Great fun revisiting Albuquerque, haven't been there in almost three years and we found many changes in the poetry scene. It seems that most of the people who used to attend the Winnings Coffeehouse readings, associated with the poetry zine "Central Ave." and hosted by Dale Harris, are now gathering at the Fixed & Free Bike Shop in Knob Hill. We found a crowd of over twenty in the shop's art gallery, held on the third Monday of the month.
The host there is Billy Brown, a regular attendee at Winnings, according to Dale. "Billy gave a lot of spirit and heart to that venue for five years. So I'm delighted to see that Knob Hill has poetry and the old "Central Ave." community supports the bike shop readings," she said, "plus, the poets still have a home."
We also attended a private poetry reading and open mic well into the hinterlands of Santa Fe. "Poetry with Paul" is a venue held in the private home of glass artist Paul White in Tesuque. The featured act during our visit was poet Gary Brower, flamenco dancer Susana ?, and guitarist Nino David aka David Briggs.
Their presentation included Nino David's flamenco music performed on his Jose Ramirez guitar. He accompanied Susana as she danced and recited poetry from Federico Garcia Lorca in the original Spanish. She dressed in black and her slender frame, with a long black Spanish scarf embroidered with red roses wrapped around her waist, sent the long fringe flying about her trousers as she performed her staccato dance. Very intense, very moving.
Gary Brower read poems influenced by Lorca. His gave a short history of the Spanish Civil War and also acknowledged in his work the experiences of the late Angel Gonzales of New Mexico University.
The poem most enthusiastically received portrayed the death of Lorca, assassinated along with two matadors. The murder scene depicted in a crescendo of Spanish guitar was dramatic and tragic. Gary reminded the audience, "We need to remember that poets must speak truth to power."
Zero City reflected on Gonzales' experience:
bullets, blood discovered on the ground...
the incomprehensible sorrow of the grownups...
rage and the desire to weep...
The opening act of border narrative poetry featured Sylvia Ernestina Vargara reading from her book "Scream." Her poem "La Frontera" discusses issues on both sides of the border here in New Mexico. I found some of her most moving lines, not necessarily in order, to be:
The border is holding me back.
Death! Flash! Border Patrol!
A knife that cuts human bonds
of those who once worked together.
Small farms are slipping away
Chain link knuckles rap in the wind
Don't make friends
Don't make the world a better place
"Give me your money bag"
Take the border and wrap it
around the black knight stabber of hearts
and the white knight of twisted lies.
I really enjoyed a poet who called himself only Orlando. He claimed he was going to mail his poem "It is Blackwater Again" in with his IRS payment this year. His work criticized the Iraq contractors who "guard the devil himself when he comes to Baghdad."
Dale Harris was in attendance. As a resident of Miami for 30 years she said winter was a novelty to her when she moved to the Southwest. She reminisced about winter scenes on the Old Salt Mission Trail and the amnesty of the snow that draped winter clean.
I asked our host Paul how he came to sponsor a monthly open mic. He said, "Paul Glazner got me started. I went to his readings and he helped me get poets to my house." It's quite a trek to his home on a long and winding trail, dark too, but there was a friendly fire in the fire pit when we arrived.
Paul felt there was a real need for a venue such as his. His reward is meeting all the impressive people who come out. "It's a community," he said.
I will soon notify you regarding extending posts on the poetry of this night at www.beatlick.com.
[From The Beatlicks: Joe Speer and Pamela Hirst.]