I am a body in relation to other bodies
--Leny M. Strobel, from Introduction to BABAYLAN: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous
The fabulously cerebral poet-scholar-critic Joi Barrios emailed recently. She complained! Okay, not really. But she said that she and others apparently wished that I had read more of my own poems during my presentation at the Literature Panel for the Babaylan Conference. I did read an excerpt from one poem but otherwise blathered prose and tore up a poetry book (more on that latter bit of theater later). But Joi said, when it comes to poetry, the poet's voice matters, you know.
Yes, I know. [Insert sigh.] But I actually haven't been eager to do poetry readings for many years now. There are many reasons...and it's all complicated. Not the most important reason because I do love my ego ("I love my ego"--get it?), but one reason I haven't done much is the whole process just seemed so ... narcissistic. Perhaps I've witnessed too many poets desperate to be heard (it's not that I don't understand the debilitating effect of not being heard, in poetry or otherwise; but I just don't ... want to be like that ...?). Perhaps I just haven't gotten the right type of feedback, like Joi letting me know of her response to my panel presentation. Anyway, simplistically, it's seemed pointless to me because the usual poetry reading is about the poet presenting his/her/hir poems and it all just seems so "me-me-me."
I once read an article about a poet who, in doing poetry readings, always begins or includes one poem by someone else. That, I thought, was fabulous. Kapwa et al. But think about it for the millions (yeah, right) of you who attend poetry readings. How often do you see poets share poems by others?
But, it is true--as Joi sez--that a poet's reading can embody a poem/poetic engagement. So I now shall give you all the ability to view and touch my body in person at an upcoming reading for the lively Small Press Traffic (SPT) in San Francisco. This reading may be of particular interest to this blog's readers as I plan to raise my new-found exploration of indigenous values--since my reading, after all, is part of the SPT series themes of "empire" and "communities". I hope to see you there next Friday -- we might even share ... gas (heh).
SMALL PRESS TRAFFIC
May 7, 2010
Eileen Tabios and Susan Gevirtz
Small Press Traffic
Literary Arts Center at CCA
1111 -- 8th Street
San Francisco, California 94107
smallpresstraffic at gmail
Susan Gevirtz's recent books include Aerodrome Orion & Starry Messenger (Kelsey Street Press), broadcast, and Without Event: Introductory Notes (forthcoming from eohippus labs). Along with teaching locally at various Bay Area institutions, with Greek poet Siarita Kouka she runs The Paros Symposium, on Paros island, an annual meeting of poets and translators from Greece and the United States.
Eileen R. Tabios' publications include 18 poetry collections, two novels, an art essay collection, a poetry essay/interview anthology, and a short story book. She most recently released THE THORN ROSARY: SELECTED PROSE POEMS & NEW (1998-2010), selected with an introduction by Thomas Fink and an afterword by Joi Barrios. She wishes more people attending her poetry readings would bring her food.
Okay--I inserted in that last sentence in my bio at the last minute. After all, I want to swallow ... You!*
*Moments like this are what make me wonder over why people take me seriously...