Five years ago, Jack Evans asked if I wanted to start a monthly reading series together. I had been approached about hosting readings before, but I had zero interest in squeezing something like that into my life. However, Jack is a revered local legend so there was absolutely no way I could pass up the opportunity to collaborate with him.
We have similar taste and priorities, so it was easy to agree on a common mission. Most of the poetry venues were so divided. This type of poetry goes on over here and that type of poetry goes on over there and they almost never crossed paths. But there were poets we liked from all of those different scenes/genres, so we decided to have two featured poets each month. That way we could sometimes pair up poets who would never end up reading together. People who came to see one poet would end up exposed to work they never knew about and sometimes it broadened some horizons. It worked better than we could have envisioned and it really caught on.
(for the record, I had way too much fun photoshopping this flyer)
We went through 5 venues and our open mic got big enough that we turned that component over to Bill Campana to host (because he's much better at that sort of thing). So to celebrate our 5th Year, Jack and I prepared brand new batches of poems to be read by the other person. We had done this several years ago, but that time was with poems that people likely already heard and might be familiar with. This time we wanted to trade identities and read poems that nobody had heard yet, so the first time they heard them would be in someone else's voice. It was so much fun and the "intros" and between poem banter became almost like a roast.
Another highlight was when one of our long-time regulars Ernesto Moncada (who was there for our very first reading, has featured for us twice, and contributed to our open rounds on many many months) surprised us by translating a poem from each of us into Spanish. That was a brand new experience for both of us and luckily I was able to get a video of him reading my poem "Other Meaning of Aloha" (from this issue of Up The River) before my camera died.
I wish all of my poems sounded that good. I should just go all Cyrano now and have Ernesto or Jack read my poems wherever I go.
Here's Ernesto posing with us three co-hosts after the 5th Anniversary show. I love this pic.