Category Archives: Readings

Halloween, The Dogs Reading, and Red Hook

Happy Halloween 2009!

Sally Shark!

The Dogs of Brooklyn reading 11/6 was a success! Thanks to all who came out and supported us. Melissa Febos read a great piece about Red Dog’s fear aggression. I read Brooklyn and dog poems, and Vijay Seshadri read his story “Brooklyn Wildlife” from the nonfiction collection Brooklyn Was Mine. We passed a donation box for the Brooklyn no-kill shelter BARC. Dennis and I decided to match whatever contributions we received so we wound up raising about $200! If you weren’t able to make it the art will be up at Ozzie’s 7th Ave and Lincoln Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY the whole month of November stop by and check it out. Here are some pictures from the reading:

Melissa Febos photo by Dennis Riley

Susie DeFord photo by Dennis Riley

Vijay Seshadri photo by Dennis Riley

Later that weekend Dennis and I walked to Red Hook, Brooklyn where I really haven’t spent much time. It’s amazing over there. Old warehouses, lots of small art studios and galleries, and Steve’s Key Lime Pie yum! I saw one of my old students Maia working at her uncle’s delicious restaurant Kevin’s. But what strikes me the most in Red Hook is the quiet waterfront. Because there isn’t much subway service there it remains a bit more empty than other parts of the city, which I liked a lot! You could hear the seagulls and the water lapping at the rocky beach, it was like being in New York 100 years ago.

Red Hook Waterfront photo by Dennis Riley

Of course then we passed Fairway and Ikea. I made the mistake of going in Ikea. They set it up like a maze-trap so you can’t find your way out–the horror! We finally found our way out after I almost took out a mom and stroller, then walked through the soccer fields over to Carroll Gardens and ate at La Petit Cafe. It didn’t look like much from the outside but inside it’s beautifully designed with rocks, trees, fountains, and chandeliers. I love these epic walks we take through Brooklyn. I’ve lived here for 10 years and I’m still always discovering something new.

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Poughkeepsie Poetry and The Dogs of Brooklyn

Poet's Walk photo by Dennis Riley

Poet's Walk photo by Dennis Riley

Bless me for I’ve sinned, it’s been two weeks since my last blog-session. Things in Brooklyn have been really busy. The weather is changing–dog walking in the cold rain and leaves falling. Winter is on its ominous way, last week four grey days, no sun.

We took a trip up to see Dennis’s friend Ken at Toad Hall in Poughkeepsie or as Ken likes to call it P-Town on Hudson. He manages Locust Grove, a lovely historic estate. I love it up there, its so quiet and full of green. We were there back in July and checked out Poet’s Walk and Opus 40 amongst other things.

opus40

Opus 40 photo by Dennis Riley

I wrote this sonnet:

Poughkeepsie Poem

Toad Hall with its twists and turns, bathrooms opening

into other bathrooms old servants quarters low ceilings,

stairs slope and wind back into the kitchen. Turkeys

and frogs croak in the yard of green, lightning bugs

and dancing mosquitoes buzz. We hike through ticks

and flowered fields of Poet’s Walk, sit in old wooden

gazebos and stare at the Hudson River, shop at grocery

stores that classify Green Tea as “New Age Beverages,”

drive dizzy roads to Opus 40 stones in the Saugerties,

a monument tomb to obsessive sculpture. It’s raining,

steam rises off the hot rocks as if ready for dark-cloaked

druid sacrificing. Locust Grove’s rolling lawns and gardens,

house of servant’s ghosts and carriages, the Young’s pet

cemeteries headstones marked Snappy and Rusty. Back

in the city in coffee shops surrounded by people on cell

(as in jail) phones talking. I’m longing for quiet lakes

and green away from laptops and technology’s electric bars.

This time we stuffed our faces at Babycakes and the Eveready Diner went apple picking and antiquing in New Paltz. Unfortunately, the first night we were there the electricity was out. We made the mistake of going to see Zombieland. Even though its a goofy movie, it does have zombies and we were in this big house in the woods in the dark. It just seemed like a horror movie recipe. Did I mention I spent my childhood terrified of the dark? I’m 31 and I still have a nightlight! Suddenly this quaint little house in the woods with all its “secret” rooms became my own personal chamber of horrors. In bed that night, I stared at the attic door above me in the candlelight and poked Dennis every time he started to fall asleep and snore. Damn nature, this would never happen in the city! (with the exception of blackout 2005)

When we got back to Brooklyn I got my The Dogs of Brooklyn manuscript back with lots of notes from Barbara Hamby my poetry mentor. She’s the most amazing poet I know and has been so supportive and encouraging. After a few weeks of hardcore editing  that actually gave me back pain I’m sending it off to several book contests, fingers crossed.

I also came back to an email from Melissa that Vijay Seshadri agreed to read with us at opening party of The Dogs of Brooklyn Photography and Poetry Show Ozzie’s Coffee, Park Slope (7th Ave & Lincoln Place) Brooklyn, NY November 6th 7pm. I hope everyone can make it. I’m super-excited. I wish the dogs could come make celebrity appearances but it is a food establishment so I doubt they’d be let in.

Finally Dennis and I went to the ridiculous “Meet the Breeds” at the giant Javitz center. It was a weekend event with almost every cat and dog breed imaginable in attendance. Crazy cat ladies  with hand sanitizer, big hair, and too much make up. Dog people dressed up like they were from the country their dog breed was from. Super-white women dressed up in Afghan garb in a tent while their Afghan Hound lay sleeping. King Charles Spaniel owners dressed up as if they were having tea in the English countryside. Wow. It was fun to go around and get free samples of pet food and pet the dogs if the breeders let us!

