They Did It for Love: The Day Poets Took Over the East End Arts Carriage House
Poet Lukas Ortiz was late to arrive and quite apologetic. He had thrown his back out digging his car out of the ice and snow. His poems remembered another winter storm that had kept him from his grandmother’s graveside in Colombia, car wrecks and insurance claims and the one thing that kept us at this crazy game of life: the great monster of love.
“Oh great monster of love,” he prayed. “Give us one more chance to live a life worth living.”
Pamela Callimanis grew up in Freeport but she brought with her a mountain dulcimer from Appalachia. She was wearing a black and white striped sailor’s shirt and had a black bow tie around her bare neck.
She was rouged and she promised poetic burlesque. She also promised to molest her dulcimer in front of the crowd and asked those gathered if they wanted to stand to get a better look. They didn’t.
Now, see, not only did Pamela Callimanis grow up in Freeport but so did Lou Reed. So, after playing “Walk on the Wild Side” and singing along with her dulcimer, she read a poem she’d written to Mr. Reed, who died last year.
They both had played the clarinet, she said, and she wanted to know if Lou Reed had also smoked marijuana down by the pond. Then she jumped north in her poetry to Horace Harding Place and 186th Street in Queens, just off the 59th Street Bridge but not feeling so groovy as she pondered neon in traffic and kept driving through.
“I wonder if the man who made that instrument had any inkling of what this instrument would be participating in when it came to New York,” said Teri Kennedy of the mountain dulcimer.
Greg Moglia of Huntington had some beautiful words for the crowd.
He spoke about a vision of Tennessee Williams resting his head on Mother Teresa’s lap, wordless, and of another story of his wife’s initial reaction to his orgasmic screams.
He also read of a middle eastern man named Elvis who stopped to listen to him read Walt Whitman aloud in a Dunkin Donuts.
When he’d finished, Elvis smiled.
“I stop you from reading and you talk to me,” he said. “Our atoms are joining.”
“Love doesn’t make life perfect,” Mr. Moglia reminded the crowd. “It just makes it come alive.”
Poet Jane Shaffer, whose work honored nature at every turn, talked of elk bedding down for the night in her yard and of egrets and the wild. But the rawness of survival in the natural world, she said, had everything to do with love.
“We must have read what we do to survive, but we were born to love,” she said.
Ms. Giardi read a sweet brief closing poem for her husband, Don, who had once picked her herbal remedies from a field in the Berkshires. She said she hoped this would be the first of many annual celebrations of poetry and love at the carriage house.
I hope so too.
5 thoughts on “They Did It for Love: The Day Poets Took Over the East End Arts Carriage House”
I was at the Poetry Reading – this is a wonderful article as was the afternoon! Thank you EEAC for yet another enticing event.
Poetry readings in Riverhead! Never happened when I was growing up there. The first poetry reading I ever attended was in the Hamptons, in 1984. Howard Moss, longtime poetry editor of the New Yorker, was the featured poet. And if my memory isn’t playing tricks, playwright Edward Albee introduced him.
Excellent reporting, Beth. You captured both the silly and the sublime of poetry readings. One of the poets that I’ve known (I’m thinking it may have been Billy Collins) used to say there was nothing more boring or ridiculous than a poet reading his poems aloud. But we do it anyway. And people come to hear us. Why? Do they have a higher capacity to entertain the absurd? Perhaps, but I think you’ve got it right. Poets dare to face the monster of love. They go out into the storm. Every now and then, one of them gets struck by lightening, goes home, and writes down words that will break the world’s heart and put it back together again.
Fabulous story Beth, wonderfully told – I felt I was right there with you. I’ll have to come to the next one!
Thank you so much for this great article. I really enjoy facing the monster of my imagination and doing it with a mountain dulcimer! Go like my Facebook author page for upcoming events!
Great, I will! Great show!