i was born in 56 he says (or was it 54?) what year were you born?which is not only a cool way to ask about age
but also a great model for offering up the information first so that, if the answerer chooses to respond, the questioner is already in this with you
that was the best conversation i’ve had this year i say
to max greenstreet at the corner of one street and another
four blocks from the beach
polenta in my stomach
and when he reaches his hand out i say
oh, give me a hug and so we hug
my best paraphrasing of questions culled from the (so far) best conversation of 2013:
when have you felt closest to death?what did your friendships/relationships early on in gradeschool with your classmates look like?
what do you do to get through?
what are some things that really stood out that you learned in high school?
let us not forget:
the small thick square notebook that max writes in at the dinner table
pocket sized he says
as i have been known to do
it becomes a circle/cycle/cyclical
about reading about the day before in the morning
i make a point to create/have conversations he says
because i can’t stand shop talk
which eventually breaks out at half of the table
kate’s right hand man is what he calls himself when i ask
what do you do?
and by right hand man he means
sound tech guy for the readings
collaborating on music for the videopoems
working the camera for the videopoems
tourmate co=pilot extraordinnaire
selling the house so that there is more money for hotelroom stays on these poetry tours
his website says it best:
When I’m asked what I do, I say I’m a graphic designer because that’s what I’ve done most (pictures + words). mainly I see myself as Kate Greenstreet’s right hand man. When I was young, I didn’t know this job existed. Eventually I noticed it had become my career.
it is rare i get to witness a collaborationship like this. and i am honored to be in its presence.
and it’s not just that they work together, it’s that they listen to each other.
the magic that can happen when i am asked to introduce a poet
and the poet turns out to be made of some of the same stuff i am
i mostly have said nothing of kate because i said so much in the introduction
but here is what i will say to you now
she asked me to help her find the bathroom
not in a powertrip or royal way
but in a ‘you seem nice, i trust you to guide me’ way
and we giggle at the door
and when i say co=counseling she says the word restimulation
and when she asks what i ordered for dinner
and i offer it to her
she is not miffed or weirded out
by sharing plate germs with someone she just met
and i am grateful because i was feeling bad about not being able to put one more bite in my mouth
should you be curious, reader, i will include the text of the introduction below
three mfa students in the back seat
and two professors in the front
we laugh about mentos and toolbelts and
think about 50′s music in the 70′s
which calls for an email that goes something like:
you make san diego good for poetry
the ocean became fog
pouring in over building tops
still gathering in the street as i bike east hours later
rolling over the asphalt while thinking
about how, when given the space to do so, i will rise to the occasion
(as in, being asked to write/give the intro to poet kate greenstreet tonight)
and that is the difference
between some teachers and others
the difference between knowing how to create space for possibility that a student may step into and fill up
and knowing how to create space for failure
tonight i am grateful for thoughtful questions and little books that fit in pockets
i am grateful unexpected run-ins with other people’s (poets and their right hand men) humanity
i am grateful for someone presenting me with the opportunity to show up. not just show up but rise to the occasion and shine.
In a review of kate greenstreet’s most recent book, Young Tambling, Laura Carter writes: Greenstreet takes art seriously, and she sees it as a way of being fully real, that these artists she knows and refers to are both friends and also strangers, which works for her to provide a way of making the world more fully habitable.
Other ways of saying this include: greenstreet writes poems and turns them into videos for which she makes the music and works the camera. greenstreet writes poems as experimental memoir that incorporate ballads, textural photographs of her paintings along with images of handwritten text. greenstreet tours with these poems like a band tours with a new album – only there might be a little less crowdsurfing involved.
Even if authored solo, the element of collaboration with other genres and humans, including her right hand man and husband Max, is always present. When set to a score, when located in a frame, when paired with images, when taken on tour, greenstreet’s poems still do the work a poem should do, but are allowed more space to do so.
In addition to Young tambling published by Ahsata Press her previous books (also with ahsahta press) include case sensitive and The Last 4 Things. Her poetry can be found in Colorado Review, Boston Review, Volt, Fence, Chicago Review, and other journals. Her chapbooks include Learning the Language, Rushes, This is why I hurt you, and CALLED.
Greenstreet poses questions throughout young tambling. She has also posed questions in the first book interviews, a series of interviews she conducted with poets who, at the time, had just one book out. In the spirit of asking questions, I have assembled a mini interview as a warmup for what’s to come. The answers are lines found in young tambling and the questions are what I formed around them.
(hopefully I’m not taking the wind out of your sails by having first dibs tonight on what might be some of your favorite lines. But if I am, I owe you my first born book.)
what’s your favorite song?
a song about a girl who listens.
when you look up from your work-desk (assuming you have one), what do you see?
a picture of a family wearing the memory of a house.
please explain one thing to me.
here is my explanation of death: there is no water.
What’s one thing you remember about going to catholic school?
my hair wasn’t big enough.
What thoughts do you have about the future?
not much has changed in the future.
Can you tell me something about everything?
everything was there to teach us.
In a 2008 first books interview that greenstreet conducted with herself, she said this about touring:
I worked mostly at home and didn’t go anywhere if I could avoid it. But after case sensitive came out, I went out with it. I traveled to faraway towns, I met a lot of poets, I read in front of audiences large and small. To do that, I had to turn myself inside out. I guess one of my goals is to be fully reversible. I’m working on it.
please join me in welcoming kate greenstreet, poet, image and sound maker, videographer, web designer and human who makes herself fully reversible to bring her work to you.