Remember that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which the old man in the plague wagon lifted his head to croak, “I’m not dead yet”? Well, neither are the gristly survivors of the literary Lower East Side. Last Sunday’s reading at the Bowery Poetry Club featured past and present contributors to Sensitive Skin Magazine: Ventilated veterans and legendary pink dot swallowers met fresh Midwestern émigrés—all come together to celebrate the release of the brand-new issue, bristling with energy and bustling to be next on the mic.
Besides the various contributors, who included writers, poets, artists, photographers and musicians, roughly a hundred people joined the fun; the vibe was mellow but crackling. Everyone was on their best (if not soberest) behavior, old scores were settled and newer feuds begun.
Stalwarts Ron Kolm, James Romberger, Michael Carter, Bonny Finberg and Jill Rapaport represented Loisaida on its glory dais, while Chavisa Woods, Jen Adams and Patricia Eakins brought the fly to our spry. A few of the most resolute writers flew out from the West Coast to take the Bowery stage, such as newcomer Ray Jicha and former Pagan vocalist, Mike Hudson—an inspiring level of commitment.
Some of the highlights included Marguerite Van Cook’s reading of her award-winning poem, Twenty-Four Islands, Carl Watson’s droll delivery of excerpts from his new book “Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming”, King Missile progenitor John S. Hall’s scatological and bodily-fluid-drenched crie de Coeur (the title of which is unprintable in a family newspaper), and a performance from the book “East of Bowery”, a multimedia polyphony of writing, images and music by Drew Hubner, Ted Barron and Kurt Wolf.
The man in the wagon is very much alive—though he better watch out for that hammer!
The current Sensitive Skin features a rare interview with William Burroughs by Allen Ginsberg from 1992, as well as previously unpublished photographs of Burroughs by Ruby Ray (from her iconic 1981 shoot). There’s also lots of great writing, music and art from folks like Thaddeus Rutkowski, Karen Lillis, Rob Hardin, James Greer, Tom McGlynn, Mark McCawley, Todd Colby, Justine Frischmann, Steve Horowitz and Dan Plonsey. The full issue can be browsed online or purchased in a full-color collector’s edition from Amazon, St. Mark’s Books, Autonomedia and select bookstores.
—B. Kold, editor emeritus, Sensitive Skin
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