It’s May!

Which is really like April, right? 

I’ve been away from the blog because.  Because is such a odd looking and sounding word, isn’t it? In French, it is parce que–still two syllables; in Italian, it’s perche (how does one add an accent in the blogosphere?)–again, two beats.  However, the English form–because–also two beats, doesn’t look as genteel or as sweet as the Romance versions.  Looks very DEUTSCH to me.  Maybe it’s the dangling legs of the French version, a patron casually seated at a bar, sipping; or the balance of the Italian version.  Look at it.  It has an equanimity of space about it–the drop of the “p” and the wave (“Ciao, amici!”) of the “h”.  Call me crazy but I like looking a t words and letters as much as I like hearing them and saying them and writing them.  How about you?

Oh–We cancelled the May reading in order to celebrate la Mama.  I will be reading on June 24 with Neal Hall–the “Poet Surgeon”.  Neal’s book, “Nigger for Life” is new and his voice is important and stirring.  Come on out.  Also, just booked Grant Clausers, the Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. for November.  He will be reading with J. C. Todd.  Yum.  Fiery. 

Stay tuned.

PS  When you look at a clock, do you see the Circle of Fifths?

March Reading at The Good Karma Cafe (3/18/12)

Here’s the deal:  Ryan Eckes fired the first volley in a hot room that bubbled with grit, wit and les images de la ville.  The crowd swooned because winter isn’t winter and it was August inside.  Ryan brought more heat.  So, clip-clop to the outside space.  Clear the vibe and BREATHE!  Quyen stepped up and talked about diabetic bees and Henri, but since he doesn’t speak French, I pretended that he was referencing some Asian dude with a pipe.  Don’t ask.  LISTEN!  Here’s the second part of said deal–read their work right here and do it NOW!

art as experience
in passing john calls john dewey j-dew, which makes everything infinitely
more watchable. go phillies like a bus, half hours, half flowers, to valu-
plus for flip-flops and a new notebook—marble, like my stoop. i stand
on the book, its title, valu-plus, arrived home on a sticker, yellow, with
a price: a buck, a holler. after that we’re free to have our hazards. love
ages me, but not that two people were murdered a half block from me
this week. the barista lays down a napkin and spoon even when you’re
just getting it to go. front-to-back three years ago a night this november
i tore thru splay anthem while this place was called something else, and
i thought i felt the whole world sail thru a map in my chest, knocked on
wood a lesson: bare hands, bare hands, no lie: you’ll never understand
yourself in isolation. a hair on your selfish city’s chest, you will mistake
selfishness for independence again. again, you will catch yourself being
a republican to yourself. if i’m beaten, who can tell. not me, anymore.
not me, anymore.

           –Ryan Eckes

If you find yourself stuck, I say ‘breathe!’
window weary cabs, with little to see
I failed to admire my brilliant toenails
insolent eyes of the gay bee
my soul enjoys feverish delights
painted picture of a deciduous scene

golden chain long let me breathe
curiously soft adaptation   often I thought
I’d answer, “No!” five fingers
stroking delicate corollas   firm pirouettes
the autumnal sun lingers
if only they flaunted themselves!

philosopher, poet, artist, immortal
the new café   what a wunnerful day
eyeless countenance   silent wheeze
a trumpet he had heard before, women doubled
bringing contrary results   pain under survey
moldable bronze   invincible breeze

                 –Quyen H. Nghiem

February Reading at The Good Karma Cafe

Hanoch Guy and Anne Kaier were the featured readers last night.  Anne treated us to some flash fiction, a prose poem, and poems in free verse that led us all into her inner rooms.  Her work is always well-crafted, but the tone these particular  selections seemed very interior to me, making my time with her more intimate  intimate.   Hanoch has a new chapbook out, The Road to Timbuktu, which is a poetic road map of his interior and exterior travels.  He invented an island of cinnamon, and took a trip to Treasure Island (every boy’s dream!).  He built a bridge, or at least walked across one, from the Galapagos to New Jersey.  Hanoch’s travelogue was packed with sights, sounds, smells, and the feel of cloth.  I felt as though I could reach out and make sand angels in the desert.

