Tag Archives: Miguel Algarin

I’m Giving a Free Reading Tonight at KGB Bar

2 Nov

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I’m reading at KGB Bar tonight! I’m super excited. I’ve been to a few readings here before, and it’s got a killer atmosphere. Not only that, but check out the impressive lineup:

With Professors:

Wang Ping

Miguel Algarin

Nancy Mercado

Carlos Manuel Rivera

Julie Patton

Everton Sylvester

At 6:30pm Professor Cornelius Eady reads and perform with his Rough Magic band’s guitarist Charlie Rauh and Concetta Abbate on the violin

And poets reading with or without acoustic musicians:
Carl Hancock Rux
Jeff Wright
Brian Omni Dillon
Ronnie Norpel
Susan Yung
Kate Levin
Sarah Sarai
Stephanie Nikolopoulos
R! on verse acoustic guitar & harmonicas

Und singing in German und mit monologue:
Leigh Martha Klinger

I’m listed as a poet, and I do in fact write poetry, but I was planning on reading an excerpt from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Specifically, I plan on reading about Kerouac’s Greek connection, his Lowell friend Sebastian Sampas.

The event starts at 6 and is free and open to the general public.

KGB Bar is on 85 East 4th Street (near 2nd Avenue)
New York, New York 10003

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

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Photos from the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival

31 Jul

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I feel incredibly honored to have been invited to read at the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival. I had such a blast hearing so many great poets read at last year’s festival, and it never occurred to me that just a year later I would be joining them on stage. I have poet RA Araya to thank for continually supporting my writing. He invited me to read Homer in the ancient Homeric Greek and from the literary biography I’m coauthoring with Paul Maher Jr. entitled Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” so I read two road trip pieces.

For my Homer selection, I chose the opening passage from The Odyssey. Growing up in the Peloponnesus, my father had to memorize part of the epic poem in school. To this day, he still can recite the lines! I studied Classical Greek at Pomona College (while a student at Scripps), which is different than Homeric Greek. We never really read aloud in class because it’s a “dead” language, one that is no longer spoken but read by scholars. There are debates about how ancient Greek dialects were spoken, as the pronunciation is, according to some scholars, different than modern Greek. I am therefore definitely not adept at reading in the ancient tongue, but if someone asks me to read something specific, I do my best. Fortunately, there are many great English translations of The Odyssey out there too!

It was a no brainer to choose one of the passages about poetry from Burning Furiously Beautiful. In telling the story of the making of the novel On the Road, it was important that the literary biography also explored Kerouac’s poetry and his friendship with other poets. Although he is mainly remembered as a novelist, Kerouac wrote poetry throughout his life, including the period when he was on the road. There’s a really strong section in the book about how Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg influenced each other’s writing, and I wanted to read that, but in the end I found a passage in Burning Furiously Beautiful that seemed to better encapsulate the mood of the Poetry Festival. In the passage, Kerouac has been walking along the highway, hitchhiking, and finds himself composing a poem about everything he sees around him. It reminded me of how out on Governors Island we were all a bunch of writers lofting in the grass and translating the world around us into poetic language.

I read directly after RA, who opened up the event with his famously short-but-sweet poem, and then came Hillary Keel, Sarah Sarai, Carmen Bardeguez-Brown, Kate Levin, Carlos Manuel Rivera, Sparrow, Bonafide Rojas, and Keith Roach. They were amazing! Seriously. Hilary read in German and a couple of the other poets read in Spanish, and I suspect our reading—under the name Miguel Algarin’s Brooklyn Poetry—was the most linguistically diverse at the Festival. I had traveled over the Governors Island with Kate, and I think this was her best reading yet. In addition to poetry about Manhattan and our value as people, she read from her punk novel, which I would’ve thought was a poem if she hadn’t said otherwise. I always enjoy hearing Sarah read, and in particular enjoyed her poem about meeting an angel at a bus stop. The poet who had me in stitches, though, was Sparrow. I’d heard him sing at RA’s birthday party last year, and I loved hearing his one-liner poems this time around.

Special thanks too to our stage manager Liz von Klemperer, who did an excellent job. There were a lot of volunteers who kept the entire event running smoothly. The New York City Poetry Festival is put on by The Poetry Society of New York and is organized by Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski. For the full lineup of the two-day event, check out NYCPF 2013.

