Monday, March 15, 2004
What an excellent reading yesterday! Jaime Corbacho rocked the house and I solicited her on the spot for LIT. She gave away her beautifully designed chapbook Tricked into Waking for FREE after her reading. The audience actually rushed the bar. My favorites:
• "Google Search"--"Everybody does it," she said. "Old boyfriends. People from high school. You know you do it too."
• "The Belt out from Where You Rested, Raymond Chandler"--She said she wrote this one after an unemployed summer spent on the beach reading everything by RC. It begins with this terrific line: "Please excuse, when I read you I got so tan[.]"
• "Hot Soccer Mom Action"--A mostly prose-shaped poem, dedicated to Shafer Hall. In this poem Jaime is drunk on "Jack and Jim and apple juice. A drink I called the A-men. / Apple juice--o, elixir of motherhood--I had to squeeze it from a box into my glass, burped forth its juicy contents, made us juicy with laughter." And later, Mrs. Weist's "solemnity toured the house: the Hummel bric-a-brac, the mixed message of stain-resistant carpet, the curtains accenting the wallpaper flattering sofa set in a very floral, very sentimental sort of way."
Christopher Connelly then read from his memoir in progress about his experience with testicular cancer. He was very careful to not call it a memoir, but "autobiographical nonfiction." I've known Chris for a couple of years now, and knew he's been working on this, but this was his first public reading of it. He cracked a couple of jokes about people being "overly sympathetic when one reads about one's cancer of the balls," but I was very moved by the scene in the hospital waiting room. He's drinking two canisters of barium, slowly, accompanied by his mother and girlfriend. His mother is knitting, and he suddenly decides that this is the time to try to interest her in poetry, to try to relate to her on the subject that's most important to him. "She'd rather be knitting," he says. He finished up with a scene about drinking mushroom tea in Dingle (western Ireland) with an old hippy. That scene ends with him reading (and tripping on) tourist brochures in the lobby of the B&B about a local dolphin named Funghi. It's going to be quite a book!
Hannah Tinti read from her story "Preservation" in Animal Crackers. It's about a young woman who paints the murals for the dioramas for the hall of mammals at the Natural History Museum. She's been under stress--her father is very ill--and imagines--or does she?--that a taxidermied bear from one display is breathing, moving, watching her. Some wonderful moments, like this:
A group of teenage boys stops to peer in the window. They are thirteen at most--with thin arms and legs that are growing too fast to be strong. One of the boys points at her and they all turn, and Mary smiles, weakly. Their eyes travel over her body. A boy with sandy hair begins to tug at his belt. The other boys glance left and right, and then Sandy drops his pants and moons her.
The flash is brief, but in the moment when he connects his cheeks to the glass, she can see the unhealthy skin--the red bumps spreading across his lower back. Afterward the group scatters quickly. She can hear the echoes of their whoops down the hall.
She reports the boys to Dr. Fisher. He is standing on a stool, trying to reach a book on the upper shelf, when she walks into his office. He jumps down, and Mary can see that it makes him unhappy to be disturbed.
"How could they expose themselves without a teacher noticing?"
"I didn't see any teachers."
"Perhaps you imagined it."
Mary imagines her hands around Dr. Fisher's neck, but then she lets it go. She needs the job. Her father's medical expenses have drained their savings. As she walks through the hall, she slaps the black bear on the behind. She crawls into the migration diorama, picks up a brush, and paints a tiny caricature of Dr. Fisher in the corner, getting kicked by one of the wildebeests.
There. Mary as the object of the (goofy) sexual menace of randy teenagers and the dismissive sexism of an older man, on display in the hall of mammals, no less.
Sam Witt's hat threw me off at first, but he offered me a slice of orange. Marion and Nicole from Painted Bride argued over submissions with Shafer and Tom Hopkins. I snapped several new shots for the web site, and Reen Thorson and I attended the same Frequency at last!
Photos to come.
Posted by shanna at 5:49 AM