© 2016 . All rights reserved.

Paolo Javier reads Starfish Aorta Colossus from Court of the Dragon and a poem by Frank Lima

Last week on a sunny afternoon Paolo Javier came over to my place after work—he teaches English at a public high school—because I’d asked to record him reading from his new book, Court of the Dragon, published in 2016 by Nightboat Books, a publisher of well designed books that are a pleasure to read and hold. I’d heard Paolo read earlier in the spring, and enjoyed his use of language in his sonnet sequence that he had dedicated to Frank Lima, who had been a mentor of his. Paolo not only worked with Frank on his poetry, but hung out with Frank as well learning among other things how to cook. Poetry and cooking were passions of Frank; he had worked as a chef, and there are many comparisons in the making of a poem and the making of a perfect steak.

Paolo, who was born in the Philippines, came to the United States at the age of twelve. English, that versatile language varying from place to place, has always been his first. The art of writing poetry, Paolo says, “is falling asleep and staying awake enough.” Yes, poetry must transport the listener, and a good poet’s interest and curiosity will keep the reader guessing, excited and wide awake.

My apartment is at the corner of 9th and C, which is in certain ways like the center of the universe. Here parks and restaurants and bars converge often with clashing noise. “It’s quiet,” Paolo said, but as soon as we started recording, someone somewhere close-by started to play a bagpipe—a real bagpipe, not a recording—and a crowd of people were screaming watching, we agreed, a soccer game. It was loud enough to overwhelm us. Paolo suggested the kitchen. I had my misgivings; the kitchen was small, my cutting boards in the background weren’t clean enough, but something about the cramped space worked—we were in a small room like a chamber in the heart, I thought, intimate and rhythmic, and we started to record.







Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 10.27.33 AM

Published by Nightboat Books:


Leave a Reply