On Monday nights, sometimes I think about buying groceries after work and then going straight home. This week I actually made it to the grocery store. But then instead of getting on the subway to Brooklyn, suddenly I'm at the KGB Bar, tucking my groceries under a table, waiting for the reading to begin.
Julia Cohen (right) with Paige Taggart
photo by (c) Star Black
Last night the room was packed -- I was afraid my broccoli raab would be kicked by the crowd. Michael Lally and Terence Winch have such distinguished and dynamic careers, it's clear why the KGB was filled with a diverse and supportive audience. Lally is an actor, an anthology editor (re: None of the Above: New Poets of the USA, 1978), and the author of 27 books. On his blog, he characterizes himself as an, "ex-jazz-musician/proto-rapper/Jersey-Irish-poet-actor/print-junkie/film-raptor/beat-hipster-"white Negro"-rhapsodizer/ex-hippie-punk-'60s-radical-organizer's take on all things cultural, political, spiritual & aggrandizing." His poems have an intense musicality to them, a blend of Irish ballads, disco, and jazz that at some points spin out into archly political poems that address the disgraces of the Bush administration and at other times refocus on the microcosm of tensions embedded in his own Irish American culture/childhood that created a sense of rich tradition and community to the exclusion and expense of others, which Lally still contends with.
Winch is an acclaimed musician, a short fiction and a non-fiction writer, as well as a poet. Switching between elegies, villanelles, the Q&A format, and humorous but biting narrative digressions about his youth, Winch steered his reader through his Irish Catholic upbringing and examines the personal experiences, the larger social movements, and philosophies that made him test his faith. It's as though he has opened his memory box and allowed us to sort through it. In the process, we find much more than birthday cards and old love letters -- there are broken beer bottles, communion wafers, and a few flakes of dried blood.
-- Julia Cohen
Ed note: Terence Winch was a guest blogger on this site back in August. Read his posts here.