The preceding Saturday, I participated in a Racquetball Poetry Chapbook Tournament in Racine, WI. The idea was that since ordinary poetry contests are said to be biased (in favor of who-knows-what . . . or perhaps who-knows-whom) as well as limited by being based on intangible "esthetic" qualities, an ideal poetry contest would involve a clearly defined, scoreable ranking system. Hence, racquetball: winner of tournament gets their poetry chapbook published. I played against four (well, two, because I lost both my first matches and was eliminated from further consideration) buff, ridiculously fit young people, and when it was all over we had lunch and drank lots of nice beer (Irish hard cider, in my case), and then all of us participants gave a poetry reading and the Racine Public Library bought two of my previous poetry chapbooks, and a visiting librarian from Horicon got all excited about horror poetry, bought a Vampyre Verse anthology (in which I figure prominently) and wants me to come up there and do a horror poetry reading. For the darling little Twilight fans!
I was also half of a performance art project, A Cold Read, that we did on Sunday, April 11, at the Kohler Art Museum in Sheboygan, WI. The idea was that Tom Ferrella, my co-conspirator, would take somewhat odd (double-exposed, etc.) Polaroids of people at the museum, give them to me, and I would, extemporaneously, on the spot, type a short poem derived from the image directly on a manual typewriter onto a card, insert the photo in the card, and voilà! instant exhibit. This worked even better than Tom had thought possible: we did about two dozen cards in 3 or 4 hours, and I amused myself in between clients by writing little random poems and offering them as free samples. Like:
just like the mall but smaller
only 1 café
1 gift shop
The best photo was of a woman behind a glass door, with the photographer's reflection superimposed, so that she appeared to have a huge eel-like growth attached to her head and dreadful black bags under her eyes, which made her look extremely ill. The poem to go with it:
When she agreed to be the host-
mother for the alien
exchange student, they assured her
it would only eat the parts
of her brain she didn't need.
We're doing the performance there again on June 27th. I'm working on a future image-generating system that does not involve now-hideously-costly polaroids.
This coming weekend, April 23 and 24, I'll be at the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Spring Conference. I think that would be Green Bay.