Florida Fire Child

In June, I read - very happily - at Freerange Nonfiction, which has recently rehomed from the Cornelia Street Café to the upstairs lounge of Piano's bar, at 158 Ludlow street in the Lower East Side. (Freerange takes place during happy hour, by the way.) I was first of all chuffed to be asked to read when I originally met Mira Ptacin (Freerange's curator) back in February when we read together at Franklin Park. (Colson Whitehead was headlining, and the audience was large and appreciative.)

And I was double-chuffed when Mira asked, post-reading, if I'd like one of my Freerange poems to be published on the "Freshly Hatched" section of their site. I said, "of course!" emailed her the poem of a Friday, and the following Monday the poem was up: everything perfect, not even my name spelt wrong. The piece was less than a month old, and I'd put almost no effort into writing it (editing it, listening to Canned Heat's "Going Up the Country" to recreate the poem's original maculate conception, I'd laughed myself silly.). Now I know why writers go into journalism: apart from the money (what money?), the rush of seeing your name in fresh print on an almost instant basis (instant compared to the 6 month wait poets endure even after a piece is accepted by a magazine) can be a dangerously seductive drug for writers, who suffer intense ego pain when it comes to delaying gratification. (Perhaps that's why novelists take to drink: to help them through the two to three year wait for the sniff of print.) (So, what kind of smell do blogs give off? I shudder to think.)

The poem, "Florida Fire Child", is a "found" poem, or, more accurately, a stolen poem: in that I stole it from my friend Scott Morris, and didn't change a word. (Though, he was happy to give it, and words spoken into the ether are public domain.) Late one night / early one morning we were eating devilled eggs in the West Village while he told his girlfriend Katie and I a story about a class mate of his back in Florida, who was a really nice guy who happened to be turned on by fire. Tragically, a bit like the way it is for returning war journalists, nothing was ever quite the same after he discovered arson. We were laughing so much, and he was telling it slowly enough, I was able to get it all down, and didn't change a word: click here for the poem on Freerange. I hope the north Floridian voice comes through.

After working out future royalties, I most probably owe Scott 10$ (less in Euros). (That was also the night he confessed that devilled eggs make him happy.)

Freerange is to be found at www.freerangenonfiction.com / and here's Franklin Park's web address. And here is a photo of me with Scott Morris and Richard Prins, looking slightly shady, at the Franklin Park reading in February 2011: