Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wednesday Open Words at Austin's.

When I go to Austin's Coffee, (929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL), I always order an ice cold "Yak", which is a flavor full iced coffee along with a Portobello Mushroom sandwich. I arrive a bit early, so I cs watch the Wednesday Open Words hosts clear the stag and set up the sound equipment. Heather was the host for the evening. She read first and I put he at the microphone in my sketch. Other literary types arrived, rehearsing their poetry or prose.

As always it was an entertaining and enlightening evening. I don't understand how most people can go home from work and then isolate themselves by watching a TV in their dark living rooms. Going to these readings, I get to experience so many local stories. Open Words happens every Wednesday, get out and see what is happening in your community, and if you are brave enough, step up to the microphone.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wednesday Open Words

Every Wednesday at Austin's Coffee, (929 West Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park FL) Curtis Meyer hosts an Open Mic called “Wednesday Open Words.” The evening starts at 8pm but I was in Winter Park and decided to go to Austin's Coffee early to grab some diner. Students sat on the makeshift stage immersed in their laptops. The young woman seated across from me lounged on the couch intently reading a real paper bound book. I watched her expression as the read and at times she was visibly upset. Something horrible was going on in those pages. I imagined she might be reading "The Catcher in the Rye." As I recall it had a red cover. When she got up to leave she noticed my sketch. I had to ask her what she was reading. It turned out that "The Hunger Games" was required reading for one of her classes.

Curtis arrived and gradually he cleared the stage and set up a microphone. The theme for the evening was Disney Animated Films. Having worked at Feature Animation, I had to be a bit of an expert on the decade of films I worked on. Curtis was very stoked about the film "Saving Mr. Banks" which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. He insisted I go see it. To warm up the crowd, Curtis had everyone repeat, "Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom." It is a tongue twister which is rather fun to repeat again and again in succession. There were trivia questions between readers and I managed to guess the name of the dog in Disney Pixar's "Up." The dogs name was Dug. I won an odd green feathery pin with a yellow skull from "The Princess and the Frog." It is now partially stained with black ink from one of my pens.

One particularly fun poem used all of the Disney made up words. It turns out that besides Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus, there are many others that are just as strange. Curtis wanted to find one word that defines each Disney film plot. For instance Rapunzel, the word is Tangled. For Snow Queen the word is Frozen. For Little Mermaid the word might be pants. For Beauty and the Beast the word would be Stockholmed. This might make a good drinking game to whittle each film down to one word. One line from someones poem stuck with me, "The beauty of the world makes demands on us.

Curtis was great about being sure the audience respected how brave all the speakers were. Public speaking is a universal fear. Snapping fingers were encouraged when the poems were profound. Seda Gay spoke about four grown women who returned to the Disney theme parks together. Two of those women were now divorced but they all stepped back to their childhood relationships discovering where they left off. One poet was accompanied by a guitar player. He said most of his creative ideas were formed by the age of 11. He imagined flying being an everyday occurrence to get through our heavy Earth bound days. He was of course speaking as Peter Pan. Curtis chimed in, "All you got to do is believe."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Party and Launch: I Will Meet You at the River

On October 12th, Suzannah Gilman had a book launch party for her first book of poetry titled, "I will Meet You at the River" at Quantum Leap Winery (1312 Wilfred Dr, Orlando, FL.) Suzannah  was born in California and grew up in Florida. She attended Rollins College while raising four children, graduating with honors. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and is a licensed attorney. She has published poetry, essays, fiction, and nonfiction, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry. " I Will Meet You at the River" is her first book. She and Billy Collins, who served as U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003, have been together for years.

I arrived a bit early and began sketching the winery. A huge room out back had large barrels of wine stacked to the ceiling. Suzannah and Billy arrived with cheese platters that they set up on the bar. I had met the couple once at a folk music parking lot pickin' session behind the Twisty Treat in Ochoe Florida. Suzannah seemed a bit nervous and warm but soon the room was full of friends and supporters. I didn't attempt to sketch the whole crowd. I got to meet her sons, one of whom is an artist himself.

I particularly liked one poem titled, "How Dinner Got Cold", that  was about a couple preparing dinner together. There was the intimacy of the enclosed space as they brushed shoulders and he instinctively closed a cabinet for her. It reminded me of a scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton prepared a live lobster. By the time the meal was ready the couple had already satiated something much more than hunger.

