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November 12th, 2003

Poste Restante

I'm intrigued by people who through effort make themselves into personalities. In Los Angeles, live poetry readings, part of the so-called "spoken word movement", hold a lot more sway among young literati than in many other cities. People bring props, give performances, elucidate laughter, and elucidate tears. Poetry readings interest me, though I attend very few of them. They're rather like cotton candy--when they're easily available, they're grand, but Diogenes never drove across town with his lantern hunting for cotton candy.

The poet Ellyn Maybe came to local notice among folks who attend these type of gatherings. She's got a straightforward style, very down to earth and yet with a good way with imagery. She got picked up by the alternative papers, and soon "poetry reading" listings here and there listed her as a kind of headliner. Now she's got her own website at www.ellynmaybe.com, a book of poems published by Rollins/edited by Cervenka (a sort of Los Angeles tattoo, marking one much as a battleship would, as being from southern California), and a string of reading invitations here, there and yon.

I like her poetry, at least those that I have read. It's very accessible, and well drawn, although arguably sometimes her images and themes are a bit "easy". I really like, though, that she self-created her fame. She went out, with no advantages of formal education, material prosperity, "connections", or corporate contract, or personal beauty, and just did. She sent her letters into the Eternal Network, marked "will pick up", and people did. Now she is probably someone whom she meant to become. Even if she had not been recognized as "good", I'm sure she'd still be spending Friday night at mikes, holding forth into the ether.

I don't do live poetry at microphones thus far. I don't have any real ambitions to meet Henry Rollins, or have Phillip Glass set my words to music. But I like to learn--and I think that Ellyn Maybe teaches me something.