Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Patton and Bernstein at Bowery

Last night Charles Bernstein and Julie Patton read at the Bowery Poetry Club as part of Leonard Schwartz’s Evergreen College reading series. I waltzed, or rather hobbled in late as usual and so only caught the second half of Julie Patton’s reading. She sat perched on the edge of the stage, microphone in hand crooning her poems to the audience in a quiet sing-song. She later described this reading style as having derived from cat-talk, the here-kitty-kitty-kitty-meow-kitty-kitty speak that cat lovers use to beckon their loved-ones. She mentioned also that her “Blue” had been written based on transcribed, sometimes strictly from conversations between she, her mother and Harryette Mullen.

Charles Bernstein adopted a mix of the professorial and the bar patron air for his reading, choosing to sit at one of the bars round tables and cozying up to the microphone, with a grey goose martini straight up. At Leonard’s request, he read Louis Zukofsky’s “A Foin Lass Bodders” translated from the Cavalcante poem “Donna Mi Prega” (I believe), which he read in a thick Brooklyn, Yiddish accent or in “Jew Face” as he called it. As of right now there are no recordings of Zukofsky reading his work available to the public but Bernstein informed us that he and Paul Zukofsky are currently working to make several recordings available on PennSound and that they should be up in the next couple of months. Such good news! I never realized what a ham Bernstein could be, seriously, give the guy a microphone and…he has a good time. I enjoyed hearing his poems “Thank you for saying Thank you” and “The Girly Man” read aloud as the injection of his animation and sarcastic tone added to the overall effect.

An engaging discussion followed the readings but I won’t try to recreate it here. I believe the reading will appear on PennSound pretty soon as part of the Segue Reading Series.

An excellent evening of Poetry all around and an excellent way to bring my visit to New York’s poetryland to a close. Thank you to all for that.

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