Goodbye Blue Monday - Brooklyn, NY - 3.5.11

This reading was organized as an offsite event to the 2011 Chapbook Festival. Bios are included in the MP3s. Readers are organized by order of appearance.
Sampson Starkweather Introduction MP3
Sampson Starkweather
MC Hyland MP3
MC Hyland
Francesca Chabrier MP3
Francesca Chabrier
Anelise Chen MP3
Anelise Chen
Lysette Simmons MP3
Lysette Simmons
Dan Hoy MP3
Dan Hoy
Will Edmiston MP3
Will Edmiston
Macgregor Card MP3
Macgregor Card

Poetry in motion
Photo credit: Robert Lopez reading at Cake Shop, a rock venue that hosts poetry events. (TALIA HERMAN)

April, aka National Poetry Month, may be the one time of year most non-poets devote any thought or attention to poetry, but what they're missing is an active verse scene that happens locally year-round.
"Poetry is not really part of American pop culture, but I forget that, because the scene in New York is so vibrant," said Melissa Broder, a poet who runs the reading series Polestar at Cake Shop, a rock club on the Lower East Side.
Turns out the popular perception of poetry as dull and academic is dead wrong. In honor of National Poetry Month, we put some common misconceptions to rest.
MYTH: Poetry readings are formulaic and boring
When you picture a reading, do you see some guy in a turtleneck droning into a mic at the front of a coffee shop? Well, don't. Readings these days take place in bars and rock clubs, and the young crowd is there to socialize and drink beer.
Poet Sasha Fletcher, a Philadelphia transplant pursuing an MFA at Columbia, attends a lot of events in Brooklyn. He's noticed a recent movement of younger poets who "manage to write really interesting work that they can deliver in a way that's really entertaining and engaging."
MYTH: Poetry exists in a bubble, away from the real world
Like all creative people in New York, poets are drawn to  - and respond to - all aspects of the city's cultural life. The neighborhoods which host a high concentration of poetry events - the Lower East Side, Bushwick, Williamsburg and Ridgewood - also are where a lot of up-and-coming bands and emerging artists are active.
Reading series such as Supermachine, hosted by Ben Fama, regularly also feature bands or incorporate visual artists into their programming.
And this isn't at all a new thing for New York.
"There was a time in New York, in the '30s and then again in the late '50s with the Abstract Expressionists, that the poets and the visual artists were almost inseparable," said Jason Andrew, whose Storefront gallery in Bushwick holds regular poetry readings to recapture that interdisciplinary spirit.

MYTH: Poets are dreamers who don't understand capitalism
The truth is that most poets know they won't make money, but they don't care. They've accepted the fact that they'll always have to have a day job to keep pursuing their passion, but the support of their community helps them keep going.
"I don't know that I'll ever make a whole lot of money at it," Fletcher said, voicing a sentiment that was echoed by many. "But I don't really know what I'd do if I didn't have this."

Going out
Experience the scene for yourself at the following:
Stain of Poetry
Goodbye Blue Monday, 1087 Broadway, Bushwick
Last Friday every month
Poetry Time
Space Space, 390 Seneca Ave., Ridgewood
Mailing list: poetrytime
Cafe Orwell, 247 Varet St., Williamsburg
View the schedule at
16 Wilson Ave., Bushwick
Third Thursday every month
Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St.
First Sunday every month
The Multifarious Array
Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg
Most Fridays
Outpost, 1014 Fulton St., Crown Heights
View the schedule at

Reading list
Intrigued? Want to read more? We asked Kevin Larimer, editor of Poets & Writers magazine, to suggest some local up-and-coming poets.
"Slow Dance With Trip Wire," Camille Rankine
"Juvenilia," Ken Chen
"To Light Out," Karen Weiser
"Becoming Weather," Chris Martin
"Late in the Antenna Fields," Alan Gilbert

Another September weekend extended its hand of literary appreciation the Brooklyn way. Autumn is shaping up to be anchovy-packed with these events of vivid poetry, enlivening fiction, and on-the-spot conceptualized performances. There are twenty to thirty plus readings yet to occur in Brooklyn and Manhattan by the end of the month—September attentiveness required.
Friday night was the release party for the inaugural issue of Telephone, a palm-sized seasonally released magazine devoted to the multiple translations of a solitary poet. A true myriad. The schematic of the framework for Telephone follows the notions of the children’s game where an initial phrase whispered into a neighbor’s ear gets almost Dadaistically turned around into its nonsensical opposite.
The editors of Telephone, Sharmila Cohen and Paul Legault claim: “Things are misheard. Things change. That’s the point.”  They also say that they want to “bask in the general shiftiness of translation.” That’s exactly what happened at 177 Livingston Street in downtown Brooklyn on Friday night. The space is, in part (there are two other hosting groups), organized and curated by Triple Canopy in a 5,000 square foot warehouse that moderates numerous events—artist talks, lectures, musical performances, film screenings, classes, etc. They also have a pretty great library.
For this particular performance, Telephone organized an incredible consortium of readers to verbally present the majority of Issue 1. As well, an actual game of telephone went around the room of upwards to 70 or 80 people. To paraphrase (the only way to go about it), the opening line of the game, inaudibly whispered by Mary Jo Bang and ending some eighty or so ears later, had the word “German” in it. The process of the game, by the end, somehow altered that to “Russian”.
This first issue focused on translating some of the work of the poet Uljana Wolf.  The order of Friday night’s readers were as follows:
For: bad-bald-bet/t-brief
Uljana Wolf
Mary Jo Bang
John Gallaher (called in on his phone, ed. Paul Legault verbally stenographed)
Eugene Ostashevsky
For:  last-lied-list-log-lump

Uljana Wolf
Susan Bernofsky
Macgregor Card
John Gallaher (called in on his phone, ed. Paul Legault verbally stenographed)
For:  understand-under stand

Uljana Wolf
Christian Hawkey
Eugene Ostashevsky
Nathaniel Otting
For:  well e-wink-wink-wink el

Uljana Wolf
Priscilla Becker
Megan Ewing
Robert Fitterman (as conceptually enacted by ed. Sharmila Cohen)
For: zet-zoo-zu
Uljana Wolf
Priscilla Becker
Susan Bernofsky
Robert Fitterman (as conceptually enacted by ed. Sharmila Cohen)
Saturday night brought the opening of the Fall season—in its nearly two-year-run—of the Crowd Reading Series, curated by Douglas Piccinnini. Crowd has hosted innumerable established and up-and-coming poets since February of 2009, calling themselves “a community-based project that connects artists, performers and writers.”
Each Crowd reading is held in the Morgantown area (as is oft-referred by the locals) of Bushwick at Café Orwell on Varet. Café Orwell, a coffeehouse with unique food items on its menu, occasionally hosts music and performance but has been the space for Crowd since their inception. The café opened in December of 2008 and, notably, serves Stumptown coffee. Various artists’ work hangs on the walls in traditional café-style. They, as well, have a horde of books all stacked in the back of the café where a foot-or-so-tall stage lays.
Folks in the audience were certainly not disappointed by the handpicked poets and sole fiction reader that read; however, a slight bit of disenchantment spread when the rumor that there was to be no beer served came true. Café Orwell (good news!) is, nonetheless, anticipating a liquor license soon. The next Crowd reading could get a bit livelier. Otherwise, think flask.
Four authors shared the stage, each reading multiple pieces, averaging out at ten to fifteen minutes per reader. They are listed in chronological order below:
Niina Pollari (poetry)
Lauren Spohrer (fiction)
Sara Wintz (poetry)
Michael Scharf (poetry)
Ken L. Walker