I also want to thank my family and friends who trekked out to the island—some coming from as far as Jersey and Brooklyn—to support my reading. The photos here were taken by Leslie Marks, except the last one which is a self portrait. For more photos of me and all the other amazing poets, check out asterix611’s flickr.

Save the Date: I’m Reading at the 3rd Annual New York City Poetry Festival

9 Jul

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I’ll be reading at this summer’s 3rd Annual New York City Poetry Festival!

Poet RA Araya invited me to read from Homer’s epic road trip The Odyssey in the original Homeric Greek and from my book coauthored with Paul Maher Jr., Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” as part of Miguel Algarin’s Brooklyn poetry series.

I’m SUPER excited. You may remember what a lovely time I had at last year’s New York City Poetry Festival. And that I read from the Kerouac book at Miguel Algarin’s birthday bash and read from Homer at RA’s own birthday reading last year.

Here are the details:

  • July 27, 2013
  • 11:40am
  • Algonquin stage
  • Colonel’s Row, Governor’s Island (New York, NY)
  • Free!

Hope to see you there! I’m looking forward to hearing all the other brilliant poets.

You can always check out the Appearances section on my website (tab above) for my past and upcoming readings, tours, and teaching engagements.

Jack Kerouac’s Birthday Celebrations Happening Across the Country

7 Mar

Jack Kerouac’s birthday is coming up on the 12th, and there are a couple of celebratory events happening.

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac has several days of fantastic events centered around what might be my favorite (it’s hard to choose just one!) Kerouac book, Visions of Gerard. They will also be honoring David Amram, who has been a great mentor in my life and work:

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! will be spotlighting Jack Kerouac’s deeply spiritual and Lowell-based book, Visions of Gerard, throughout this 50th anniversary year of its publication, starting with the birthday events of March 2013. March will feature music by celebrated world musician David Amram, musical collaborator and friend of Kerouac, an art exhibition, educational programs, walking tours, poetry, readings, and other cultural events that celebrate the life and writings of Jack Kerouac.

Friday 8 March 2013

Kerouac: People, Places, and Things
Time: 6:00 to 10:00pm
Location: Lowell Telecommunications Center Gallery, 246 Market St.
Kerouac-influenced art exhibition opening reception

The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow
Time: 6:30 to 7:45pm
Location: Lowell Telecommunications Center Gallery, 246 Market St.
A film by Steven Cerio with the director to present, plus a reading from Big Sur played against the director’s newest short

Music for Jack
Time: 8:00 to 9:30pm
Location: Lowell Telecommunications Center Gallery, 246 Market St.
David Amram and friends. A $10 donation is requested.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Amram and Marion
Time: 10:30am to 12:00pm
Location: Welles Emporium, 175 Merrimack St.
Help Lowell Celebrates Kerouac celebrate its new merchandise home at the Welles Emporium. Musician-author David Amram and poet Paul Marion help Lowell Celebrates Kerouac celebrate its new merchandise home at the Welles Emporium. David and Paul will do readings from their books and poetry as well as Kerouac passages with musical interludes by David. They will sign books and CDs.

Jack and Woody: Two American Originals
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack St.
Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac life parallels, talk by author Steve Edington.

Mystic Jack Tour
Time: 3:30 to 5:00pm
Location: Meet at St. Louis Church, 221 West Sixth St.
Led by master Kerouac interpreter Roger Brunelle, specially presented this year in honor of 50th anniversary of publication of Visions of Gerard. A $10 donation is requested.

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Celebrates Amram!
Time: 8:00pm to ?
Location: White Eagle Cafe, 585 Market St.
Musical event with David Amram, the Part-Time Buddhas, and guest musicians. A $10 donation is requested.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Walking Jack Loop Walk
Time: 12:00 to 5:00pm
Location: Meet at Jack Kerouac Commemorative at Jack Kerouac Park, intersection of French and Bridge Streets
End at Old Worthen Tavern at 5:00 for toasting the birth of Jack Kerouac in March of 1922

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Kerouac Birthday Walk
Time: 6:00pm
Location: Starts at Centralville Social Club, 364 W. 6th St.
On Jack Kerouac’s 91st birthday, walk with LCK group to Lupine Road birth house for readings. The walk will start and end at Centralville Social Club (364 W. 6th St.) parking lot by the prominent Ace Hardware sign on Lakeview Ave., Centralville neighborhood.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Reading of Visions of Gerard
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack St.
Tour of “Jack’s Library” followed by selected readings and discussion of Visions of Gerard on the 50th anniversary of its publication. This is Kerouac’s possibly most spiritual book as he remembers his childhood years and the deep impacts of his brother Gerard’s death. Sponsored by UMassLowell and Pollard Memorial Library. Funded in part by the Massachusetts Council on the Humanities.

