Sunday, October 22, 2006

Brooklyn, Afire

Last night after my son's birthday party - which can only be describe as utter madness. I trudged off to see Kate Greenstreet and Adam Clay read at the art gallery Pierogi in Brooklyn. The reading was fabulous - with two poets with distinct talent.

Matt Hendrickson has a knack for finding talented poets and getting people out for readings. I first saw Kate Greenstreet read nearly a year ago at one such reading. I believe this was her first or second public reading. Since then, her first book, case sensitve has come out, she has read a lot, and her reading style has developed greatly. She read the entire first section of case sensitive, titled Salt. I highly recommend Kate's work. She has just the right mix between the narrative and the lyric. There are moments in her work that grab onto to you, and tell a story. Oher moments the reader floats on her use of language. Matt called it visceral. He was right.

I was startled by the intensity and beauty in Adam Clay's work. Adam is currently studying in the PhD. Creative Writing program at Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is currently studing with Bill Olsen - who was one of my mentors at Vermont College, one of my favorite people, and an unbelievable poet. Clay said that Bill, and his wife, Nancy Eimers are the reason he moved Kalamazoo. I think this connection makes me prejudice toward Clay's poetry. But, even so, I have to say how completely bowled over I was. When I write about interesting work - I keep relying too much on the words lyrical and beautiful, but I use them here again, for lack of better ones. Clay's work reminds me of some of my own favorite poets (Olsen, Jorie Graham, and Mei-Mei Bessenbrugge) who do deep studies in ther beauty of language - but one is does not lose the poem's train of thought. The reader is able to move up and down with the experiment of the poet, but never feel like they are being slighted because the poet is trying to be oblique out of hipness or laziness. Neither is Clay TELLING the reader a story, like many of the more boring narrative poets. The poems have a perfect balance between grounding and mystery.
I think Clay's talent is enormous. The Wash is Clay's first book, and if he remains persistant he will go far.


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Matthew Thorburn said...

This was a great reading. I haven't had a chance to write about it, but I was really bowled over. Kate's work I knew, but I hadn't heard her read. Adam's work was completely new to me -- and is a wonderful surprise. Glad to read your thoughts on the reading. It was my first time at a Burning Chair reading, but I plan to be back soon.