Monday, March 20, 2006

Nikki Giovanni in Jax - maybe

Nikki Giovanni will be appearing in Jacksonville soon. As I write this, I'm not certain but assume she's giving a reading and I assume it's a part of (the high point of) the yearly Writer's Festival.

Just cruised the Writers Festival site but don't find Nikki G. I did find a workshop with Lola Haskins who was one of the published poets in the Anhinga Press Florida Poetry Series. She's also won the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her name is soooo familiar. Why is that? I see she also translates poetry (Spanish to English). Well now that I opened up the idea of a multicultural poetry conference here, perfect particpants are popping up everywhere! Here's her personal website. And here's a 2003 interview, done with Rock Salt Plum, one of my favorite ezines that has since stopped publishing. Here's a comforting quote:

RSP: Do any of your writing implements have totemic value, such as a lucky pen, a special notebook, etc?

LH: Yes, not for writing but for book signing. I use purple pens from a feminist bookstore called Wild Iris whose owners have been very good to me.

Wild Iris in Gainesville is one of those bookstores that has kept women in print, women connecting with women, and women valuing each other for years. That's wonderful that she recognizes the proprietors in that way, personally and in the interview.

Kelle Groom is co-facilitating the workshop with Lola Haskins. Her name doesn't have the same tone of familiarity to me. Her book, Luckily, is also one of the Florida Poetry Series from Anhinga (and browsing that site, I see their fee for the Anhinga Poetry Prize is now up to $25). So here are a couple of Kelle Groom poems from an old MiPo. geez small world syndrome.

still no Nikki but I did find two poems by Denise Duhamel, whose name is another one with that look, like I'm supposed to recognize her or her poetry but I don't. I don't believe I've ever read anything by Denise Duhamel & what a shame because... well... read these:

What does it mean, she asked us, to be good?
—Honor Moore

good manners good eater good lover good listener good dog good boy good storyteller goody-two-shoes looks good enough to eat good witch good at math good-for-nothing good-looking got the goods a good book a good movie a good song on the Good Ship Lollipop my goodness good fellow good cop good buddy good egg from a good family in a good neighborhood with a good school with good teachers where you get good grades so you can get into a good college and get a good job at a good company with good benefits and a good retirement plan and make a good return on your good investments good luck good news good joke “hey, that’s a good one” good manners good lay good heart the good old boys’ network good mother good God that’s good booze good steak good legs good price good works good news good grief Charlie Brown looking for Mr. Goodbar goody-goody good old days good sale the good word good father good idea good night ladies we hate to see you go good race no good deed goes unpunished good wife good to the last drop goodness gracious Goodnight Moon Good Time Charlie good sport for a good time call good waiter one good turn deserves another good doctor a good licking a good swift kick have a good day the good the bad and the ugly good for a laugh only the good die young a good fit a good match good seats good husband good cholesterol Good ‘n Plenty good driver good help good person from good people good brother good businessman good deal good sister have a good time have a good cry good friend fight a good fight good morning good night Goodyear tires the good guy good vacation (bon voyage) good soup good nurse good politician it’s for the good of the people it’s over and done with for good say good riddance a good time was had by all

—for Steve Kowit

My stocks went up,
then down. Soon the company went out of business altogether.
I was given the perfect haircut,
but then it grew out. And by winter the style itself was dated.
I had a healthy baby boy
but raised him all wrong. The wallpaper I bought for the kitchenette was way too
I found God,
but then my marriage fell apart. And the migraines began.
I found a job,
but I lost my prescription sunglasses. I neglected my plant which withered in the
I alphabetized all my novels,
but I added when I should have subtracted in my check book. I never caught
anything when I tried to fish.
I found the perfect dress,
but then I shrunk it in the wash. The store wouldn’t let me return it because I
hadn’t followed the proper instructions--the tag recommended dry cleaning.
The museum bought my painting,
but the museum didn’t really exist. The banker laughed at me when I tried to
deposit the fake check.
I made some pretty impressive shadow puppets,
but they scared my son and his friends. Later, I learned that the shadows
weren’t my hands at all. There really were monsters in his room.
I found a dollar bill on the street
then lost my hightop sneakers and social security card later that same day.
I had an epiphany
but was put in the hospital. The vegetables there were overcooked and in need
of salt.
I won Lotto
but had to pay a lot in taxes. All my relatives were greedy and scornful.
I made a pan of perfect butterscotch brownies,
but I left the Thanksgiving turkey on preheat, so it was still pink and inedible at
midnight. That summer, I tried to push down the chunks of green pepper in the
gazpacho while the blender was on. The blade splintered the wooden spoon
and ruined the whole batch.
I had the perfect lawn,
but my house inexplicably sank into it. The mailman refused to deliver
anymore letters because the mailbox was now underground.
I intimidated girl scouts and sailors with my square knots,
but soon my personality unraveled again. My mirror refused to reflect my wry
joy, and, worst of all, my son grew up as I posed for my mug shot.
I stopped smoking cigarettes,
but began seeing double. The doctor completely misdiagnosed my arthritis.
Everyone liked my ghost story,
but people were offended by my joke. They simply lost interest in my anecdote
about the twins.
I predicted which horse would win the race,
but I lost big at card games. No one ever remembered my birthday.
I remembered to pack my toothpaste,
but I forgot my alarm clock and my hair brush.
I valiantly swam counterclockwise to the whirlpool
but the next day fell into the ditch. My guitar strings snapped off during my solo.
It was just like the time when I was a kid and I passed the Spanish test
but fell off the slide on the way down. I poked a Q-tip in my bellybutton too hard.
Or how, until recently, I ate an apple a day.
But then I found out the witch was trying to kill me with small increments of
poison. I’ll probably have stomach problems for the rest of my life.

Poems © Denise Duhamel 2004. All rights reserved.

Still no Nikki in Jax. But just in case she does appear, and if you'd like a preview of some of her poetry, here's a fairly decent place to start: it's called Incurable Gallery.

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