Get Your Poem On/ 24 GREAT WEATHER MEDIA Spoken Word Sundays

Mindy August 2013 Herald Square aa

Each Sunday, at the Parkside Lounge at 317 East Houston Street in NYC, from 4 – 6pm in the back room, a powerhouse of spoken word takes place.  GREAT WEATHER FOR MEDIA Spoken Word Sundays is a place to be.  Not only are the features worth it, but their open mic is quite impressive as well.  The hosting rotates among David Lawton, George Wallace, Thomas Fucaloro, and guest hosts.  Jane Ormerod, a talented and beautiful person, has a lot to do with the ongoing existence and development of Great Weather Media.  I often would receive announcements from her.


Great weather for media's photo.

My attending was long overdue.  When I got the notice that Thaddeus Rutkowski was one of the features on August 3rd, I really wanted to get there.  He is one of my favorite writers of poetry and prose.  I first heard him over twenty years ago at a reading in the Bronx when Rick Pernod ran a groundbreaking series at  An Beal Bocht.  Also featuring was someone new to me, Duane Esposito.  Another treat.  This reading was hosted by Russ Green, who made me feel welcome.

Almost every reader made my jaw drop.  It was so worth the trip (which for me was a lot of train riding).  I read one poem at the open called, “You Know What They Say” and was so well received.  I felt good the whole time I was there.

To stay updated on their line-up, you can like their Facebook page.

I highly recommend that you treat yourself to a poetry good time at Great Weather Media Spoken Word Sundays.  I look forward to getting there again.


(c) 2014 Mindy Matijasevic
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Get Your Poem On/ 23 “Dance of the Word”

On Saturday, August 2nd, I was part of Evie Ivy’s celebration of summer in her “Dance of the Word” event at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, NYC.  I knew others on the program, and I was looking forward to it.  Plus there’s belly dancing at these events.  I love watching belly dancing.  I find it mesmerizing.

belly dance by Natalie Yacenik

Evie weaved the poets in between music and dance.  Fred Simpson played his drum and sang Summertime.  I’d heard him read his poetry before but had no idea of his other talents.  Nice surprise.  Other poets included David Elsasser, Peggy Fitzgerald, Evie Ivy, Eugene Ring, Patricia Carragon, and Madeline Artenberg.  Cleopatra Amaris performed a sword dance and later a traditional belly dance as did Evie.  A fantastic pianist — Paul Knopf — played for us, and the room went silent, the kind that follows a gasp.  What a treat that was.

I read five poems.  I have grown more comfortable doing this, probably because doing stand-up is the high-anxiety thing for me these days.  Out of the five poems, two of them refer to oral sex in raw language.  I was a little concerned how that would be received.  Well, it was received with lots of laughter.  That felt really good. 

Before leaving, I realized I hadn’t gotten a program.  They were on tables, so I went to a table and asked the man there if I could have the program.  He said, “Of course. You were the star of the show.”  Maybe he was just flattering me, but it felt good.

Five of us went out afterwards to an Indian restaurant on Bleecker Street where new flavors entertained my palate.

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Get Your Poem On/ 22 Starving Artist Cafe

  June 27, 2014 was the last Friday of the month which means Open Mic Night at the Starving Artist Café on City Island in the Bronx. I was pretty thrilled that my best bud was available and eager to join me, and that means a car ride as well.

This particular night, there were mostly musicians and singers. A man got up to do comedy but said he was going to do poetry. When he began, he said that he just said poetry in case he isn’t funny. I have a leg in both worlds. I didn’t appreciate his statement, but he probably thought it would be funny.

I was there to do comedy that particular night also. My buddy was videotaping me. It wasn’t my best set, but seeing the video is helpful to me to see all the little things not to do again. I also see what I did right.

A woman got up to share her poetry. I enjoyed her very much. I later learned her name is Shanna Wynn. She delivered the line of the evening that I took home with me.

“My body is a one-woman band.”

I enjoyed her writing and her passionate presentation.  And when I went over to talk to her, she was so warm.  When I get my behind in motion to put together a poetry reading, I want her in it.  Listening to her made me want to get it going.

