Cornelia Street Cafe and Jackie Sheeler (1957-2018)

Five years from now, when the Pandemic seems like a very sadistic portion of the nightmare of Trump’s presidency, a young person might tune in to the first season of “Modern Love” and notice a cafe appearing as part of the mise-en-scene in the eight and final episode. Should they use their search engines for Cornelia Street Cafe, they would discover that it shut down at the very end of 2018, in large part because the rent was $30,000 a month. Imagine serving 1000 people a day and having each of them put a dollar into the rent jar, for 30 straight days. That’s not going to happen, day in and day out.

Given that the pandemic shuttered up things in that neighborhood rather thoroughly, the owners of the cafe were extremely lucky to have closed it while they were still ahead. It would be interesting as a case study, however, to find out exactly how the owners of this property have fared under the assistance programs that the government offered in the first and only round of economic support provided by the Trump administration.

In any case, it was a fine place to hear poets and musicians for many years. I had the good fortune to catch Samuel Menashe one night. He was getting frail, but I had never heard him read before.

Here is the schedule for the Fall, 2005 PINK PONY WEST READING SERIES

September 9 — Jane Ormerod
September 16 — Martha Rhodes
September 23 — Bob Holman
September 30 — Terence Burns
October 7 — D. Nurse
October 14 — Martin Espada
Nomember 21 — Angelo Verga
October 28 — Douglas Collura
November 4 — Pandora Scooter
November 11 — George Held
November 18 — Sabrina Hayeem
November 25 — Thanksgiving — no reading
December 2 — Ishle Park
December 9 — Bill Mohr
December 23 and December 30 — Holidays — no reading

Once a reading series comes to a half, the cultural work done by the individuals who got it started and kept it going is often forgotten. After all, a dead person can’t give you a reading.

Well, I would like to use this moment to remember Jackie Sheeler, who founded and ran the series for many years. Here is a link to a blog post that is worth your immediate attention.

https://collinkelley.blogspot.com/2018/04/in-memoriam-jackie-sheeler.html

https://collinkelley.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-with-jackie-sheeler-part-1.html?m=1

Jackie Sheeler — (September, 1957 – March, 2018).
Her first full-length collection, The Memory Factory, won the Magellan Prize in 2002 from the Buttonwood Press in 2002. In 2005, a 14-track wordrock CD, Talk Engine, was released through CD Baby. Earthquake Came to Harlem was published by New York Quarterly Books. In 2003, Soft Skull published an anthology of poems assembled by Sheeler which grew out of being raised as part of a police officer’s family. Off the Cuffs: Poetry By and About the Police is one of the underrated anthologies of the past 20 years.