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Ellen Lytle

"Ex-tenebris Rising; "we jump on nows fat belly and float…" "

In memory of Juishi and Robert Dunn
15th annual new year's day marathon of poets
Bowery Poetry Club
Reviewed by Ellen Lytle.

Extenebris Rising, the 15th annual new year's day marathon of poets, performance poets and musicians took place on the dressed up stage of the Bowery Poetry Club on a frigid afternoon and a night so cold and dark it couldn't wake up. Still, this event manages to intrigue me more each year and for fifteen years I’ve attended, read as a poet and taken notes as a journalist. This year though, for the first time, I could cut the generation differences w/ a pocket knife and of the seventy plus folks there at any one time I think I knew twelve!

Getting its start at the Café Nico, a loft/apt. belonging to poet and former Quack magazine editor Lawrence Jones, (he named his place after the princess in Frederico Fellini’s great film; La Dolce Vita) Bruce Weber’s creation has had several homes since Jones’ loft but’s been comfortably settled for the past five or more years at BPC thanks, of course to Bob Holman. However, was it happier, more fun and less pressurizing, crouched around Larry’s loft and allotted, it seems to me, an extra minute or two to read or perform in an atmosphere like a family outing. We were practically family knowing one another, mostly living nearby. We were the folks who originally helped Bruce create this gig, part of a community; downtown poets and ex tenebris rising had 14 other names rivaling St. Mark’s New Year’s marathon where you need some bucks to buy a ticket and ours is still free, again thanks to Bob Holman.

Looking through my notes, there’s only a fistful of good lines this year compared with years and years of muscle on poetic bones. Why? Again generational differences; aesthetics, or something more intrinsic, something like disbanding a community and folks scattering into cliques in Jersey, Long Island to Upstate? Or is it we’re all hung-up living with so much complication that dipping into that part of ourselves ripe with poetry is becoming more and more difficult; is this phenomenon of the new millennium or just another city hazard? Maybe it’s all these and more, or maybe burrowing in rural areas should be mandatory for poets.

Here are some lines I caught and managed to salvage after my cat, Twilly tossed and misplaced them across my desk and putting them in order seems impossible. But maybe next year I’ll make sure to drink lots of coffee and stay late, I have a feeling that’s when the muscles flex the most.

Anyway, my apologies, but interesting images anyway;
"happy fuckin’ new year- at work people pester me for answers they don’t want to hear.’ ‘don’t like the holidays, kill yourself, but is suicide right for me?’ dead quiet calm at four am sunday- a snowfall with fairydust mixed in’ your parents dumped the contents of their house in your boat- you can make music with things lighter than a piano.’ ‘is water boarding torture? they’ll tie you down as if it’s a prank.’ ‘she’s leering at an object, the object, a 3/d nativity- I’ll snap it up in a minute, if it’s free.’ ‘thistles are in bloom, the grapes must ripen.’ ‘c’mon straight boy make love with me, men love themselves when they make love with other men.’ ‘i was a wonderful gift placed in the wrong packaging, i’ve sold nice things to women namedsally or kate.’ ‘we never grow the green skin needed to survive.’ ‘there’s a tremble in the air, every step dances- thank jupiter it’s already dark.’ ‘last seen ascending blue sky, we are healers or are we murderers.’ ‘I rip sugar packets open, i’m dying to dry hump his ass.’ ‘walking down the same street day after day and expecting to find everyone in the same place.’ ‘words are puttin’ on the squeeze that strangles you- it’s just you readin’, the book is breathin’.’ ‘too many women cried at my father’s funeral.’ ‘I come from every small town in Oklahoma, we all come from the twelve tribes in israel.’ ‘i think i’ll shoot a moose and i don’t know where russia is but it’ll turn up one day.’ ‘lana turner collapses- we become a picnic.’ ‘would you pour me a glass of pomegranate juice.’ ‘let words be stars, the art of poetry is not hard to learn if you’re not afraid to use words that burn.’ ‘i was in the aisle of waldbaums on december third.’ ‘zoo animals let loose in the street, how delightful.’ ‘a man sets out to jog on abandon streets, the pack of wolf/ dogs/hunger stretches/ the jogger carries a spray bottle of ammonia.’ ‘here’s blindness, burn it well- we jump on nows fat belly and float."

Well thanks also to Sue Polo for her marvelous stage set and to Bruce and Joanne Pagano Weber for all they do. Hopefully next year, comfortable under a stable U.S. President, we’ll show up able minded, strong and with good poetry fixin’s. I can’t wait…

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