Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wednesday July 27th - 5:12PM

it's really hot. this is the first time i can remember walking in nyc as slowly as i walk when i'm back home. i just walked from 5th avenue and 6th street in park slope to bergen st and court st in cobble hill. this was not a good idea necessarily for the 95 degree 100 per cent humidity weather, but now i'm having a lynchburg lemonade (jack daniels and lemonade) and therefore; the world is right.

jonesie; the book drops in the spring of 06, so it will be available on line then. meanwhile, my new chapbook, you can e-mail me directly for that at ET, thanks so much for your love and wishes.

i'm going to eat something involving bacalau and lots of pepper. i'll be back...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Monday July 25th – 12:42PM

MASQUERADE – aftermath/anatomy

So here’s how it went. On Friday afternoon, I got a haircut, then I got together with Lynne to rehearse our duet part of the show. The rehearsal involved a coupla beers and re-running the duet about five times, and running parts of the show with the inter-stitials read by Lynne, one time.

Lynne left, I napped. It was about 95 degrees. I awoke around 8PM and went to the gym. I left the gym at closing time – 10PM. I felt good. Part of my time in the gym was spent running on the treadmill which I normally can’t do for very long because I get distracted and start to woder about all sorts of other things and then I have to stop around the 2-mile mark. This time, I ran the show as I ran, rehearsing the pieces I needed to know better, so by the time I was done I had covered about 3 miles and had an excellent sweat going.

I went back home and showered and took myself out for dinner. Martyn met me after dinner and we hung out with my ex-roommate, Sam.


On Saturday morning, I awoke, did my sit-ups, got on my bicycle and pedaled the long three minutes over to Samantha Thornhill’s house. I performed the show for her in its entirety, completely muffing at least three of the pieces and giving me some cause for panic. That was soon squelched when we left to have some banging hole-in-the-wall Mexican food, round the corner from Samantha’s house.

I headed back home, bought tapes for the video recorder on the way, bought an electric razor, some anti-razor bump cream and bottled water on the way. I make a few more CDs, get my check-list ready; chapbooks, CDs, scripts, notebook, iron my clothes (I still wasn’t sure what I’d wear so I ironed two shirts; both of them white, and two pairs of pants, both of them white), comp list for the door. I nap. I awake at 4:35PM. Doors open at 7:30. I’m seized with an initial panic, so I do sit-ups, brush my teeth, go to the gym. At the gym, I run three miles while rehearsing the show. Every now and then, folks would look at me funny because I’m running and my mouth is moving as though I’m talking to myself.

I could care less.

After the gym (6:00PM), I feel a lot better. I return home, eat some cereal, make a couple of phone calls and take a shower. I meditate/pray for a while, then try on about 7 different configurations of clothing before settling on off-white trousers, a white linen shirt and white shoes. I pick up my bag and head for the Bowery Poetry Club. I’m feeling comfortable and I realize that this is probably the most thoroughly I’ve ever prepared for a show. It is also (perhaps not coincidentally) the most I’ve ever been able to let go and let others handle the details. Marty functioned as my stage manager, so I didn’t even have to talk to the sound guy, Misha (who did a great job) or the door person (George McKibbens who is always really really supportive and great at his job) or the manager (Matt – ditto what I said about George). I go back stage, the crowd fills in. My drummer, Amon gets there and we iron out some last minute details, like, I say “Amon, the stuff you’re accompanying me on, how about we stay in 4/4 timing since we haven’t had a chance to practice together that much?” Amon says “Cool – no problem…” Last minute details are ironed out.

Show begins and Amons opening solo is dynamite. The crowd is clapping along and in a great mood by the time I hit my first poem, the first one I’m worried about forgetting. But I’m already pumped and my energy is good and I’m hitting the stage at full-stride. This is an invocation, this is for the ancestors and it doesn’t matter if I forget because they are with me and I can make it up if I need to. I do not need to. I have prepared and I settle in to the show.

The show goes well. There are lots of folk there whom I don’t know, which is marvelous. Full house, a lot of merchandise sold and folks saying they really really dug the show. So for those of you who’ve given me love and support here on the blog and in person and quietly in your thoughts or to other people, thank you. It’ll happen again in the Fall at St. Mark’s Poetry Project. I’ll tell you the dates…

Patrick, island people rule!!!! thank you for the inspiration sll the time. Jonesie, the book’s title will be ‘tarnish and masquerade’…

Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday July 22nd, 2005 - 1:40AM


So, i can't sleep. Pieces from the show just keep running in my head. This is one of them pure anxiety bouts of sleeplessness. i guess it's good though, that the pieces are running in my head. it means at least that i remember them. this doesn't feel as frustrating as insomnia normally does; and perhaps because i know exactly where it's coming from.

tonight, i went to see DAGMAR, a band with which LouhderARTS Project will be collaborating at the end of September. my friend Pablo (VIA's percussionist) plays with them. they were excellent. you should check them out wherever you see the name. their music is a kind of off the wall Billy Idol-ish, David Byrne-esque kind of British rock of the 70s type thing. The musicians are all spectacular and Meghan has a brilliant voice. the other lead, Jim Bauer has a quirky, intelligent, funny sound going and i look forward to working with them. Meanwhile, i have to figure out how to organize my day tomorrow as i try to get done all the things i need to get done before my show, please get in a couple different runs of the show and rehearsals with Lynne for the duet piece we have in the show.

already next week is starting to get hectic and it isn't even here yet. rehearsals for nationals, pieces i have to write, money i have to chase down are all conspiring to leave me with very little time to drink wine or go to the beach or any of the other assorted things summer should be about.

today though, i finished my new chapbook, which will premiere at the show on saturday. i kinda like it. it's purple...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wednesday July 20, 2005 - 2:15PM


