Transported to out of body experience last Saturday walking the cobblestone streets of downtown Annapolis at night. Driving Commander Chris Toll for his featured reading for Cliff Lynn's "The Corner of Poetry and Main".
O the memories of being pickled on wine in Annapolis in the mid-70s. I was a wee teen with an advanced thirst and a blonde Madeira Guild acoustic that my brother gave me. If you would pull up a stool I will sing you a gentle song of adolescent angst and perhaps a half-baked Dylan cover. There was a great old cabaret style club/coffeehouse/bar there then called "La Pauvre Papillon". (((Ouch))). I had a very sad blind date there once.
But I gathered up my courage and what was left of my muscle structure after moving into my new house for four days running to be Chris Toll's wingman for his venture deep into the dark heart of Loafer and Docksiderville. It was not only a Saturday night, but the night of a Ravens playoff game. You could feel the testosterone levels pressing against you like a subway car packed with snowmen made of goatcheese. How the scrubbed clean middies and Nappietowners mocked our ragged clothing and flyaway wigs!
The reading took place at a Starbucks. I know what you are thinking. But it wasn't too bad. The sad part is that the beautiful stone building it's in used to be the King of France Tavern with rich musical and historical heritage. The good part is the Starbucks hasn't dismantled all the charm. But once again it begs the question of modern humanity: "Is this the best we can do?"
The series is hosted by amiable, talented and able Cliff Lynne. The night afforded a great opportunity to sit with him afterward in a decent Irish pub and hear his back story as the Ravens slowly dissolved into the Colts belly. Cliff was actually blindsided by poetry by none other than Shelley Puhak (a name you do not forget once it rings inside your waxy ears!). He was looking to fill some time with a night course at a community college while he waited on his daughter to attend her classes. Signing up for what he thought was a fiction writing course, he was confronted with the demented pink tutu of Poetry jiggling with hyena meat and curdled cream. He was going to run screaming, but Shelley talked him into staying and he was soon hooked and hosting two different poetry series!
It was a small crowd for the reading, partially because of the Ravens game I'm sure, but Toll gave one of his best, most impassioned readings I've heard from him. And I have been enlightened and entertained by him more times than your Aunt Dolores has flipped pancakes while wearing jodhpurs. Whenever I hear him or read his poetry there are always lines that I want to memorize or even put on my tombstone or engrave in the forehead of a charge card executive. Sadly, my memory brain is weak like an energizer bunny that's been swimming in Curtis Bay on a cold, sleeting night. One line that I do remember, though, is "Poetry doesn't explain the Mystery, Poetry expands the Mystery". I might be paraphrasing, but unless you're a charge card executive, you get the picture.
Day four of living in my new house with my crazed ELO loving Southern Foxbelle and all is groovy. The world and earth and time itself may be dissolving, but I am squeezing each day like I squeeze my holy dog Max.
And today I am the guest "Genius" on Adam Robinson's fine blogsite "Everyday Genius". I was chosen from a full casting room of chorines by guest editor Lauren "Tron Me" Bender. Check it out: