we're talking about several events for that. We all have so many irons in the fire it's ridiculous, but if we're going to bring more recognition to Atlanta's poets, you have to do a lot of hard work. Just this afternoon, I got a press release at work about a poetry event in Atlanta where the usual suspects have been invited, including Georgia's apparent poet-laureate-for-life, David Bottoms. Cherryl and I are cooking up a couple of ideas that should make a few folks sit up and take notice. You should stay tuned for more on that as well.

Yesterday, I met the wonderful poet Franklin Abbott for lunch at Agnes & Muriel's. We dished over poets, talked about politics, upcoming events, etc. I saw him last night at the Poetry at Tech reading for CK Williams and Adam Zagajewski. So many of my poetry pals were in attendance, and I sat with Tania Rochelle and Geri Taran. CK Williams pleased me so much by announcing that he was reading new work, some of which he had only finished drafts of this week. I had to chuckle to myself about some of the local poets who are offended by coming to open mics and hearing poetry that has just been recently written. Some of CK's new stuff was pretty rough, but it was amazing to hear his work in progress as he begins putting together a new collection. I also got introduced to another wonderful poet, Kurt Brown. I was supposed to do a workshop with him last month, but went to Dahlonega instead. Oh, if I only had a time machine!

Also this week, a drug dealer moved into the loft next to mine. Even as I write this, I'm getting a contact high from the amount of pot being smoked next door. And how do I know he's a drug dealer? Well... he's only been here four days and he's had more people in and out of that loft than I've had over to my place in two years. Second, he's never left the loft (to my knowledge) since he arrived. He lights up a joint (or maybe it's a bong or pipe) first thing in the morning and keeps on puffing all day long and into the night. I wouldn't be able to get up off the couch either if I was smoking that much marijuana. Also, he has a cell phone that rings non-stop. It's rang four times in the short amount of time it's taken me to write this. I can hear partial conversations with him giving directions, etc. He must have some clientele if they'll come to him. Of course, since my loft complex has turned into ghetto hell, this latest development isn't really surprising. The number of shady looking characters roaming around here at all hours, Snoop Dogg being played so loud in cars entering and leaving the property at 2 a.m. that it shakes the building, and the filthy conditions are all proof that I'm now living in gangsta paradise. Let's tot this up shall we. In the five year's I've lived here, I've lived next door to two screaming lesbians who used to beat the shit out of each other and play their stereo at ungodly levels, two drag-queens who used to fight, ditto the stereo and eventually had to skip out on the lease when they couldn't pay up, and now a drug dealer.

May 31 can't get here fast enough.


Teamaster said…
You're a bumble F-ing bee, Collin! :)

Cripes, thankfully you're moving out of Grand Central Degradation! Are they filming TRAINSPOTTING 2 next door?

Your blog record of this residential drama, however, is oddly amusing. The way you recount the details seems to be potentially book-ified someday. :)

Native Atlantan said…
Collin! I'm one of those who can't stand the "I just wrote this today" assaults at open mikes--that anyone would be presumptuous enough to think his or her first draft deserves a public forum. I always hope to learn something at readings, to take away something that I can apply to my own writing. I'm disappointed when all I take away is confirmation that one should NEVER subject an audience to a rough draft. What IS the point of that? It's like bad karaoke. As for CK Williams, absolutely nothing he read was "rough." His poems made brilliant metaphoric and imagistic connections; the language was rich and musical. As discursive as his poems are, they are still wonderfully compressed and precise. He talked about one poem taking him 15 years to write. When CK Williams says he's reading recently finished drafts, I'm sure he does not mean "I just wrote this today." And if he did indeed start a draft within the week (or the month, more likely), keep in mind this is a man who's been writing brilliantly for decades, who's won every award there is to win. He's "writing" when he's merely walking around. How could you compare his efforts to folks who show up at open mikes with thick spiral notebooks full of their own rambling thoughts from the coffee shop that day?
Collin said…
Unless my hearing is failing me, CK Williams read a poem he said he had just finished that week. I also remember quite clearly that he was worried it wouldn't make much sense, and he was right...it didn't. He even re-read the first stanza to make sure everyone "got it." There was some beautiful imagery in that poem, but it definitely sounded "rough" to me. When you have to ask if the poem makes sense, maybe another draft is in order.

Did that bother me? Not one bit. Does it bother me when people come to open mics and read something they wrote that day or perhaps in that hour before they got up to the mic? It does not. We should be doing high-handstands that many of the young people coming to open mics are WRITING AT ALL. Even if it's not that great...they are trying.

Since this is an "open mic," you can't seriously expect to be educated in poetry by every single person that comes to the mic? Yes, there is some horrible stuff read at open mics, but there are always a few jewels as well. I go looking for those diamonds in the rough, not to bitch and moan about the overall quality of the work presented. It's presumptuous to go to an open mic and expect to hear 20 master poets read work that is going to move you.

What really irks the hell out of me is how some poets forget where they came from and how they started. All poets began by writing shit, and I'm sure plenty of them went to open mics and read it. Now that these poets have reached some level in their career, suddenly they are too good to read at open mics or have any sympathy for those starting out. It's another reason why poetry remains a niche market full of vain narcissists who would like to keep poetry as their own private circle jerk, but other generations just keep stepping around them.

You know I love you, T.Ro, but we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
BLUE said…
CK: i agree with you wholeheartedly on this one. i believe the dangerous presumption is NOT that a poet thinks his/her first draft deserves a public forum ... but that poets who get up to read *allegedly* polished works at an open mic are arrogant enough to believe what they are reading is NOT an early draft. effrontery! (fr-fre-fr-fre-fr-fresh...) we have to learn to stop being so full of ourselves and leave room for the many different ways that people do poetry. reading a first draft in public takes something that most poets i know no longer have: COURAGE. it's not about you the poet all the time; it's about the work ... about the exchange that happens with an audience after the sweat the poet does alone. learning to listen to a draft sometimes means submitting to something larger than yourself ... like a process! and often you can't see a clear path to revision (and subsequent drafts) unless and until the poem is spoken aloud. light! ~BLUE

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