Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reading Poetry on the Trolley

Your flamboyant author. (All photography by Gloria Mindock.)

Sunday, May 6, 2007:

I arrived a few minutes before 3:00pm in front of the Davis Square T-Stop to catch the trolley on which I planned to read. This, however, would be the day when the trolley would be ahead of schedule and so I missed it, leaving me unable to read with Carolyn Gregory as previously announced. So instead, I sat on a concrete pylon dressed rather flamboyantly and waited another half-hour for the next trolley.

As an aficianado of rail travel, I should note that "trolley" is a misnomer here. The vehicle in question is a sightseeing bus rented by the City of Somerville to ferry people about during Somerville Open Studios. The upper body is styled like a trolley of the late 19th and 20th century, made of wood and wrought metal as street cars were before the PPC Streetcar became widely used. A proper trolley is light rail car that is powered by electricity from overhead cables. I last rode a genuine pre-PPC trolley back in 2005.

Due to the fact that I was terribly conspicuous, people kept expecting me to be passing out maps. Apparently, in a city where George Washington first took command of the Continental Army, anyone dressed in a facsimile of 18th century garb must be involved in the tourist industry. The fact is that I had been to a yard sale the week before, and just as I was buying a copy of The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett: Krapp's Last Tape (Beckett wasn't using them anymore) I looked up and said "what an extraordinary coat!" Normally I am immune to impulse purchases, but I fell in love with the full costume of a flamboyant 18th century pirate. (The tricorner hat was too large and the long coat was too opulent for a mere colonial.) Needless to say, that I had to wear it that day, though I added a sweater because I felt a cold coming on.

At 3:35pm the next "trolley" pulled up. On board were Timothy Gager, Dick Lourie and Gloria Mindock of Červená Barva Press who had organized the readings. I asked to read with them, and so Tim, Dick, and I played read a round robin, passing the microphone in between poems. Tim, I have known for a while as a short story writer and poet, but Dick was someone I knew only by reputation as both a poet and blues musician. Gloria was present mostly as the organizer and an audience member. Tim took the role of master of ceremonies.

Enough of the poems I had selected had to deal with trains and subways, that Russ, our driver, asked me if I had ever worked as a conductor.

Ian with Tom Daley and Russ

Tim and Dick debarked at Union Square, to be replaced by Tom Daley and Luke Salisbury. Tom, as well as being a poet I admire, is a fellow curmudgeon who is sometimes the subject of derision in our poetry community because he wants to read good poetry. Luke mostly read from his novel, Hollywood and Sunset, a picturesque novel about the early film industry.

Ian and Luke Salisbury, reading from Hollywood and Sunset

About an hour later I was in Davis Square again-- and two and a half hours after that I would be at a theatre audition.

More photos from the event can be seen here

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