Hello hello, and sorry for the extended holiday break from blog posts. But at least I left you with the first two episodes of the new season of the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour (still four more new episodes left—can you believe it!). And, I’m back to help you start your New Year right, with a link to a blog post on the PBS blog The Daily Need, a post which features videos from four (that’s right, four) of the poets who have poems in In Their Cups: An Anthology of Poems about Drinking Places, Drinks, and Drinkers. Each poet is reading one of the poems they have in the book while sipping on a favorite drink. I can’t think of any way to kick start a cocktail-a-rific and poetic year than by watching the videos (repeatedly, to ensure the year is really all that and then some). The post includes videos featuring amazing writers (and charming drinking companions) Ed Skoog, Amy Fleury, Emily Bedard, and also a video with me (wearing a boss coat, I have to admit). So what are you waiting for? Get your year started right by heading to the Daily Need now.
Calling all drinkers, drink-makers, poets, poetry-readers, and anyone who is friends with anyone who fits in the above categories–which means, calling everyone. I was lucky enough to spend a chunk of the last year or so editing up a collection of poems about drinking places, drinks, and drinkers, and you’re lucky because said collection is coming out this month, and we’re having a big reading/party to celebrate. It’s going to be September 26th, at 3 pm, at Open Books here in Seattle (Open Books is at 2414 N. 45th St. Seattle, and the full reading listing is here).
Wait, though, jump back–I haven’t even told you the name yet. The anthology is called In Their Cups, and it features poets from hither and yon, poets who wrote in ancient times all the way up to poets who wrote a line yesterday. The whole idea behind the book (in a way) was to populate one giant bar with poets from throughout history, give them all some cocktails, and let them start spouting poems that would encompass the experiences of all drinkers. Did it work? You can find out by coming to the reading (or picking up the book, if you can’t make it). The reading will feature four of Seattle’s finest poets (and me) reading the poem they have in the book, plus a couple others from poets who couldn’t make it because they don’t live nearby, or don’t live at all anymore. The line-up includes:
Effervescent Emily Bedard
Action-packed Allen Braden
Jumpin’ jolly James Gurley
Awfully excited to be in such company A.J. Rathbun
One giant mystery guest
If you still aren’t sold, the full-on listing of poets who have poems on the pages of In Their Cups is: A.J. Rathbun, Henry Aldrich, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Guillaume Apollinaire, Emily Bedard, Bridget Bell, Allen Braden, Henry Carey, Richard Carr, Catullus, John Clare, Jaime Curl, Emily Dickinson, Philip Dow, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Stephen Dunn, Amy Fleury, Philip Freneau, Du Fu, Thomas Godfrey, Jeff Greer, James Gurley, Mark Halliday, Robert Herrick, Charles Fenno Hoffman, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elizabeth Hughey, Richard Hugo, Christopher Janke, Jonathan Jonson, John Keats, J. Robert Lennon, John Lyly, William Maginn, Tod Marshall, Robert Hinkley Messinger, Dan Morris, Joseph O’Leary, William Olsen, Cesare Pavese, Li Po, Francesco Redi, Arthur Rimbaud, Ed Skoog, Gerald Stern, George Walter Thornbury, Chase Twichell, and Royall Tyler.
See you on the 26th friends and neighbors and local poetic drunkards.
Maybe, just maybe, you live on a block of drinking poetry readers. If so, you’re lucky (and maybe sleepy, too, as poetry and drinking combined lead some to stay up all night). If not, or even (and maybe moreso) if so, then I want to let you know about the book that will change your life, and have you drinking and reading poems for days. The trick is (and this is how you can be a trendsetter, instead of a trend follower) that the book isn’t even out yet, but is pre-orderable, so you can be the first person you know to get it. It’s called In Their Cups: An Anthology of Poems About Drinking Places, Drinks, and Drinkers. I’d tell you about it in detail, but A: I edited it, so am bias’d, and B: I want to save some of my gushing for when it comes out proper, and C: the wonderful poet Richard Jackson already said this about it:
“Souls of poets dead and gone,” goes the line from Keats, but AJ Rathbun’s wonderful In Their Cups brings them back, at least for a few more drinks, and we too are invited in. And what company we enjoy: we can imagine classic poets as diverse as Catullus and Du Fu speaking to polar opposite modernists like Cesare Pavese and Appollinaire, perhaps interrupted here and there by diverse contemporary voices such as Mark Halliday and William Olsen. Rathbun has created a unique imaginary world here, adding a couple of his own fine poems to the conversation, where we can hear, with Richard Hugo, the “dusty jukebox crackling” on every page. This is a book you’ll want to raise a glass to.
