Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month 30/30 Haiku/Senryu

Well it's NaPoMo and I usually do 30 Haiku/Senryu for the month. But for some reason this year I just haven't been feeling it. I'm not sure why, but I just haven't been writing. Part of it is that I've sworn off writing certain kinds of love poems. Part of it is Frankie Knuckles dying (which for some reason really hit me hard) and some other bad news involving the health of some close friends. I actually only met Frankie once, but it was memorable for a few reasons. Over my DJ career I got to spin with quite a few legends, including Afrika Bambaataa, Red Alert, DJ Kool, Little Louie Vega, DJ Mandrill, Sam The Man Burns, Terminator X, DJ Frankski and a few others. But two of those occasions bookend my career and were very similar experiences. In 83 at the start of my career Bam came to DC to play at a club called the Zoo where I was the house jock. Bam was already a legend, but DC wasn't into hip hop like that and as a result no one showed up. When I say no one, I mean no one. We didn't have a single paid entry. So me and Bam and his Record Boy (a young CCNY Sophomore named Rick Rubin) spent the whole night listening to records. Basically it was Bam quizzing me and then playing shit I had never heard before. It was the best education a DJ could ever ask for. Bam was chill, he didn't trip off the lack of a crowd, he just played records for us and we had a great time. He asked me if there where any records I was missing from my collection and I told him how I had never been able to find "High Powered Rap" by Crash Crew, Bam whipped it out and told me the story of why the record got pulled from all the stores. I never forgot his magnanimity and graciousness. Years later, in 1992 just after I had quit spinning I got a call to ask if I would play with Frankie Knuckles at Traxx in DC for Howard's Homecoming. I was done spinning, but I wasn't passing up that chance. I was just there to warm up the crowd and watch the system for the House, but Frankie was mad cool. Like Bam he travelled with a gazillion records, many of them rare. At one point he asked me what was the first record I ever bought, I said "Cuba" by the Gibson brothers. He goes through his crate and pulls it out! I hadn't heard that joint in 15 years but he cued it up. We talked music and how he accidentally invented House Music and lots of other things. He was mad cool, at one point he pulled out a white label copy of Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman" (which wouldn't be out for another six months)it was a DJ's dream gig, hanging out with a legend and talking music. For a cat of his stature he, like Bam, was very gracious, just a really cool dude. It was an amazing way to end a career, a night I'll never forget. But usually this kind of thing spurs me to write. I haven't been reading as much either and really have no excuses for that. I did attend Split This Rock in DC to do the Black Rooster Reading and that was the bomb. I also went to Pittsburgh to read for the launch of the Electronic Corpse anthology which I have some work in. And I've been asked to read at the Best American Poetry 2014 event this September. That's obviously a really big deal since you have to have a poem in the anthology to be asked to read and they only ask a few people out of the hundred or so who are included. That will be an exciting trip to NYC for me, for sure. Hopefully I'll still get my 30 poems in this month, but right now it doesn't look good, my Muse appears to be on strike.

April morning
flatness of the Atlantic-
Every page blank

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)
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