On Friday the 13th (!) of June, we were thrilled to host the launch party for Metatron's debut series of poetry chapbooks. This sparse little display you see above was all we had left in stock, since the books had been selling so well already. Shortly after we took this picture, Metatron's Ashley Opheim arrived with a pile of more copies, and a crowd streamed in right after. We had a packed house!
Ashley started the night off by thanking Metatron mentor Dave McGimpsey before plugging the new Metatron website, onmetatron.com, which is looking for local writers to contribute (check it out if that's you)! Then she introduced the night's first reader, Laura Broadbent.
Laura's new book, Interviews, is composed of posthumous interviews with various writers. She read from the one with Clarice Lispector. Broadbent described Lispector as, "So intense that even a jpeg of her face pierces your soul and you have to look away." Lispector was very mystical: "Beyond the words, beyond the self," as Broadbent said. Accordingly, Lispector's "answers" to Broadbent's questions about what is the "I" and what is "it" (ie. about the self and the other) were dense knots of stream-of-consciousness poetry, mysterious and dark.
Next up was Jay Winston Ritchie, whom Ashley aptly introduced as "funny, earnest, and colloquial." He has a new book of fiction coming out at the end of June, but he read some poems from his Metatron chapbook. Then he announced, “I’m gonna read some new poems, which will be fun. And terrifying for me.” In these poems, Ritchie observed that, "It’s difficult to be at the bar and to be a lilac bush simultaneously." He also explained at length how he is "fake in most social situations" in a poem that drew a lot of laughs from the audience.
After Jay, Matthew E. Duffy took to the stage -- easily the night's most flamboyant performer. After telling a story about how he was recently asked to "open an embassy for Quebeckistan" at a “psychedelic moon show,” he proceeded to recite some of his poetry in a sing-murmuring cadence. Among the salad of words and sounds, the phrase, “If you don’t like oblivion, go away,” stood out. Taking a break, he explained that his poems are "visual condensations of letters and structures" including phonetic marks and words from French, Russian, and Yiddish -- they're more intended to be seen on the page than read aloud.
After an intermission, Ashley introduced Rollie Pemberton (aka Cadence Weapon), who read from his debut collection of poetry, Magnetic Days. He began by thanking Ashley for giving him the chance to publish a book of poetry. Naturally, a lot of Pemberton's poems have a hip-hop rhythm and the flavor of song lyrics, but others were prose poems full of funny observations. One referred to “making your own doritos in a 3D printer,” and another commented on the absurdities of contemporary dating. Quoting Andre 3000, he reminded us that, "You're only as funky as your last cut."
Next up: Ali Pinkney! She apologized for her weird mood -- a friend of hers died 2 years ago on a Friday the 13th, she said. To further the spooky mood, she read from a poem that's a ouija board transcription. She also took a break from poetry to read a bit of fiction, a story called "Baby Baby Baby, or, a Wooden Box from Costa Rica." A memorable line from one of her other poems: “What the fuck is this? There’s a Jameson shot in front of me. I ordered Campari.”
Finally, Ashley introduced herself and got up to read. The first poem she chose was one she hasn’t read in public before, and hasn’t even re-read for herself in a long time. It was about a transitional period in her own life -- about being, as Britney Spears put it, not a girl, not yet a woman. “I have stopped bragging on Facebook," she read. "I have stopped being in the spirit to jokingly twerk on my Navajo rug...At home we have an argument about Miley Cyrus. I say it is important to have compassion for everyone.”
After that, people hung out! It was a real party! Until the party moved elsewhere, of course. Thanks again to everyone who came!