Thanks to Welles Emporium, the Pollard Memorial Library, the White Eagle Pub, the Old Worthen Tavern, Lowell Telecommunications, and the St. Louis de France School for hosting our events.

I also learned via LCK that the Northport Historical Society is hosting a birthday celebration for Kerouac:

Writer/Playwright, Pat Fenton will be reading from his play “Jack’s Last Call, Say Goodbye to Kerouac”, as part of the March is Kerouac Month at the Northport Historical Society. Mr. Fenton will also discuss Kerouac’s Northport years as well as his importance to American literature.

It’s the end of summer in 1964. A major cultural shift is starting to happen in the U.S., and on his last night in Northport, Long Island the America Jack Kerouac saw through a rear view mirror riding along side his “On the Road” partner Neal Cassady is slowly playing again in his mind.

Long after a small going away party that he has thrown for himself is over; Jack keeps on drinking as he prepares to move to Florida with his mother. He reflects back on his fame, his youth as a football star in Lowell, Massachusetts, and the worry that his time has come and gone. As he sums up parts of his life to the audience in a bittersweet narrative, he receives a series of soul-searching phone calls from his daughter Jan.

An obligatory stop at Gunther’s Bar down the block on Main Street, where Jack Kerouac spent much of his Northport Years, will be made by the writer, and the conversation will continue over pints of tap beer.

The birthday celebration will take place on Sunday, March 10th at 3 P.M., at the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main Street, Northport, Long Island.

The Laughing Goat, a coffeehouse and performance space in Colorado, is hosting a poetry reading on March 11:

”So, You’re a Poet,” presents Jack Kerouac’s 91st Birthday Reading & On the Road film screening: The ”So, You’re a Poet” reading series by Boulder’s ”beat book shop” has several Kerouac events on its poetry calendar. Poets who have performed in this venerable, decades-old series include the late Allen Ginsberg, Bernadette Mayer (who will be in Boulder this summer for the Summer Writing Program), Diane di Prima, Janine Pommy Vega, Anselm Hollo, and many more. The series has always been hosted by poet and Kerouac School alumnus Tom Peters, owner of the Pearl Street landmark ”beat book shop.” The series was hosted for many years by the famous Penny Lane Cafe. In the introduction to Poems from Penny Lane Anne Waldman writes ”One thinks of the legendary Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich where the Dadaist movement was born, or the cafes and bars in San Francisco which spawned the Beat Literary Movement, also the cafe Metro and the Nuyorican Cafe, both in New York City’s East Village.” The series currently takes place in the new Laughing Goat Coffeehouse, which has strong ties to the original Penny Lane. Amiri Baraka, Miguel Algarin, Lewis MacAdams, and other poets read there during last year’s Summer Writing Program. The Laughing Goat is surely a Boulder literary institution in the making.

Are there any other Kerouac birthday celebrations we should know about?

How will you be celebrating? If you can’t make it to one of the events, maybe you could write a poem or read a passage from one of Kerouac’s books or stop by the Beat Museum in San Francisco.

 

My Year in Review: 2012

4 Jan

What a full year 2012 was! Here’s a quick little recap:::

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In January I announced that the rumors were true. But it took the full year for it to finally look like this.

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In February I joined Pinterest to discover how it may help me as a writer and have been happily pinning ever since.

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In March my personal essay was included in the book Creating Space.

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In April I was one of the editors representing the Burnside Writers Collective at the Festival of Faith & Writing. It was so special to get to catch up with the other editors and writers, whom I just adore. I also had the opportunity to teach a writing workshop while I was there.

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Image via On the Road with Bob Holman / Rattapallax

In April I also worked to create awareness about what we lose when we lose a language. My interview with poet Bob Holman appeared in BOMBlog.

