Sunday, July 1, 2007

Three Rooms Press Show Rocks NYC at The Bowery Poetry Club

With four amazing poets on its growing roster, upstart poetry publishing force Three Rooms Press rocked the house at New York's Bowery Poetry Club on Saturday, June 30 to a standing-room only, appreciative crowd of long-term punks, rebel poets and supportive friends of all ages.

The party started with a solo electronica-bass slot by The Bass Player from Hand Job, a fascinating musician who swirled loops and samples with live music and added several cutting edge snippets of original poetry throughout the show.

Up next: the delicious Karen Hildebrand, whose poems are like a literary version of Emmylou Harris, poking into the oft-hidden deep feelings underlying even everyday experiences like softball games in the park, or a bus trip across town. Hildebrand hit her stride with a wondrous piece about a woman entering the abandoned apartment of her lover, who has recently--and suddenly--passed away. The eeriness of seeing a half eaten donut, or the Yellow Pages unexplicably opened to the letter "T," is well-realized in this heartfelt work. Other work included several poems from her masterful TRP book One Foot Out The Door.

With an interlude by The Bass Player about what being "Punk" is really all about, Bronx-born poet Peter Carlaftes took the mic, and ripped into an eight-poem set that emphasized his gift for making beauty out of the horror, and doing so with an incredibly comic sense. His fictional piece about being awakened by two cops while asleep in a car parked in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge was uproarious, and the crowd seemed to enjoy the piece as much as Carlaftes himself. All the work he read is available in his FIVE books of poems on Three Rooms Press: The Bar Essentials, Sheer Bardom, The I Can't 'O Cantos, Drive By Brooding and Nightclub Confidential. All five, in their third to fifth printing, are available for a cool $20. Email to order.

Poet laureate* Jackie Sheeler took liberties with her work, by presenting it in a chillingly-effective "electro-poetic" form, in which she combined live reading of her poems with pre-recorded loops, reverb, and other vocal distortions. The effect was amazing--even more so because the work from which it stemmed, poems from her new book to[o] long (Three Rooms Press, $8). Her work is great for juxtaposing the smooth, soft things with harsh street reality. Love under the gun. The imagery in this particular book is amazing in its fresh originality. Consider:

You can have your safe, small and tight and beige, utterly spiceless, the lowest common denominator. Flat shoes, a flatline, whispers. Passing every lie-detector.

Safety is a pinned-on white carnation.

I’ll take feral eyes in the flick of a stricken match, the slick risk of one forbidden mouth, breath enough to
hurricane the flaming wall of dreams and decorate a crazy life with orchids.

Hooked into the electronic whirlwind, this piece was a call to rebellion of the individual soul. Thoughout the room, everyone sat up a little straighter, as though realizing their own secret source of inner strength to live life as they chose to.

Capping off the show was a strong performance by poet Kathi Georges, reading from her new book, Punk Rock Journal (Three Rooms Press, $8). Georges wove her poetry with music by The Bass Player from Hand Job for a fabulous rocking set that drew from her experiences as the editor of The Eye bi-monthly, a newspaper that covered the bountiful punk rock scene in the Los Angeles area in the early 80s. Each piece built from the last, starting with "Nancy on a Carpet Ride," dealing with the culture that breeds conformity; to "A Show In Light Tells Time," which explores Georges' personal point of departure from mainstream blandness to a newfound love for punk rock. The mix of words and music worked extremely well and evoked a deservedly enthusiastic response from crowd.

Click the links above to get to the first of several videos to be released on YouTube. We'll be coming out with a high-end DVD of the show, suitable for holiday gift-giving, within the next few months.

*Jackie Sheeler, Poet Laureate of Riker's Island

Photo: from left: Karen Hildebrand, Jackie Sheeler, Kathi Georges, The Bass Player from Hand Job, Peter Carlaftes. Photo by Allen Martin.

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