This is a word I rarely use, but it was used yesterday and it made a connection. It happened in the cemetery, driving over thousands of brightly fallen leaves, surrounded by hundreds of the tombstones I find so fascinating. She said, "That is what this is! Serendipity! That should be what we worship. Do you want to be a high-priestess or an acolyte?"
"I've been an acoloyte before." And, I think that's what I want to be again in this worship of serendipity. Or as Jack from Will & Grace calls it, serendipitydoo.
This was just one of the many conversations I had with my friend Susan Maurer, one of the poets that came to Harrisburg from New York to read at the Uptown Poetry Cartel poetry reading at the Susquehanna Art Museum. As she tells everyone, "Google me." So, I will leave that up to you to find out more information on her.
When I arrived at the hotel to pick her up, she was waiting in the lobby...with gifts no less! She has given me my first Homie, which she collects. And, she gave me one of her "chat books," a small booklet containing some of her works, which I fully intend on sharing with you at some point.
I took Susan on a driving tour of Harrisburg complete with all the scenic vistas I could muster up. As if that wasn't enough, we stopped for a bite to eat at one of my favorite, borderline dive restaurants;The Paxtang Grill. It's a typical blue collar barroom that's been around forever with the best darned, inexpensive food!
By 7ish we made our way to the musum for the readings. Susan was already there and raring to go. We were soon joined by Brigid Murnaghan, Susan's friend who would also be reading that night. I will also let you "Google her" for more info. They were introduced as "The Beatific Babes from Greenwich Village" quite appropriately, except he kept saying Green Wich which got on my nerves almost at once.
These ladies soon made a strong indication of what the night would bring. I think the others at the reading knew there were poets coming in from New York to read that night. Perhaps they suspected they'd come complete with beret's and bongo's which these ladies did not. But Susan and Brigid soon left everyone know who they were and why they were there.
Susan has gifted the museum with a document of her work with hand set lettering. I can't wait to go back to the museum and see it hanging on the wall! Brigid kept everyone entertained with her sour gummy worms she was eating and her occasional interjection of the word "fuck" or reference to the "cock sucker" that stole one of her lines. By the end of the night, everyone expected the unexpected and kind of lightened up a bit-thankfully.
The beginning of the program was open mic for anyone that wanted to read. Most were very good, some hit quite close to home for me. Susan then began to read her selections; Ocularis, 9-1-04, 10-10-04, Noise at 210 E. 15th St.: Critical Mass: Clash 8-28-04 complete with stories of how these poems were written. She's got quite a group of friends that occasionally serve as inspiration for her poems. You can well imagine having lived in the city for many years, being a published poet with a history of Social Work and living for a period of time in France.
Brigid took the floor and began to read her selections; To Be A Poet, Anna Murnaghan, and Eve. Brigid also told us how these poems were developed which I find truely fascinating.
After the reading, we made our way to a local bar, not your typical poets bar and Susan rightly pointed out. On the way, I got to talk to Brigid a little more. I asked her opinion of the local poets writings, she said they were good. I almost expected her to belt out "they were SHIT!" She and I spoke about romantic poetry which she said she has written but it's most often humerous, not sad. She told me to never shed a tear over a man...a broken plate, yes, never a man. Words to live by!
I was seated between the two ladies and the lively conversation began. Brigid told me about her friendship with Alan Ginsberg and that she's not such a fan of his writing. She's more of a Jack Kerouac fan. Keep in mind, Brigid was writing poetry during this era, living in The Village and travelling with this circle of poets. Brigid also told me about this man she has met, a man that has always caused her to have questions. She's spent time with this man and says he's the dearest person-Bob Dylan. I said I had recently seen him in concert and said he must be a man of few words since he didn't speak a lick during the show. "Actually", she said, "he is not."
She told me about Graham Greene who she said she always had the biggest crush on simply based on his pictures. She was almost apologetic about this crush she has simply because he's deceased. I let her in on my obsession with Jim Morrison. She said, "he was beautiful when he was young wasn't he?" Oh God yes! A woman after my own heart!
Meanwhile to the right of me Susan was developing her musical talents on the trumpet. Well, it was a plastic trumpet, that played music but she did a fair trade with another at the table and the trumpet is now hers.
I really hated to end the evening while everyone was still out having fun. I really hate to miss any kind of fun. The ladies and I fully intend on meeting up in The Village tomorrow for lunch or whatever we can get into.
Susan, I know you are out there reading this. Thank you and Brigid so much for making the treck to Harrisburg. I enjoyed our time together. And, it truly was serendipity, yesterday and our original meeting at The Fence, (which has been voted, by the way, as one of the top dive bars in the city!), you be the high-priestess.
Have a great weekend all! Me and my camera are off for a day in the Big Apple. Report at 11:00.