In May I received my MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School. I had a fantastic thesis advisor and a beloved peer group, who challenged me to dig deeper in my memoir about growing up Greek American. After I read a snippet at our thesis reading, an instructor I’d never even had came up to tell me how much he liked my work!

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Image via The Human Tower / Rattapallax

In June I witnessed the world record being broken for the tallest castell on a rooftop.

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In July I heard Amber Tamblyn read for The Paris Review at the Strand. Afterwards we somehow ended up on the elevator together, and I didn’t say anything to her. I never know in those situations if it’s polite to say something like “nice reading” or if the person just wants her privacy. I know she’s involved in the Beat literature community, though, so I should’ve probably talked to her about that.

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Image via The Millions

In August an article I wrote about a funny incident I had related to Jack Kerouac sparked a fiery debate and went viral, getting mentioned everywhere from The New Yorker to The Paris Review.

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Photo via RA Araya

In September I had one of the most surreal moments of my life–reading with David Amram. I got to hear him perform again, this time as an enthralled audience member, in December.

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Photo via RA Araya

That month I also read for poet Miguel Algarin‘s birthday bash.

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I also road tripped through northern and central California, visiting Cannery Row, City Lights Bookshop, The Beat Museum, and attending my college friend’s wedding.

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In October Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and I spent a lot of time in bed.

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In November I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo, but I had a lot of fun creating this ever-evolving Pinterest board for the book I never wrote.

I also gave a reading that got upstaged by a wedding proposal.

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In December there was a flurry of Jack Kerouac-related activities to promote the film adaptation of On the Road, and I got to see author Ann Charters and film director Walter Salles in person at IFC. I also got to take a writing class with screenwriter Jose Rivera at 3rd Ward.

I also went out to Lowell and got to meet Jack Kerouac’s friend and pallbearer Billy Koumantzelis.

 

What were the highlights of 2012 for you?

Beat Poetry Competition at the Nuyorican

17 Dec

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Checked out the Beat poetry slam at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe over on the Lower East Side during Beat Week. “We’re excited to be here in a proper poet’s cafe, celebrating a proper poet,” said host Mahogany Browne. The Nuyorican was cofounded by Miguel Algarin, who knew Jack Kerouac back in the day. Browne encouraged the audience to snap as she read a quote from On the Road “like the Beat poets” did “because they were too high to clap.” Of Kerouac’s famous novel, she said, “It’s a dude book. [The characters] get to travel all over the world and fall in love. I’d be too scared [to go on the road].” Hm… sounds familiar.

Browne, a poet in her own right, said the contestants would be “burning some poems on this motherf*cking mic.” She explained that slam is “the Olympics of poetry.” The poets were competing for a chance to win $50 and the soundtrack to the film adaptation of On the Road. The judges were told to rank each poet from 1 to 10, with decimals and exclamation points encouraged. The poets each had a unique style. Some poets appeared to be seasoned professionals, who had memorized their words, and others seemed like brave young artists. Even the quieter, dreamier poems were powerful. I love the way the photographs I took show the energy of the poetry.

There was also a Jack Kerouac trivia contest. I abstained from reading at the event and wasn’t planning on competing in the trivia contest, but when everyone was stumped, I couldn’t help but blurt out the answer. A teenaged girl in the audience wanted to win so desperately that she practically fell out of her chair trying to ask me for trivia answers. Instead of helping her cheat, I just gave her the winning copy of the On the Road novel. I’ve never seen anyone want to read a book that badly, and it was my little way of encouraging people to read Kerouac.

Afterwards I talked to one of the poets, a guy who’d been on the road himself. He was a truck driver and had also spent time studying painting in Syria. I liked how each poet had their own story to tell.

 

Miguel Algarin’s Birthday Reading

4 Oct

Poet RA Araya invited me to read at poet Miguel Algarin‘s birthday bash last month at Mama’s Bar in the East Village.  It was such an honor to read for someone who has influenced so many lives.

Miguel has been a major force of influence in poetry, creating space and awareness for ethnic literature and community.  He is a Shakespeare scholar and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  He also co-founded the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the 1970s, which is one of those sacred New York City literary scenes.

