Big thanks to Prof Virginia Brackett of Park University for having me as a part of her Ethnic Voices Poetry Series in Kansas City. A great honor to be with such a good company of writers who have taken part in the series, including Victoria Chang, Sean Hill, Francisco Aragon, Howard Schwartz, and Aimee Nez!
The day was a bit hectic–arrived in KC from Oakland at around 4, just in time for the reception at the Kansas City Public Library at 6pm.
To my surprise, the Library created a big poster of me for the event, which was placed right at the entrance of the library. As people recognized I was the person in the poster, they kept saying: “Wow, you are so much better looking in person!” I blush.
Reception highlights included meeting the infamous Prof Joe Harrington, who made the trek out from Lawrence, Kansas–and Linda Rodriguez of the KC Latino Writer’s Collective. I had corresponded with both of them and it was so great to meet them in person.
I read in a beautiful library room on the 5th floor. The room felt full & intimate. I opened my reading with a quote from Charles Bukowski (it was a good day indeed!) and then proceeded to read a bit from my book.
Unfortunately, the audience didnt care much for my book, as they began booing rather adamantly. One guy even reached up and grabbed a book from the shelf and began reading it! That’s one reason I dont like reading in libraries–too many other options.
(my usual audience pic & video did not come out! arg!)
So I loosened my tie, pulled out my journal, and read some new poems I’ve been working on. This series is called “Un Coup de Pénis.” It’s a cross between Mallarme’s idea of the penis absent from every other bouquet and Olson’s PROJECTIVE verse. The crowd ate it up! Cheers, flowers (the unabsent kind), intermittent “Amen”s, champagne, and an offer for a ticker tape parade (which could have worked if not for the tornado!). After, not a single person bought my book, but at least four people said “if you ever publish those penis poems in a book we’d happily review it.” Alas.
Overall, it was a great reading–thanks for all those who came out and to the staff at the library. Hope to see you all again someday!
p.s. one great thing also was that there was another Chamorro there! A women from Saipan who had lived in KC for 50 years! She invited me to dinner for the next night, but I left the very next morning. How cool would it have been to have had some Chamorro food in KC!