Recently I went to a poetry reading in Middletown, CT at The Buttonwood Tree with my co-worker, Jeff. It was a reading of area educators (k-12, college, and artists in the schools). Because there is a ton of bad poetry out there, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was very impressed! Not all of it was amazing, but it was mainly very good poetry. In part I wanted to go because Jeff was reading from his new book: Rumor of Cortez. Jeffrey Levine, featured on Poetry Daily, runs a small literary press out of Dorset, VT (near my beloved Bennington), called Tupelo Press. His other book of poetry is Mortal Everlasting.
Another poet I liked was Ravi Shankar. He also has as online journal, Drunken Boat. And then I also really liked Richard Deming’s poems. He had a particularly great style of delivery. It wasn’t anything fancy or off the wall, just very genuine. I met him and his wife, great couple, and they also run a press: Phylum Press.
All in all, it was a good evening, with the obvious downfall of the location’s name. Now, the Buttonwood Tree is a great venue. It’s a cozy space and it has a literary feel to it, but anyone who knows me will know that I will probably avoid the place like the plague. (Side note: Sujal has been telling me for a while to put my poems online, and it just seems wrong for me to “publish” them myslef, but in this case, I am going to post one of them.) For those who don’t know me so well, this poem should give you pretty good insight into why I cannot tolerate the name:
Why is it that people just don’t get it?
How can they casually drop that word?
You’ll be having a perfectly nice dinner
The word drops
Just like the sound of it hitting the table—
The evil object, the evil word, the evil sound of the word:
Oh why can’t people understand how vile they are?
First to look at;
Some are white or a smoky translucent
With the four sneering holes
And they have that round unsightly ridge
Like the lip of a plate—
They may be blue, brown, pink, or yellow,
Small, large, ridiculously enormous.
Sometimes they are supposedly practical,
Even worse, people make crafts—
Oh and to touch them
Their general small flatness,
The cloth covered or pearl-like ones aren’t as bad,
But then you have to deal with that word:
Sometimes they are difficult to work,
Or they become loose,
How high maintenance can clothing get?
Sometimes there are too damn many,
Or they open
Or don’t open.
Sometimes they try to be pretty,
But they never are.
Then there’s the word;
Look at it.
Just an ink stain on the page.
But the sound of the word—
A burst of noxious air
Evoking an image of a rounded Caliban,
A deformity of words.
Who could possibly love a—
I can’t even say it—
Yes, of course I am able
To live in a world where other people
Wear those deplorable hooligans.
But as for me,
I will only stoop to wear them
On rare and lamentable occasions.
Other than the awful name, I’d really like the place, but I’m going to have to chalk it up to another CT oddity, sort of like the driving here.