...In-between sets from poet Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

June 27, 2013

Projects and Projections

Night-Blooming Cereus just before opening, which will take place in the dark of coming night.

This is the time of year when southern Arizona is the hottest and almost the most miserable. The most miserable will be in August, when the schizophrenic monsoon season, and by that I mean a pittance of rains but with dragon-breathing winds, settles upon us like a goose-down comforter over a 400 degree oven. August is when the nights don’t cool off and you’re lucky if the temps lower to 100 degrees. There’s no help then, at least until the end of October. We become, collectively, The Truffle People. Indoors by day, timidly emerging our foreheads by night.

But here the heat is. I once wrote a poem called “Desert Bird” which has in it a line “…shade the sustainer…,” and every year that line proves true. And yet, every year, I’m astonished that these trees and foliage and cacti hold up against such relentless, tyrannical heat. Usually, summer in southern Arizona means, Take a break, slow down, those of you unlucky not to have a cabin up north, which I don’t, just slow the heck down. Well, not this summer. No slowing in sight. Some shiny projects are in the offing, one involving the creating of spanking-new coruscating poetry for an event I’m overjoyed to have been invited to participate in. I feel like a racehorse at the gate, snorting and stomping and fidgeting, ears attuned to any and every possible influence for material. I want to shuck this saddle and rider, and run, run with this.
And then there are poems to finish for my next collection. I’m seeing semblances emerging, not only from a superhero series of poems, but others too, that squawk with harmony and prongs and girdles. So much to do. As always though, albeit more infrequently now (thank goodness), there’s the nonchalant rejection note, lately from the oh-so-famous journal I have sent to at least ten times. What follows from that? Nagging self-doubt. Which leads to a run-away night.

Last night’s run-away was over to a high-school-packed auditorium to see Neil Gaiman read from his newest book, The Ocean at The End of the Lane. Over 1,300 people attended. Gaiman read Chapter II, which referred to a cow and milk, and then he read a children’s tale, which involved many references to milk, and then he took questions. In my opinion, this man is thirsty for a mug of milk. Oh, and because we were allowed three signatures from him, I’m suspecting last night alone he signed his name 3,900 times. If I were him I’d have a professional hand masseuse traveling along in that giant RV parked in the high school lot.
A very dedicated Gaiman crowd outside
        A very dedicated crowd inside

Gaiman signed the July/August Poets&Writers cover for me, which has his photo on it, and he looks just like Bob Dylan’s brother. Then he signed an interior page, kindly, and wrote, “Way to go, Cyn!,” his black marker pointing down to the notice of my winning of the 2012 Red Hen Press Poetry Prize for "Super Dan Comics Question Box Series # 18". That was sweet. Did he have to do that? No. He could’ve knocked his signature number down to 3,899. In his book, his inscription simply said “Dream.” My one question to him was rhetorical: “Do you know how fortunate you are to have an audience of this magnitude?” He nodded, and still I saw a sliver of suspicion. I am, and possibly will always be, freighted with this type of line-of-questioning from law. It can’t be unlearned, no matter how hard we in the field try. Then it was time to hunt down “But the Gentleman to my Right,” who typically couldn’t care less about the whole dang thing and was eating a chili dog from one of the food trucks outside. 

A few days before, I'd seen the great comedian Brian Regan at Stand Up Live. He was, as usual, stunning, in the ways he constructs his routines and sketches. This is a photo of not him, but the stage he was about to enter:
And then there's, oh this. Again, not something. Not law, the standard type of work I'm used to, but this, which is more heart-wrenching. Funny, for old comics to make you misty-eyed and wistful. Just another portion of real work for the hot summer. And, if they ask you if comics are a funny business, just tell them Cynthia sent you and it's a long row to hoe.

Two Night-Blooming Cereus, full bloom after having fallen, and risen, again.
If they ask, and they might, all of it is worth it.

June 9, 2013

O Bisbee, Sweet Bisbee, Part II

Some shots from my poetry reading at The Oliver House in Bisbee.

That long instrument, a didgeridoo, heralded the beginning of the event. We had a packed house, and I was fortunate enough to present for a genuine poetry-loving audience. It was a uniquely memorable night. The people of Bisbee were enourmously kind and big-hearted. I’ll want to return again very soon. If you’re looking for me in the crowd, I’m way in the back on the left, just in front of the open window. Working hard to get those sweet 50-degree nighttime Bisbee breezes.

After reading from JUDGE SPENCER, I asked the crowd if they wanted to hear new work. Happily, they did, and that is what is cradled under my left arm. This shot is a reminder to me to forever remember not to wear floral prints when giving a reading. My excuse is: but I was told this was a community of ex-hippies! Am I off the hook if I just say: it's a tunic! 

A quick pictorial of my lovely time in Bisbee --

Every trip needs one inexplicable shot.