A Night of Poetry...and farce.

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Posted by panchmaster from pool0223.cvx20-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net ( on Monday, November 18, 2002 at 2:38AM :

Just returned from a poetry reading in San Hosed. Ninos Aho and Yousip Bet Yousip read a collection of their poems. I'd never heard either of them before and must kick myself around the block for not understanding the language better...though there are many like me.

We need to translate their works to English...without losing the power and beauty...just words wont do. Younger people need to hear these poems and less and less of them know the language...all the more reason to make the poems and thoughts accessible.

The event was a half hour late in getting started...an insult to all those present. It galls me that the organizers of these events...out of some misguided sense of courtesy to those who had to watch the end of a TV program, or just had to have that extra chadi and chai...or had greater difficulty leaving the toilet...that in order to extend the extra consideration to the inconsiderate...discommode and punish all those who manage to get there on time.

When the program began it began with introductory comments made in praise of the two guests who sat on a raised platform like they were dead and being eulogized. Printed program notes as to who was born where and moved to which city would suffice. We didn't come to hear ABOUT these excellent writers but to HEAR them.

I apologize for having to haul Jackie out by the ears each time...but the woman is more pervasive than fleas...she's everywhere. To read her lawsuit you'd swear she doesn't go out any more...can't function in the community any longer for fear of those body parts...yet she's been at every function I've been at...resplendant in her knit suit.

She gave an openning statement all about how she didn't want to detract from the evening by speaking too long. Then Alphonse Odishoo got up and said how HE didn't want to detract from the evening by speaking too long. Bless Sargon Shabbas, president of the Berkeley Foundation of America, co-sponsors of the event, for actually NOT speaking long enough to detract from the event.

The poets took turns and for the little I understood I could still sense that I was in the presence of brilliance. There seemed to be not so subtle digs at Christianity...in good ways. There were moving poems about genocide and loss...not my personal favorite themes...and never more so than when we lament those killed 70 years ago and say nothing of the ones killed yesterday. To his credit and my relief Bet Yousip read a poem that mentioned the children starved to death with Sanctions...and both men were critical of the role of the United States government...as thousands and millions of loyal Americans and other people are.

Due to delays and the usual pay-off to the organizers who get things off to a dull thud by making endless and irrelevant introductory comments...the evening dragged a bit and a few people left towards the end. The poets weren't the problem, indeed they were the reason we went at all. It's the way with the Jackies...they do this all for us...but they have to make sure we know it...

The absolute worst and most blatant affront to good taste came at the end when Alphonse Odishoo read his own poem. What better way to end the evening, insult the guests, and ruin the effect of 90 minutes of powerful words than by having that clown recite his funny little poem...as if to say..."what's the big deal...I write poetry too".

At one point in the evening I sensed Jackie was crying and sure enough when I leaned around the woman in front of me...there was Jackie, front row center, dabbing her eyes. I was reminded of the time she said to me..."Fred, we both know this Genocide business is a bunch of crap, but let's use it". I know, I know...seems impossible doesn't it...I must be making it up just to get back at her. Suit yourselves...if you'd been there she wouldn't have said it.

Jackie turned on Jeff with such virulence because he was perceived as being disloyal when she'd expended her "care" and love on him. In her world, money is king...and she spent a lot of it on my sculpture. This should have made me safely hers...which is why she said those kinds of things in my presence...and also why she turned so furiously on me when I refused to be bought.

But...we must give credit where it is due...thanks to them all for arranging the evening. If we could only go that extra step and do these things like it was a JOB...a job you could get fired from...do them like Narsai knows how to do them.

Alphonse's dismal attempt to hog the spotlight created by others is kin to what they tried to do with my work...and I told them to fuck off. Let them do what they do well...sort of...and let the artists and writers do what they do best. They truly need US because who is going to come to hear Alphonse or Jackie...and who are they going to make introductory comments about...and for what? Just what would you want to hear about Jackie's work...or Alphonse's.? Right...nothing.

I met the usual suspects there. Firas was there and assured me he wasn't "Ross". I stood next to Wilfred Alkhase and smiled but he didn't see me somehow. I even saw Fred "I am a Crime" Aprim, coming towards the front doors and even held them open for him...he couldn't quite see me either.

I was really surprised when Ninos Aho and Yousip told me they read here and know we have lots of supporters but that people are too scared to step forward...it's a start...maybe they'll remember in time that before they were Christian they were Assyrians. Afraid?

I had the pleasure of meeting Nahrain, for the first time. She's as lovely in person as in spirit. Give me men to match our women.

It was very good, all in all. The poets were excellent. I'm afraid we're not up to their level yet. Let the poets run the show next time... the rest of us...sit back, shut the fuck up, and just listen.

-- panchmaster
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