Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uphook Press: you say. say. opens in Philadelphia

A poetry reading is a grand event; each has a unique gravitational pull. Force of attraction variables include poets, location, cost, time the sun sets, Mercury's apparent motion, willingness to embrace the cosmos, intensity of need to see a throbbing heart under glass.

Sometimes a trip to Philadelphia is called for. Sometimes you meet up with five friends at 9:45 a.m. at 8th and 34th in front of the Tick Tock Diner and board a Bolt bus. You freelance and your boss is willing to give you the day.

Some of your party will be well-dressed. The Romanian will wear a suit that will convince you he affects a frilly cuff at his wrist. He doesn't. The Britisher's long bright coat will blend vintage mod and Italian couture. The youngest, in old tennis shoes and a hoodie without pretense, is natural as sleep he can't shake off. There will be a woman torn from Chicago, her hair the color of the chemical symbol Pt + an atomic number of 78; she is in black. You will allow one native of New Jersey to join you, but only because his shirt is brown silk and he pops with ideas. And you? Insecure, you will wear jeans, black boots and a sweater, but carry a full wardrobe -- strappy sandals, two suits, five blouses, every pair of shoes you ever owned -- in your pack. Who can decide at 8:30 a.m. what to wear at 7 p.m.?

On the ride to Pennsylvania, each of your friends achieves daily morning reclamation of the soul, something often not possible until evening, after work, kicking back. Having succeeded in reestablishment of humanity, the parts are effortless in becoming a whole (chatter, sharing an apple, favorite poems, movies, ideas).

Ben Franklin lures you all to his home, wine cellar, famous lists and genius, if only to remind your group of your limitations. But then, the Liberty Bell is flawed, but uber emblematic. Of course there is food and a cocktail, too much horseradish. By 6 p.m. your group has arrived at Robin's Bookstore, (now Moonstone Arts Center) for a reading series 25-years old.

You state the great rule of readings: Whoever shows up is exactly the right person, and you are proven uber wise. Because the reading - three poets anthologized in Uphook Press' you say. say. - in concert with the room's history and all occupants - bring life to life, word to word, poem to listener. Christian Georgescu, Thomas Fucalaro and Sarah Sarai (suit with flounces at his wrists; warm hoody and sneakers; now in a black skirt and pink sweater).

The Uphook trio, the publishers/editors Jane Ormerod, Ice and Brant Lyon, have created an anthology beautifully designed and selected. And Jerry, of Robin's/Moonstone in Philly, and also videographer for the Bowery Poetry Club back in N.Y.C., enthuses about Robin's, poetry, Bowery. Everyone is satisfied for being there, including the audience, one of whom performs his poem, a saga of water, race and respect.

You won't leave for New York until 11. So. Your friends rarely see you drink and hardly know what to do with you, but that's so often in the case in your life you barely notice. By 1 a.m. you are back in New York. Stanzas: friends, the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin, a Revolutionary church. Linebreaks: hues and intonation.

Poets anthologized in you say. say. include Matthew Zapruder, Patrick Cahill, Samantha Barrow, Suzanne Heagy and others. For more about Uphook Press see:

For more about Robin's Bookstore/Moonstone see:


  1. Lyrical post. Thank you for the positive take on readings.

  2. Thanks for directing me to this post, Sarah. It was a joyful day, and a joy to re-live it so vividly reading your witty take on it.