Sunday, October 03, 2021

Under the spotlight: Reading my entry, Evil's Root published for the website, Life in the Time

And, my voice came through the mic just fine.

Thanks and hugs to Amit Ghosh, editor of the project and founder of the Bordersenses Literary Journal. May the memory of my friend Donna Snyder be a blessing to us all.

Image: Poster for 'Life in the Time' book release and reading
At 7:15, a burly fellow sat at the entrance to card people. Near the entrance, neighborhood guys get up, and leave half drunk glasses of IPA on their table. They leave to smoke in the parking lot where unsuspecting car tires will, at some point, drive into the deepest and widest wet pothole in town.

It's a neighborly mix of adobe and cinderblock houses with fenced-in courtyards, small local businesses, large industrial workshops and warehouses, and El Chuco’s Chicano Park that sits beneath the confluence and flyover bridges of US 54, Loop 375, and I-10. If you look up at the exact right moment, you can see semis, amber running lights flying low along the bridge connecting I-10 to Loop 375 West. They look as if a small aircraft is about to crash land onto the International Free Bridge.

An interesting warehouse compound, Old Sheepdog Brewery’s set of graffiti painted boxcars and patio with a food truck fronting its entrance set before an inviting lounge. It sports tall stools and tables and picnic tables outside the bar with a low slung bench made of more boxcar parts. The food truck sits off to the side, its cook chopping fillings for quesadillas and frying up good portions for loaded fries. Before i read around 9:30, we tried their loaded french fries and quesadillas served with a Hot Bastard red sauce. MJ enjoyed their Be Reet porter, while our table mates fancied the Mango and Cash New England IPA, and i had red wine. 

Later, a group of fellows came in carrying big graffiti-style paintings on cardboard with images of Bowie, Cobain, and Marlon Brando as the Godfather, among others. They hauled them up a steep stairway outside the bar and into another studio venue. Back in its previous working life, the stairway might have led to an office of some sort. 

Spoken word poet at the book launch
Ritchie Marufo, who I knew from teaching at UTEP’s FYC program, runs the Barbed Wire Open Mic project on Thursdays at Sheepdog, and began the evening’s event with his instantly in-the-moment composed set of raps, augmented with loops of live percussive sounds and reverb, with a background of the evening’s events.

Once warmed up, several good rappers and a few acoustic guitarists played and sang covers and original songs. Then came a young comic who works at the brewery, and who looks and sounds like he’s 13 (srsly). He built his funny set around the experiences of a minor-looking and sounding kid who’s over 21 and working in a bar. One nervous electric guitarist performed a lively and much appropriate cover of Green Day’s Good Riddance. Fun.

At our table sat our good friend Donna Snyder, a beautiful woman and wonderful poet. Donna runs and facilitates the Tumblewords writing project. She read her piece from the book and a couple of other poems. Poet Kit Wren, a regular facilitator and presenter at Tumblewords and his mom, the poet Robin Scofield, were also there and once Kit finished his readings, i was the next to read after a wonderful singer songwriter who sang original songs about Amarillo and Houston. NB Unfortunately, between the time of writing the original post draft and now, Donna passed away from cancer. It took her quick, which is what she hoped. Her diagnosis of stage 4 cancer came but a few weeks after this event, and left us all in the arts community shell shocked. Donna was a gift for us all and source of strength and encouragement to me. 

Never one to be comfortable in a spotlight or use of a mic, i sat and worked around the brightness, trying to fix my gaze so that I could see to read my piece. Eventually I found a space in the light and finished. Fortunately, my hesitant reading allowed me to breathe and emote a bit for the prose in my poem. 

At some point i turned airplane mode on my phone and was unable to set/receive images. Finally, i saw it was about to rain, so we left around 11:00. Sure enough, as we rose to leave and say out goodbyes, big raindrops started plopping into the big parking lot pothole. My time in the spotlight was done.

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