The Delancy Bar, the Couplet Reading by Theodore Weaver

The Delancy Bar, the Couplet Reading

If Richard Nixon were to go to a poetry reading, he would probably go to the Delancy Bar’s Couplet Reading Series.  The premiere poet to read on January 4, 2014 at the New York venue was Rosebud Ben-Oni.  She said the titular poem “Solecism,” of her book Solecism, published by Virtual Artists Collective, 2013 was cut from a dictionary.


1. Nonstandard or ungrammatical usage.

2. Breach of good manners or etiquette.

3. Any error, impropriety or inconsistency.

Dan O’Brien and Kathleen Ossip, author of The Cold War (Sarabande:  2011)

The point is that people usually think of John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln as the poetic Presidents, but Nixon was a lawyer and these days English is the most popular major for lawyers.  According to Wikipedia, the Orthogonian Society at Whittier College was Nixon’s idea.  Judging from YouTube clips, Nixon was also a hard drinker and had a foul mouth.

It is not a perfect world and some of the greatest imperfections are the most impressive and rare.  The reading was sectioned into 7 parts:  readings of 5 poets, the introductions by the host and curator Leah Umansky and the intermission.

The event brought to mind these lines by Patrick Jamieson:  “To walk with me through horror, / through Sunday’s uncertain fog, / fight the rain for honor, / in declaring me ‘your love’. / To write our names on beaches, / cowering inside those grotesque hearts.  To have the tide come in / (is it not earlier than we thought?) / to wash away the evidence / of being here, or not.” (“Heart Shaped Hypnotics,” The Kitchen Poet‘s Cook Book of Involuntary Suicides).

Leah Umansky, Domestic Uncertainties BlazeVOX:  2013; and Norma Szokolyai, Co-Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.

At the microphone on the Delancy stage, when it was Bianca Stone’s turn, she talked about the difficulty of being a poet in this day and age.  One gets the impression that this is not only having something to say and daring to say it.  Once you have made the decision to formulate what you have to say with poetry, instead of doing something else, it requires eventually expanding your grasp on the subject or diminishing the size of it, if that is possible, and getting the ideas “published.”
Bianca Stone, Someone Else’s Wedding Vows, Octopus Books / Tin House Books, 2014.

Stone said her poetry was, “Morose with a touch of surrealism and a love of narrative.”

Derek Pollard’s first performance involved a pre-recorded piece that was not exactly surreal.  It did have to do with the imaginative phenomenon of words which are voiced and sensed without falling into a clear narrative container.

Derek Pollard, Inconsequentia, BlazeVOX, 2010 co-authored with Derek Henderson.

Regardless of the rights and liberties from the rules of poetics, returning to Jamieson’s line about washing “away the evidence / of being here, or not,” even when the words of a poem are arranged in such a way that many people in the audience would be at pains to paraphrase them, the writing of Inconsequentia demonstrates that words do produce concepts in the mind.  It is common sense that can makes banal images consequential and arguably mundane ones inconsequential.  President Barack Obama would probably agree.


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