David's Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer
I met David for the first time about a year-and-a-half ago, when he came through town for a reading with The Rockpile tour, featuring David, Michael Rothenberg and Terry Carrión. We had them read at Big Night along with a local jazz trio. It's a tribute to David's brilliance, I think, that he was able to give a "beat" poetry reading, accompanied by live jazz, that did not feel like self-parody or cliché. The musicians had never met any of the poets before and were improvising throughout the set.
My favorite part of the evening was toward the end of David's set. He'd been reading against a backdrop of bluesy jazz standards for most of the evening. For the last piece he chose to read a section of a long poem about Lester Young. The musicians all nodded their heads in appreciation of this and sat back to listen before they decided on what to play.
The poem itself has a lush and gorgeous rhythm to it and to their great credit the musicians picked up on this, recognizing that the poem did need any musical embellishment. After a few tentative notes, they chose to remain silent, eventually putting their instruments away while David continued to read. It was quite beautiful.
We went out to a local Greek restaurant after that and talked about poetry and philosophy all night until we were all falling asleep at the table. I took them back to their hotel room, where they passed to me a gift to give to Geoffrey Gatza, one they were afraid wouldn't make it through customs!
from David's Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer
It comes to this:
my teacup filled with steaming green tea.
Basho sits beside me with ohashi,
waiting for Reiko to bring out
the Nikku Nabe, the sake, some Kirin beer.
The haiku will come later.
After dinner &
a Havatampa cigar.
Friday, March 11, 2011