Safia Jama for Word for Word Poetry, July 8, 2014
Featuring The Song Cave Press
Despite dire weather predictions, the clouds parted and the torrential rains held off long enough for four poets to present new work by a relatively new press, The Song Cave. The reading showcased verse that is in dialogue with both poetic tradition and gritty process.
Jane Gregory began the evening with poems from her collection My Enemies. Gregory balances emotion and rhetoric in unexpected ways: “This is the sound of a sun on a loop.” Her poems remind us that poems are also science experiments. For example, Gregory employs the conceit of writing a series of poems titled “Book I Will Not Write,” which in turn makes space for some innovative word-play: “I do not write this / book because I see all the applause is just prayer / undecided.” Gregory’s words shape-shift in mid-line, as the speaker follows taut through-lines through mysterious fields.
A city park seemed the perfect setting for Nate Klug to read Rough Woods, subtitled “Passages of Virgil’s Eclogues. “ Klug’s aesthetic feels both old and new; he embraces tradition and in doing so, insists on a living poetic tradition. The passages are peopled by shepherd boys who meet Silenus, drunken mainstay of Greek mythology, singing of “burning planets,” “the earth spinning dry,” when “pine forests started popping up.” Klug’s translation-poems circle around the yearning for a respite in song from angst and psychoses: “This pastoral life can’t cure my madness.” Klug’s clear language leaves the poems free to grapple with deep concerns.
Todd Colby read poems from his upcoming collection, Splash State, out in September. Known for his humor and wit, Colby read poems both edgy and vulnerable: “I ran my hand along the back of your leopard”; “I want to do with you what rich people do every Sunday morning.” His background in music and performance showed in a dramatic-monologue-style reading of “Sweetie,” a poem whose discordant music still sticks in my ear. As Colby read “Love Poem,” he cracked a smile as the wind blew so hard the poet had to use both hands to keep his papers from drifting away.
All four poets gave the sense of a nurturing and supportive press of auspicious beginnings. Word for Word curator Paul Romero noted the enviable youth and talent of the poets, and offered congratulations to co-editors Alan Felsenthal and Ben Estes.