Today I attended the Rattle #32 reading at the Church in Ocean Park, Santa Monica.
Lynne Knight, the winner of the $5000 Rattle Prize for 2009, was there to read her prize-winning poem To The Young Man Who Cried Out "What Were You Thinking?" When I Backed Into His Car. She also read several poems from her 2009 poetry collection Again by Sixteen Rivers Press, including Prologue, O, Penelope, and Against order
I arrived about ten minutes late, after struggling to find parking in the area. Tony Barnstone was finishing up his reading. This issue of Rattle contains a tribute to the sonnet, and Tony's poem in the issue, Bad Usage was a sonnet. Barnstone finished up with a few poems from his book of WWII persona poems Tongue of War, from Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki. Tongue of War looks at the Pacific Theater of the war, each poem's speaker assuming a different viewpoint of the conflict.
Barnstone was followed by the mysterious "M" from Portland, Oregon, one of the associated editors of Stirring Magazine. M performed her poem Salt from Rattle as well as two poems from a long term project she has been working on involving an Italian Immigrant family. I met M and her husband Steve years ago through Wild Poetry Forum and she was one of the biggest reasons I drove to Santa Monica today. I was not disappointed!
Next up before the break were Lauren Schmidt and Arthur Volgelsang. Schmidt read a series of poems which seemed crafted for shock-value, really stretching the limits of what should be read in a church. Her voice, however, was clear and compelling. I can't effectively comment on Volgelsang because I was sitting at an odd angle and there was some oddity about the way he spoke into the mic that caused me to hear only part of what he was saying. Because I was missing words here and there, I started to zone out.
After the break, a cup of strong coffee, and a better location in the room, I had no trouble whatsoever listening to the three remaining readers. Francesca Bell led off with a couple of poems about gynecological matters including the Rattle poem With A Little Education, and a couple poems about the hazards of drinking. These poems all rose far above my mundane descriptions of their subject matter. Francesca is a great reader and I was drawn into every one of her poems.
Bell was followed by the above-mentioned Lynne Knight before the reading ended with Jessica Piazza. Piazza read sonnets and she read them so well you'd never know they were sonnets. It was a wonderful ending to a great afternoon of poetry.
Rattle Editor Timothy Green