April Is National Poetry Month and it runs a close second to October’s Banned Book Month as my favorite. The memories take me back to the beginnings of Six Ft. Swells Press when I worked at Odyssey Books in Grass Valley. Utah Phillips held court outside of Flour Garden, Gary Snyder always brought his long out of print hard cover books out of the chicken coop down to the store. And every Sunday in April, The store would hold poetry readings from local poets and some bigger names as well. Many poems were read about dimensions and crystals and the inner feelings of trees and what makes rivers happy. But, every so often poems would include words such as whiskey, jukebox, records, New Orleans, Bukowski, Otis, lust, hangovers, passion, redheads, PBR tallboys, fuchsia, fights, blowjobs and pirates. Uttered from the mouths of Julie Valin, Todd Cirillo, Bill Gainer, Will Staple and myself. This my friends is where the spark began. the big bang, if you will.
When some of us asked ourselves, if these are the poems that we like then why not put them out for the masses. For them to consume, get drunk of off and dance on the bar. April, the thawing of winter. When drinks and the radio begin to move out onto the porch. Where soon the sweat will become heavier and the clothes fewer. It’s no accident that Poetry Month is in April. It’s the gateway time of year. The rapping on the chamber door. When Nicholson sticks his head in and says “Here’s Johnny” . Letting you know that the Winter is gone and the season of Rebirth is upon us and some pirates have showed up, ready to read some poems.