Friday, November 16, 2007

Hammer Series


I heard Terrance Hayes read last night as part of the Hammer Series. I first learned of Hayes after reading his poem "The Same City," which is about as good as anything I've read in a while. The venue seemed kind of off to me. He read in the movie theater of the Hammer Museum. The room is pink all over, with the these long, thin fluorescent lights all around. Around 300 seats, which around 50 were full (likely the most beautiful poetry listening crowd I have ever seen, mostly UCLA students). It seemed a little too dark (even with the lights) and stuffy in mood.

Stephen Yenser did the long introduction. It began kind of slapstick, as he hunted for his notes for minutes (at one point leaving the stage and theater to go try to find them). But as soon as he started speaking the tone went directly to academic, comparing Hayes to Marianne Moore (it was her birthday yesterday). It went on endlessly. Even though Hayes teaches at Carnegie Mellon I would not consider him an academic poet and as soon as he got on stage the mood shifted. Hayes is engaging, with the kind of voice that I wish came out of my mouth when I read my work. But he wasn't prepared either, thumbing through his books and papers for the whole reading, having no real idea of what he was going to read next. I like him and his poems for the most part, but something about the night was off for me and I never quite engaged myself fully.

The best part of the night came when I went to Tom Bergins for the first time. $6- dollar Irish Coffees is a deal in this town. The bar is the kind of place I can see myself returning to all too often. I sat and watched the Ducks blow their season.

3 comments:

Hari BK said...

I saw Terrance Hayes last year at the AWP conference. Great reader. That night Galway Kinnell was reading at the L.A. public library downtown. Bob Hass is reading next week. Wonder if you've seen the website poetry.la? Two of my friends started it and post videos of local readings.Check it out.

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