Here’s a section of Algarin’s bio from his website:

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Algarin moved with his family to New York City in the early 1950’s where his love for the written word intensified by the artistic energy radiating from the City streets. Obtaining advance degrees in literature from the University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University, Algarin developed a successful career pursuing his passion for literature. He served as a Professor Emeritus for more than 30 years of service to Rutgers University where he taught Shakespeare, Creative Writing, and United States Ethnic Literature.

The life and work of Algarin spans the universities and the streets, so much so that combining the two resulted in the development of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a New York City cultural haven within the Lower East Side famed for being creatively drenched with great artistic intensity. Being the founder of such an organization, Algarin’s mission was to create a multi-cultural venue that both nurtures artists and exhibits a variety of artistic works to both enlighten and empower the underclass, it is a mission that has remained true to this day.

When I first moved back to northern New Jersey, after attending college in California, I became friends with a group of people that included many first- and second-generation Puerto Rican Americans and Colombian Americans.  It was through one of them that I first heard about the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  Nuyorican is an amalgamation of the words “Nueva York” (Spanish for “New York”) and “Puerto Rican,” and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe championed Spanish-language poets and spoken word.  At the time, I had never been to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, but together my friends and I founded a coffeehouse in suburban New Jersey, where we invited bands, poets, and visual artists to perform.  Most of the people involved were immigrants or children of immigrants–including myself.  As the child of an immigrant father, I have always gravitated toward other immigrants and children of immigrants.  That’s why even though I myself am not Nuyorican, I in many ways relate to the issues of identity and language raised through Nuyorican poetry.

That being the case, one of the highlights of Miguel Algarin’s birthday bash reading was hearing poet Joe Pacheco, whom I had just heard read “The Night Charlie Parker Played Tenor at Montmartre Cafe in Greenwich Village” at David Amram‘s show the week prior, read his poem about the pronunciation of his name and other immigrant people’s names.  I couldn’t help but laugh when he included a Greek name!  With great humor, Pacheco pointed out how people with ethnic names are often perceived by others (“but you speak English so well!”).

Produced by Araya, the reading also included:

  • Brian Omni Dillon
  • Rome Neal
  • Charlie Vazquez
  • Ray DeJesús
  • Danny Shot
  • Jeff Wright
  • Puma Perl
  • Kymberly Brown
  • Carlos Manuel Rivera
  • Lydia Cortes
  • Noah Levin
  • Edwin Torres
  • Nancy Mercado
  • David Henderson
  • Lois Griffith
  • Adam Ash
  • Susan Yung
  • Nancy Mercado

It was really great meeting Edwin Torres, who was huge on the poetry scene when I first came back to the East Coast but has since moved out of the city, making it rarer to get to see him perform.  I enjoy his poetry so much, and he was really down to earth and easy to talk to.

Jeff Wright and I had connected through social media a while back, and it was fun to finally meeting him in person.  He even gave me a copy of Live Mag, which I was really excited about because I had gotten a chance to skim it at John Reed‘s reading at the Guerilla Lit Reading series back in July and really wanted my own copy because it contains poetry by some of my favorite living poets.

Well, I could obviously go on and on about how great everyone was, but really the night was about Miguel Algarin.  I had actually never heard him perform before, so it was awesome hearing him scat!

The last time I saw him, Miguel had told me about how he had known Jack Kerouac and was very interested in having me send a copy of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the book I’m coauthoring with Paul Maher Jr., to him.  The photo above, taken by Ra, is of me reading from the book for Miguel’s birthday.

Photos from Reading at Sidewalk Cafe

15 Aug

I had so much fun reading at poet RA Araya’s birthday bash at the Sidewalk Cafe this past Sunday!! RA was such a great host and is so encouraging.  There were so many amazingly talented poets and musicians there.  I felt so honored to get to read with them.

I started off reading the beginning of Homer’s The Odyssey in Ancient Greek (bringing awareness to Greece’s cultural heritage as well as the plight of endangered languages) and then read a section from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the book that I’m coauthoring with Paul Maher Jr., while the flashbackpuppy band improvised a jazzy tune.

Here are some pictures RA took.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s me sitting next to poet Juan Valenzuela.  In the foreground is poet Miguel Algarin, who co-founded the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and knew Jack Kerouac back in the day.

Special thanks to my friends, who came out to support me.