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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

i've been going to fishouse since i discovered it in the spring time. i'm somewhat awed by it and its ever growing collection of poetry by so many people that i know of and also know and respect. the fishouse collection is unique in its scope and dedication to covering emerging writers.

i was happy to find the voices of some of my most talented friends there: steve scafidi, ross gay, patrick rosal, adrian matejka, camille dungy, curtis bauer, tyehimba jess, shane book, oliver de la paz and so on (i am blessed with many talented friends)...and that's how it began, as a means to get a little bit of the people i long to have more in my life. but slowly i began to branch out, to listen to the other poets, let their recorded voices fill my house as i walked around doing this and that, sit and read through their poems as i heard them echoed. and so i come to discover, then, john pineda--on whom i think i might have an audio-literati crush. well, okay, i'm sure of it--and ravi shanker, and kazim ali, and erika meitner, and quite a few more. as the list of fishouse grows larger and larger, it seems my access to these recordings may eventually grow endless. and god, i love that. i love hearing these voices echoing through my house, filling my view of my back yard, calling out over the running water of my kitchen sink. i love it.

this, of course, raises a whole other question of artistic and literary perspective when we consider the work seamlessly with the writer's own voice. there have been plenty of poets who i've happily read for years and then have been shocked to hear them offer renditions of their own poems i could never have imagined, sometimes, that i wish i hadn't imagined. the most rewarding moments were discoveries of poets whose recitations were more eccentric, more animated and colorful than i expected. this was the case with theodore roethke, who i not only heard recordings of but from whom i was fortunate enough to see, also, film of his reciting of some poems. he was a little flit of a thing, despite his hulking body, a flutter of manhood, a turned hand, an arched foot that brought him up to his tippy toes as he imposed a certain cresendo to the lines...fascinating i tell you. and there are those poets who i will allow to remain un-named whose own readings gave me less than i wanted. no, you won't get those names out of me--not in a million years. and my biggest fear, of course, is to be one of them.

and so, it is a real honor to be the first 'bonus' poet on, that is, a poet, recently emerging, with more than one book to his or her credit. it was an honor and also a bit terrifying. after months of listening to these voices and reading the poems against them i found myself sitting in my bathroom, staring at the peeling fake marble wall paper, speaking into a small red digital recorder and hoping that somehow, my poems would not be slaughtered by me in the process. i don't know how i did, but i can say i avoided do-overs because in my experience i generally do-worse. but, i certainly felt a pang for all of the lackluster poets out there who have made less than impressive recordings that they will have to own up to forever. the digital recorder will not lie. it will not say that i was having a good day when i wasn't. it won't gloss over my allergies, or ignore the plane overhead. it won't just pass up the soap i knocked into the sink. it tells the real story. and isn't that, really, what we're looking for in the work? the real story. the real poet. aren't we always trying to get to him or her? to hone in...

so, go, listen, but be generous. i'm letting you in on this little bit of joy if you don't already know about it. go find a few good poems to listen to.