In case you were wondering, Ishle's reading at Slam Fresno was awesome. I was happy that we were able to have a long lunch and chat before the reading, since we've corresponded for so many years but had not had the chance to meet in person. She's just amazing---so cool & dare I say visionary with her new project (which I won't talk about because it's not my place to talk about it)---and her reading was awesome. She read "Ode to the Picnic Singers," which blew me away; one of her recent sonnets (about those famous gold hoop earrings) which was equally lush and magical; and to top it off she sang Marley and some of her own songs while playing the acoustic guitar. Lord, this poet/singer/magical spirit/Korean-American visionary/friend is just exceptional. If it sounds like I'm gushing and in awe, it's because I am. Ishe, I wish you the very best with the residency, your trip, and all good things ahead. And hopefully when my book comes out we can do that reading together.
Ishle was the feature midway through a poetry slam. I thought the slammers were really good---Amy, the winner, was very good---but I especially liked Sam Pierstorff, who could have won in my book (awesome, awesome poem about his mother's songs!) and the winner could also have been Adriel Luis. I knew Ishle rules and Sam rocks, too, but my new discovery is Adriel Luis. He is unbelievable----rich, hip poems with passion and substance (one poem about self-hatred, one about gender and beauty) delivered with some style & flair that just blew me away. Being totally unaware of the slam scene, I didn't know he was the co-champion of the SF slam and has garnered all kinds of acclaim, but I can see why. He took second, but I think most people there would admit Adriel was on another level. He has a book called How to Make Juice, and you can read more about him here.
The emcee was good, but I have to give him thumbs down for not showing Ishle some love during his closing comments thanking everybody under the sun but forgetting to acknowledge Ishe's awesome set one last time. But overall the night was great. Again, Maysoon at Ululate Procutions should feel good (but please, Maysoon, have someone working at the bar who knows how to pour a beer. The foam that woman created was comical). Be on the lookout for Saul Williams, whose show I unfortunately will miss (I'll in China), brought to you again by Ululate. He is performing in Fresno on July 1.
As for Ishle, it was awesome to finally meet, hang out, and to hear those incredible poems!
If you want to buy her incredible book (I have used it in my poetry class several times and the students love it) check it out and be transformed a little. Peace.