First of all, what marketing genius thought that the marginally-talented, off-Broadway-bound RUNNER-UP Clay Aiken was an appropriate choice for singing the National Anthem of the first game of the World Series?!?! That was as classless as the bonehead Yankee fans booing the Marlins during the introductions.
Speaking of booing during introductions – in a funny way, though – that’s exactly how I was greeted at Amherst last night after the host read the bio I provided him: “Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is from the Bronx, but he is not a Yankee fan.” I didn’t expect to run into so many Yankee fans in Massachussetts, especially one day after that ridiculous comeback against the Red Sox! It was cool, though, as it was good-natured and I got them back in my corner quickly, jumping into the memorized Breathless to start my set. It was about 11pm by then, I was tired and the audience was a little giddy after 3.5 hours of poetry with another hour still to go. I did Running Bases next, offering it as a partial explanation of why I’m not a Yankee fan anymore (when pinstriped dreams didn’t need to be cable-ready and you played for the love of the game) and followed it with the newly-titled A Work In Progress, the poem for Isaac I wrote on Tuesday night which got the most fulfilling response. I closed with Mozer, Bethea & I, a poem I feel like I have to read at every college gig.
The reading was more fun than I expected and, though ridiculously long, it flowed pretty well despite only 5 of the 17 of us actually coming in under the adjusted 12-minute time limit. Most flagrant was Queen Sheeba, coming in at 15:39, who I single out only because she was so annoying in her inability to get over the fact that I turned her down for a feature at 13 earlier this year because I don’t particularly care for her work. Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know!
Even though we were competing with Homecoming Weekend, they got a great turnout (close to 300 people) and, because Tyehimba Jess couldn’t make it, Helen and Fish both got to perform. La Bruja, who’s become something of a comedic monologist over the years, was there and we got to catch up a little bit and later, talked about my poem for Isaac and how she’s not yet been able to write something for either of her kids. We agreed on it being something that had to come when it was ready, despite frequent questions (usually from the childless know-it-alls) about “why haven’t you written a poem for _______ yet?” – as if a poem like that could be forced into existence the same way the topical stuff people churn out so easily.
Having only a handful of chapbooks with me, and not wanting to compete in the dating game that was the product table, I offered a free copy of Selected Squares of Concrete to anyone that bought something from any of the other poets. Figured the majority actually support themselves on poetry and are willing to do the kind of self-marketing that I abhor, so it was a win-win situation as I ended up giving away all that I had on me, incidentally, the last of the first printing.
Overall, it was a good time – including the giddy, 2am stop at Denny’s – well worth the trip and the sheer exhaustion I’m now feeling from hitting the road at 6:30am on 2.5 hours of fitful sleep – Fish’s snoring is second only to Omar’s and Helen is a vampire! – to get Shappy to LaGuardia and me to IKEA.
And I’m spent. Go Marlins!