A serial horror story written esp. in hopes that if one poet discovers that he or she was turned into a zombie by another poet within a work of fiction OR that if the before-mentioned poet discovers that he or she has turned another poet into a zombie within a work of fiction–no matter how bad the work of fiction (and this particular work of fiction is not intended to be particularly good esp. if this-here-sentence-that-you’re-reading-now is any indication)–then he or she will be more likely to check out that other poet’s work.
“I’ve had it with these cheap sons of bitches who claim they love poetry but never buy a book. ” ― Kenneth Rexroth
Although other poems had gone viral, (Particia Lockwood’s “RapeJoke,” Neil Hilborn’s “OCD Love Song,” Lily Myer’s “Shrinking Woman,” Alexandra Petri’s villanelle about Justin Bieber, yadda yadda,) the most viral poem of all time was the one written and performed at a coffee shop by Tarin Towers on the night she turned into a zombie and tried to eat the brains of Harold Bloom.
It was an older poem–one from her 1999 book Sorry We’re Close, but although she had many newer ones, including one about bunnies, Towers had been out of the poetry scene for many years and on the night of her performance she wanted to start with something tried and true, especially because she was feeling woozy.
Towers wasn’t sure whether the wooziness was due to nerves or to a flu or to having just been bitten on the cheek while at an art gallery by another random writer. (She’d found this experience strange but oddly thrilling, as this was the same thing Sylvia Plath had done to Ted Hughes on first meeting. ) She’d invited the random bitey writer to the reading but he had, politely, declined, or at least that’s what she thought he was doing when he said to her “Aaaaaar. Aaaaaar. Aaaaaar.”
There was a good line-up of poets at the reading–175 of them, to be exact, including Tonya Ingram and Venessa Marco and Jovan Mays and many of the other poets featured at Button Poetry, plus Brits Hollie McKnish performing about breast-feeding and Suli Breaks on our broken education system. All of the still-living contributors to the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry were also readers. (An upcoming Tribrach post will list all 175 participants.) There was also an excellent crowd, sprinkled with literati. Denise Froham was sitting next to her girlfriend and occasionally kissing her, reveling in the fact that no one noticed and no one cared–the best outcome she could have ever hoped for when her own poem “Dear Straight People” went viral. Shane Koyczan, who once performed a Spoken Word poem at the 2010 Olympics had come over from Canada with the 80 animators for his poem “To This Day,” with whom he was chatting about the way he’d just raised $91,154 via Kickstarter for producing his new book of poems.
Oddly enough, critic Helen Vendler was also there, sitting in a corner and muttering “No century in the evolution of poetry in English ever had 175 poets worth reading, so why are we being asked to sample so many poets….” She had a tall white flag with her which had a pointy pole. Rita Dove was sitting next to her, waiting to read, holding another tall white flag, also sharpened, and snarling back at Vendler “there is no voice in your head,/no whispered intelligence lurking/in the leaves.” Then Dove and Vendler leaped up and start dueling with the flags until the crowd got them to back down. And, of course, there was Harold Bloom.
The venerable intellectual had been talked into going by J.D. McClatchy, who hadn’t known there would be a poetry reading at this particular cafe that night but who really liked cafes, once going so far as to maintain that, actually, even “A Poem is a Cafe.” McClatchy was concerned about Bloom, who had been going around referring to himself as “a tired, sad, humane old creature,” so McClatchy said to Bloom, “Let’s go to a cafe! ‘Let there be lights, and a carafe of ordinaire/To tease us out of thoughts too dark, too dark!’” Bloom said “Okay, fine.” He was amused at the Vendler/Dove dueling, but dismayed to find himself at a Spoken Word performance. He dipped a piece of the Finnish squeaky cheese “Juustoleipä” into a cup of coffee as Towers began reading “Apocolypse #1.”
He kissed me
right on the apocalypse
and said, “Never, ever
Then Towers’ eyes rolled back in her head and she fell on the floor and softly muttered “Brains, brains, I want brains. Aaaaaaar.”
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF “ZOMBIES: I TOO DISLIKE THEM,” plus another couple of posts detailing who the heck these poets and intellectuals are.