Saturday, December 22, 2007

Detroit Reading and Road Trip/Apartment/Packing

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
I drove through Canada to Detroit on 12/12 for a reading at the Zeitgeist Gallery with Audra Kubat and Cheri L.R. Taylor. It was a beautiful day for driving. The sun was bright, the sky a rich blue, and there was almost no traffic on the 401 through Canada. I did run into a little annoyance at the border, however. Passing through customs in Detroit, I was told I'd been randomly selected to have my car searched. Not a big deal, and certainly not as freaky as the time that happened to Lori and me in Buffalo. That time, they made us drive into an all white bay and closed the bay door behind us. It felt like we were about to be strip-searched and shipped off to a CIA prison somewhere. In Detroit they just send you to a waiting area and everyone is very friendly.

After that I arrived at my old friend James Hart's pad in Mexican Town. Detroit apartments are very much like Buffalo ones -- oversized and slightly run down. James has taken to writing poems on the walls of his bedroom (click over to my flickr site to see photos of these). It's a pretty unique place. We met up with Audra, on of the other readers, at a bar downtown, but apparently James had some previous disagreement with the manager on duty, who promptly asked us to leave.

We headed over to a Mexican restaurant where we met up with a group of other people for dinner. I wish Buffalo had a Mexican town. Detroit's Mexican food scene is worth the trip alone. After dinner we all headed over to the Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue, where the reading was to take place. It's some kind of warehouse that has been turned into a gallery/bar/theater/performance space. Paintings, trinkets, sculptures, even a real moosehead, line the walls from floor to ceiling. It has a great community feel to it.

Met up again with Blair, a Detroit poet who won the national slam a few years ago. we'd met before when he was in Buffalo. It was also good to see James' father, a teacher and jazz musician with whom I'd had some great conversations the last time I was in town.

Cheri read first -- a new chapbook from Pudding House retelling the Little Red Riding Hood story. She was followed by Audra, who's fairly well know as a singer/songwriter, but has now started to foray into writing poetry. Both were nice to listen to. Then I read. It was a good audience -- probably 30 people or so -- and they were very responsive to the work. Someone even commented on the meter of one the poems afterward.

The night ended with a trip to Slow's, a hip new bar on Michigan Avenue which may or may not be a sign of gentrification in the neighborhood. Next moning James and I went for breakfast at a real old-time Detroit diner and then I headed back to Buffalo in a serious snowstorm. I hope people get hip to James and his series, because he's really making something happen there and it would be great for hi make contact with people outside of Motown.

In other news, we've found an apartment in the Elmwood Village. It's a large one bedroom with tons of storage in the basement. it should do the job for 6 months or so, before we move on to another house (or another city altogether).

We also started packing up our things -- it took forty bank boxes to collect all my books, but they are no ready to go. We'll start packing in earnest after we get back from my mother's in Florida next week.

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