Thursday, April 4, 2013
A Megan McShea Snowglobe Afternoon of March Splendor
In a year of choking back tears praising golden fallen comrades at memorials, it felt comforting and promising that on this day we were gathered to toast a living friend and author who had a fresh book out "approaching greatness sideways like ants without eyes". This wondrous book is called A Mountain City of Toad Splendor and was published by Publishing Genius Press.
Being a lover of collaboration and experiment in the creative process - she was/is after all the headmistress of Miss McShea's Writing Workshop 3000 which was actually just a front for Blaster Al Ackerman to keep Megan's cat Sugar knee-deep in catnip - Megan had five of her writer comrades (this writer being one of the honored) on hand at the book release celebration to read one of their favorite pieces from the book and then write and read a response to it.
Above is Adam Robinson of Publishing Genius Press who with his exquisite taste in manuscripts to work with and ingenious innovative ways to present poetry as being as vital and necessary as your favorite music and as rewarding as spirituality brings the excitement of a pop cultural moment like the forming of Factory Records in the '70s to modern poetry of the 21st Century.
Adam in his introduction kicking off the day's festivities said that to him Megan's book is about pleasure. And indeed it's in the title of the collection's first piece "The Brain Is A Pleasure Organ" and it pops back up two pages later in the delightfully titled poem "11 Irritations That Morning". I am experiencing pleasure right now reading the simple zen-like burst of "Table Saw" that is sandwiched between those two. It goes:
Table saw bird
Table saw bird fly
Table saw bird fly out
Table saw bird fly out singing
And no one knows pleasure better than Adam R. That day he had just flown in from Florida where he had been swimming hours before and here he was back in Baltimore on a cold dark afternoon that would have been so gloomy without his publication of Megan's book and the party that that publication necessitated that Baltimore would have easily lost two or three more poets. In fact, Ryan Walker, who is actually from DC, said he had briefly considered closing his Volvo door on his nuts to remove them that morning before he remembered the McShea show. "Man, that's a rough way to go unless you're making a gender statement," I said. "Give me a running car in a closed garage." "No," said Walker, irritated, "not to off myself. To sing like my hero Neil Young. I have not been able to master his high notes."
Adam returned to us carrying Florida swimming water in his ears, though, and it caused him to have a kind of listing MC delivery like some pitchers throw a sidearm curveball. He also really had no idea what anyone was saying to him all day and just kept mumbling "yeh, doogle". Critics for decades will debate the impact of the earwater on his performance and even break into two camps - those who thought it was pool water and those who surmised ocean swimming was more likely Robinson's m.o.
It was extremely kind of Daniel Day Lewis, above, an old high school acquaintance of Megan's to make an appearance, but he completely ignored the rules of the reading and just re-read his recent Oscar acceptance speech.
Above is poet and performance artist/musician Bonnie Jones. I love this picture because it seems she is singing an incredibly lovely version of a ballad or something.
Worms avatar Bob O'Brien always hungrily and masterfully launches into a mic like an HBO sex scene.
This was The Mole Suit Choir's second gig and our first with mics and psychedelic threads from Ruth Turner's fantastic shop Caravanserai. We had two new songs in addition to our set opening for Daniel Higgs. One was Chris Toll's poem "Why Is If in Life" musicized by Liz and the other was a Liz treatment of my poem "The Heart Is a Rage of Afflictions".
After Mole Suit had their say, Megan took the stage to enthusiastic applause and cheering from the packed Windup Space crowd - damned impressive, especially for a Sunday afternoon. "Right now the introvert me is battling the narcissist part of me," Megan modestly said. "Narcissist part, narcissist part," someone (I think Lauren Bender) in the crowd answered.
After Megan finished with an encore the raw fiery Electric Junk Band dropped some fine meat into the day's savory gumbo.
Here Madame Liz relaxes after Mole duties. Have I mentioned yet that singing with her is like having champagne pumped through your soul?
"I like Megan, she is a good poet. it's sort of the deepest kind of poetry. Not about anything in particular, just about life and how we don't understand it and also how we do understand it." Were these wise words spoken by the gent seen below sprawled on the couch like he has just put a call in for Brandy of Patapsco Ave. and a wand of blow? No, they were spoken by Megan's young second cousin Max, a wee lad of 9, after attending the Day of Toad Splendor. A lad so precocious that when his parents asked him a few years back what they should call his upcoming little brother, he answered "Highwalls".
It is the magic linguistic mystery of how a five or six year old would summon a name like that makes life interesting and it abounds in Megan's book, "a toffee, a tart, a perfect bedlam".