Poetry All Stars at Cornelia Street Café

1. Thank you, beer. 2. The scene at Cornelia Street Café.

I needed something to get me out of my apartment and distract me from the unemployment blues, so I took up a friend’s offer to attend a reading at the Cornelia St. Café. As I walked through the West Village passing tourists huddled underneath scaffolding (it was raining), my initial motivation to “get out” left me, and all I wanted was to sit in a dark basement, drink dark beer and — not to get too emo on you — listen to something dark.

The bartender/doorman fed the darkness to me immediately. I asked if I could dodge the cover if I wrote about the reading for EL. I kid you not, his reply was, “Nothing matters anymore.” Deciding he needed a drink more than I, I paid the cover and sat my ass down.

1. Reader Michael Klein. 2. Reader Peter Covino.

Peter Covino, PEN Award winner, opened by talking about the potential construction of a “Museum of Literature” in Providence, RI, complete with themed rooms for both beats and ‘20s-era salons. Most everyone in the room thought this was a great idea — I think it is, too — though I wonder what it implies that literature now needs (and merits) a museum. Some of the work he shared were products of a 100-word restraint (this post is about 500) and seemed to be successful for him. He made me smile and feel good, which is a great gift to give, and I agree with him that we “got to start lovin’ people a lot more.”

Covino (word) cloud: air-quotes, lost-soldiers, Mormon-love.

In an alternate time and place, Michael Klein, author of then, we were still living, would have made an amazing fire and brimstone preacher. He wrote about “love without the object” and proposed the question: if one is still a twin when the other has passed on? My off-the-cuff answer is yes, but I also wonder whether the characteristics we identify ourselves with change when said existence relies on someone else. Are you still a Romeo if you have no Juliet? Michael made me laugh, think, and listen. These are also great gifts and reflective of great heart.

Klein cloud: anti-amazon, dancing, risk

City-girl Eleanor Lerman closed the night, and the first thing out of her mouth when she spoke in the mic was, “Boy, does my voice sound strange.” That voice earned her early recognition for her first (wonderful) book, Armed Love, written in 1973, and reminded me, as it should all of us, that “vampires are happ[iest] when they’re homosexual.” My favorite moments were when she told old New York anecdotes, whether it was a raid at a lesbian bar where she was doing homework (at age 14), or taking her dad to a Yankees game and him hearing his name read over the loudspeaker. Echoing Covino, she reminded us that there’s “so much left to love.”

Lerman cloud: Charles St., hashish, starfish.

When I left the café, it was still raining, and there were still pods of Europeans shivering under scaffolding. But all I could think about was getting out, doing some writing, and finding new things to love.


— Craig Moreau, author of Chelsea Boy, has just finished a book tour and is currently drinking a beer. He is interested in identity, democracy, and word-clouds.

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