“The Unwieldy Mind, Loose Linguistic Tethers, and the Possibility of Preventing Suicide”

That’s the title, tentatively, of the talk I’m going to give at 3:00 pm on Sunday at Acequia Booksellers 4019-4th ST. NW. I’m looking forward it, and I actually hope to focus a great deal on the craft of poetry. And yet, I have to admit that he reasons I’m focusing on craft, the reasons I always focus on craft, are purely selfish: survival.

Which is why it’s downright perfect that the middle name of the poet I’ll be speaking with is “Survivor.”

John Survivor Blake.

After being born addicted to heroin and alcohol and enduring poverty in the Baruch Housing Projects on the lower east side of Manhattan at the hands of chemically addicted parents, he spent his adolescence visiting his mother in prison. Yet “Survivor” has managed to not only graduate high school and enroll in college, but has also shared performance stages with the likes of Patricia Smith, Saul Williams, Tara Hardy, Amiri Baraka, Suheir Hammad, Taylor Mali, and many, many other great writers.

He believes poetry saved his life.

Different stories for me, same assessment. Give credit where credit is due.

Language can be a powerful force for the good, even though (to be frank and a wee bit morbid) poets have foreshortened life expectancies compared to playwrights and novelists according to scientific studies. (I read that in a journal called “Death Studies.”) If you come out, among pure issues of poetry, I’ll also delve into how specific language choices statistically impact mortality.

I love this stuff! Sunday will be fun.I also hope to read from Tate and Levin, quote Emerson, Gaston Bachelard, Rukeyser, and Cocteau (image from his film Blood of a Poet pictured here) and discuss many of my influences, ranging from classic American poets and Shakespeare to Eminem.

Thanks everyone,

lisa gill

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