Of Poetry & Prose, and Then What Ever It Is I Do Pt. 3

May 21, 2012

Okay well anyway I couldn’t remember how the poem stagnant blue went exactly at the end there but I hope I caught the spirit of it…and I did add the snazzy picture.

So yea lets see…poetry in college now, is that where we are.

Took Poetry 101, 102, etc then went back and did it all again at a different school a year or two later. Lee Malloryinski at Rancho Santiago College was one of my best poe-fessors, whoops, okay well I went back and altered his name in case he doesn’t wanna be mentioned here. It might have been he that gave me the Bukowski book (he used to brag that Bukowski punched him in the nose once), I wrote a poem about it but I won’t put it up here, it’s slightly…mean spirited…and I only have respect and thanks fer the guy now…but hell I’m getting a few years ahead of myself so lets jump back shall we…

I was still sometimes in theater productions (as I mentioned above I attended community colleges while continuing to be mostly homeless [some times in and out of jails or institutions, some times sleeping on friends couches, sometimes breaking into vacant houses/apartments most times sleeping outdoors]). But the whole band(s…numerous attempts) thing never really panned out, never got famous, never made millions.

In the mid eighties(ish?), having just finished as a chorus member in “HMS Pinafore” (that is a whole nother post and I can’t get into it now or we’ll get way off track[hell I’m gonna be toppin a thousand words again Ma…). Some of the guy’s involved in that were also involved in putting on variety shows for a local coffee house in Fullerton Ca named after a rootish vegetable (…if you know you know). They were pushing me to do something fer the show, put together some skit or something….I kept putting them off…finally one of them suggested I take some of my punk songs and turn them into poems, he talked about beats and stuff (I of course had already a few years back read Kerouac etc) so I got really into the idea…here’s a sample of one of those first poems

Suburbia suburbia

You think life is TV

Soap opera wives with flash dance lives

And moral hypocrisy

Suburbia suburbia

It’s sad that you can’t see

From your mini vans to your plastic bags

How your killing society

It was called, in case ya couldn’t guess Suburbia…and in the long run it wasn’t that great even with the screaming and thrashing music. Okay so even though the poems weren’t that great, they went over well and I had fun doing it. I heard about some other poetry readings and began to semi haunt a couple. Then at the tail end of the eighties, after an extended period of tequila and coke fueled binges (I was living with Doidman and an ex stock broker turned coke dealer and his chickee [who were both from South Carolina (maybe?)] at the time in a rented house in Lake Forest, California [churning out poetry on my little Mac 512k] I ended up with an extended stint in the Royal Treatment Center, which is of course not nearly as royal or treatment oriented as it sounds…

The point being two fold, one, I  had written a hell of a lot of poetry(notebooks full) both prior to and once inside the institution(one of my best known, 51/50, is from this time period) and when I got out some months later it seemed there were poetry readings everywhere…

And this is when my poetry story really takes off.  I kinda become the new kid at all the local readings. My stage presence makes me a hit with the audience, even though much of my poetry is, by the other poets in the room, judged to be inferior. Over the next year or so I really developed my own voice. Not that I wasn’t told over and over, “It really isn’t poetry is it.”…many of the other local poets, especially those who were big on the So Cal scene when I started making the circuit, were not fond of my loud in yer face, take no prisoners attitude…this was Poetry after all…(after one reading , where I had three costume changes on stage while reading, and an electric guitarist playing thrashing chords to a multimedia slide show an  important player in the So Cal Scene and host of the reading Michel *Somebody* actually told me I would never get another featured reading “in this town again”, later I learned he was a big deal being professor of English at Chapman University, but I didn’t give a shit, and of course I went on to have hundreds* of featured readings, including eventually being invited to Chapman as part of the “Four Tom’s” but again I am getting way ahead of myself…

I started back to school, I was half way settling down with a woman and going to have a kid (I know, I know haven’t I already discussed left turnism, what else can I say) but I was on SSI & SDI (lol man is that a story) and semi solvent so…back to school I went.

This is where I meet the famously smooth Lee Malloryinski, and begin to attend the Factory Readings in Santa Ana. This is early 90’s, the Auganga Kid is not born yet, but I am living with his Mom, going to school, and really trying hard to make money doing what I love…thinking stuff up and writing it down. It’s also about this time where I am introduced (finally many say) to Bukowski’s poetry (then prose later). Reading him, though we are not exactly the same, still gives me a feeling of validation because in many ways (I’ve been told over and over) our styles are similar. He was just so f-ing depressing, I mean I lived it, why did I want to read about it.  But we did share some stylistic and subject commonalities, and I was afraid if I read too much cB, my own voice would drift more toward his…after all he was making money by this point, having movies made about his adventures in left turnism…and I of course…okay off track…

Ooo I like yer stuff!

In Lee’s class I hone my poetic style, and at “The Factory Readings” I polish my delivery. As always, again, God, fate, whatever, I am blessed with great stage presence, as my poems become more stylistically constant, I become a solid audience favorite. My popularity grows so much so that first Lee, then soon other hosts begin to put me as opener to their respective readings. (I’m not saying my poetry was that great, just that for many reasons, including my poetry, I was a good opening act)It isn’t long before I become quite well known on the performance poetry “coffee house circuit”. I still hadn’t had a featured slot, (I sure thought I was ready [man I must have been an annoying pompous lil fuck])but I am all over the so cal map, hitting easily ten or more readings a month. At this point I have yet to hear the term “Slam” but there are performance poetry contests suddenly springing up at nearly every venue and then some. I rarely take first due to low scores by the panels of experts, but I always place in the top three (really truly, never placed less than third, and by far most common is 2nd place*) if the audience vote is considered. In fact I do so well, and it is so common I write a poem called “Call me Mr. 2nd* Place” it wasn’t that good, I don’t remember more than the first line or two and anyway here we are running long…

I hope to God this will at least be interesting to my kids someday ’cause Jumped up Jesus, this has become like some albatross around my neck and, though now determined to finish what I’ve begun, I can’t believe any of you out there are still reading let alone wanna hear more….and I still haven’t gotten to the “Four Tom’s“, Psycho Boy & “Next” Magazine, “Homeless to House husband” my last chapbook and one man perf po play at the Ritz on  Hollywood Blvd, and boy-howdy Slam action galore! So yea…If yer at all interested you can check out my latest poetry here at 409…otherwise I will continue with Part 4 of this…this…whatever it is I’m doing here…at some point…you’ve all been attendant and faithful friends….I should take at least a little time and do the same…but no promises this morning Cat’s & Kittens….I mean I’ve been so good at keeping them the last 48 hour…so

One Response to “Of Poetry & Prose, and Then What Ever It Is I Do Pt. 3”

  1. Oh boy— you hit on an essential problem that has come up for me as well. Some of the writers in my own literary ancestry are simply too moody for me these days.

    Not only is this a fascinating story, I’m really curious to see what else you figure out about yourself, once again, as a person and as a writer, after you’ve unpacked these personal histories. Please keep going.

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