by Saeed Jones
It’s finally happening. I move out of my apartment in three days. I leave New York on Sunday morning. I leave the country for a year beginning on June 24. My flight to Madrid has been purchased. Movers are on their way to my apartment as I type.
It’s on! But before I go, I’m saying goodbye to my New York friends the best way I know how…
By June 3, I will have moved out of my apartment in Harlem, given all of my things away (aside from a few books that you’ll have to pry out of my dead hands) and started my year of globe trotting. More about that later, but for now: I plan on saying goodbye to New York City the best way I know how… reading, reading, reading!
- Monday, May 14 at 6pm, I will join Joan Larkin, Michael Montlack, Elaine Sexton, Eric Sasson, Bo McGuire, and Daniel WK Lee to celebrate the latest issue of BLOOM. The reading will take place at the LGBT Center on 208 W. 13th Street.
- Thursday, May 17, I’ll be reading from my chapbook WHEN THE ONLY LIGHT IS FIRE at the William Way Community Center in Philly. The reading is from 7-9pm. Go here for details.
- Thursday, May 31, I’ll be back in NYC to read with Christopher Stoddard at Dixon Place. The event starts at 9:30.
- Saturday, June 2, I’ll join an amazing line-up of performers at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe for “The Biggest Gayest Show Ever.” Hosted by Natasha Miller and Mohogany Browne. The show will be from 6:30-8:30 with an after party to follow.
Whew! That’s a lot of readings. I might have to do yoga in order to prepare.
I’m still taking it all in. Reading at Housing Works Bookstore with Karolina Manko, US Poet Laureate Philip Levine and Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy K. Smith last night at Tumblr/Knopf’s Celebrate Poetry event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. By the time I got home, my face hurt from smiling so much.
Karolina is only 21 years old, but brought such a fierce heart to the stage. The poems Tracy read from Life On Mars managed to keep their feet on the ground, but their heads in the stars. When she read the line, “We saw to the edge of all there is,” I literally gasped.
And Mr. Levine! First of all, he’s so incredibly nice. Karolina and I were too shy to go talk to him on our own, but a wonderful friend of Knopf was kind enough to introduce us. Instantly, I felt silly for being so shy. He talks to you like you are a person. That’s obvious and yet increasingly rare among writers as celebrated as he is.
When he got on stage, he said, “I’ve added up the ages of the other three readers and I’m two years younger than them.” Every poem he read was, of course, a knock out. I’m debating getting the last two lines from “Of Love & Other Disasters” tattooed across my face. Toward the end of his reading, Philip said “I’ve got a language problem, too. The poems don’t come out the way I want. I want them immortal, but they come out mortal.”
I hear that, man. I hear that.
by Lizi Reale
- Tomorrow, at the LGBT Center, I will be MC’ing a reading that features James Allen Hall, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Eduardo C. Corral. Each of these poets is truly amazing and, if you’re in New York tomorrow evening, I’m so happy you’ll have a chance to see them together. The reading begins at 6:30pm. Go here for more information.
- On Monday, April 16 at 7:00, I’ll be a part of a tribute reading honoring the life and work of Adrienne Rich. The event will feature Rosalind Morris, Julie Crawford, Cathy Park Hong, Yvette Christianse, Cyrus Cassels, Suzane Gardinier and others. The venue for this event is Columbia University’s Deutsches Haus,
which is located at 430 W.116 Street, between Amsterdam and
by Makoto Azuma
I can’t explain it logically, but I don’t have to because I know it’s true: Last night, I turned a corner. I thought I was simply going to Housing Works Bookstore because I love The Rumpus and because I wanted to hear Cheryl Strayed read from her new memoir Wild. That was true, but the moment Dayna Kurtz got on stage with her guitar and kicked the night off by singing “Please Mama, Let Me Come Home,” a voice in the marrow of my bones started saying over and over again, “This is it.”
The reading was wonderful. Hearing a chapter from Wild as well as several readings of Cheryl’s amazing Dear Sugar column was wonderful. Being there with a good friend and also making new friends was wonderful, but beyond those tiny, beautiful things, I felt happy in a deep way, a way that said “You’re moving in the right direction. Here’s one more sign post to prove it.”
Here are just a few of the gems from Cheryl’s work I heard last night:
“How do we travel through the different terrains we have to travel through & carry the beast that is our life?”
“Quit worrying about your career. You don’t have a career, you have a life. Do the work.”
“You will believe you no longer have a right to tiny, beautiful things. You are wrong. You do.”
“You don’t need a reason to leave someone you love. Wanting to leave is enough.”
“We swim there, in the direction of whatever that is, towards real life.”
“No one will protect you from your suffering. You have to live it.”
“The whole thing about making art is that you have to be brave which is different from not being afraid.”
So, yeah. It was quite a night. I even have a coffee mug that says “Be Brave Enough to Break Your Own Heart — Sugar” to prove it. Also, a thousand and one thank you’s to Christine Zilka for tickets to the Sold Out reading.
If you’re in New York this Saturday, I highly recommend stopping by the Rainbow Book Fair. In addition to all of the wonderful LGBT presses & journals in attendance, the fair will once again be featuring a day-long Poet’s Salon Reading.
I’ll be reading between 11-12 with Bill Kushner, Steven Cordova, Jimmy Lam, Jason Roush & William Leo Coakley. The Salon goes on all day & will feature all kinds of great poets.
Where: LGBT Center – Room 310
When: 11 am – 5 pm
The complete list of readers is after the jump.