Another poem, "On Living With a Famous Poet," made Billy a bit nervous. "Jocelyn Bartkevicius was there, and she's the editor of The Florida Review, where it was published, so I HAD to read it!" explained Suzannah. The poem described a young woman who idolized the famous poet and desperately wanted the shared intimacy of having her words read. Later that month I saw Billy on "The Colbert Report" where he joked with the host and they read a poem together. You don't always get that much culture on prime time TV. Suzannah said,  "I did enjoy that party, oh yes I did.  It was the people, as I said, who just blew me away by showing up and supporting me.  As good a feeling as finding out I was going to have a chapbook published."

 "Passionate, wise, and funny, this lovely debut collection reminds us that the familiar world at any moment can ambush us with ecstasy."
- George Bilgere, author of THE WHITE MUSEUM

Sunday, October 6, 2013

DiVerse Word

On September 10th I went to Dandelion Communitea Cafe for DiVerse Word hosted by Shawn Welcome. DiVerse Word is a weekly spoken word and poetry event that has been going strong for seven years. Three random individuals in the audience are picked to be judges. They score between one and ten with decimal points for subtlety. The competition begins at 8pm and goes till 10pm.

Sasha recited a poem about the excitement of the touch of a hand. Robbie Ramirez spoke of Star Wars. Tyler Conradi gave an astonishing performance of his poem "I Am" that had a dark Max Ginsberg universal reach. Tyler got my vote for the best poem of the evening. A police helicopter hoovered over the neighborhood with it's spotlight blazing. Periodically the search light would flash over the crowd gathered in front of Dandelion and people would wave to the night sky. Shawn Welcome joked that we should all scatter the next time the spot light illuminated the crowd. Someone stated that when a chopper was in the air, there would also be a K9 dog unit searching on the ground. He wondered out loud what he would do if a criminal ran down the street in front of Dandelion. It would be best to let the police do their jobs.

Curtis Meyer closed out the night with his usual flair. Everyone was asked to share something they haa learned. Tim spoke of the long journey he and his wife took in their 40 years of marriage. They went from knowing EVERYTHING at age 21 to knowing NOTHING at age 61. Shawn closed out the evening with his salutation, "Peace, Love and Poetry". As I walked to my car I saw two young poets kissing in the shadows of the building beside Dandelion. They were faintly illuminated in the setting moonlight. One shouted out "Good night Thor!" I smiled, and shouted back, "Good Night!"

Mark your calendar! DiVerse Word is every Tuesday at Dandelion Community Cafe (618 North Thornton Ave. Orlando FL) starting at 8pm. Share your thoughts or just listen and learn.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Every Sunday at 6pm the SHUT YOUR FACE! Poetry Slam by Curtis Meyer is held at La Casa De La Paellas (10414 E Colonial Dr Orlando FL). This is the only current ongoing slam in Orlando officially certified by Poetry Slam Incorporated. A winning team can go to Nationals or to the Individual World Poetry Slam and Women of the World Poetry Slam. On the line for the evening was $50 to the winner.

I ordered some food when I arrived and started sketching the stage before the poets started. Tr3 Harris was in the room. He said that going to poetry readings first introduced him to Orlando's art scene. Now he is curating shows and is an integral player in Orlando's visual arts scene. Chaz Yorick was there with his daughter. Chaz read a hilarious poem titled, "I wanna make love like zombies" about sloppy, messy, zombie love that I'm positive would make a great animated short if read by Vincent Price.

I was wrangled into being one of the judges by the MC, Natalia "MyVerse" Pitti. She started the evening off with one of her own poems as a "sacrifice", the first bloodletting, to get the judges started. The point system was between one and ten. One being a poem that should have never been written and ten being a poem who's originality hit hard and transcended all other poems. My judging seemed fair since I was right in line with the other judges. As a matter of fact my scores were often identical to Michelle Long's scores, the Full Sail instructor seated across from me, right down to the tenth of a point. It was actually pretty spooky. I was a bit concerned that contestants might view my sketching as a sign that I wasn't fully engaged. Of course the opposite is true.

When I sketch a poetry event, I like to try and sketch the poet that I'm convinced will win. I decided to sketch Sasha Nichols Rivera. Sasha swayed like a reed in the breeze as she recited her poems. Her hands gestured to the flowing beat, caressing the air around her. Her delivery was ambisnapping dexterous in that the crowd snapped their fingers in approval and everyone anticipated her next word with every breath and pause. The inspired poems, verging or music, lifted people up. Speaking with her after the competition, she was direct and incredibly curious. She also goes out of her way to encourage other poets. Her mom Yaa Rivera is a painter who has shown her work at artist critique events I often attend. This town continues to shrink as I sketch. Sasha won the $50 prize.

