Saturday, February 16, 2008

the Rev

If you want to be inspired, and are within driving distance of Cleveland, you must come see this film: One Bad Cat, about the Reverend Albert Wagner, sinner, preacher, and painter. It was directed with care and precision by Tom Miller and produced by Nancy Dickenson, both former Clevelanders. (Dickenson once owned a folk art gallery on Mayfield Rd. in Little Italy.)

I am proud to have known "the Rev," as we called him, to have been welcome in his amazing home, and to have written about him and his work over the years. Also happy to have several of his paintings, which have not lost one sliver of vibrancy.

The film is screening at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 13 (7 pm) and March 15 (4:15 pm). After the Thursday screening is a reception at SPACES at 9 pm. Come meet the filmmaker, the Rev's friends and family, including the mighty Sister Bonita, his daughter, who continues the ministry of The People Love People House of God.

There is also a show of his paintings at Convivium33 Gallery on E. 33rd Street, with an opening on Friday evening, March 14.

Check out the movie's trailer.

(The photo above is courtesy of Tesseract Films and shot by Janet Macoska.)

praise him!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

there really was a St. Valentine

the lake today: dirty, crumpled lace striped with pale blue silk

there is a black market in red roses today in Saudi Arabia

there is no mistaking the sound of an engine throwing a rod

my friend Pam has returned from Africa, only to keep moving west

like all good love stories St. Valentine's includes a girl, illness, and visits to a prison

Saturday, February 9, 2008

writing new

Am writing in a completely different style now, one that a critic recently called "false etymological wordplay."

But I love it. I love being freed up from narrative, or just having a thread of narrative in big, loose stitches that can be pulled out. I'm taking straight-up autobiographical images and events and making them non-stories. Not fake stories, not fiction (which is incredibly difficult). The non-stories form the architecture of the poem.

Maybe because I'm no longer in journalism, and no longer need or want to "translate" a work of art into digestible bits for the reader, that pressure of being earnest is gone. Maybe it's age, but writing poems that shout "please understand me!" -- which is what I did when I was younger -- is no longer interesting.

Monday, February 4, 2008

post AWP

Back from AWP, where it was more peaceful walking the streets of Manhattan than inside the Bookfair. Overwhelming: about 500 booths, thousands of publications, 7000 people, 30 panels each hour, readings, book signings, famous writer sightings, too much.

Best experiences for me: James Tate reading followed by hilarious interview with Robert Casper (editor of jubilat); presentation on hybrid forms by Ander Monson and Michael Martone; Frank McCourt's hammy homage to teachers; hanging out with poet Jen Sullivan; strolling Central Park (see image of Balto); 24-hour French restaurant; cool night air.

Worst experiences: miserable Gate A1 at LaGuardia; skipping dinner and eating crappy nut mix in the hotel bar; overheated rooms; no free WiFi; not enough $$ to gorge on books.

Next year, Chicago. Hm.