Now, don’t be scared if you don’t cozy up with poets on an every day basis—you’re going to love it. I promise. Read it with drink in hand, and you’ll probably never put it down, until you fall down. Which is saying something.
Okay, maybe I should have gone with the “Shaking and/or Stirring Writer Alert,” as in the below pic Mr. Regan is making a drink, and not actually drinking a drink. But, I promise you he did, indeed, drink one of the drinks he made. I promise. And, to be honest, I just wanted to have more than one “Drinking Writer Alert” (the first being the happy-go-luckiest poet, Ed Skoog, in this post) and hadn’t yet been sent any other pictures of drinking writers. So there.
And, Gary (or Gaz, as he’s now known from Tempe to Timbuktu) definitely fits the “Drinking Writer” name, as you probably know. But on the off chance you don’t, he’s one of the foremost drink writers in the world (the universe, even. The multi-verse, even , for you who’ve read a lot of What If? comics). The below picture was actually snapped at an evening celebrating his newest book, the bartender’s GIN compendium. I detail the book in more in-depth fashion on this Al Dente blog post, but in case your finger’s broken and you don’t feel like clicking, let me give you, as they say, the skinny. The bartender’s GIN compendium is a sweet book all about gin: history of gin, 250 recipes (or more) utilizing gin, and tasting notes and information on many, many specific kinds of gin and gin cousins and gin uncles and aunts, and gin pets, even. It’s a book for gin lovers, natch, but also a book for cocktail lovers, history lovers, and genial drunks who know how to read. Mr. Gary/Gaz Regan not only knows his gin (and drinks), but also is a darn witty fellow, and almost as fun to read as it was to meet him in person (but not quite: ain’t nothing like the real thing, as the song reminds us).
Which, to reiterate, I did, recently, at a lovely evening sponsored by the fine folks at Plymouth Gin. Beyond just talking gin, we hit the underground tour in Seattle (prostitute talk a’poppin, as it seems Seattle was once all prostitutes and mud), and then wound up at the Rob Roy. Which is where Gaz made himself and me (and Mr. Robert Hess, too) the drink he’s making below. The only down side? I don’t know exactly what drink it is–and it was darn good. It had gin, for sure. Vermouth? You bet. Bitters? Uh-huh. But what proportions? And did he pour in anything else? It was tasty, but darn it, I didn’t watch closely enough. Now, I’m going to have to track him down and have him make me another. Wait, that doesn’t sound bad at all.
I think writers tend to be drunks. Even those who don’t drink (such as Dangerous Dan Morris, who is drunk on life). Probably because it tends to keep them from talking too much, which might just endanger their existence. But this is just my theory. With that theory in mind though, or the end result of it (the drinking), I like to sometimes take pictures of writers imbibing, for posterity and in case I ever publish a paper on the subject. Below’s a good example, as you can see one of the finest writers, Ed Skoog, sipping a Mint Julep, before unleashing the power and glory at a poetry reading last night (also, he stalked the stage like a panther before starting in with the poetics, which was rad. The other readers should learn from his cat-like grace). You can see the typical marks of the drinking/drunk writer here: the deep look in the eyes that’s like a little sign hung up that says, “genius here,” the devotion to the act of consuming, the firm grip on the glass to keep any julep-stealers at bay. Yes, it’s a sweet (or, scary) sight. Watch for drinking writers yourself, and when you see one, take pictures and send them to me. Or, have a drink and do some writing. The choice, pals, is yours.