Report from PORTLAND

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thanks to those who commented on this blog’s recent posts. there seems to be so much animosity in the commentials of the poblogworld these days (at reb’s, at the harriet blog, at dale’s) that i’m glad we can have some fun over here. anyhoo, Craigadamus will now be renamed either Craigadamus Ignoramus (thank javier for that) OR Craigadumbasshole (i made that one!) (which name do you prefer?) because none of his predictions have come true! wanda coleman has posted two new posts, ron has not linked to the previous post, i have not yet been contacted by the Harriet owners, elizabeth alexander’s chapbook was number one at Amazon, AND it looks like Javier will not win BEST HAIR because he is getting a haircut. tho Craigadamus just told me that he predicts MARK NOWAK will now win BEST HAIR–that seems like a longshot to me considering Mark has not won a best hair contest since AT LEAST the 80s!!!

anyhoo, i just returned from Portland late last night and wanted to post some pics. i went to Portland because the wonderful Kaia Sand taught my book in her Poetry and Politics class at Pacific University. this is the second class that has taught my book; the first being Truong Tran’s Writers on Writing at San Francisco State U. while my visit to Truong’s 60 student class was in an auditorium–where the mic was not working–Kaia’s 15 student class was held in a much more intimate classroom. not only that, they had discussed my book the day before so all of their notes were still on the board! creepy. the students wrote things like: “colonialism” “militarism” “this book sucks” and “will Powell’s used book store even buy a used copy of this”.

while i did read a few poems, we mostly had a very lively and engaging discussion (only 8 students fell asleep!) about the book, politics, my visit to the UN, craft, whether or not you can make more money selling used books on Ebay as opposed to Powell’s bookstore, etc. many students even had post-its in the book!

the highlight was when one student said she wrote a paper about my book–the title of her paper was “Identity Crisis”. seeing this as a good teaching moment, i taught her that whenever writing a title for an academic paper, you have to follow a formula: quote, colon, the blank of blank in the work of blank. for example: “Guam doesn’t exist on some maps”: the Identity Crisis of Unincorporation in the work of Craig Santos Perez. i was actually most happy when she said her paper was only 3 pages long; as a result, i canceled my therapy today because really, a 3-page identity crisis isnt worth $75 an hour.

after the class, i had the pleasure of riding with Kaia allllllll the way back to Portland. she’s so cool–you all are gonna flip when you see her next book!

so that was friday. on saturday i read with Allison Cobb at the Tangent reading series, curated by Kaia, Jules Boykoff, and Rodney Koeneke. the reading was in a cafe/bar that was packed to the brim with about 40-45 people! Allison read first–and she was quite fantastic–i’m very excited to read her book. and then i read after.

so i started my reading with a poem titled “Praise Song for the Praise Song from 3 Days Ago”. a poem celebrating Elizabeth Alexander’s exquiste inaugural poem & performance. as i reached the part of my praise song praising her whitmanesque list, the crowd starting grumbling. when i praised her memorable images, they started booing! when i praised her selfless bravery of accepting the the invitation to read for her old pal Obama, of her promotion at Yale, of her appearance on Colbert, of a new 3-book deal at Graywolf, of her position high on the Amazon hog, the CROWD WAS UP IN ARMS!!! angry faces, gestural heckling, negative epithets! i wanted to escape but Rodney was guarding the door (he’s tall!!!). proof:

needless to say, i had to cut the poem shorter than Jack Spicer’s penis. Stumptown indeed. i tell you, everyone’s a critic!

but when i finally read my poems the crowd finally calmed down and adopted proper poetry reading posture & etiquette. i. read. in. my. poetry. voice. and. they. were. lulled. into. adoring. submission.

i read five poems in all:

“senator kennedy we love you get up” (a post-inaugural praise song)
“ta(la)ya” (from my book)
and 3 conceptual poems–each one took me a year to write:
“O How The Poet Thirsts”
“The Throat Runs Dry”
“4 minutes 33 seconds”

after, i had a blast talking with all the cool folks! thanks for coming! thanks for the drinks! thanks for buying my book! thanks to the students for a fun class visit! and thanks to the students who came to the reading!!! KAIA TOLD ME SHE WOULD GIVE YOU EXTRA CREDIT!!!!

more pics:

jules & i (did you know jules once dated cameron diaz!)

rodney & i (not sure if rodney was drinking, but he kept asking everyone that walked by: “and could we lose that silly voice” — kind of creepy!)

kaia & i (apparently when the picture taker said “say cheese”, kaia thought he said “shove your beautiful face in the middle of frame”!)

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4 thoughts on “Report from PORTLAND

  1. Craig,

    I know how you feel. I gave a reading in NJ a few months back, and it was in a big auditorium, and there were like 150 people there. I felt really great! Then, during the Q&A, I happened to ask the crowd for a show of hands: "How many of you are students?" And 80% of the people there shot up their arms.

    Extra credit and poetry and the Academy…

    Nice pics and report.

    Kent

  2. i wish i got extra credit for all the readings i go to 🙂

    hope to see you read someday!

    c

  3. Yo Craig,

    Portland is a beautiful town, and Kaia, Jules and Rodney are beautiful people.

    Sidenote: Over at Harriet, Wanda Coleman is writing, like, three posts a day now. Stop messing with people’s minds, will ya?

    Linh

  4. hey linh,

    jules mentioned you were in town–he has the nicest things to say about you!

    unfortunately, craigadamus has powers beyond my control 🙂 between you & me, the harriet people should just give the money they paid to coleman (and others that shall go unnamed) to you. i'm still pulling for you to get to post 300! dont let craigadamus down!

    xo
    c

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