AWP13 – Dean Young & the Kids

AWP13 – Dean Young & the Kids

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This is not going to be the recap. Though, I should, in the next post, offer ya’ll a recap. But this is about the final day and how I ended up back on Boylston Street after this crazy journey in time to see the Six Party Talk Reading in the basement of Lir, across from the convention center, seeing a bunch of young poets and Dean Young read poems.

All week I wanted to check out readings in Cambridge, but my buddy and first-year Poetry MFA student kept getting addresses wrong all week. So finally, Daniel found the Fence/Ugly Duckling/Canarium/Les Figues reading in Cambridge. Brian, Naomi, Zack, and I caught a bus to Cambridge and arrived 15 minutes late. But there was hardly anyone there, and the reading hadn’t started yet.

After Brian finished his beer, we walked toward another reading near Harvard. Brian thought that I should see Harvard, so we walked up to the campus and eventually left, getting lost in Cambridge/Harvard. It was amazing. We finally made it to the other reading, right as it was starting. Stephen Danos was standing by the door, and he was like, “Hey guys. I’m about to read. But after, I gotta head back for the Six Party Talk thing… Wanna share a cab?” We were like, “Yeah.” So, he read. Killed it.

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Then we quietly went out the door and shared a cab back. Danos went across the street, and we went into the convention center to see Anne Carson. But we got there in the big convention space as it filled up, and we were looking at each other and it just felt wrong. We weren’t supposed to be here. So, after a bit, we hurried back across the street and into the basement where the Six Party Talk was already happening. We could see some of our friends in the crowd, and it was PACKED. Like way past capacity, but we still managed to get inside. After a few readers (Corey Keller and Bob Hicock), they took a break and we pushed our way to the front.

By then it was even more crowded and sweaty but so great. Typecast readers read, then H_NGM_N readers read, then Forklift. It was a barrage of the poetics this generation of poets were slinging into the world, and it was pretty great to hear it in one place.

Finally Dean Young came up.

First thing he said: “I’m proud to be part of this tribe.”

Then he read a poem.

Then he said, “This reading will end, but it will end because I have to pee… Seriously, where’s the bathroom?”

Then he read some more.

Right before his last poem, he stopped and looked around. He said, “Tomorrow we’re gonna go back to our quiet solitude, to not having fries twice a day, to not drinking wine with lunch. We are all creators of consciousness in the business of imagination. We’re nothing without imagination and creativity…” Then he paused and finished. “I am so proud of all of you.”

You could feel it. People were about to cry. That moment, all that sincerity was needed. After years, and recently, people have been saying “Does poetry matter? Is Poetry Dead? Etc Etc,” and in that moment, one of the biggest poets looks at all these kids in this basement and sees that we’re all here for poetry. POETRY!? And he tells us this. Anyone could’ve said it at any time, and it could’ve been trite. But when Dean Young said it, it meant something to all of us. One of my friends said, later, “It was like being in a basement and realizing that you’re watching Ginsberg read.” That’s what it felt like to us. Like this was a moment in history, when the established looks at the one following, the ones keeping poetry alive, and reaffirms what our choices have been. Wow. I’m still buzzing.