Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Last week I read at the Out of the Blue Gallery in the Stone Soup series. Jack Powers was very much present, though he died more than a month ago. He continues to be a good presiding spirit, as does Chad Parentau, who has been running the series for five years. For me, the evening had a couple of highlights. On the open mike John Stern perfectly recited poems ranging from Emma Lazarus through Shakespeare to Robert W. Service -- all paramount recitations, the spirit of the words perfectly embodied in John's voice and gestures that changed from poem to poem. To hear John's Lazrus is like hearing the Statue of Liberty speaking. Also at the open Mike was the inimical Billy Barnum. Toothless, spastic, dressed in a witch's brew of exotic clothes and drapery, Billy recited an allegorical poem of his in which a male erotic figure visits a female loneliness. The language, as it usually is with Billy, was inspired, and his body movements were hypnotizing grace. Out of the Blue, host of three series that I know, can sometimes feel like the wild west, but it can also be the scene of astonishing performances.