Friday, January 02, 2004

I ended up doing mostly poetry-group stuff for First Night. Took off work early, and helped with the "Spontaneous Poetry" thing. Basically, volunteer poets sat around a storefront (which used to house Allen Street Video and nowadays holds the county Democratic Party when they're doing anything), and wait for people to come in and demand a poem based on some sort of concept, phrase, or set of words. They were supposed to donate a dollar per poem to the charity du jour, which I think was the Women's Resource Center. One poet went outside to play barker, as there wasn't much spontaneous demand for spontaneous poetry. Mostly foot-traffic of people walking back and forth from the Allen Street ice sculpture displays to the various stuff going on in the new borough building and Central Parklet. I've got my notes from the spontaneous poetry - the finished versions went with the donors - and I might polish them up and post them later today. Some of them aren't totally horrible.

They had organized a "Burning Man", to which we were supposed to attach resolutions or regrets, which would be burnt along with the "Burning Man" doll itself about an hour before midnight. I only found out later that the winds were too high at the appointed time, and they snuck the "Burning Man" doll, regrets and resolutions entire, out the back exit of the borough building. Very disappointing. They had a variant on this concept, with a pile of split logs next to perforated-drum fires in Central Parklet. There were sharpies on a table in between, and you'd write your regrets on the log, and toss it into the drumfires. I did this to make up for the "Burning Man" fizzle, so my regrets got burnt anyways. The log-tossing kicked up a cloud of sparks that put out the crowd huddled around the fires for warmth, so now I've got a brand new regret for next year!

The poetry slam went off, and it was actually something of a roaring success. I read "The Book of cummings", which was an obnoxious thing to do - especially when Dora came along after the first round and read the exact e.e. cummings passage which that poem took issue with. Seventeen poets in the first round. Not bad. I didn't make it to the second round, of course, but I didn't stutter or otherwise embarrass myself. My favorite of the other poets was an older woman who read a nice Robert Frost-esque piece about abandoned houses along a river road. She made it into the second round, but the third round was dominated by young whippersnappers with young themes.

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