Sunday, March 10, 2013

LIVE! at garr'e vineyard's martinelli event center, livermore

ORIGINAL POST 03/05/2007:
california poet laureate al young!
well, how spoiled am i? Maya Angelou, elizabeth gilbert, al young; three national treasures in a row! and didn't al young keep us all mesmerized and entertained with his stories about poets, teaching at standford, traveling to egypt, how musicians listen differently and .. oh! darn!... the curse of the "i" poem
because what did i bring for open mic -of course! an "i" poem. and not just any ol' "i" poem... a rhyming "i" poem. and as i've learned from attending several of these events over the past couple years... rhyming poems are right up there with bell bottom jeans i think. so to read or not to read?
better just listen.
and, how can i describe this? it's like crunchy, twice baked, delicious biscotti; his stories... dipped in a fresh cup of your favorite java; his poems. you can enjoy each one separately, but together, and live! in his own voice and cadence, surrounded by livermore vineyards outside, fellow poets inside. it was church after church for me.
and, as i shared with my children: al young has a visible sparkle in his eyes. i saw it when he autographed my copy of his book: the sound of dreams remembered. and it says: for you sandra, (poems 1990-2000) of the lovely light; with warm wishes, al young. and he has such a formal, artistic way he signs his name; his A and Y remind me of asian calligraphy.
and then as i sat, the following day, at coffee beans and bistro downtown, under the warm sun with a beer! (they serve beer now! i'm so excited) and a tuna salad, and the sound of dreams remembered, all i could think between each poem and sip of beer and bite of salad was: somebody pinch me! this peaceful, fulfilling life so in contrast to everything before.
so, of course, it's all good. and as with any book of poems, there are always some outside my understanding/life experience. but there are always others i relate to so directly, or just appreciate so profoundly for the way they capture an experience and feeling with such beauty and rhythm. sometimes i might not understand an entire poem, but there are still lines within that poem; some combination of words i fall in love with. this happens often for me in al young's collection. i plan to read through again with a highlighter in hand, but at the bistro i just dog-eared several pages for my blog. among my favorites:
(blog format prevents me from matching al youngs line breaks here/and case does not match either. but the words/in order/as written).
pg 16: step out on the tightrope and don't look down
"each time i play, i step out on the tightrope and don't look down." -marian mcpartland
there were problems, problems, problems, and she had them
almost down. mastering the languages of daylight helped her make it through the night, 98.6 percent. tunisia didn't count.
she didn't think she could write melody, only arrangements --
or so she thought. it was largely personal, hugely undigital.
how do you carve an elephant out of a block of granite?
you get rid of all the parts that aren't an elephant.
and so in the days when music wasn't everywhere, she sat
in a little joint where she could drink coffee and nosh.
she scribbled one dozen poems in one night, each one a classic;
each designated, destined to be anthology fodder. set to music,
two turned into hits for singers who, like her, worked best
without a net. big money, big problems; big headaches, big dookey
whizzed in and she grabbed at them the way a high wire
artist might grab at a hot wire on no notice, no nod, no notion
of what lies ahead. seen clearly, daylight moved back in
and problems blacked out into their blameless blue origins.
"once again," she told the press, "i bow to the muse."
was her muse the blues? how many falses? how many trues?
mmmmm. love that one.
some 30+ people read during open mic at the wine and words event, founded and hosted by livermore poet laureate, connie post. and, i am very glad to include myself among them. i did not chicken out after all.
a personal goal of mine has been to read, at least once, each poem from my first collection of poetry titled beautiful fish, out loud and in front of an audience. there are 12 poems in my collection, and reading #4, chocolate rain, at this event makes it so i only have 2 more to read out loud to achieve my goal.
chocolate rain was as fun to read as it was to write. i asked for al young's forgiveness in a way in advance of reading it by saying something like this:
"almost chickened out because i brought an "i" poem." and he said right away to me
"that's okay. i write "i" poems too." (immediate relief!)
"and here's the thing," i said, "the first person i read this out loud to was my dad. when i finished he said, "oh! sandra! you are not the only one to feel that way!!" and i thought -excellent/great!- because if we poets are going to write "i" poems, hopefully we are doing it in a way that allows lots of other people to relate. i do agree that the "i" in a poem should actually be a "we" or "us" in spirit and meaning."
chocolate rain received a positive reception from the audience, and al young gave me a big smile. after the event, he said this to me:
"you know.. the problem is that you were trying to tell god what to do.. you can't tell god what to do. and the other problem, the devil... well, it was not the devil.. you are your own devil. --you are the devil," he said with hearty laughter and that sparkle in his eyes.
warm handshake goodbye /delighted i will see him again on the 31st at the pleasanton poetry and prose festival.
thank you connie post for hosting!
thank you al young for sharing!
thank you frank thornburgh for picture memories & dinner w/diane lando too!
thank you kirk ridgeway for your poetry & enticing encouragement!
thank you all poets for reading/sharing!
for listening/supporting/encouraging me with kind words and laughter
no place i'd rather be on a gorgeous sunday afternoon.


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