Monday, February 17, 2014

That awkward moment when I wasn't allowed to talk about June Melby.

June Melby doesn't live in Southern California these days (as far as I am aware of), but she's a popular performance poet who has been known to make use of humor and props when on-mic.

Nearly two years ago, I went to the Redondo Poets reading at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach CA.

Sidebar: Years before, I had (after a long time of being a sort of regular and occasional feature) ruptured the good relationship I had with the reading's hosts by becoming upset on-mic and during the break with a then-Renowned Poet who now lives in another country.  I apologized to both hosts.

A few months later, I was reading in the open and following a poet who threw her pages on the floor in dramatic flourishes after finishing her works.  When I stepped up, I started to make a joke (in what I intended as good nature) comparing her to another Renowned Poet who now lives in the Southeastern part of the U.S.

One of the Coffee Cartel hosts,  fearing I would say something offensive, shut the microphone off.  After the host and I expressed unhappiness with each other (plus the host starting to come towards me in a manner befitting Popeye confronting Bluto), I departed.

During the months between my offense and the host's overreaction, I was well-behaved when at Coffee Cartel.  I'd read my poems and sit down.  And I'd cordially visit with friends/acquaintances.

But I sinned once, and that was more than enough.

Now, back to the June Melby story:
This was an all open-mic night at Coffee Cartel, which in this case meant that no regulars were present.  Several people I didn't really know were participants.

Only one of the two hosts presided over the evening--not the one who turned off the mic.

The host was discussing upcoming features--and June was to be there the following week.

So, the host, recognizing me, asked me to say a few words about her.

I started to speak, saying nothing that could be considered out of line,

But the host must have feared I'd be uncouth--so he cut me off fast.

At least this time, no microphone was turned off since I was speaking from the other side of the room.

Later that night, I left Coffee Cartel, "as quiet as a mouse."

And I have never returned.


  1. How does someone get Larry and JIM mad at them? I agree with your sentiments regarding the incestuous state of So Cal poetry readings, but you seem to rub people the wrong way. It seems your status as an outcast is for good reason. Damn shame...

  2. I guess there's nothing I can say to dissuade you from a simplistic "its all YOUR fault" interpretation of my post. Actually, Larry's not "mad" at me; he seems to feel he has be in solidarity with Jim. And sometimes Jim, entertaining host that he undoubtedly is, can be less than enchanting as a person.

    Essentially, I angered someone who was a Very Important Person in the literary poetry community and about seven years of goodwill with Larry and Jim vanished, though Larry did take awhile to talk to me about the Incident after it happened. And, especially after apologizing to them, I thought the relationship could be healed.

    And, in the years since the Incident and Jim wildly overreacting later, I've been well-behaved when I've visited Coffee Cartel either as audience or as open-mic poet.

    But, if Larry and Jim feel "wary" (as Larry put it years ago in an e-mail to me) and years of good behavior from 98-04 and from, say, the few occasions in 06-12 when I attended aren't sufficient atonement for misdeeds, then I do not want or need to be at Coffee Cartel--saving myself, Jim and Larry from needless and unnecessary stress.