Having driven 100 miles without air conditioning in 100 degree weather to get there, I was more prepared (already stinky?) for the atmosphere at Red Emma's than Reb Livingston. She still recovered before I did and yesterday posted pics from the Baltimore Lucipo reading (more here). Despite the oppressive heat, it was a fine evening. I met my cellmates (see below) Reb Livingston and Matt Shindell (who also recovered before me — I must be getting old), renewed my acquaintance with Justin Sirois of Narrow House Recordings, experienced powerful, funny, and extremely varied poetry, and, before I had to leave for work the next day, got to hang out for a while with a bunch of extremely bright and entertaining folks.
After an introduction from Michael Ball (the Baltimore organizer), Lucipo performed in three cells. Ken Rumble, David Need, and Randall Williams took the stage first, reading both individual poems and a longer collaborative piece, a hilarious letter from Ken to George Bush, punctuated by mysterious utterings from the other two. Ken and Randall are both sharply funny satirists; David provided a dark ground for their flights.
The second cell — Todd Sandvik (new poet laureate of Carrboro, North Carolina), Laura Sandvik, Marcus Slease, and Brian Howe — seemed to have choreographed their performance a bit more, with Todd and Laura's counterpoint framing pieces from the other two. Very entertaining, very cleanly and professionally done — they'd been rehearsing.
After a short and (because of the heat) much-need break, it was our turn. Matt, Reb, and I had never met, but over the last couple of weeks we'd written for the occasion a closet drama, Pardon my dragon. I'd been timing it, and it seemed to me to come out about 9 minutes, so we thought we'd have time for two poems each before we started the play. We recruited Carly Sachs for the role of "Dead Roses" (she did a fabulous job, especially with my pentameter intro) and started off.
It was certainly fun to do, but we were done with 12 minutes of time left. I'd forgotten how much faster everything goes the first time in front of an audience. Fortunately (except it meant more time to sweat), that audience was pleased, and kept us up for another pair of poems each. I was surprised how each seemed to lead into the next, given both the vastly different technical nature of our work and the fact that we did no consultation on the individual poems or their order, before or after the play. Serendipityville. Or magic.