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In The Inprint House - Day Three


Lupe starts with a poem referencing Narnia. A poem about a former student who couldn’t stay a student any longer, couldn’t stay in this life any longer, and now has to forever live in the words of that poem. Deep continues. A poem about bridges and towers of London, bridges over the Thames, and Bridges of Terabithia. It’s wonderful, the night’s only just started and a theme is emerging in this first half of the poetry round robin.


Marlon Lizama keep its going, fierce, hitting the air with his words like an amplifier forcing sound out of its little wooden frame: he writes about his students living in a world separate from others, not allowed to be themselves, that “he writes in accents because he refuses to let others write in his book,” refuses to let others influence him too much.


The Inprint house is full, we’re sitting on the steps and crowding the little white podium they use for First Friday readings (unless someone dramatically sweeps the small podium away from the imagined stage-space and equally imagined microphone!) and we’re one with the audience here. The energy is palpable.


Then there’s Bucky Rea, Houston’s metaphysical poet, turning the little living room space of Inprint into a raucous dorm room. Poets and spectators are sitting in chairs, but it looks more like their lounging on bean bags and might as well be sitting on the carpets of someone’s, a friend’s, home. How comfortable we all are now with each other. Bucky is making an extended metaphor about spit and love, how they fly together through space not knowing, not caring where they land. And it’s beautiful to hear him say it. More imaginative than most.


Jordan, a magical realist himself, performs a piece about a ventriloquist dummy with the punchline, what else is a black boy to do in America. Jonathan Moody answers: the false alarm of childbirth, being a man, a husband in that helpless situation, how early love is addicting and sweet and sappy like candy and how they came to prefer “the taste of parenthood love without even knowing its flavor.”


Fairy tales. Magic. Candy. And more imagination. Royal, the poet, “I will write my one million thoughts like one million dollars.” Don’t we all wish. Or, Stalina, in an imagined Spanish dialogue with her father, giving us what she wishes he would say, in her words, only positive things.


If the first half of the night was pure imagination, the second is harsh reality.


Joshua Nguyen characterizes this perfectly with a slampiece “Lessons from my Father.” Starts with the legend of a dragon biting a pregnant belly, then quickly links to immigrants, and his father telling him to “wipe the pain out of you,” “you name is a cousin you can’t communicate with,” and the hurt of being history-haunted. Drowning in the past and being saved by it, equally. How wonderful a new voice.

The week is just beginning. The range all these poets are displaying isn’t showing any signs of slowing or abating. In fact, tonight’s swift turn from magic to realism just lets me know they’re only now starting to flex their poetic muscles. Tonight was a dramatic change in tone poetically, but in the crowd we’re laughing and interrupting each other and hooting and jeering and commenting with side-talk, etc., it’ rowdy. It’s fun. The pushing back and forth I predicted starts now. And we’re jumping from fact and fiction too steadily to notice the difference. If you aren’t keeping up with us, you’ll lose us. Join us for the rest of the week, ya’ll. Who knows what level we’ll be on tomorrow!

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