Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kansas City is Oh So Pretty

I just returned from Kansas City where I was lucky enough to read in the Park University's Ethnic Voices Poetry Series at the Public Library. I also was lucky enough to read at UCMO's Pleiades Series, introduced by my host, poet and editor, Wayne Miller. There were two radio appearances as well. (Radio makes me terrified, I stumble and plummet and um, and um, and um.) All of it was a great joy. There were good crowds full of interesting people with lots of questions about the poet's life, the novel, the New York life, the world, the how, and the now.

Wayne, his wonderful wife Jeanne, and I all had the most amazing barbecue at Oklahoma Joe's. Hands down the best barbecue I've ever had. Anthony Bourdain agrees as he's listed it as one of his "13 places to eat before you die." And now I know how to plan my other poetry readings. Checking off the other 12 places on the list.

After an interview with the great host Jabulani Leffall, on Central Standard on KCUR, I read at the Library for the Park University Ethnic Voices Poetry Series. Virginia Brackett was a wonderful host and the evening ended with another great dinner at Kansas City's West Side Local. Then, in the morning it was off to do a radio interview with New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam. They recorded at UKC, around a small table with a Mexican blanket. I told her, the humble setting made me feel quite at home. Then, I accidentally told her all my secrets. We shall see when the interview appears here soon.

Then, off to UCMO in Warrensburg, which (no doubt you know this) is FAMOUS for the place where the phrase "a dog is a man's best friend"  was coined. This is true. Not only is a dog, in fact, a man's best friend, but I saw the statue of the original dog in the center of town. So it all really happened. Statues are truth. Then, I read for a great undergraduate crowd of young writing students. I later said to Wayne, "I think the trick to reading for a busy and distractible undergraduate audience must be to read all your poems about sex." Which is also true. A dog is a man's best friend, but sex is an undergraduate writer's best friend.

On the way home, I got the chance to read Wayne's new book. Beautiful book. The City, Our City. It's harsh and stunning, with lines like, "What it was that filled me,/filled me entirely./The only space left/was inside my fists." From his remarkable poem, "Street Fight."  Also, I had the pleasure of buying Alex Battles's official album, Goodbye Almira and listening to it on the flight back home. It's an amazing album from the Country Music world of Brooklyn, NY that he helped to establish. "She's an easy girl, easier than the lid on a pickle jar/easier than using your knees to drive a car/easier than leaving her alone." Aw yeah.

So thanks, Kansas City, for the meats and the meetings. I enjoyed you. I shall return. Now, a little writing time before the next trip takes me to Pennsylvania, NYC, and SF for two big readings. Whoa, take it easy world. Keep your pants on. Fall is just getting started.