26 September 2005

aloud again

for most of my 30-plus years in Kent there was a lively poetry scene. which means poets of every shade came & went. today is the birthday of one of those poets -- Jacob Leed -- who went. it's also a day in which I read the blog of another of those poets -- Tom Beckett -- who continues to reside in Tree City.

one of the poets to pass thru was Ralph LaCharity. a swaggering presence   LaCharity is probably best rememberd in town for organizing the "Aloud Allowed" events. for a couple of springs in the late '80s he gatherd up local poets as well as compatriots from other states to read at venues around town for a weekend. headquarters was Captain Brady's   a venerable coffeeshop where writers & rockers gatherd over the decades. (it's now a Starbuck's.)

memories of those april events returnd as I found LaCharity's current rant online.Notes Toward a Poetics of the Local is vintage Ralph. if you've ever heard him   his voice is unmistakable in a line like "These sizzling oaken tambourine transmissions."

1 comment:

LaCharity said...

Alex / Just found your "Aloud" post (after having Googled myself!) and thought I might clarify a few things ... the idea for those multiple-day, multiple-venue Aloud/Allowed Open Poetry Festivals came originally from Bill Polak, then of Brecksville OH (who, if I'm not mistaken, got HIS Kent start on the old Eng Dept sponsored HUMAN ISSUE?) -- all I did was come in from out of town (from West Germany the first year, & then from San Antonio)and put my shoulder to his wheel, which collaboration lasted for three Springs, '87 thru '89. Bill moved to Cincinnati at the time of the May 4 twenty-year reunion/celebration readings that you were so central in mounting, in 1990. Those wholly open y'all-come Aloud/Allowed shebangs went sadly stillborn for a few years, until Major Ragain resurrected the idea and centered his "Jawbone" versions at the Brady, starting in '92 (Major's three-day version goes on, more than 13 consecutive years later as we speak, centered at the South Water Gallery since the Brady got deep-sixed) -- although there had been occasional readings at the Brady, off & on for several years prior to '87-'89, the Aloud/Allowed strategy that Bill birthed never did do a reading there -- his prime idea was to keep the Aloud/Allowed as mobile as possible, so that those open events were as likely to spring into being in an alleyway as a bar or bookstore or back porch or what have you ... his fests would begin mid-week and run thru the following week-end, skipping about with antic bootleg improvisational delight -- they even published their own daily poetry "newspaper." These Open Poetry Festivals per se are wholly unique to Kent as far as I know -- nowhere else in America can you find their like. The fact that they began in '87 and are still a force in 2005 is rather magnificent, wouldn't you say?

As for my own DIRECT contribution to poetry's independent life in the Kent body-poetique, you'd have to go back to the actual organizing of the Shelly's Kent Area Poets open readings and magazine in the early '70s ... I did that. From its beginning in '73 (RC Wilson was the unsung local poet who actually found Shelly's Bookbar as a venue for what we all brought forth) till Linda and I moved to San Francisco in '76, the Shelly's Bookbar "scene" was pretty much Poetry Centrale a la Kent (it's where Tom Beckett got his start, among the many), doing weekly readings and putting out a minimum of three multiple-editor issues of Shelly's magazine a year. After Linda and I left, Kenny Muenzenmayer and James Palmarini (with grant monies engineered via Tom Maze) were the ones who took it further, with an actual in-house printing press, on into the early '80s (I believe somewhere along in there was when Beckett's own independent Viscerally series of imprints began appearing). Tho' the Shelly's scene that I jumpstarted in '73 went under around '82, its spirit was still frisky enough to flare anew in what Bill Polak brought forth, in what Major Ragain keeps current ...