Published by Bowery Poetry Books in 2007, featuring the poetry written out of the experience of making a living performing poetry in the streets and parks of Boston, Harvard Square, New York’s Greenwich Village and Upper Broadway. Plus some instruction on how to be a performing street poet, and memoirs. Mostly out of print, a few new and used copies are still available on Amazon. Excerpts on this page change from one week to the next. The selection for this week [June 7-13, 2018] continues last week’s from My Date With Suzanne Vega at Tom’s Diner:
Without consulting anyone, not even Vinny, I decided I should ask her out. This was, on first inspection, a rash and impudent act. My best information was that she, or perhaps it was another woman with somewhat similar looks, was one of the women discreetly seeing a recording artist regularly booked at Folk City as a headline act. But if you have ever recited poetry from memory on a Manhattan street corner, you will know without having to be told how quickly the possible downside of asking someone else’s girl out was brushed aside. I mean, Byron, right?
Besides, when we had a “serious” conversation once there were three dimensions to her side of the discussion, even though she didn’t adopt all of my views the way I believed anyone with intelligence should after having them patiently explained in a crowded bar. This connection I felt conferred certain limited natural rights – in conflict even with her preferred choice of company – on me. So that tended to take care of that misgiving.
The other issue was that I was fairly clueless about putting something like this together. For example, I went on a total of I think one real date in high school and had a problem finding the car after the movie. I needed some pretty encouraging signals before I could make a “move.” Move-making was very tricky, I tended to find.
But there was a magazine article with “tips” for people like me, stashed in the desk of a secretary whom I replaced one day as an agency temp, which recommended for such a first date that it should be something “non-threatening” like lunch, yet a novel and, if possible, interesting experience, providing a topic about which the participants could thereafter “share their feelings.” Which is quite a comprehensive set of criteria, but I was motivated by the C Street encounter.
So I checked through the weekly listings in the New Yorker, and found a suitable event that was not expensive. Some museum or institute that I had heard of was having a show of writing instruments, from ancient stylus to the most modern, electric word processors. Kind of appropriate for two writers. That was my take. We could do it on a Sunday afternoon, and it was conveniently located uptown not too far from where she lived near Barnard. She said yes.