February 13th, 2007

Egrets Reading

Haibun at mainstream poetry readings

I've been trying an experiment. I've been introducing haibun at mainstream poetry readings.

Last night, I went to Monday Night Poetry, which was supposed to be at the library, but due to the fact no one anticipated the library being closed and no one had the key to the back room, the reading migrated to poet Marvin Dorsey's Pasadena apartment.

The guests were Annie Reiner and Mark States - both were fantastic, although you probably couldn't pair two more different poets if you tried. My favorite poem of the evening was Reiner's "Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall" which started with the lines Humpty Dumpty didn't realize/that to fall to pieces is to write a poem..." It's from her book Beyond Rhyme & Reason.

States is a slam poet from Berkeley and did a mixture of slam performance and coffeehouse poetry. He packs a lot of emotion into his performance and I ended up buying his cd.

Half of the open readers went before the features and the other half went after. I ended up being the very last reader of the night, which meant that I lost some audience before I even got started.

Since I just received my copy of Bottle Rockets which contains my haibun, "Lessons," and I also have a haibun in the Feb 2007 issue of Scifaikuest, I decided to concentrate on haibun.

I started with Basho and read a piece from The Narrow Road to Oku (sometimes translated as "The Narrow Road to the Interior"). Since I was following a slam poet, I decided to read the part leading up to and including Basho's "horse piss" haiku. (I also edited out the Japanese place names so they wouldn't distract the audience from the meaning).

Then, I read my own "Lessons" from Bottle Rockets and "Poems from the New Symbiont" from Scifaikuest. I also recited two scifaiku (funny ones) between "Lessons" and "Poems from the New Symbiont".

I ended up selling two copies of Scifaikuest, so it appears that my performance was well-received.