What We Are Doing Here is What We Are Doing Here: St. Louis Poetry Explosion Recap

Where to start? And how?

Let’s suppose (for today) that this all started when the parents of John Dorsey met and a little baby John Dorsey was born. Then let’s say we flash-forward some years (hoping I get this story straight) to when the aforementioned Mr. Dorsey was completing a residency at the Osage Arts Center in Belle, MO. Perhaps then came a cold and dark night in the winter of 2016 as a poetry reading was held at the aforementioned Osage Arts Center and brought together from Kansas City and St. Louis (and other locales) a group of writers known to the aforementioned Mr. Dorsey. Some of these writers may have had names like: Brett Underwood, Shawn Pavey, Stefene Russell, Jeanette Powers, Brandon Whitehead, Jim McGowin, Jason Ryberg, & Jameson Bayles. Literary kinships were kindled and the writers went their wanton way, back to their cloistered cities to plot and scheme.

And what foul and flowing plots did froth over from their fiery minds.

The aforementioned Mr. Bayles (with the help of the aforementioned Mr. Ryberg) dreamed and delivered The Kansas City Poetry Throwdown in April 2016.

Not to be outdone, the St. Louis schemers upped the literary ante by programming and producing 3 high-caliber events of poetic repute from which we are all attempting to recover. I have no idea how I got invited along but I didn’t want to waste the opportunity so, for the weekend, I composed a lengthy protest poem entitled America Hates You, America which I split into 3 parts to be read across the 3 events. I hope to put up a link to AHYA in the near future.

Day One:

Event Space: Joe’s Cafe Gallery

This space is like Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I want to move my family here. Inside we met old friends. We made new friends. The aforementioned Jeanette Powers read some poems. I read some poems. The aforementioned Shawn Pavey then the aforementioned Brandon Whitehead read some poems. Don’t believe me? Here is live footage of the aforementioned Brandon Whitehead reading:

Then came Leyla King (8th grade!!!) and finally the aforementioned John Dorsey brought the house down.

Interspersed between the poems, the collective musicians from Poetry Scores played and Holy Whitman, mother of Ginsberg! were they awesome. They translate poetry into other media, essentially turning poems into songs and sometimes scoring longer poems. I had a smile on my face from start to finish. Definitely check them out.

Day Two:

Event Space: Paul ArtSpace

This space lies on the northern outskirts of St. Louis and is a lovely house with land that provides residencies to artists and hosts various events. The Executive Director, Mike, is a true champion for creatives. The aforementioned John Dorsey is this week finishing up a residency there. Another resident at Paul ArtSpace is the crazy talented Lizzy Martinez. The poetry part of the night kicked off with a jaw-dropping performance by Treasure Shields Redmond which was followed by a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking performance by Cheeraz Gormon. After those two talented gals finished melting our faces, poems arrived from the aforementioned Shawn Pavey and the aforementioned Brandon Whitehead and Matthew Freeman and Nathaniel Farrell and Victor Clevenger and me and the aforementioned John Dorsey and the aforementioned Brett Underwood and Anna Lum and WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWO goddamn goddamn! By the end of the night, we were reading by flashlight around a bonfire.This event was how you wished every party you ever went to popped off: tons of people with creative energy swirling together, laughing, having beers, and making plans to bring wild things into this world.

Day Three:

Event Space: Bellefontaine Cemetery, at the grave-site of William S. Burroughs

What a beautiful place to read. Bill is buried right next to his grandfather and father. Reading at this event were the aforementioned Victor Clevenger, the aforementioned Anna Lum, the aforementioned Jim McGowin, me reading a piece by Charlie Zero, the aforementioned John Dorsey reading some wholly apropos poems by Everette Maddox, and the aforementioned Brett Underwood closing with a perfect piece by Burroughs himself.

Today:

Event Space: Our Heads

An odd place to find oneself after such a sequence of happenings. A very odd place indeed.

Thank you to all the folks in St. Louis for putting everything together. I’m humbled to have been involved and inspired to make better words because of it. Can’t wait to have you all (and more) back to Kansas City.

 

 

 

What We Are Doing Here is What We Are Doing Here: St. Louis Poetry Explosion Recap

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 6: Pagosa Springs, CO to KC,KS

Up and on the road at 5AM.
Kids fuss, then fall asleep.
We crawl up and over the Rockies through the Wolf Creek Pass. Damn, CO is amazing.
We see a semi-truck that almost jack-knifed over a concrete barrier and down the mountain-side. Not very encouraging whilst traveling through the Rockies.
Yet we make it over and back down without a problem.
The temperature is 39 degrees.
And before long the mountains are behind us and we’re driving along two-lane CO highways and through small towns up to Hwy 40 and the more familiar western KS (which, by the way, is much easier on the eyes than the OK panhandle and northern tip of TX).
We pass again through the beautiful Flint Hills, this time outside of Manhattan, and we chug on through to Topeka and roll into the welcome neighborhoods of WyCo and up to Preutopia Manor about 7PM.
A great success for our first family road trip vacation.
Trip Stats:
Distance=1796 mi
Max Speed=88.9 mph
Avg Speed=66 mph
Time Traveled=27:14
Fuel Costs=$143.79
Average mpg=31.0
Carbon Footprint=.6 ton

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 6: Pagosa Springs, CO to KC,KS

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 5: Pagosa Springs, CO

Ahhhhh…..this is vacation: spending the day with your family and friends soaking in mineral-loaded, 90+-degree spring-fed pools. Surprisingly, the kids liked it (overall). They weren’t too keen on the hotter pools but that’s expected. I couldn’t hang in the hottest pool (111 – The Lobster Pot), but I did manage to take a dip in the San Juan River (60) before jumping back into a toasty 105-degree pool.
As we were leaving to get some lunch for the kiddos, and they were fussing about getting back into the car, their screams and agitations couldn’t wind up the core of warm relaxation that I found myself in…this is vacation.
I think everyone took naps that afternoon.
Then we played outside where I saw numerous fairy rings on the manicured lawn.
That evening we packed everything up as we planned to drive straight through to KC in the morning. We put the kids to bed and talked with our hosts until 11 or so, then crawled into bed.