If you’ve never been to a slam before, it’s definitely worth checking out. Contact Curtis for more info, Also, Mark Your Calendars, there is Free Flamenco Fridays at La Casa which I'm sure will tempt me back to sketch again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fringe Poetry Smackdown

The Poetry Smack Down happened at the Fringe outdoor stage. Tod Caviness was the host. Judges included Beth Marshall, Michael Marinaccio, Eric Yow and several other producer-directors. Tod lead off the event with a spoken word piece about Orlando called Swamp. It makes Orlando sound like a pretty cool place to be. None of the poets at this event relied on sheets of paper or iPhones. Their words were deeply rooted in their memories and the cadence, beat and flow were well rehearsed. These were monologues from the heart, some raw and some humorous.

A heavy set woman got on stage and she knocked any preconceptions to the ground as she spoke passionately about her queef.  This is a word so seldom heard, or uttered, that my computer insists it is spelled wrong. At first the audience was in shock, but soon everyone was roaring with laughter. Beth gave high marks for this passionate poem about a woman's right to let go. A male poet followed her with his passionate poem about how he would like to f*ck the whites from his woman's eyes. He later spoke of religion and intolerance with insight and level headed reflection. You never know what to expect at a smack down.

My wife was covered in gold. We had been to a James Bond themed party earlier that day. With her Gold Finger, face, hands and sequined dress she fit in perfectly on the green lawn of fabulousness. She sat with her literary friends while I sketched. The face paint was starting to make her uncomfortable however so, as soon as I was done with my sketch, we had to go.

Monday, June 11, 2012

2nd Annual June Bug Poetry Festival Open Mic

On the first Monday of every month there is a poetry open mic at Tatami Tea and Sake Lounge, (223 West Fairbanks Ave.Winter Park). The event was hosted by Russ Golata. I arrived a bit late and Russ, dressed in a red Avengers T-Shirt, gave me a warm meaty handshake and pointed out the sign in sheet for me. I found a seat at one of the remaining high bar stools and started lightly penciling in a sketch of the first poet. He read a rather long piece about the gears on a bicycle. I didn't commit to sketching him since I figured he would be done any minute. He finished and there was warm applause. Then he sat in the seat directly in front of me blocking my view. I'm such a dope, I didn't consider that possibility. I erased all my pencil marks and moved to the Susi bar right next to the stage.

The next reader was Amy Aviles. Apparently Russ had called her while she was making dinner and he insisted she come down to read. I was captivated by the intricate tattoos on her arm. I cursed my short sightedness because I couldn't make out the word that was inscribed in delicate swirling detail above a male portrait. She read her poems off her iPhone and the relaxed beat and cadence of her poem had the flow of spoken word. Another poet related that there had been a death in her family. She sat on stage and read a poem about living with pride in spite of illness. Her second poem about knowing a man, related the intricacies of a relationship well lived in spite of life's demands and limitations. It was bitter sweet. A young poet named Logan Anderson read poems filled with youthful angst. His second poem had a musical backup from his iPhone. Curtis Meyer performed with eloquent speed and fervor, his spoken words sparking at lightning speed. I liked his analogy that poets were like super heroes, their observations being their power.

As I left, Russ let me know that I was welcome back anytime. Curtis announced a new poetry event later that evening down on Fairbanks and another author announced she was having a book signing on June 16th from 1PM to 3PM at Stardust Video & Coffee. The room was filled with new faces. With so much going on, it is hard to keep up doing just one sketch a day. Walking back to my car, the rhyme and flow of poets words still rang through my mind. An event like this demands and inspires creative thought. I seem to only have time for the subtle layering of facts. Who could sit at home passively watching TV when there is energy like this around town? Seize the day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

IIyse Kusnetz Poetry Reading

I stopped by Urban ReThink for an evening of poetry. I was greeted by friendly handshakes and hugs from many people who I had met thanks to the Kerouac House project. I had seen author Karen Price just the night before also at Urban ReThink. This place truly is becoming a lightning rod to the cultural pulse of this city. I picked up a "Pumpkin Head" beer from the freezer. What a delicious beer! I may just keep sketching events at Urban ReThink until their supply runs out. I'm thinking Pumpkin beer is seasonal but I just realized Halloween is only two months away! The supply is limitless for the next few months.

