Battle Creek, Michigan has long been known as the home of Snap, Crackle and Pop. Of Tony the Tiger and Dig’Em the Frog. Of the Kellogg Arena and the smell of burnt cornflakes. And now it can add Monkey in a Fez to its long list of prestigious residents.
The LitKicks Summer Poetry Shindig rolled into town on Friday, June 27th, 2003. It started with an art show at the Eclectic Gallery, displaying work by various litkickers: mtmynd, buddhabitch, Kreddible Trout, Vaselina, ~K, frontal-abstraction, firecracker, midnite, kairo and doreen peri. The art displayed was as diverse as the artists who created it, and altogether, it was a beautiful, impressive show.
Saturday night, everyone reconvened at the gallery for the reading. The evening started with a brief LitKicks Staff meeting in the basement, and was followed by gallery co-owner John Hart (Surreal City Planner) constructing a music stand out of foam board and duct tape. Once those tasks were accomplished, the festivities were set to begin, so without a microphone, I officially called the shindig to order.
The official order of the reading, officially, with official bullets:
- in_extremis read “a question of representation – or – confession”.
- ellipsis read “this is what robbed laughter sounds like” and an untitled poem.
- ~K read a few short poems.
- I gave away a Lightning Rod poster.
- Levi read “THIS IS A POEM ABOUT ME”, and “what’s bothering me” (with a new ending).
- After Levi, Anniefay read a hilarious story called “With Apologies to My Daughter”. (No apologies needed. It was great.)
- Firecracker was next, reading two poems, “proceedings” and “invitation”.
- After firecracker, Yabyum read three selections from his new chapbook: “Yeah, I know it fucking hurts”, “Ventilation”, and “Butterfly”.
- I followed with three pieces: “fuck you i’m talking about literature here”, “seventeen”, and “melting like sugar on my tongue/a kiss like war”.
- Ruby Tuesday closed the scheduled list of readers with a few of her poems: “Fixer-upper”, “Pass It By”, “Friday Night Blues”, and “And Venus Shifted”.
A young Battle Creek poet and spoken word artist named Tyrell came up next and performed a couple of his pieces. He’s a talented guy and it would be great if he ever showed up on LitKicks.
After Tyrell, we took a break. It was time to talk and eat cheese cubes and guacamole and Anniefay’s famous cookies. We mingled for awhile, then it was time for the centerpiece of the evening. Yes. It was time for the grand monkey giveaway. After giving everyone a few minutes to write a haiku about the monkey, contestants read their entries into the mic (which had appeared sometime during the break). The audience judged the haiku by applause, and Jillian (who now posts as jillyfromthecreek) was the grand winner. Then Levi sang the monkey a song, a song called “The Monkey and the Engineer”. And lo, the monkey was happy, because the monkey loves to be serenaded.
And then it becomes sort of a blur.
There was more talking, drinking and cheese cube eating. I gave away another Lightning Rod poster. Firecracker read “the way my face looks when i want to kill you (the 50 nifty united states remix)” (South Dakota-a-a-a). Then Jillian read a poem. After which, there was even more talking, drinking and cheese cube eating. A guy showed up selling t-shirts, and when he didn’t have a certain number, he comforted us with the promise, “I got more back at the house.”
Despite what the pictures would have you believe, Levi, in_extremis and I did not sing “The Star Spangled Banner”. No, we read Gregory Corso’s “Bomb”. I’m sure that there was more talking, drinking and cheese cube eating (we had a lot of cheese cubes) after this, but at some point, John’s friend Evan started playing the guitar and singing a couple of songs. Firecracker and I followed him with our exchange of poems about Art Garfunkel, and then firecracker r
ead a poem by judih. called “Harmonica Angel”. I gave away the final Lightning Rod poster.
The party didn’t end there, though. It all spilled over to where I was staying, where the group of us wrote a poem together, appropriately titled “Amerihost Inn & Suites. Then there was talking, drinking and cheese cube eating that went on well into the wee hours of the morning.
What can I say? The purpose of the event was for members of LitKicks to get together, read some poems, and have a good time. We did.
For extra shindiggy goodness: