Opening Day, 2021 — Beyond Baroque Reading with P.V. and D.P.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Supposedly, the past week has been “spring break.” I get emails with requests from students that start, “I hope you’re enjoying your spring break.” I usually reserve that sentence for the end of my response. In all fairness, most of my students are not exactly lounging around. Many of them work at least 20 hours a week while also taking classes.

I’ve spent more time in the evening “at” Beyond Baroque than usual. On Wednesday evening Brendan Constantine led a workshop meant to spin the thread of 30 days into the web of 30 poems. He gave us several prompts, which I will not comment on, let alone post. “You can share these prompts with friends you trust, but please don’t put one of them on a FB post.” Since I have always regarded FB and “friends you trust” as an almost antithetical Venn diagram, Brendan needn’t worry about me to betray his prompts. Hmmm, perhaps that is what is needed in the world of prompts: a suggestion that addresses the pleasures and perils of betrayal.

The other evening at BB was on Thursday, April 1st, opening day of the MLB baseball season, in which the travesty of the extra innings rule (“a runner starts on second base, with no outs”) was on full display in Milwaukee. Sigh. Talk about betrayal of a tradition. The American ideal of meritocracy, which slowly crystalized over a century and a half into an imaginary utopia disguised as a bucolic pastime, is quickly turning into a dystopia of expedient entertainment.

Poetry has never been a social meritocracy, and never will be. Nevertheless, such friends as I have are often poets or friends of poets. Two of them, Paul Vangelisti and Dennis Phillips, read “together” “at” Beyond Baroque on April 1st. Here is a link to a video of that event: