Reading at the Bride: a tribute and thanks to CA Conrad

I went to a reading at the Painted Bride on Thursday. A time for remembering. For reflection. I shared a reading at the Bride in — 1966? –with the late Henry Braun. That was when the Bride was on South Street–Gerry Givnish had recently opened a gallery in what had been bridal store–hence, the name.

I was 25–a very young 25. I don’t know how I got that reading spot–it was in this bare store front space, fold up chairs. Paintings on the wall. Don’t remember if it was before or after–but I brought some of my paintings–an open invitation for artists they thought might fit their vision. I didn’t. My paintings didn’t (large oils of faces–filled the canvas–somewhat expressionist mode). I think I looked way too straight and middle class to fit in, and my paintings too over the top for their more “cool” ironic aesthetic…Philly Warhol school.

Before the reading Thursday, I took in the paintings in the gallery. Remembered. How nice, I thought–that this had come from that. A poetry reading in a gallery, surrounded by art.

Such a beautiful reading –with CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock. Not only are they both great poets, but they have exemplified with their generosity and support of poets in Philly and beyond, something as important as the poetry itself. An idea of poetry that has rejected competition, exclusion, the musical chairs of who will survive, who rise to the top–that whole fucking capitalist Darwinian struggle, refereed by literary gatekeepers. They stand for another world, another way of living and loving, the world that we dream might be. This is the poetry of the extraordinary family that I’ve come to be a part of, and I feel so fucking lucky to have lived long enough to experience and share.
I felt this deep sense of affirmation as they read–that we are committed– together– in our poems and our lives, to making a better world, to supporting one another, to a creative struggle of imagination and compassion against indifference, cruelty and submission to the lordship of money and power.

I wanted to voice my appreciation here, and my amazement, at finding myself at such a time and place, in being able to be part of this unfolding creative family.

Thank you CA Conrad, Frank Sherlock… and all the wonderful Philly poets who have informed, and transformed my life.  I love you… all of you.