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Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian
Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another great night at Cover to Cover Books

Those of us who were fortunate enough to have been present at David Meltzer and Michael Rothenberg’s reading at the second Thursday open mic at Cover to Cover understand what a special evening it was. Michael shared poems from his new collection, “CHOOSE,” a gorgeous, wise, and profound selection of some of his best work. I was deeply moved by the ferocity of his perception, the deep well of his heart, and his jazzman’s facility with the language. At Cover to Cover, Michael’s reading was confident and moving. He revealed himself to be a compassionate and principled man, especially in his descriptions of the time he spent caring for ailing poet and zen master Philip Whalen, whom Rothenberg cared for in his final days. One of the poems told the story of Whalen being kicked out of a zen hospice center for not “actively dying.” Rothenberg has edited two volumes of Whalen’s poetry, including his collected poems. I strongly recommend that you seek out the work of both men. David Meltzer is beatific, warm, open soul with a love for poetry that was evident in both his astounding energy and his presence during the open mic. Meltzer was charming, hilarious, and entertaining as he read great pieces such as “The Red Shoes” and “Bark,” a funny polemic about dogs. The reading was also an opportunity for me to implore people to read Meltzer’s “Beat Thing,” a great long poem about the Beat generation from a completely different perspective. Meltzer also graciously agreed to read Robin Blaser’s poem “Letters to Freud” with me, as a way to pay tribute to the recently deceased elder poet. It was a long night, and we heard from 18 readers. A few highlights: Toni Partington, Constance Hall, and Eileen Elliott read a poem of Eileen’s that she had arranged for three voices; Zoe (aka Princess Rock ‘n’ Roll Cupcake) played her pink guitar; Brett Jourgensen banged out a few punk songs on acoustic guitar as his baby bobbed her head in ecstacy; Kyle thrust his hips and read poems that he had written on his hand while working at plaid pantry. As often happens, there were several new readers, and a few people who were reading poetry in front of an audience for the first time. It is an honor to create a space in which people who are taking this big step can feel comfortable enough to do so. Of course, the love they receive from the Cover to Cover crowd is a huge part of this. We also noticed that there were phrases and themes that recurred throughout the night, such as “connect the dots.” Here is a poem I wrote that borrows material from a few of the readers who participated that night, including David Meltzer, Michael Rothenberg, Mary Tindall, and Kyle Congdon: Beware of Definitions A Poem to be Read with One Hand for David Meltzer, Michael Rothenberg, & the gang at Cover to Cover Books I declare the Dawn of a New Age of eternal silliness, and mushrooms, and punk rock banged out on an acoustic guitar actively living actively dying our profound scribblings connect the dots arouse the senses awaken the pink guitar strummer in each of us
and make us forsake our day jobs get it down— on a receipt or the inside of your hand, if you must and when you are exhausted at the end of a week spent toiling for The Man rest easy in the open, outstretched palm of your tribe step up to the mic it is completely safe we love you it is OK to speak freely here you have found us Welcome Christopher Luna Vancouver, WA May 14, 2009 Thank you to all those who participated, and a special thanks to those who made contributions that allowed us to defray the costs of David and Michael’s expenses: Mel Sanders of Cover to Cover Books, Nora Nichols, Jim Finley, Lori Loranger, Jim Templeton, Catherine Warner, Judith Arcana, Karen Havnaer, David Ronen, Judith Arcana, David Rizzi, David James Randolph and David Madgalene of New Way Media, Leah Jackson of Angst Gallery, Shawn and Donna Sorensen, Cathi Simmons, Jim Martin, Michelle Bloomquist, Constance Hall, Kyle Congdon, Toni Partington, and Eileen Elliott. I encourage all of you to check out Michael Rothenberg’s and, and to tell your friends about David and Michael’s upcoming tour, Rockpile on the Road. Christopher Luna May 25, 2009

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