Flashback: Christmas poetry jam at 15 Minutes club

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That time I read at the Christmas Poetry Jam at 15 Minutes club in DC on December 27, 1993. Looks like Silvanna Straw, Edgar Silex, and John Potash were also featured readers. And some guy named “Jeff Bogato,” which is actually me when people can’t spell my last name. Then there was an open mike, poetry games and a special guest. Of course, I don’t remember any of this, so it’s a good thing I saved these Washington City Paper advertisements.

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“Supreme Facts,” three other poems and six video stills in Angry Old Man

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Always an event when a new issue of online journal Angry Old Man is released, and the new #4 is no exception. Crammed with piles of cutting edge images, videos, essays and poems, it covers the international experimental lit and multimedia scene more thoroughly than anything I’ve seen since Otoliths. Impossible to fairly represent the contents in a brief summary; best just to visit the site here.

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I’m very pleased that this issue includes six miscellaneous video stills, the “Silenced Scribes” video, and four poems: “Supreme Facts” (brief excerpt below), “Sparkle of a Golden Nose,” “IOU-topia,” and “On the House.” You can check out the stills here, the video here (yes, it’s been on YouTube for a while), and the texts on this page.

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Flashback: Faith’s Campaign Cabaret article in Washington City Paper

faith-cabaret-01.jpgThe following article appeared in The Washington City Paper on April 25, 1997. You can see the article archived online here. It attempts to document Faith’s campaign cabaret performances in DC, where she was running for mayor. I took the photos at one of Faith’s Campaign Cabaret performances the same year.

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Faith is a star. Not coincidentally, she is also a perennial candidate. In ’96, she ran for delegate against Eleanor Holmes Norton (picking up over 1,000 votes), and she has run twice against Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry. Her current campaign slogan is “Vote for Faith in ’98.” She’s running for mayor—again. Severely encapsulated, Faith’s platform involves running Congress and the feds out of D.C. (known to her as the “Devil’s Colon”) and using all those beautiful neoclassical buildings as art studios, theaters, and concert halls, a transformation to be funded by big Hollywood stars. It’s easy to get Faith on a roll about her plans: “I’ve got this one program I call ‘Shoot It on Film Before You Shoot Your Foe.’ It puts Tony Bennett in Anacostia starring as a Catholic priest, teaching kids to make movies.”

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Now 73, Faith started running when she lived in St. Croix, sponsored by her then-husband, a former attorney general in the islands. “I got fewer votes each time I ran,” she remarks. “You think they were trying to tell me something?” Before St. Croix, Faith played on Broadway in a series of musicals (“They were all flops,” she says with inspiring, unmayoral candor) before landing a role as Mazzeppa in Gypsy, the play Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne wrote for Ethel Merman. Faith claims to have stolen the show (you’ll believe it if you ever rent the video—and supposedly they tamed down her bit for the movie) with a bump-and-grind number she developed in N.Y.C. burlesque parlors. In the movie version, she teaches Natalie Wood how to strip, sings “You Gotta Have a Gimmick,” and blows a trumpet. She also appears on my thrift-store copy of the Broadway cast recording.

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Faith recreates her Mazzeppa bit in her weekly Sunday-night campaign cabaret at Mr. Henry’s on U Street (formerly the Andalusian Dog; show starts around 8:30), kicking the show off with a Gypsy video clip and a strip number that leaves little to the imagination and ends with her blowing the trumpet between her legs and sporting a “Free D.C.” sign on her butt. “It has deeply sociological significance,” Faith says from the stage. The oddly magical entertainment includes calypso campaign songs, reworkings of Evita tunes (“Don’t Cry for Me, Washingtonians”), Noel Cowardlike ditties by unknown songwriter John Wallowich, a Nat King Cole tune, and a rendering of Lord Buckley’s “vintage soul talk” number, “The Nazz” (aka Jesus of Nazareth). If you’re, er, lucky, she might forget to wear her pants when she roller-skates out in red, white, and blue for her campaign speech. Her husband, Jude, accompanies her skillfully on guitar and does an uncanny karaoke Frank Sinatra. When Faith forgets the words, Jude is there to help her out, and he fills in the gaps between her costume changes with smooth calypso and Fats Waller numbers—like a cut-rate João Gilberto. Filled with broad comedy and multiculti touches, the show is a mondo exotica throwback; imagine a gene splicing between Incredibly Strange Music doyennes Yma Sumac and Rusty Warren. And think what Faith would do if she ran the D.C. government.—Jeff Bagato

