October 25th, 2005

Egrets Reading

More of Me Disappears

Tonight I attended a poetry reading in Redondo Beach where John Amen was the featured poet. Amen, of course, is the editor of The Pedestal Magazine.

He read from his new book, "More of Me Disappears", a collection of his recently published poetry. Although the bulk of the book would be classified as "literary" or "mainstream", a few of the poems would be considered, "speculative", and, indeed, were first published in Star*Line and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. One of his selections tonight was "During a Lull", which was first published in Star*Line. He also read some excellent poems born out of his Jewish heritage and his family history in Europe before leaving before the Nazis invaded France to move to North Carolina.

Before reading "During the Lull", he talked about speculative poetry - why he was drawn to it, why it interested him, and then explained some of the speculative aspects of his poem so that the mainstream audience would "get it". And they did and seemed very responsive.

IMO, it was a nice little promo for speculative poetry in the middle of a very enjoyable reading and evening.

At the end of the evening, they had an open mike and I managed to get up the courage to go up there even though I hadn't thought to bring my poems in with me (I had some in the car but didn't want to miss anything to go out and get them). Fortunately, haiku are easier for me to remember than my longer poetry so I recited one of mine from Modern Haiku:

pulsing sea jellies
a symphony orchestra
on mute

and the one that won 2nd place in the World Haiku Global Tournament:

morning tidepools
a hermit crab tries on
the bottle cap

I think Amen's speculative poem was a lot better received than my haiku, but hey, he was the featured poet! I gave it the old school try and Amen even told me later that he liked the way I read the haiku - that there was "such clarity in the way I read the lines", so that kind of made my night (and made up for the fact that I got chased away from the mike due to a misunderstanding about the rules. I thought I was under a time limit not a poem limit on what they called a "lightning round" - I was planning to recite four haiku, a mere 12 lines in comparison to other poets' 25 lines, but it seems that I was supposed to read only one poem, regardless of the type). I overheard someone say, "It's nice to hear a different style" as I sat down but there was something in the way it was said that I wasn't convinced it was a compliment.

In general, Amen's reading was wonderful but I didn't think the Redondo Beach Poets were that friendly.

So, needless to say, I disappeared pretty fast!