I've run the show again, with the new cuts and everything, and slowly i'm getting more comfortable. I've memorized one of the new pieces and re-memorized a couple of those that i hadn't done in a while. It's coming together. I've made a bunch of CDs today, and i've eaten and i've jumped rope and done my sit-ups and checked my e-mail (sorta) and it's time to nap. When i awake, i'll run the show again, hit the gym for a spell then head to the Studio Museum of Harlem for an art opening. Hopefully, by then i'll be even more comfortable than i am now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tuesday July 19th, 2005 - 8:32PM

So i've made my cuts to the script. It actually wasn't as much over my target time as i thought it would be, but i should make allowances for crowd reaction and transition and that sort of thing. I got rid of two pieces that i think are somewhat redundant in the show and ran it for the first time. It's really rusty, so i have to run it again at least three times tomorrow. There is a lot i have to re-learn to get it ready and comfortable where i want it to be by saturday.

i also had my first rehearsal with Amon, the drummer who will drum at the start and accompany my first piece and a couple other pieces in the show as well. he's also going to be teaching me to play djembe in the future. I'm apprehensive and a little excited, but i think it'll be fine. Time to do some work and reach some folks and get something to eat and something for this massive headache i have brewing. Loving something (or someone) really hard, hurts you all in the head...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday July 18, 2005 - 3:58PM


This is the second time i am typing this because i just lost the entire post when i tried to send it to my blog.

I've just got done finalizing my script for the show. I've added some stuff, removed some stuff from MASQUERADE 2 and generally done some re-ordering. It is a little longer than i'd like it, so when i leave here and go back to the house (away from STAIN and their wonderful Peppermint Tea and wonky Wi-Fi connection), i have to do my first read through and figure out where the cuts are going to take place. Of course, now i'm questioning everything about the poems; the endings, the beginnings, the transitions... again...

There is no way getting around that when one puts up a performance such as this one, one holds all the cards... and takes all the risks. Still, it is a miracle of sorts that might happen at the end, a kind of birthing as you give voice to this thing and hope you're ready for it when it comes.

Rigoberto Gonzalez' book "So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks" is phenomenal. His remembrances are daggers, drawn out so slowly and so inexorably beautiful, that one is amazed that hurt could have caused them, so that even as the stories are told, one wants to celebrate as Rigoberto mourns, soar as this brother, sings.

You can get anxious along with me this week as i go through practicing and memorizing, timing and re-timing the show. I'll be here at STAIN every day pretty much until Saturday. Check me out!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wednesday July 13th - 4:55AM

i've been up for an hour so i'm a little punchy, but i had a chance to check out rigoberto gonzalez's feature at acentos last night and he was awesome. go to his website and buy everything he has written. that's all i can figure to say about that right now...

thanks too to all the folks who gave me so much love on the HBO airing. to the young lady who commented that saul looks up to me, i don't know about that but i do know that he was very influential and (at the risk of being hokey) inspirational to me when i first started writing again. he's also been a very genuine human being in talking to him about writing and all art and stuff... (i'm saying things like "and stuff", i must be tired). still, i'm glad you liked the work though. at the end of the day, that's the thing that drives me most, that frightens me most - does my work mean? does it matter?

ragan fox was also really good on Monday at Bar 13. I'll have more to say later, when i can get to the wine bar, the one with internet access down the street from my house. okay... let me attempt a free write poem thingie straight onto blog...

we never spoke of it
the games we were cheated
and especially not the ones
in which we were cheated for

but we knew
when we'd have to lose limb
to get a foul called
and what games we'd be barely touched
before we heard the whistle
for our free kicks

the darker our opponents
the better chance we had
and all across our team
we were a rag-tag bunch
of browns and yellows and whites
not yet American, white

We came from Peru and trinidad
Grenada and Bosnia
Brazil and Serbia
Mexico, Jamaica, Ecuador, Croatia, Nigeria

the white boys from jersey
from Long Island
from Connecticut
got all the calls
we could get the calls against

the other city schools
the ones with Africans and West Indians
medgar Evers College
Baruch College
York College
we got those calls
they were always darker skinned
and played angry

they frightened those of us
not willing to claim black
but we beat them
almost every time
we never spoke of it
it was always only about the football
and we were too busy licking
our own wounds...

so... i've got mad work to do on this piece. it may be altogether useless, even. see you at the wine bar...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday July 8th, 2005 - 7:55AM

So much to talk about so I'm jumping around a little bit. I've been trying to maintain (still) the discipline for writing i got going at Cave Canem. It wasn't too hard to do while i was teaching the residency in Ann Arbor last week. The other teachers, Kevin Coval, Scott Beal, James Kass all provided us with writing exercises that kept us going (i still have to type up my drafts though).

It was an excellent week, if only because the students' work was so scintillating all week long that i was ecstatic at every moment. I had to leave Ann Arbor and go straight to Prospect Park upon landing at La Guardia. I was tired as hell but the show there was brilliant. I got to ooen (together with Cheryl Boyce Taylor) for the Mighty Shadow - a legend in Trinidadian calypso. It was nerve-wracking because this was the most amount of Trinidadians for whom i'd ever performed; some 3000 of them. Seemed they dug it though; and that was a relief because i was holding onto every minute piece of energy i had. i was tired beyond belief. Of course Shadow's show was superlative in evry way and the park was a bouncing mass of Trinidadians jumping to Dingolay and Bassman as the party ended.

Meanwhile, i'm beginning preparations for Masquerade on July 23rd and i have new work to try to factor in and poems to memorize. Look out for some spectacular stuff from the LouderARTS Project in the Fall. Come check out the acentos, South Bronx series of the Project on Tuesday with Rigoberto Gonzalez and wait around for Amiri Baraka who's coming to Bar 13 in October.