We're en route to Chicago (literally, typing from the passenger's seat now). We've been having a busy and productive and wild time all at once. We spent not much time in Colorado, but we made a quick stop to look at Naropa and Innisfree poetry store and cafe, which we were very pleased with. We made a bit of a mistake in driving to Denver, because our aim to set up our book station was spoiled by a thunderstorm. But the storm was very beautiful to watch, so all's well.
Lincoln was a very pleasant surprise. We lodged up with the mother of our trombonist friend, Andy Strain, and were met with endless hospitality from both she and her pup, Piccolo. We also had an excellent time with the poets (Justin Fyfe, Jessica Millnitz, and Paul Clark) and their friends, who later took us out for a late night pool party by the train tracks. The Lincolnites run a space called Sp ce, which is in the same building as Tugboat, the gallery where we held the reading. They have some artworks up at Spce and, to use their own explanation, use the art to lure people in for readings during the Lincoln artwalk on first fridays.
The reading itself went so well. We tried out something new, an experiment we're calling “soundtrack for x film” using visual material from Stan Douglas's 1991 Monodramas, which didn't go quite as we expected but as mentioned is an experiment and was fulfilling nonetheless. Justin, who read first, emits a heavy air of deadpan, which mostly came through in his quips about the poems he read. The poems themselves were explorations of relationships and place, oftentimes specifically Nebraska (which we loved) and that were quietly clever. Jessica didn't read for long, but her work was frank and precise. Paul's presence itself was pretty magnanimous: he has a booming voice and was tapping his bear foot to the words he was reading, and his poetry lived up to his persona. A highlight for us was a poem he had written in collaboration with Rachel Wolfe(z). After the reading we head back to Sp ce and, at the suggestion of a friend named Kyle, started writing a composite poem with about a dozen of us contributing lines from past works, which felt surprisingly organic. I'll post it here soon. Anyway, in sum: we're certainly lucky to have met this group of folks.
It was hard to leave the friends we made in Lincoln, and we had a long drive ahead of us to Chicago with a plan to stop in Iowa City to check out the workshop and meet with Jerimee Blomeke, who runs the press Human 500. Jermiee came across our upcoming Chicago reading and wanted to help out, so we met with he and his girlfriend Nikki Lee and fellow workshop student Jeff Griffin, who extended the offer for us to crash in Iowa City, which we quickly took. The group of us spent some time chatting about the workshop, which from what we hear is... debaucherous? Emotional? And very worthwhile. We also met two friendly Iowa graduates who run an interesting sounding reading called Monsters of Poetry in Madison, which we're sad we can't make it to. Later the stupendous hospitality of the midwest continued, plus we obtained a few copies of Jeff's chapbooks from Human 500, which we're adding to our pile for scattering across the US.
And that leads us up to this very moment, on the Interstate 88. More soon.