I went to two free poetry readings in one night earlier this year, this fall, and it feels now like this was a decade ago, but no, it wasn’t. I had my day job, then I strode Uptown, in the rain, I seem to recall…to the first: at a university. I knew one of the people reading. I went by myself. In the room where the reading occurred, I saw other people I knew. A crowd gathered, everybody sitting down. I heard the poems, some I thought were lousy, but anyways I always liked the person who read them so much, and I wondered if the poems really were so lousy after all, or maybe I was just in a lousy moody hearing them, and they were pretty good poems if you were to stand them up against a lot of other poems, other people’s poems, though it may have been too that I just thought they weren’t the best that this particular person had ever produced, certainly, and I had a feeling because I was such a fan of this person, and, when it comes right down to it, their poetry as well…and they had drawn such a crowd, yet again, 60 people easily…so hats off to them, the first reading/reader: for the university audience, while the reader was not actually one of the teachers there, not everyone listening a student.
The second reading took place at a museum, further Uptown. At “The” museum, some would say. I had to take the subway. I had my special ticket, had received my RSVP notice weeks earlier and taken care to reply. I even wrote in that I would like to secure a second seat for my friend “Virginia” which was made-up. I didn’t have anyone to go with, how do you like that? But of course I was going anyway. No one asked me where was my date when I got there, phew. I walked all through the quiet, empty museum to get to the top floor where the reading was, the museum was technically closed, so I had temporary VIP privileges. I looked at all the old statues, painting, etc, old weapons, priceless antiquity. I wondered if we will still learn from it, keep it, be able to re-interperet. I got to the reading room: outside, the sun set behind the Manhattan skyline out the big sloping windows. They served fine French cheese and Pouily-Fuisse. No more than 30 people. I saw some older friends and their respective partners, colleagues, most everyone older than me and better dressed. It had been a long time since I had had such a classy drink with such classy, dignified folk. They handed out free copies of my older friend’s beautiful new chapbook. I thought about the New York School, what it means…both poets I had seen that night were friends and students, so to speak, with this in mind…what is it then, a possible genre, a way for people to make good reason for drinking Pouilly-Fuisse and watching the sunset behind city architecture, which are both really excellent activities, especially when they’re free, I thought.