MONKEY BUSINESS: It was a hectic weekend capped off, thankfully, by a great reading from Misha Cahnmann Taylor at Java Monkey Speaks last night. I hadn't been to Java Monkey in nearly three months (!!!) save for dropping in for half an hour to give something to Kodac last month. Lately, my weekends have been spent writing, watching movies and going down to see my parents. My dad was back in the hospital last week (he has congestive heart failure and diabetes) and this weekend I went down to help them do some stuff around the house. It was another one of my rare domestic/fix-it-man weekends that brings out what little butch side I have...which ain't much.

Anyway, Misha was back at Java Monkey to feature and I love her work. She's finishing up her MFA at New England College and I was curious to see if her style had changed. I was pleased to hear her voice still intact and her poetry just as clever and edgy as it's ever been, even as she experiments with form. As for the rest of Java Monkey...well...let's just say I felt a bit out of touch. I had heard from numerous folks that the audience had shifted over at Java. A great many of the people I got to know and love at Java no longer come or only once in awhile. The patio (now enclosed for winter) was packed to the point of claustrophobia and I only recognized a handful of people there. Yeah, I know, things change, but Java has lost some of its "family feeling," or maybe it's just because I've been the absent family member and have lost touch.

I do believe that the audience shift has to do with the fluctuating nature of open mics and readings in Atlanta lately. You'll hear about some reading at some club or bar or nightspot and two months later, it's gone. The bloom has long been off the rose at Apache Cafe, the more urban/rap oriented open mic that has competed with Java Monkey on Sunday nights for many years. I've heard countless tales of folks who were fed up with the cliques and sitting around until 2 a.m. and never getting to read. I think Java Monkey is getting some of this spillover and folks looking for a stable event that's not going to disappear in a month and where they might actually get to read. What I've heard, and what I noticed, is that there doesn't seem to be quite the level of respect for the individual poets. It's obvious some of the performers have come to hear themselves, show off to some of their friends and are then ready to leave. Then you've got another set who come in just to pass around the postcards for their gigs elsewhere and stay long enough just to be noticed. That kind of shit pisses me off. But it also comes with the territory.

Java Monkey Speaks is "famous" now. I would guess it's one of the most well-known readings in the country, it gets a lot of local press and "Best of..." awards and people naturally flock to it. Kodac Harrison gets all the credit for this. Despite the changes, he keeps Java Monkey Speaks running week after week and brings in a great selection of featured readers. While I'm on my own performance hiatus, maybe I'll try to get back in the habit of going to Java on Sundays...even if it's just to listen like I did last night. Then I can figure out if it's just me being overly sensitive about my old stomping ground.

Jumping back a bit, on Friday night we had about 12 people turn out for Dr. Madelyn Hatter's feature set at Poetry at Portfolio Center. I was, again, disappointed, but Dr. M rolled out a set of new poems that was really a treat. She's got a book coming out early in the year and then MetroMania Press is releasing a chapbook of other work by her. Dr. M's star is definitely on the rise, and it's a well-deserved ascension.

We had a Poetry Atlanta meeting on Saturday at Kodac's place and I was thrilled that the wonderful Sharan Strange agreed to pitch in and work on the next big grant that is coming due on Jan. 17. With everything going on personally and professionally, I'm just tapped out right. I'm still a little broke from my UK trip, so I'm doing some freelance editing on the side, which is also taking time, but paying the bills. Baby wants an iPod for Christmas, so if there's going to be anything under my tree, I'll be paying for it.

After talking with friends and family, we've decided to do a "no gift" Christmas. We'll gather for meals and films, but no retail consumer orgy this year, which is fine with me. The thought of shopping makes me want to blow my brains out. I had to go in Target on Saturday for shampoo and it took an hour to find a place to park, get in the store, locate shampoo and check out. Bah-fucking-humbug, I say.

Comments

M. Ru Pere said…
yes, Misha was truly good - that rare mix of mfa smarts, strong on-the-page work, and the ability to connect with a spoken-word audience - kodac def has a tiger by the tail w the Java scene!
P.R. Hack said…
CK said:The thought of shopping makes me want to blow my brains out.
Honey, you said it! My limit in Target is twice a year. I went two years ago to buy a Karaoke machine for my brother's family for Christmas. I swear I felt like Jeff Bridges' character in the movie StarMan! That is no exaggeration. I probably acted like it, too. When I finally got out I felt like I needed to to go into a decompression chamber like the astronauts do when they return to earth. Hadn't shared that yet, didn't feel safe until now.

"Why do the heathen rage?" I dunno, PlayStation 3?
Anonymous said…
When does the next book come out?

GAV

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