i. Is it Barcelona? Is it Brooklyn? Paris? No, Brooklyn, I'm sure of it. After all,for 37 years it's the city that's taken so much from me, but, simultaneously, givenme its heart and marrow. I owe this cement and tar; this cement and tar knows of my debt. Whether we’re talking Dyker, Carroll Gardens, Bushwick, Canarsie, Windsor, Kensington, Manhattan Beach, Brighton, and ah, Sunset Park (Gunset to its natives, me included), et al, home.
ii. Sunset for 28 years. My first kiss; first love, Kim Toler; loves come and gone; first making whoopee; mortality here and there; loves gone and come; books stacked, books tossed; sheets of scribbling thrown to the wolves and the dumpster (true story); cheese sandwiches in the church vestibule; catholic schoolboy/school girl uniforms; stolen bikes; eight hour wiffle ball marathons(“Scuff that ball good,kid”); slap; spud; manhunt; manic late night drives (2AM to be exact) from Sunset to Gravesend and back.
iii. I may have had the honor, the privilege to travel here and there, but these is some special, gritty streets. Mind you, I'm not the only one born out of Brooklyn's womb: The Millers, Selby Jr., Mailer, Woody, Basquiat, Streissand, Louie the Lizard, Frankie from Smith, Angela (those eyes), Illiana (damn fabulous smile), The Savasta sisters (Marianna, Giulieta, Vincenza; Marianna, them poutty lips) Colleen, Mr.Mouse and his brother Red, and yes, Violi, Sir Paul Violi.
iv. Doesn't Brooklyn know its language, its prosody? Of course it does, Brooklyn comes equipped. Whether you hear the syllables, the cadences, the beat, in the trees, on the train platform, your local deli, in traffic, in line for your lotto ticket (the beautiful and talented poet, Ashleigh Allen, would be proud of my preposition selection there), the language is there, always there. It refuses to move. It's in constant flux, morphing. Beautiful lines, crass and uncomfortable lines. Some favorites of mine, and it’s all about delivery: "Do me favor? Go fuck yourself!" Or, the ubiquitous, "Go fuck your mother’!" When you hear these gems, accept them, embrace them, you know your home. Let me not forget that it was here that I found and read my first collections of poetry thanks to Mr. Ed Breslin and Mr. George MacLarty (poet, best friend and high school English teacher): cummings, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, yes. I was 15, and stuffed in my back pocket, true story, Ferlinghetti's Coney Island of the Mind and cummings' 100 poems. Yes, methinks I'm home.
Books of the day: Sarah Sarai's The Future is Happy; Lauren Hunter's forthcoming chapbook titled, My Own Fires; Rachel Zolf's Human Resources (more on Zolf's work later this week), Ben Mirov’s Ghost Machine, Elaine Equi’s Click and Clone
Poets to look for/ read: Jeff T. Johnson, Claire Donato, Samantha Zighelboim, David Blasco, Allison Power, Amanda Smeltz, Mark Guarie, Christine N. Kanowink, Alina Gregorian, Martin Beeler, Camilo Roldan, Adam Fitzgerald,, Kate Angus, Laura Minor. Joe Weil, Lauren Hunter, Sharmilla Cohen. More to come.
Journals/magazines to look for: Maggy, Supermachine, Infinite Editions, 1913, G(o)BBet