flashbacks

Flashback: Golden Poet Award 1991

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I found this “beautiful certificate” in a folder filled with miscellaneous literary correspondence. World of Poetry ran many contests, and anyone who entered would get one of these mass printed forms. I’m not sure it inspired me to “new poetical heights,” but I did write a subversively sentimental poem for one of their contests.

Back in the 90’s, it seemed rather amusing to send stuff to them. Once I got an Honorary Mention Award, but haven’t found that yet. The company made money by compiling huge books filled with sentimental poetry and selling them to the Golden Poets who “contributed.” I could have ordered the “brass and walnut Golden Poet Plaque” mentioned below, but I never did that either. So I have nothing to “celebrate my greatness.”

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Judging by a quick Internet search, World of Poetry no longer exists. That would seem to leave a huge vacancy for an organization to boost poetic egos while fleecing them of their money. I wonder what happened to Edde-Lou Cole and her poetry mission?

Flashback: DC Poetry Slam and Reading at 15 Minutes Club

The 90’s called. They want their poetry slam poster back!

I found two copies of this double-sided flier in a folder of old literary correspondence. I used to regularly attend the open mic readings at 15 Minutes Club, on 15th Street in DC, run by Art Schuhart (editor of GYST journal). I developed my “surreal rant” style work to present there, reading those pieces as loud and fast as possible.

Poetry slams were a big thing in the 90s, like the grunge rock of poetry. I can’t remember if I ever participated in a slam, though. Schuhart also ran the slam team, and once asked if I wanted to join. But in my opinion, poetry is not a competition. Besides, the people who won always seemed to rap, talk about their sex lives, or tell jokes. I don’t mind any of that stuff, but my own writing never seems to come out that way.

The “reading” side may spark some interest for featuring punk poet Jim Carroll on Sept 7 (exact year unknown). DC poetry geezers may remember Dean Blehert and Miles David Moore, two prominent local writers in what you might call the “Federal School”: bureaucrats turned poets. Reston, VA-based Blehert issued a monthly newsletter promoting his own work (and lots of puns), while Moore hosted a long-running reading at Arlington’s Iota Club.

Flashback: One poem in Flipside

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That time my poem “Cheated” appeared in Flipside #83, from March/April 1993. I’m not sure that’s how I originally had the spacing though.

Even cooler: John Brannon of Laughing Hyenas was on the cover, and there was a flexidisc single by Shonen Knife included in the magazine. I never played my copy of the record.

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Flashback: One poem in Flipside

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That time my poem “Alicia” appeared in Flipside #81, from Nov/Dec 1992. This piece is a true story based on a coworker when I worked at the American Psychological Association as an abstractor for their academic database. One of the nicest people I met there, Alicia endured the regular stream of attention rather graciously.

For those who never saw it, LA-based Flipside was a massive newsprint fanzine that chronicled underground music and culture. They ran two pages of poetry during the 90’s era when I was subscribing and submitting work to them.

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Flashback: Two poems in Open 24 Hours

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That time Buck Downs published two of my poems in his DC poetry journal Open 24 Hours #10, back in 1994. According to a note I found with copies of the mag, Buck saw me reading at an open mic night at the old 15 Minutes nightclub in DC. Liking what he heard, he requested some pieces, and of those, he took “Best Left to Herself” and “The Odor of Business is Business.”

DC is not an easy town for artists to gain traction in, and Buck has long been an inspiration to me because he never gives up. Although he stopped editing O24H a long time ago, he’s still very active in the DC poetry scene with his poetry postcard mailings, running a poetry reading series, and publishing books. I always run into him in the oddest places around town–random coffee shops, Second Story Books, Bridge Street Books, DC Zine Fair–and often when I’m putting up street art! When I organized the free-improvisation ensemble Croniamantal, he served as the first bard, reading poetry to a backdrop of experimental electronics. But that’s another post!

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Flashback: Two poems in GYST

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That time two of my poems appeared in GYST #3, from 1992: “In America” and “Sentimental Grunge.” GYST (an acronym for “Get Your Shit Together”) was a digest sized, DC based literary magazine edited by Art Schuhart, Zach Barocas, and Edgar Silex. Art ran an open mic poetry series at the 15 Minutes nightclub in the early 90’s, which I attended pretty regularly. To be honest, I don’t remember these poems at all!

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Flashback: Rubber Band Ball article reprinted in Utne Reader

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I recently discovered that my article on rubber band balls can be found on theĀ  Utne Reader website. You can read “Rubber Band Balls: The Ultimate Collector’s Item” here.

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The article was first published under the title “The Joy of Rubber Balling” in my music fanzine Mole, issue #12, back in May 1999. It describes my obsession with creating and maintaining a rubber band ball. On the next page, I interviewed my friend David Craig about his own experiences creating a rubber band ball (see below). As with a lot of things, he got in on the trend first. The “director’s cut” version appears on my website here.

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Needless to say, I was rather shocked when Utne Reader picked the article up for reprinting, which they did under the title “Bandarama” (Utne Reader #101, Sept-Oct 2000). Especially nice: getting paid for the piece. In some way, a paycheck helped justify all the wasted time putting together a fanzine. Not to mention the time wasted assembling a giant rubber band ball. (Coincidentally, I found the images of the Utne cover and the my article in an Ebay listing; strange that “Bandarama” was one of the sample pages!)

One of the major differences between the two printings was the title, and the omission of my subtitle. The more professional rag seemed not to like the vague innuendo contained in my version. It’s funny that for their website, they changed the title again.

Yes, you do see Vanilla Ice’s name in the lower left corner of the Mole cover. I interviewed him about an outsider art site in Homestead, Florida, called the Coral Castle. It featured in a promotional photo his record company provided with his comeback CD. Turns out, he was quite an authority on the place. But that’s another post.

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I still have that rubber band ball today, although I’m not as diligent about maintaining it. It’s gotten pretty furry with neglect, so I’ve been doing some serious re-surfacing with fresh rubber. It could still use a lot more bands. At this point the ball weighs 7 lbs 11 oz.

Flashback: Article on the Bride of Frankenstein’s singing career in Cool and Strange Music magazine

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That time my article on Elsa Lanchester’s Bawdy Cockney Songs LPs appeared in Cool and Strange Music #28. You know Ms. Lanchester best as the titular star of Bride of Frankenstein, James Whale’s 1935 horror masterpiece.

Later in her career, she took up a kind of cabaret act where she sang silly ditties full of innuendo and double entendres. Many songs from this act ended up on two LPs, originally titled “Songs for a Shuttered Parlor” and “Songs for a Smoke Filled Room.” (Reissued as “Bawdy Cockney Songs” and, naturally, “More Bawdy Cockney Songs.”) Both are great examples of weird and strange thrift store scores.

Cool and Strange Music no longer has an online presence, but you can read the “director’s cut” of the article in my own archive here.

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Flashback: Two poems in TAPJoE

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That time The Anaprocrustean Poetry Journal of Enumclaw (TAPJoE) published two of my poems in their Spring 1988 issue. “Tshotsholoza Kylezondawo, Vyabaleka” is an isiZulu phrase meaning “Work steady, the train is coming,” as mentioned in Athol Fugard’s play Siswe Banzi is Dead. I wrote this poem while attending a performance of the play back in the 80’s at Virginia Tech. Double flashback! The other poem they published is “Seed” (below). These were the first of my poems accepted for publication outside Tech’s student lit rag, Silhouette.

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