John Hughes was the first poet to get behind the microphone. I enjoyed the way he spoke about his brother. He claimed his brother is butt ugly yet girls always flocked to him. He couldn't understand the phenomenon since he considered himself reasonably handsome. Lucky in love, unlucky in life the saying goes. Sure enough his brother had the worst luck growing up. He was glad to be near his brother since he would soak up all the bad luck in any room. When John read one poem which was written about his ex-wife, he mispronounced the first word saying "lick" instead of "lit". A Kerouac House regular shouted, "Freudian slip!" John had to stop as he started laughing himself. He finally read the line of the poem, "lit the wick." Every poet in the room burst into laughter as they re-wrote the line in their minds. It took me several seconds before I started laughing as well.

Ilyse Kusnetz explained that her collection of poems were all about bearing witness. I like the premise since I feel my role in sketching is to bear witness not just to the struggle of everyday life but also to the beauty in the mundane. Many of Ilyse's poems were about WWII. Her uncle served in the war and being Jewish he was often called upon to translate. He witnessed the worst atrocities imaginable. One of her poems spoke of bodies piled high like cord wood and native Germans being directed to move the bodies they so long denied. Her father was to young to serve in the war but he did help on the docks. A huge crate being transferred to a ship slipped and everyone else let go of the guiding ropes except for her dad. She wrote a wonderful analogy about how he held tight just as he later did to keep his family together and secure.

The next day Terry was leaving me for ten days over Labor Day as she visited her sister in Washington State. Rather than mingle with all the writers after the reading, I immediately slipped out like a phantom. It was important to get home to Terry.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Speakeasy at Will's Pub

12-16-09SpeakeasyNew800Tod Cavinass hosts a poets open mic every Tuesday night after 9PM at Will's Pub located at 1040 North Mills Avenue. When I entered the bar I noticed one lone poet writing from his bar stool perch. Tod warned me that the event never starts on time. This evening there was some sort of community swap meet or market filling the room so I wandered around and looked at the old LPs, crafts and art. They started to break down their tables and by 10PM the market was gone. Tod worked diligently to fill the room with chairs and tables and soon the room was full of poets.
On the walls of the room were dark sinister paintings featuring skulls and nudity. Tod took to the stage and introduced the first poets. Two of the poets in this sketch, the one with the blue cap and the one with the orange shirt were a poet team.The poet with the ball cap took to the stage and periodically the fellow in the orange shirt would shout out "Rewind"from the back of the audience, and the poet on stage would back up his poem then continue forward again. Their energetic delivery was inspiring.
The young girl on the far left in the sketch had the amazing ability to bend herself up like a pretzel. She is disjointed and can fold her arms in inhuman ways. I was still sketching and didn't notice her as she showed friends the first time and I was pleased when she was willing to demonstrate for me a second time.I will have to get a sketch of her some day if she is able to hold one of those uncomfortable looking poses.
A writer from the Orlando weekly read a poem about how he infected his work computer when he was researching a story about how some people surf porn sites while at work. So in the name of research he looked up some of these sites. One of them gave his computer a virus . The tech had to inform his boss that a malicious porn site was to blame.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Poet Patricia Smith at Rollins

Patricia Smith, four time winner of the National Poetry Slam, gave a talk at Bush Auditorium at Rollins college. She began her reading with the poem Building Nicole's Mama. Listen to the audio clip on the link. Patricia stressed the any aspiring poet or anyone who loves poetry should spend as much time as possible listening to the authors of the poems reading their own words. It offers a chance to hear firsthand the authors intent and meaning in tone and pacing. The child's hunger to recover from loss is primal and hit me in the gut waiting to recover my breath.
All of her poetry hit with the same force. She read several poems about Hurricane Katrina in which she personified the storm and then in another poem she gave voices to the 34 nursing home residents who were left to die in Saint Bernard's Parish in New Orleans. The poem had 34 stanzas which bought to light each residents thoughts and hopes as the storm approached.
In a question and answer session afterward Patricia stressed the importance of getting at the truth. She said authors should not write around issues or conflicts but be honest with themselves facing the truth head on. She stressed that you don't want to get to the end of your life and realize that you had not taken every chance to be completely honest in your writing.
Can a sketch ever have the emotional impact of poetry like Patricia's? I am not sure but it is certainly something to aspire towards.