Saturday, August 11, 2007

Richard Loranger's Farewell NYC Reading at Cornelia St. Cafe

Last night at Cornelia St. Cafe, poet Richard Loranger officially said goodbye to New York City with one last poetry reading before heading west to San Francisco. It was a beautiful thing.

Throughout the open reading, poets playfully warned Loranger about the evils of San Francisco. As TRP poet Peter Carlaftes noted, "In New York, nothing works, and everything matters. In San Francisco, everything works, and nothing matters."

In addition, poets Christopher Martiny and Fred Yannantouno -- among many others -- paid tribute to the beloved Loranger with poems written for the occasion.

Loranger, an 8-year Brooklyn resident, took the warnings and poems in stride. Turns out, he's already lived in San Francisco, as well as Austin, Boulder, and Ann Arbor. In fact, in San Francisco, Loranger helped create the infamous Cafe Babar poetry series, though exactly how that series was created is subject to some debate.

According to longtime Babar poet Joie Cook, "I was the first person to read at the Babar, the story goes that I had a reading at the Meat Market Cafe and they were closed so q.r. hand knew this jazz dude (Alvin who now lives in France) who then owned the Babar. So q.r. drags ME and a bunch of people there (maybe Richard L. was in the pack, don't remember)...and a "movement" was born."*

Loranger's reading itself was magical. He read just two poems--but what poems! The first one was a rant begging for a free, loose spirit to return to the poetry scene. In the piece, Loranger lamented the lack of unfettered joyfulness in most poetry readings these days. He derided poetry for being either too academic and structured, or too adherent to the "rules" of the Poetry Slam circuit. His own piece was neither--it was a sheer beauty to behold.

Loranger's second poem (unpublished) was a longer, more insightful piece that traced the footsteps of the narrator's descent into momentary madness, brought on by the oppressive nature of urban living and modern life. Like a modern-day Dante descending to hell, Loranger put on his boots, crossed the Grand Army Plaza and wandered into a park, only to be am"bushed" by a platoon of evil bushes bent on destroying his spirit and soul. His way out of this mess? Developing a new form of spiritualism call "Boot-ism," which equates the equilibrium of the soul with the willingness to remain in motion.

Of course, this is just one reporter's opinion, based on hearing the poem one time. Those interested in studying this bible of "Boot-ism" for themselves can leave contact info in the comment section of this page, which TRP will then pass on to Loranger in his SF haunts.

Bottom line is: the inventiveness of Loranger will be sorely missed. Goodbye, Richard, and good luck!

*To get the more details on the legendary Cafe Babar beginnings, Cook recommends visiting, which offers the book New American Underground Poetry Vol. 1: The Babarians of Sanfrancisco - Poets from Hell, an anthology that includes the Babar story in full. The site also features books by living and dead Babar poets such as Andy Clausen, David Lerner, Eli Coppola, Vampire Mike Kessel, Sparrow 13 laughingwand, q.r. hand, and Cook herself (whose new book, Beatitude, is one that TRP highly recommends.

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a night. I think you're doing a terrific job of hosting.