Saturday, February 23, 2008

"The Ugly Mug" is Not so Ugly

Ugly is not an attractive word, but in some cases it can bring a new experience and a new taste to poetry.
This is what happened when I went to my first poetry reading at "The Ugly Mug" coffeehouse in Orange, California.
The night started with me and my best friend walking into a narrow hallway to find the stage filled with red plastic party chairs and three comfy couches for the early arrivers.
Before the performances started, we filled ourselves with coffee topped with what tasted like home-made whip cream. The best white mocha I ever tasted served from the most sarcastic barista I've ever met.
We sat down while eating a cream-cheese danish and immediately the host started reciting a poem about a man having an intelligent conversation about writing with a 14-year-old girl in a chat room. With lines such as "silicon chips" and "floppy one," Terry Hertzler's poem from his book "Second Skin" brought laughs to the crowd.
Moving on, the host with the 5 o'clock shadow introduced how things were going to work. First, there were three amatuers that were going to perform followed by three professionals, Kim Noriega, Cecilia Wallick and Ellen Bass.
Up first was a heavy set woman with perfect white hair expressing her thoughts on her "midnight blue suburban" and being someone's "object of desire."
Next was Karl, a young Peter Pan reciting his poem "When Prose Attacks." The audience could not step laughing and even Ellen Bass who sat near me started to wheeze.
The last amatuer was James, a Bill Paxton lookalike who completely switched the room tone when he started talking about 16-year-old lesbians.
The host transitioned from the amatuers to the professionals with a very nervous Kim Noriega. She started out with her poem "Heaven, 1963" and told us stories of her life with a poem written for her daughter called "The Light of Day," who was present in the audience, followed by "Chemotherapy" for her mother-in-law. Her voice got shaky throughout the poem and after she finished the audience felt her reading with the agreement of their "mmm."
Cecilia Wallick, part of the creative department at the University of Southern California, was next. She starts out light talking about her trip to Havana and her first poem was about a child and her doll. Then she delves sexually with her poem about "sex in bathrooms" and all her marriage proposals especially one where she got proposed to on the Fourth of July and the man said "Happy Independance Day" when he gave her the ring.
Lastly was Ellen Bass who was the most admired. She read from her book "Mules of Love" while getting distracted by the noisy coffee machine. Her lines like "quilt of scars" brought movement to the audience and ended with a poem about her partner being in a hospital admiring a gorgeous surgeon whom she has yet to tell her partner that she is written the poem.
"The Ugly Mug" is a great place for that classic poetry essence minus the snapping. Poetry night is every Wednesday at 8pm with acclaimed poets and time for the ones that just want to express their voice, even if they do look like a Disney character.


Temporary Home

This blogsite is our temporary home while our website undergoes an extreme makeover of epic proportions (shifted septums, pacemakers, calf implants, dialysis, a fancy wig, contacts -- the works).

This was our old home, and while it is a bit dated, it's a good source of info regarding recent issues and the history of Prism Review.

Updates will follow regarding our new home. ETA summer 2009.