The evening was delicious to me. Baked ziti, yum. Wine (it’s BYOB as they don’t sell alcohol), pot luck open mic talent — lots of fun.  Elliot Glick and two others played guitars and sang.  My bestest friend was with me.  I love the whole atmosphere though I missed Monica Glick who wasn’t there that night.



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Get Your Poem On/ 21 Sometimes the Conditions Inside and Out Are All Wrong

Mindy August 2013 Herald Square cc As the school year comes to the final days, lots of work with deadlines has piled.  I took lots home this weekend.  I didn’t see any other way.  However, halfway into the weekend, I still hadn’t done anything with it.  So I decided to let myself do something else, and maybe that would get things in motion.  There was a writing workshop that sounded good on paper.  I was allowed to register up until an hour before it would start.  It was free.  I told myself to get up and do something.  The discouraging part was getting there.  Either two buses or a train and a bus. 
I took the train first and that went quickly.  It would be great if there were a more direct route.  When I got off the train, I was in a neighborhood adjacent to the one I grew up in.  It had been a long time since I’d been walking around there and I was no longer familiar with the layout.  I walked downtown when I needed to walk uptown to the bus stop.  In those minutes, I missed the bus.  By the time I got on the next one, I was definitely going to be late.  Then there were wheelchair ramp problems, and the ride took much longer than normal.  I was 45 minutes late.  I went in hungry and with a headache. 
The first main exercise already happened.  People were sharing what they wrote and receiving feedback.  The workshop leader winked at me.  From a distance, my sight is a little blurry, so it took a couple of minutes to realize that I knew the woman leading the workshop.  And as a person, I didn’t like her.  This is where Googling would have been a time-saver.  If I’d seen who she was in pictures, I’d have recognized her.  We briefly had once worked at the same job.  I remember wanting to like her initially.  Seeing who she was felt disappointing.  I was glad she left or was asked to (not sure how that went). 
So now it is years later.  People grow.  I figured if she was doing this, she has something to offer.  The topic clearly had to do with our mothers.  Everyone was reading about theirs.  I felt like I wouldn’t have been able to or wanted to share about my mother in front of someone I knew as a mean person.  I don’t need to feel any worse than I tend to walk around feeling. 
If it were walking distance from my house, I might have left.  I did step out to get a coffee and donut in hopes of easing the hunger and headache (assuming the headache was from the hunger).  I brought the stuff back in with me, so I hadn’t missed but a few more minutes.  She was assigning the next exercise.  It was built on the first one and used the mother as a character, but this would be in a fictional situation.  It was timed and very little time was given.  I write nonfiction and poetry.  Very rarely is my stuff fiction (though names are often changed), so I needed more time.  I also wasn’t feeling like having my mother be a character.  This is not light stuff for me.  Then she began singing during our writing time which I found very annoying.  In some ways, it felt more about her than it should be.  I wrote a few shitty lines.  No direction because I hadn’t made the decisions one makes before writing, so it was nothing. 
The last exercise was to write a Haiku.  The specific moment she asked for in the life of our mothers was not accessible to me.  I think they were valuable assignments, but they seemed more centered around where she’s at than where we are.  So, no poem either.  There was a general announcement asking people to join the workshop leader and the one who runs the place to eat at a nearby restaurant.  Before anyone could zoom in on me, I darted out of there. 
It was not a day I had patience for the bus ride.  It crawls in traffic and stops at lights and bus stops and just felt so long.  The day and I were just not compatible it seemed.  I felt like I wasted time and carfare.  I wanted to do something to make myself feel treated.  I stopped off at Fordham Road.  I bought myself a dress for the beach.  As I got closer to home, I picked up food, wine, and coffee.  Enjoyed being back home, but still didn’t do my work.
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Get Your Poem On/ 20 Thank You, Maya Angelou

Last October, Maya Angelou lovingly used her standing in society for the children.  She wrote a letter to President Obama regarding the landscape of education.  I am grateful.

I work with adult students as some of you know.  They are trying to complete their basic education which was interrupted for a variety of reasons.  Ultimately, they are hoping to be able to pass the exam required to receive their high school equivalency diploma.  A new test has been put out there, and it is a disaster.  The main issue is it went from being created by a not-for-profit educational testing service to for-profit corporations whose mission is to make money.  This is deadly to the integrity of education.  Readers, I respectfully request that you read and sign the following petition to the State Education Department.