I didn’t know what to expect when I paired Anne and Hanoch for this reading, making the satisfaction afterward doubly sweet.



I forget that I’m here.  Sounds delusional.  Sounds like a post from a guy who met a Percocet and fell in love.  Nope.  I simply forget to visit and share my thoughts with the Interested and Disinterested.  These are my thoughts.

What’s in a Name?

I had a Russian professor, Dr. O (may he RIP), who once gave an entire lecture on names.  I have been fascinated ever since by the origin, meaning and construction of a surname.  For example, my surname Mancinelli, translates literally as  “small, left-handed ones” .  The construction consists of three elements:  man (from the Latin for ‘hand’ or ‘hand-related’), cin (from the Latin sinistre for ‘left’; and the Italian diminutive form, -elli.  So, I think that construction and the superficial meaning are explained.  Origin?  Who knows.  History, especially in Italy, has thousands of players, invisible to the present.  My guess is this:  my ancestors were little people who were left-handed.  OK, so maybe not so superficial as much as transparent in meaning.  I surrender.   There are the outliers, of course, statistics being what they are.  More interesting, however, is what I discovered through some very simple genealogical research.  I traced our name back to 15th century Italy and met “Uncle Antonio” (1452-1505).  Uncle Antonio was a humanist, rhetorician, grammarian, and teacher, active in Orvieto, Venice and Rome.  He was a very well-respected Latin scholar, an itinerant professor-type.  Then I met “Uncle Luigi” (1848-1921).  He was an orchestral conductor, piano professor at the Bologna Conservatory, born in Orvieto, died in Rome, and a well-respected musician who was associated with opera and the music of Richard Wagner.  So, who cares, right?  Moveable Beats + Uncle Antonio + Uncle Luigi + a bunch of Italian shorties who use their left hands = HUH?  Here’s the grooviness of this whole stew.  Across the centuries, I, like many other family members, have carried this jewel box within us and have found a way to display the contents:  music, words, and an appreciation of the power and beauty–the necessity of language.   But what was our artistic and linguistic history before Uncle Antonio?  Were we warriors for the word?  Or was he a new creation from a long line of little left-handed folks who made things for sale or shoveled donkey shit on a farm in the Marche?  Was he tall?  I believe in the magic of the name, its alchemical potential, and the portrait that it creates of the holder.  But sometimes it is a crown with holes.  Sometimes, it’s not enough to represent the persona.  In those cases, a poem.


The Moveable Beats Reading Series (MBRS) was born in Fishtown, one of the “river wards” in Philadelphia, PA.  William Penn made the Friendship Treaty with the Shackamaxon branch of the Lenni Lenape tribe in this ward, two blocks from where the series opened.  We started reading in the Fishtown Airways Art Gallery (thanks, Robert!), at the corner of Shackamaxon and Girard,  in 2009.  The mission was to expand and enhance the art scene in Fishtown, which has musicians, actors, and artists at work and at play, but lacked a strong and consistent literary presence.   In 2010 we moved to The Slingluff Gallery, at 11 W. Girard Ave., in Fishtown where we stayed until January 2012 (thanks, Lee and Jonathan!).  The series now meets at The Good Karma Café—928 Pine St., Philadelphia, PA in the Wash West neighborhood of Center City.  The readings take place on Sundays, from 6 PM – 7:30 PM.  There are two featured readers followed by a brief open reading.  The poetry scene in Philadelphia is strong and vibrant, and the writers represent all genres–traditional, edgy, political, humorous, slam and spoken word.  The series also invites prose writers and musicians (when openings are available) to share their wares.  Visit this site in your cyber-travels and please consider stopping by some Sunday. While you’re here, check out The Good Karma Cafe: