Monday, November 24, 2014

Bay Area Generations Reading, Hotel Rex

For my birthday I read poems at Bay Area Generations 15th reading at the Hotel Rex, on Sutter Street in San Francisco. My intergenerational partner in crime was Bruce Moody.

It was one of those rapid turnaround events, when you no sooner applied, you were accepted, no sooner accepted, and then it was time to read. A whirlwind romance. It was also the evening of the first of the big freeway shutdowns—the protests. But we didn't know that at the time. Bruce, who was driving in from Vallejo, had to abandon his car in Richmond, and he hopped onto BART as there was a mondo traffic jam. Even so, he barely made it to the reading on time.

It was sweet to have childhood friend Micaela Wall and Scottish friend Margretta Campbell in the audience. I rarely have overlap from my myriad other lives. In fact, it was a fluke to even be reading with Bruce Moody.

An old flame, John Oliver Simon had asked me to apply to the reading committee but I couldn't think of a partner who was significantly older than me. Suddenly Bruce loomed on the horizon of the psyche. I remembered something he had said at his 80th birthday party—he didn't want gifts, he wanted people to read his poems. And so I have. I'm on his email list. Sometimes I comment on them, sometimes I let them sink into the void. (Yes, I am writing this piece post-mortem, but I wanted to post something on my birthdate. At the very least, a passing nod to a new publishing credit.)

A lot of water has passed under the bridge tonight. Being in the same room as John, and no longer hurting at the mere sight of him. I thought I'd never get to this point. Time heals all. I am glad to be at this place and time. But it did rather add up the psychic ante during the reading. Especially with Neil sitting there too.

I had a rather strange and disturbing interaction with co-reader Ellery Akers who thought I had dissed her as a teacher in this blog. It was a piece of raw reportage from a workshop she had taught for CPITS at IONS Earthrise Institute in 2012. I had no idea what she meant. I was broadsided. Then it dawned on me, she must've googled herself, and my blog post came up. I also reported on the workshops of several other poets as well. It wasn't about her. It was about my writing processes.

I thought about ameliorating it, even taking the post down but then I decided not to, as it was an honest evaluation of my reaction to her workshop. I loved meeting her, but I didn't like the way she was rushing us, nor could I read the sloppy copies of the model poems that were presented at 6 and 8 point type.

Apparently I haven't the right to say in public that it bothered me. I can safely say that she was hurt, and now I'm hurt. A sad little black raincloud for my birthday. I do apologize to Ellery, for unwittingly hurting her feelings. That was never my intention. But, after rereading the post, I've decided that I'm not taking it down.
A Cross Generational View: Transgressive! That’s the word that comes to my mind in relation to Maureen Hurley. I don’t know why that is, except that for me she embodies the democratic spirit of the Democracy in being so. An encompassing embrace. Fair-mindedness. Committed to challenging the rules when injustice rules them. I am in my 9th decade. She is timeless. —Bruce Moody
Bruce Moody: One of the original Manhattan Mad Men, he ad-libbed his way around asphalt jingles, he invented the Cheerios Kid, wrote for Look Magazine, The National Lampoon, then chucked it all for the west coast, lived on the road, where he took to playing the stage, discovered all the world’s a stage, still wordsmithing all along, he wrote plays, a novel or three: Will Work For Food Or $ won awards, and of course, poems. Whether by stage or screen, his voice transcends. On his 80th birthday he wished not for health, nor wealth, but to be read. He is quintessentially forever young.  —Maureen Hurley

Poems published:

Video: Bay Area Generations #15 » Maureen Hurley + Bruce Moody
Special thanks to all the poets who made this reading possible: Charles Kruger, Sandra Wassilie, Candy Shue, Deborah Steinberg, Fred Dodsworth, and guest curator John Oliver Simon, for insisting that I enter the contest. And of course, to Bruce Moody, and my co-readers.

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