Thursday, May 3, 2012
Another Evening at the Mug
Everytime I go to a featured/open reading at the Ugly Mug, I meet new people and make new connections. Last night the featured reader was an extremely accomplished young poet, Dina Hardy, who has racked up honors and prizes right and left during her writing life as well as making her living as a freelancer at the very top of her game. Dina was kind enough to trade her beautiful chapbook, Selections from The World Book, published by the Convulsive Editions, for Balance. Though I haven't had time to sit down and read the book yet, I will perhaps write a more complete and formal review when I have. The book, which the writer plans to turn into a full collection eventually, stems from her fortuitous acquisition of a 1947 set (incomplete) of the World Book encyclopedia. She chooses pages of the book and researchers the items on them, linking them into a poetic network. I can say that her reading was wonderful, and I enjoyed learning of her work. In addition to this poet, I also was pleased to be introduced to the work of Neil Aitken, editor of Boxcar magazine. He is a passionate poet whose work I admire. Perhaps I can get hold of his first book, The Lost County of Sight, which won the 2007 Phillip Levine Poetry award. He told me that at that time, this was the last contest he planned to enter, having spent untold amounts on fruitless efforts to win elsewhere. He asked me to send one of my poems, "Duet," about the whale/human connection, to the journal he edits come June, their open submission period, and recommended a press to which I could send my manuscript (Persea). We had a long conversation following the reading, and though it was very late, and Phil, the owner of the Mug, couldn't wait to turn out the light and go home, we spent a long time talking about our lives and work and the people we mutually knew. Another wonderful evening. I wish I could stray further from home, where most of the readings happen, in Long Beach, Venice, and L.A. But I am happy to have this opportunity to extend my world.