My friends David Craig and Willard Simmons produced an album of poetry and music, called Blame it on the Gamma Ray, which is now available on Bandcamp. There will be a tape version as well available from Unread Records of Omaha, NE. David wrote and read the poems, and Will performed the backing tracks. I have a guest appearance in the middle of the track “Wild Sudafed Head,” where I read my poem “Hot Dogs Can’t Sing.” Knowing these guys’ work as solo artists and in other musical projects (some of which I’ve been part of), I knew this would be a fun project, and hearing the whole thing confirms this. You can preview this track, and even listen to the whole album (or buy it!) here.
That time I did a group reading at Populous Pudding in Willimantic, CT. I don’t remember this event very well. Judging by a letter I got back then from Charlie Krich (who organized poetry events at the space), he invited me to do an earlier reading on November 4, 1988. I only recall one reading I did there when people laughed at a line in one of my poems about “frying bologna.” But I don’t know which show that was.
Populous Pudding was a short lived DIY space that hosted art shows, poetry readings, and punk concerts. The music took place in the back of the space, said to be an old fur vault. It had a serious metal door on it with a wheel crank, like something you’d see in a bank. I saw some of the best shows there: Laughing Hyenas, Crystalized Movements, Fire Party, Fidelity Jones, Woodchipper and Bimbo Shrineheads. Since I was actually in grad school at UConn in neighboring Storrs, I didn’t get over there as much as I would have liked to.
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.