I arrived early and managed to have several drinks before anyone else was in the room.
The reading began almost 45 minutes late. I'm always more inclined to be dissatisfied with any event that starts so late. While waiting, Zachary German & Tao Lin arrived. They sat in front of me and put their books on the table. Tao Lin's Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, a collection of poems, is very new. Zachary German had unbound chapbooks for sale. An edition of 20, titled The Name Of This Band Is The Talking Heads. I bought a copy of each. German's chapbook came pre-signed. Lin drew pictures in place of signatures. For me he drew an encircled star, underscored by three flounder in a row.
The reading began with Tony O'Neill. He writes from experience about crack & porn. His words were humorous, but unconvincing & insincere. It may have been the way in which he read. I haven' t read his work. Then Tao Lin read. His voice was detached, devoid of any emphasis. I wanted him to read from his new book. Instead, he read this self-amused slapstick comparing two indie documentaries. I read some of his book before the reading began. It's actually quite good.
the effect of small children
is that they use declarative sentences and then look at your face
with an expression that says, 'you will never do enough
for the people you love'; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one is trying hard enough
-from i will learn how to love a person and then i will teach you and then we will know, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Tao Lin
He should have read this poem. And others from the book.
His reading was brief, and then there was a break. I hadn't felt well all day, but was trying to gather up strength. I wanted to stay.
Standing on the steps outside, I met a man from South Dakota. Before the reading began, his daughter was handing out his business cards. He runs Lit Up Magazine. He began listing so many writers. I hadn't heard of any of them. There are so many circles of poetry, some open & some closed. The conversation went nowhere, and he increasingly contradicted himself.
I wanted to stay for Zachary German's reading, but I went upstairs to find Lee Rourke reading, and I knew I couldn't stand through it all. I read German's unbound chapbook on the train home. I tried to imagine the words coming out of his head, with his mass of hair. He dressed well for the reading, a nice suit. Tao Lin wore a hooded sweatshirt.
German seemed exceptionally pleasant. Not at all pretentious, which softened the blow as I realized how much I disliked the writing in his chapbook. That said, the layout provides a Notes section at the top of each page. I'm considering writing in my notes & republishing it.