Thanks for all the good wishes for the Palabra Pura Reading. They worked. I had such a great time in Chicago. Ellen, Mike, and Mary of the Guild Complex are doing so much for poetry and are some of the warmest, kindest people I have ever met. Francisco, too! He is amazing and I'm honored that he invited me to read in the series.
If you ever get the chance to read in the Palabra Pura series -- grab it -- they really know how to treat a poet. They flew me out and put me up in a beautiful room at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. And they fed me. One of the brilliant features of the series is a salon dinner before the reading. I had the pleasure of dining next to the wonderful Lisa Alvarado of LaBloga and the lovely and talented Coya Paz the local featured reader. By the time we arrived at the Clipper I felt as if I was reading for old friends rather than being a stranger in a new city and any case of pre-reading jitters was long gone.
The Clipper is a very cool venue. We read in a nice sized room off the bar and at the end of the reading there were about 40 people in the audience -- the audience grew as the reading went on because people were wandering in from the bar! The reading was emceed by the charming Johanny Vazquez-Nieves and kicked off with an open mic that featured poets from Momotombo Press and MarchAbrazo Press, followed by the two featured poets. I'm a firm believer that much depends on the audience when you're reading and this audience was the best anyone good hope for -- the energy they gave back to me while I was reading led directly to the energy in my delivery. The lovely and talented Coya Paz was riveting. She's a performance poet with a drama background and her work is powerful and moving.
After the reading there was a nice lingering and chatting among the poets and audience. I came away with the new anthology The Wind Shifts, Raul Nino's new chapbook, The Book of Mornings, (MarchAbrazo Press), another chapbook by Momotomo Press, and some very fond memories of my first trip to Chicago. Pictures to come.