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A Reading at the Jefferson Market Library

 

Last Saturday, when I attended a poetry reading at the Jefferson Market Library, I recorded the whole thing. My friend, the teacher and poet, Scott Hightower, had curated it and did the introductions as well. The poets, Skye Jackson, author of A Faster Grave, Daniel W.K. Lee, author of Anatomy of Want, Nicole Greaves, author of Having Witnessed the Illusion, and David Tomas Martinez, author of Post Traumatic Hood Disorder, read. Daniel W.K. Lee was the only poet I had heard before so I was in for some treats. In the Vimeos below the poets read in the order that they read. Listen and enjoy.

 

In the Willa Cather Room

Introductions by Scott Hightower

at the Jefferson Market Library

November 14, 2022

 

 

LITTLE CREEK DEEP DRINK

………………………..(For Bonnie Jean Millican)


Like when people cease to worship a minor god:
a Manhattan draw has disappeared beneath
a city; lost in all but legend and name.
The Indians called it Manette—Devil’s Water.
And then, Dutch settlers saw muskrats
in the meadow beside it. And called it
Bestevaer’s Killetje—Grandfather’s
Little Creek. Manette, Minnetje: …
as opposed to a larger course just North.
At his place, before it reached
its mouth at the Hudson,
Aaron Burr bled it out into a pond.

Some still dream of the little drain
winding its erratic way past two centuries
and near notable downtown sites.

The Jefferson Market Public Library
fills a site just west. Washington Square Park,
the scrappy corner urban garden
that once was the Golden Swan Cafe
(Thomas Wallace’s Irish Hell Hole saloon),
Caffe Reggio and the Provincetown Playhouse
on MacDougal, the diagonal Minetta Lane,
other streets and Village buildings
and businesses now stand on its spoor.

The Jefferson Market Library,
once a busy courthouse with stately
Gothic clock tower and adjoining keep,
is still an attraction. In 1896,
Stephen Crane testified here.
And––though there are no girls
in red velvet swings–– in 1906 Harry Thaw
was tried here. As were Mae West
and Barry O’Neill (her costar).
Their Broadway burlesque show “Sex”
(about a Montreal prostitute) was raided.
West was held for a night, the tabloids
went crazy, and on April 19th, 1927, she
was sentenced to a little over a week in jail.
There are photographs of West and O’Neill
sitting beside one another in the courtroom.
Marianne Moore, Grace Paley, Holly
Woodlawn…. all graced its doors.

When I first came to the city,
the site’s community prison for women
was notable. Like reduced Rapunzels
with too much time on their hands,
the inmates–not so much in need
of the sure hooves of a fleet steed
as pens or a book of matches—
would call from the high windows:
“Toilet paper! A magazine, a bar
of soap!” Their voices would kite,
“We’ll show you our ducts
in a row!” They would laugh, lower
“jail-house elevators” (cigarette boxes
jury-rigged with string to trawl
up any lucky pedestrian swag).
The prison eventually came down.

A Pierian garden now grows
in its place, commemorates
those days. On the first floor of the library,

in the Willa Cather Community Room,
writers give public readings of their work.

……………………….Scott HIghtower

 

 

Skye Jackson

 

 

 

Sky Jackson’s chapbook, A Faster Grave, is published by Antenna. You can check it out here:

https://www.skyejackson.com/about

 

 

Daniel W.K. Lee

 

 

Apocryphal

Before the salt comes
and melts another season
between us, let’s just
lay down on
this serenade of snow:
you where only letters reach
and I in a place with no post office.
If this were a rehearsal for
being together, perhaps
the impressions of our bodies
would appear less like
smudges on winter’s cheek
and closer to a footprint—evidence
of a doe—suggesting beyond
speculation, that we
at least
were

……………………….DDaniel W. K. Lee

 

 

Anatomy of Want is published by Rebel Satori Press. You can check it out here:

https://rebelsatori.com/product/anatomy-of-want/

 

To find out more about Daniel W.K. Lee, check him out here:

https://www.danielwklee.com/

 

To join Daniel’s Patreon to support his work, visit www.patreon.com/danielwklee

 

 

Nicole Greaves

 

 

 

Having Witnessed the Illusion is published by Glass Lyre Press. You can check it out here:

https://glass-lyre-press.myshopify.com/collections/full-length-collections-1/products/having-witnessed-the-illusion

 

 

David Tomas Martinez

 

 

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is published by Sarabande Books. You can check it out here:

https://www.sarabandebooks.org/all-titles/post-traumatic-hood-disorder-david-tomas-martinez

 

You can find out more about David Tomas Martinez here: 

http://www.davidtomasmartinez.com/

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