And on and on… Day 2… Markus Köhle and me have been looking forward to experiencing the Nyorican Poetry Slam since early spring. That does of course not mean that we have written anything remotely translatable. As the Poetry Slam took place on our second day in town (yes that is exactly how far I am behind with this journal), we did not acclimate enough to do anything about it. Also, we’ve been busy all day, gawking at really, really, really tall buildings, decrepit bicycles, beautiful bookstores and what not.
We did buy books, lots of them, considering that it was our second day in town. I would like to recommend St. Marks Bookstore on 3rd Ave. They have lots of poetry and indi stuff, as well as political writings and other food for thought. Also, I got complimented on my boots by a young, very trendy and friendly costumer.
I wouldn’t mention that, since it is not important at all, but I would like to mention how happy I am about Waldviertlers idea to adorn their shoes with yellow stripes. Them boots are city slick!
My new friend inquired if Waldviertler shipped to the states, which I don’t know, but I think it is time for a Nuyorican Waldviertler flagstore!
Anyways, About the poetry slam!
We, Markus Köhle and me, arrived early. But there was already a short line of performance hungry poets, so we decided to go for a beer. In New York you mustn’t drink alcohol on the sidewalk or in the parks, which might be a good thing, but queuing for an hour is no fun without the chance of getting just a tad under the influence.
We came back half an hour later, now there truely was a cue of poets, talking about the same stuff, as at home: how the funny poem always wins, how their own poetry is so f* deep and awesome (which proved to be true, partly, but the truely awsome poets have not been among the complaining anyway)
My own poetry was deep and awesome and also: a big round of applause for an incredible audience that listened to Markus Köhles and my own performances in German language. Markus performed a love poem s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sei! s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sei du! s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sei du mir!
I remembered something about Music being some sort of universal language, and New York the cradle of this bigger than us all movement called hiphop and rapped. FUN! FUN! FUN!
Here’s something I have learnt comparing the Austrian and the Nuyorican Poetry Slam Scene:
- In the US Slam Poetry is almost exclusively spoken word.
- US slam poets always perform by heart.
- Irony is used only sparringly, if at all.
- US slam poets do not introduce themselves or their poetry – they enter the stage and start performing.
- In the US you show appreciating by silently mumbling or humming and also by finger snipping. The other poets celebrated a successfull line of the performing artist by loud hurrays and by jumping up from their seats – for us stiff Europeans that took some getting used to, but we had a great evening.
We had a great time, I want to thank all for their friendliness.
If you have the chance, go visit the Nyuorican Poets Cafe: On Wednesday there’s the open slam, on Friday the professional poets rock the house! If you are a slam poet, do not feel shy of performing on the Wednesday. Even if you do not perform in English. People are open and curious and well behaved as well as sober: There’s nothing to fear!
Speaking of irony – Please meet Mr. TC Boyle!
I got a glimpse of Brooklyn Bridge, but we would cross it on a later day, we saw some incredibly public art (there is little of it in New York) in front of the Woolworth Building.
For the evening we had some great plans: We wanted to go to another free reading the town provided for us, we wanted to go see TC Boyle.
We also wanted to accidently meet Swiss writer Christoph Simon, a good friend of ours. Christoph is in New York for almost a year, staying in a beautifull flat nearby St. Marks Bookstore. We had told him of our plans to come to New York, but we had not made any spacific plans.
We thought it would be cool to just meet accidently.
We also thought he would be sure to attend the TC Boyle reading, which took place in another Barnes and Nobles high up in Manhattan.
We spent our Day in Southern Manhattan, having a look at Occupy Wall Street (lots of „I want to go home“ signs) and at the rebuilding efforts on the 9/11 site.
That is us in front of pieces of art by Jenny Holzer and Paul Mc Carthy, especially Jenny Holzners piece of poetry engraved on marbel benches has impressed me a lot!
We did not manage to take the correct Metro line. We ended up on the other side of Central park, but pretty much the correct height. So we jogged through the park at Sundown!
We did find the venue, we did find the correct floor (the reading was taking place in the cellar), we were surprised that the room wasn’t packed. But maybe a TC Boyle reading in New York is not the same thing as a TC Boyle reading in Austria. Don’t get me wrong, there were people attending, but there were also some empty seats.
It turned out, that Christoph had been at the Salman Rushdie reading, too. On our way home, we discussed the differences between readings at home (Germany, Switzerland or Austria) and in the States:
- The reading itself is a lot shorter: 10-15 minutes perhaps
- There is a lot of introductory work done by the poet. They talk at length of what they think the book is about, they explain something about the writing process.
- The Q&A part is more important than at home: The questions themselves are not so different, but the writers seem to have thought a lot about what they want to say and how to say it.
Basically: It is not merely about the reading, the authors are very professional about their contact to audiences, they strive to interest them in the process of writing.
Us three immigrant poets also discussed our feelings about New York (what at town), our present and future projects (Christoph Simon’s „Spaziergänger Z’Binden“ had just been translated into English („Binden’s Progress“), Markus and me told him more details about „Hanno brennt“ and „Mia Messer“.
Christoph Simon is currently writing a New York blog, which I want to recommend!
Again: a great day. Thanks a lot, New York.
PS: This blog entry is way too long.
Won’t happen again!