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 5: Pagosa Springs, CO

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 4: Pagosa Springs, CO

We wake up and pack up and make the drive through northern NM into southern CO. Beautiful, beautiful drive. The kids are restless and Ro has finally begun with the “I want to go home.” We’d been expecting this – so plan to stay the night in CO then get up in the AM to head back.
Then we get to our destination (not where we stayed but why we came to visit) and we say, forget it. Pagosa Springs is gorgeous. The condo our hosts generously share with us is fully-furnished with washer/dryer/kitchen. Pimpin’.
We hit some rain on the way in so we pass on the hot springs that night and instead Sarah makes a loaded baked potato soup which we devour, then put the kids to bed.
To cap off the evening, it’s some Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA and a soak in the condo’s hot tub, which was quite comforting at the time, but a pale shadow of the hot springs joy awaiting us.

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 4: Pagosa Springs, CO

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 3: Albuquerque, NM

Up early in the AM (always), the kids are still on CST. We throw together some cereal and sit on the back porch watching the early morning sun hit the Sandias.

Vacating (though still being hit up on the work Blackberry and trying to ignore it).

We visit Explora, the Albuquerque Kids Science Museum, and its highly entertaining for the youngsters. Bebe’s fascinated by the gravity exhibit.

Then we have some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life, holy carnitas and avocado tortas.

I like ABQ a lot. I think the mixture of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Old West/New West culture is interesting and the surrounds seem rip for adventure. I could easily live here. 300 sunny days a year? Yes, thanks. Bike lanes everywhere? Oh, yes. The downside is that I believe the population is growing insanely and the city is doing everything it can to keep up and still maintain a sense of itself. I wish them luck.

That night, our hosts take us for a tour up to the foothills for a view of the city at night: stellar. Then we drink a bottle of fine, New Mexican Syrah.

Vacating.

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 3: Albuquerque, NM

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 2: OK Panhandle, TX, Albuquerque

Kids mostly slept through the night, Bebe found a sweet spot close to my thigh that kept her cozy and satisfied.
Up and on the road about 8AM. We have about 6.5 hours of driving time, but likely much more due to kid-necessitated stops.
So begins the drive west through OK. Not that interesting.
We pass into TX. The geological features are neat for about an hour. Then it’s flat like western KS. Then we get to Amarillo, aka Restaurant Row. Amarillo springs up out of the flatland and you find yourself on the highway, bombarded by raised signage for this eatery or that – maybe 5/7 miles of this – then it just stops. And the flatland returns. Not slow sprawl out back to ranchland. Just city then ranch. Amarillo didn’t seem too impressive. Anyone ever visited there? Anything going for it? We did see ads for visiting the U.S.’s second largest canyon and that looked cool…
More driving.
More screaming Bebe. She hates, hates, hates the car.
Then we hit NM and its beautiful landscape. We pull over for lunch and are greeted by signs warning of rattlesnakes. Awesome.
Lunch is yum and fast and then it’s back on the road.
A couple hours later: we drive up and over the Sandia Mountains and make our descent into Albuquerque. We exit the highway almost immediately and head to our hosts’ home, which sports a swell view of the mountains and the city proper below. Ahhh…relief.
The kids get to playing. We’re served some fantastic enchiladas and green-chili-chicken casserole. We’re tired and enjoying the scenery, the weather, the company. Vacation…

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 2: OK Panhandle, TX, Albuquerque

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 1: Oklahoma

I’m up at 5. We were up until midnight the night before, packing and loading. I finish loading, burn some music to CD, and run upstairs to wake Hot Pants and the kids. One last minute check to make sure we’ve got everything (and it seems like we’ve got EVERYthing) and we’re off. Sarah’s Pop got her a GPS for her birthday – tomorrow, for those who wish to harass her – and we plug in the coordinates for the Oklahoma City Zoo and roll. Goddamn, GPSeseses are awesome. Why did we not have one of these things before?
We stop 3 times on the way to OKC for bathroom breaks and general-get-the-kids-out-and-stretch breaks.
The Flint Hills are absolutely breathtaking this time of year.
The OK zoo is OK. Their tiger forest was real bitchin’. Their aquarium was pretty lackluster, and their elephants were M.I.A. And it was hot! Like 1 million degrees. We lasted about 3 hours and were out.
Back on the road.
Our overnight spot to rock is the Days Inn in Clinton, OK. It’s Sunday night in small-town, Oklahoma. Not much is open. Good thing we brought our own beer.
It takes over an hour to get the kids to sleep. Ro’s pretty good, just antsy being somewhere new. Bebe ain’t having the shit. I pat her bottom for 10 minutes, she’s quiet. I stop, she rolls over, laughs, and grabs my nose. 45 minutes later and I’m wondering who’s gonna win, she or I, and she’s out. Ro’s out. Hot Pants is typing for work and telling me about the church shooting today. Our hotel is overrun by college-aged kids and they’re living it up at the pool: right outside our window. I have a theory that they are all actually locals and this is their Sunday night ritual: to pitch in and get a room and a keg and have hotel pool parties. I think I heard some Russians in the lobby, talking on their cell phones and looking at Russian Facebook on a community PC.
I’m typing and my back hurts and it’s time for bed.
Tomorrow, Albuquerque.

Holiday in Preutopia, Day 1: Oklahoma