Friday, March 2, 2012

Fusion: "Parallels" Underground Poetry Reading in St Pete

Underground, in a 574 meter deep tunnel seventeen miles in circumference at the border between France and Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider brings together subatomic particles at great energies. The results help us to understand basic truths about the universe.

In a large garage in St. Petersburg, poets, musicians and a small crowd likewise come together to unlock the secrets of what it means to be human.


It all happened in a spacious, perhaps ten-car garage divided into a 'stage' and spectator areas. A few couches were put together. Many people sat on the floor or stood. Some stayed out of the garage, or in the gravel-floored patio out back under the open sky. In the back you can see the projector that threw images over everyone onstage.

Bradley reading
There were four poets scheduled, Bradley, Wayne, Christian and Barry, all silverbacks, practiced, experienced. and in their poetic prime. Also on stage were musicians, about ten of them, all talented, interpreting and riffing off the spoken word and each other in a freeform jazz-like manner recontextualized into current musical terms. Most, if not all of them were under thirty. I asked a musician about this disparity, and he calmly remarked: "The elders will guide us".

Alex playing

In the interests of full disclosure, I admit  there's no way to do this justice in a review. I took copious notes in the darkness, and they look like the nonsensical scrawlings of a madman. I should have made movies, but like most of the audience, I was too spellbound to think clearly.

Poet Wayne S. Williams

What happened on that Saturday evening was extraordinary. Some times art dazzles, rarely, it is far greater than the sum of its parts, but here it transcended all that. Energy flowed unimpeded, resonating between the walls, poets, musicians and audience in a way seldom seen.

I remember a line from Wayne's reading on a poem about Africa: "A trail of wet sorrow..."

Christian read next. One poem about Florida and the Caribbean, had in it the lines: "Blurred menagerie"..."Shell mound ghosts"...

The trail of greed, madness and pain of the colonial period in a way no history class lecture could approach.

The Musicians
The musicians interleaved with the poetry seamlessly, sometimes coming to the fore, sometimes receding, always a pure stream of creative energy.

Barry Moses

Barry Moses asked in a poem, "Who's Crazy?".

The synergy between the musicians was exquisite and varied. Some passages were hard and throbby, others subtle. All electrifying.

I want to thank the poets, musicians, the hosts and Malcom for an extraordinary evening.

--- Luis


  1. Luis, thank your for this extraordinary blog entry and documentation of our Parallels event. It was a pleasure to meet you and know that you found something of value in our show. The poem your quoted is from my book, "The Trunk" and the poem is called "Hunt of the King" "...a trail of wet sorrow..." - about following the bloody trail of a mortal wound. Wayne S. Williams

  2. Thank you, Wayne. It was great meeting you, the other poets and some of the musicians. Something of value? I was blown away. Please let me know the next time you do anything like this.

    --- Luis