Thank you so much.  This is so important.


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Get Your Poem On/ 19 Poetry as Prophylactic

Yesterday morning, I awoke way earlier than necessary with anxiety.  I had stress ahead.  Deep stress.  I opened my email, and one of the things that awaited me was this:

Hi Mindy,
Hope all is well and you are loving the spring. If I recall correctly, you submitted poems to the Anthology.  Unfortunately, my computer ate them and those of a couple others.  Could you please resend.  If I’m wrong and you did not submit your poetry, I’d love for you to send your work in. Hope to see you at the workshop today.

I felt the timing as a gift from God, the universe, my angels, my dear loved ones who have passed, whoever it is that looks out for me in these ways to help me stay afloat.  I thanked them all.  Then I wrote back.

Thank you!  I was under the impression I didn’t make the deadline (my week was emotionally difficult and I just didn’t get to everything as I’d have liked to).  It means so much to me that you wrote this and that I still have a chance to be included.  Thank you so much.  It makes such a difference in my day, and I have aggravation waiting for me today.  Ugh.
Here are three.  Unfortunately, I won’t be joining the poets this afternoon.  I do hope to get there again.
To top it off, he wrote back.
I’m so glad you sent them.  Thank you.  You know you are welcome anytime.  I hope to see you soon.

He made me feel so good.  Welcomed was not how I spent most of my life.  I truly tried to wear that experience like an emotional condom, for my well being when facing my difficult part of the day.  I’m pretty sure it helped.
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Get Your Poem On/ 18 4 Horse Reading at Cornelia Street Cafe

     I had a very good time at the 4 Horse reading on Friday night.  It had been a very personally stressful week.  I was not feeling funny one bit, so I was glad it was a poetry reading and not a comedy show I was in.
     I was barely able to catch up with myself and was still writing a poem on the train ride heading downtown.  When I arrived, the host, Bob Quatrone, was reading a wonderful piece about an emotionally unavailable man.  The phrase “Teflon prick” captured my attention.  I saw the back of a friend’s head, and it felt good that someone came to hear me in the reading.  He’s a playwright and enjoys all kinds of readings.  I was really glad to be able to take the seat by him and try to relax.
     Big Mike, for those familiar with him, went up first and did a piece on cunnilingus.  He referred to himself as a connoisseur.  It was hard to get someone to want to follow him.  If I remember correctly, the brave Cynthia Toronto went up next, and the reading went rolling along.  I enjoyed Ron Kolm’s two short prose pieces very much.
     At one point, I leaned over to my friend and said, “What I brought to read pales in comparison.”  Though he didn’t know what I brought, he began to disagree with me.
     When it was my turn, I began with the one I had just written on the train, not yet titled.
When I tell you
something that welcomes
a response, I hear
your loud silence
and it hurts my
     The people gave me such an encouraging response which truly lifted my spirits.  Then I went on to read Family Blues for the first time at a reading.  That was appreciated too.  The audience really was emotionally receptive.  That was just what I needed.  I was so glad to be part of the evening.  I read a few other poems, and since it was the weekend of Mother’s Day, I had to read one I wrote about sixteen years ago.
Perfect Gifts
My son shows me the full moon
thrill traveling throughout his little body
like the moon was given to him
as a gift, which, I guess it was
I jumble numbers in my head
subtracting coupons
& refund bottles
dig for lost coins in my lining
try to determine
whether we need diapers
more than milk or milk more
than diapers
to get through this night
Then there’s the moon
my boy’s face
pearls against the night sky
both so perfect
& beaming
I have to smile
     I ended with a different poem about learning to love myself coming late.  It felt good to read.  That was another one I hadn’t yet read at a reading until that night.  When I stepped down, several poets in the audience made contact physically.  I felt grateful at their willingness to connect with me over a number of things.  In my gratitude, I made physical contact with several as well.  When I reached my friend, I said, “It turned out so well.  I often worry about the wrong things.”  Nothing paled.
     And the poem line of someone else’s that I took home with me was from Boni Joi:  “…don’t worry about the dark energy that flows through everything.”
(c) Mindy Matijasevic 2014
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