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Night Garden Journal Summer 2017 Anthology released

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Night Garden Journal recently released its anthology of poems from last summer as a Lulu book. You can see the full list of authors above. I’m pleased to say my poem “The World is Ash” is included.

You can get a shipping discount (see image above) if you order today on Lulu at this link.

Flashback: poetry reading at some DC loft party

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Nothing kills a party mood like a poetry reading. That’s the main takeaway lesson for me after agreeing to read some of my work as part of a loft party in DC in 1993. The organizer (and loft owner) named Judy saw my featured reading at 15 Minutes Club on August 9 and asked me to come by her event a few days later on August 13, which she was calling Plaid.

The place was packed with revelers enjoying the rarity of an actual loft party in DC. A band calling itself Blue Teal Tory was cranking away at the tunes. I remember my friend Alberto Gaitan was playing keyboards, and he set me up with the microphone. Somebody (maybe me?) yelled over the crowd, and the voices slowly died down. At that point, the poetry went over a cliff like a bus full of concrete.

As soon as I shut up, the nattering resumed full force. Some guy buttonholed me to talk about Ezra Pound, convinced I was influenced by him. Or something. I actually know very little about Pound, and care even less. He’s not an influence on any of my work. But being ignored and misinterpreted are some of the penalties of taking one’s creative efforts into the public sphere.

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“America’s Porn Star Love” and two other poems published in Zombie Logic Review

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Today, Zombie Logic Review published three of my poems: “America’s Porn Star Love,” “Life on the River, Ripened on the Vine,” and “Ouija at the Feast.” You can read them here.

The first piece has something to do with pornography. The second features Mowgli and Baloo the bear escaping civilization. The last is yet another poem featuring Ouija Board as an actual character.

Flashback: Poetry reading at 15 Minutes

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That time I had my fifteen minutes of fame as a featured reader at the 15 Minutes nightclub’s poetry night on August 6, 1993. Looks like Husain Naqvi was also on the bill, and then an open mike, all for $3. This event is totally lost in time. I don’t even remember if I got any of the door money; it most likely went to support the DC Slam Team.

You can see by the poster that even in August, there was a weekly reading schedule. Even Reston, VA punmaster Dean Blehert had a shot!

“my hand is big (supersized me)” published in Synchronized Chaos

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Just learned that online literary journal Synchronized Chaos published one of my poems in the July issue, released on the first of the month. This issue’s theme is “Ways of Being Human,” exploring how to be a person in our world in three categories: “Inspiration and Motivation,” “Small Individuals, Big World–or Vice Versa?” and “Storytelling and light humor.” Lots of familiar names from the international outlaw poetry scene here, like J.J. Campbell, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, J. D. DeHart, and Gary Glauber, so lots of good stuff to read here.

My poem “my hand is big (supersized me)” was included in the second category, with these comments from the editor: “In a more humorous vein, Jeff Bagato gives us a character who’s quite large. His body, his belongings, his self-concept – everything about him is defiantly big. This serves as a commentary on some cultures’ relentless drive to expand and grow, on the idea that ‘bigger is better.’”

I should note that this piece was actually written in 2009, so it strikes me as a bit prophetic considering the America we live in now. You can read the whole poem here.

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“Goosepimples of Death” and two other poems in Unlikely Stories

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Online literary journal Unlikely Stories Mark V has hit its 20th anniversary this year, and it’s celebrating with a massive issue. Tons of content, from visuals to videos, stories, poems and hybrid works, by a huge range of authors from the contemporary scene. I’m pleased to be a part of this one, with three poems: “Goosepimples of Death,” “The Shooting Never Stops,” and “One Shot for the Record.” You can read them here.