I was dog sitting for the dogs Charlie, Chloe, Lola and the cats Milo and Sam (yes all one owner!), so we brought them and our own cats some goodies. Lola is an interesting case. A long-haired chihuahua with fear aggression issues. I’ve sat for her before but it takes her a little while to trust again. She usually starts as a barking, biting mess. I always have to lasso her, bribe her with food to get her harness and leash on. I think the biggest mistake owners make with small breeds is they treat them like babies instead of dogs. They pity them because of their size and don’t let them have normal dog experiences and boundaries. When I come along I treat them like big dogs and they seem to appreciate this respect after a little bit of a tantrum. You just have to get through the tantrum. You have to give energy to the behavior you want though praise and correct any behavior you don’t want without giving it a lot of energy, because whatever you give energy to will grow. I usually leave Lola’s leash on and reintroduce her to the house, as my house, not hers. I correct any behavior I don’t like with a chhh and a little tug on the leash. After a little while she’s pretty sweet and follows me around. Sadly I understand her wanting to growl off any potential problems, I’ve been known to occasionally do the same myself. However, living like that you growl off the love too and that’s no way to live.

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The Dogs of Brooklyn Poetry Show, BOMBlog Poet Interviews

Indiana & Amelia photo by Dennis Riley

Indiana & Amelia photo by Dennis Riley

I am currently preparing for my first The Dogs of Brooklyn poetry show. The Dogs of Brooklyn is my fresh poetic narrative about my colorful life as a dogwalker accompanied by vibrant photographs of Brooklyn and the dogs by Dennis Riley. The Dogs of Brooklyn is the poetic equivalent to many other bestselling dog-oriented books like Marley and Me, Mark Doty’s Dog Years, and Unleashed: Poems by Writer’s Dogs.

For the month of November 2009 Dennis Riley and I will be hanging his photographs and my poems of/about the dogs and Brooklyn at Ozzie’s on 7th Avenue and Lincoln Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY. We will be having a free opening party/reading on Friday, November 6th at 7pm. I, the fabulous Melissa Febos writer of the memoir Whipsmart and co-host of Mixer reading series, and one other writer TBA will be reading poems and stories about Brooklyn and its “wildlife.” Melissa and I are also discussing the possibility of me joining her on her West Coast book release tour Spring 2010. I plan on doing some guerilla style readings at Dog Runs, Pet Stores, Book Stores etc. More info to come!

As most of you know I’ve been working on a book of interviews with poets for the past year. The interviews were originally featured on BOMBlog. I do love reading these poets’ new books, researching them, and asking them thoughtful questions about their work, and most of them seem to appreciate not getting asked “Who’s your Favorite Poet?”  and “When did you write your first poem?etc. Below are some of my interviews so far:

Denise Duhamel: Reform School Poet

Barbara Hamby and the Abecedarian Corset

Akilah Oliver: Good Grief

The Biographical Helium of Stacy Szymaszek

Matthew Rohrer: Poultry and Poetry?

Campbell McGrath, Survivor: Poetry Edition

Mary Jo Bang: The Bride of Alliteration

Hopefully we will find a publisher for both books soon!

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Chocolate Charlie, readings etc.

 

Chocolate Charlie photo by Dennis Riley

Chocolate Charlie photo by Dennis Riley

 

 

Chocolate Charlie wears a tire on his head. Runs away from his own excrement….

So this week, I’m staying with Chocolate Charlie, who’s quite a character. He’s some kind of Springer Spaniel, retriever mix I think. Part Dog, Part Monkey. The other night it rained and he tried to cram himself under the bed, which he’s really too big to fit under. So I’m watching some crap TV and I hear the thunder rumble outside and then scuffle, thump, scuffle as he army crawls into his bomb shelter for safety. When it stops thundering it’s scuffle, thump, scuffle as he comes out again. He grabs his tire toy which is ridiculous and bigger than his head and comes over to me with the black rubber donut on his face. God I love these creatures!

Last night I went to my friend Melissa’s reading series Mixer at the Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. I love the Cake Shop, Andy, the owner is super nice. I played there a lot back when I was in bands. In fact when my band Wu Wei played our first show there with the Old Haunts it was kinda crazy. I was all excited because Tobi Vail from Bikini Kill was playing drums with them. I got urinary tract infection the day of the show but didn’t want to miss it. Let me clarify here for those who don’t know, Urinary Tract Infections are not only painful like you are being stabbed in the vagina with a sharp knife, but also can make you lose bladder control. You have to treat them with antibiotics, so you have to go to the doctor, I swear if more men got UTI’s you’d be able to get an over-the -counter cure. Anyways, I went out and bought some Depends and played the show with a diaper on. How punk rock is that? I digress…

So at Mixer we ate red velvet cake and watched Anne Hayes of the lit mag Storyscape read a funny story about a fictional literary agency. I clapped even though they rejected my poems, not that I’m bitter. Suzanne Guillette read from her book Much to Your Chagrin: A Memoir of Embarrassment. She read a story about a hungover guy having to get home on the subway in Barcelona wearing only a white t-shirt and a pink speedo. Then Sini Anderson of the mythical Sister Spit freestyled a story with musical accompaniment. Sini is a good friend and an amazing performer. You just have to go see her to understand. When she tells a story it is an engrossing, etherial experience. Last night it was mostly about her crazy childhood and Michael Jackson. We headed home  before the band, Falling of the Bright, played (Sorry!), had to catch the B train before it stopped running at 9pm and see the season Premier of Top Chef! 

That’s all for now. Gotta go work on Chocolate Charlie’s poem and then get melted walking dogs in 90 degree weather!

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