Mint Jam ’09 poets at the Crosby Mint farm in St. Johns, Michigan [Photo by Steve Dodd]
(from left to right) Heather Ann Schmidt, Dianne Borsenik, John Burroughs, William Burkholder, Susan
Walker, Christina Brooks, Carlton Smith III, Shane, Steven & Kathy Smith, Linette Crosby, and Carla Dodd
Friday night I didn’t get to bed ’til midnight after checking out the Deep Cleveland Poetry Hour featuring Dianne Borsenik. Great times — got some new poems from Christopher Franke for the Online Library (coming soon). He also gave me a copy of Poems 3 by Alan Dugan after I mentioned that I very much liked the poem he read from it. Got some photos (coming soon to Facebook) and filmed the proceedings (clips coming ASAP to the Online Library — but bear in mind I’m still working on posting videos from May) — and used a 40% off coupon to pick up another book by Fernando Pessoa, a Penguin Classics paperback of A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems (translated by Richard Zenith).
Saturday, our alarm was set for 4:30 a.m., which is when Geri gets up for work and I make coffee; but that wasn’t early enough for our dogs, at least one of whom needed to go out at 4 and couldn’t wait. Was busy from then on, posting an H.D. poem in the Online Library, washing the previous night’s dishes, cleaning the dog kennel, downloading video so the hard drive on my camera would have plenty of room, printing and assembling a 2nd (slightly revised) edition of my out-of-print first chapbook (Bloggerel) and other items….
Around 8:10 a.m., Dianne, Steven Smith, Kathy Smith and I were on the road — my first foray into Michigan since sixth grade. We drove up through Ann Arbor, Lansing and north to St. Johns, where we met groovy people and read poetry at Mint Fest ’09, a benefit devoted to saving the historic Crosby Mint Farm from foreclosure. We also donated a basket of books by Cleveland poets to the silent auction. I read only one poem there (my signature John Cage); but meeting and hearing the other poets (many of whom I’d only known through the Internet) while having our individual and collective poetic pores permeated with the fragrance of sweet, live mint was a priceless experience. Some singer-songwriter’s refrain of “My dog is my co-pilot” is still making me smile, and a certain vendor’s piña colada flavored shaved ice convinced me that perfection is possible here on earth. Thanks to William Burkholder, Susan Walker, Linette Crosby, Carla Dodd, Heather Ann Schmidt, Christina Brooks, Carlton Smith, Troubadour 21 and everyone else for making us feel much more like family than visitors!
Note: if you couldn’t be there, you can still help save the farm at www.savethemintfarm.com.
At about 4:30, we left the farm and headed back past Lansing to Detroit — stopped at a very cool book/music store (the Book Beat) in the suburb of Oak Park (I ended up with a copy of Facebook friend and poet M.L. Liebler’s Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream), before heading to the Beat Cafe in Warren for a 7 p.m. reading emceed by our friend William Burkholder. Dimonique Boyd was the featured poet — and it was very cool to meet/hear her and other poets like Ber-Henda Williams (of Poetry, Pages and Scribes), Lucky Lefty, and the folks from Sweet Epiphany. The Beat Cafe served what might be the best capuccino I’ve ever had (no exaggeration) and I was pleased that folks seemed to dig us Clevelanders’ poetry/performances as much as we dug theirs. I “read” six pieces — Bloodshot, Bier, Mark This, Karma Souptra, Low Kay Shun, and Tell a Vision — and was called a “dope brother” (which, in case any squares out there are reading, is a compliment that has absolutely nothing to do with drugs). Felt like family there, too….
I filmed much of that as well — but didn’t take as many still photos as I wanted because my camera batteries died and I forgot (until the reading was over) that I’d stashed an extra set in my car for just such occasions. At some point in the next several months, I’m sure I’ll post some video clips in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library. You can also look forward to Heather Ann Schmidt‘s fantastic chapbook T
he Bat’s Lovesong: American Haiku, to be published in November by Crisis Chronicles Press.
We left there about 11 p.m. and got home around 2 a.m. Despite my dearth of sleep the previous two days, I didn’t really feel tired until the last half hour or so of the trip home. This morning when the alarm went off at 4:30, I got up, took the dogs out, made coffee for Geri and went back to bed. I’m still tired — but so glad I went. Thanks to Dianne, Smith and Kathy for riding with me and making the journey, and not just the destination, übercool. And thanks to our poetic family in Michigan for their friendship, warm welcome, inspiration and a beautiful day.
I leave you with one of the greatest rock songs of all time. Consider it this blog entry’s goodbye kiss:
And check out some of these: