Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Trying to be real in Uptown

Marc Kelly Smith is your genial, and sometimes not-so-genial, host at the Uptown Poetry Slam.

     A good poem messes with your head. Or should. It sneaks in there, starts grabbing fistfuls of wires, yanking out some, jamming in others, making new connections like the operator at a telephone switchboard. You come away not quite thinking the same as before.
     Not every poem for every person, of course. That’s why there are so many poets and so many poems. Even a poet you love can leave you cold. I’ve read T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” again and again. The cat poems? Once is plenty.
     And as much as I love some of Jeffrey McDaniel’s previous books, his new one, “Thin Ice Olympics” wasn’t really registering with me until page 67 when I got to “Dad Museum,” which begins:
     ‘You live and work in a room filled with your dead father’s memories,’ my wife says as I lean over to write...
     You too? I mean, my dad’s still alive, sort of, but I sit writing this in my office with the framed photo of my father’s ship, the Empire State, sailing past St. Mark’s Square in Venice, and his chrome-plated Vibroplex telegraph key and crested Turner microphone and tubes of Winsor & Newton paint ... there’s more, but you get the idea.
     “Dad museum.” How could I have not thought of that before? Maybe because I’m not a poet.

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1 comment:

  1. The Green Mill is a cool place, with a long history that goes back to the days of Al Capone. Supposedly, they ran in the booze via the long tunnels that extend to the other side of Broadway. Only been there a handful of times, mostly for the jazz. Although I did attend a baseball-themed poetry slam and wake for the soon-to-be-demolished Comiskey, which means it had to be in early '91.

    Before that, I went to hear a big band one Halloween, on a Saturday night. Needed a costume in a hurry. Buzzed, and in desperation, I yanked the foam-rubber dice from the car's rear-view mirror. And entered the joint as "A Stranger in Pair O' Dice."

    They were very nice about it. Didn't even laugh in my face...and didn't boot me out the door.


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