Last evening four friends carpooled to Denver, got lost, got lost again after asking a police officer for directions, almost got sideswiped by an impatient lane changer, all for the love of hearing poetry read live. And what else did this foursome get in return?
They got shuffled right through a pleasant coffee house, past the folds of a thick curtain, down dimly lit stairs with things wrapped around the handrail so they couldn't hold on, and into a low, cavernous cellar. The overhead pipes, ill disguised with gauze and mostly burned-out strings of old Christmas lights, were low enough that anyone taller than 5'10" was in danger of a head banging. In fact one of the foursome suffered just such an insult. The featured poets, three of them, read at a remove from the small audience, no mic, glaring lamp, and accompanied by the flush of running water from the bathrooms upstairs, where the non-poets sat with tea and a hookah, food, light, and good air. There was no food or drink service in the cellar. No, no, one had to navigate that stairwell again with drink in hand. The dingy atmosphere dampened the listeners, who rarely moved or spoke.
A good time was not had by all, at all. In fact, the four friends declared this a no-reading-here-in-the-future zone. It was an illustration of what's wrong with American poetry. It's relegated to the cellar.