Black Friday? No, Circus Friday!

The Poetry Circus

Black Friday. Yikes.

According to The Mirror, Black Friday is the following:

1. A Fight: Shoppers wrestle over a television
2. The Origin: Black Friday could have come from the traffic jams that clogged Philadelphia after Thanksgiving
3. Another Black Friday: Police and Suffragettes clashed on what was known as ‘Black Friday’ in 1910
4. The first recorded use of Black Friday was applied not to holiday shopping but to the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869, caused by two unscrupulous criminals.

Not interested in any such Friday? (Me either.)

Still interested in finding the perfect gift to show someone special that you love them? How about a Circus?

These gift certificates are pay what you will or want. If it needs to be free…let it be free. If you have a few extra dollars to help many people (possibly even yourself) find some joy…please contribute.

Feel free to print these gift certificates, wrap them, give them, and keep in your pocket a promise to spend a memorable night with those you make memories with.

Any contributions to The Third Poetry Circus will gratefully be received at .

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On the Island of Caliban at The Edison Nov. 4th !!!


Wednesday, November 4th

7:30 PM

at The Edison:

108 W 2nd St, # 101, Los Angeles, California 90012

On the Island of Caliban is a modern sequel to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and retelling of the Caliban story. In the desert of Los Angeles, we meet the afterlife, the fireworks, and the ultimate outsider–Caliban, carrier of food and water,

This “Caliban Story” is in part inspired by my home. I am located in the Antelope Valley—meaning, I am situated between religious compounds, prisons, schools, aerospace, and Joshua Trees. This isn’t an easy place to live, but I love it. It is a place that defines me and redefines me—maybe it’s a place that defines and redefines Los Angeles and the American Dream—maybe? The Antelope Valley is as far north as Los Angeles Country reaches. LA often refers to us as “the devil’s armpit.” We are the last train stop and often the place LA sends all they don’t want including the hidden, displaced, lost, poor, and forgotten. Here is a gathering of people who must find their human after being told they have none.

 Ultimately, On the Island of Caliban is about isolation. The word isolation comes from the Latin insulatus which means “made into an island.” In our play On the Island of Caliban, Caliban’s only desire is to find an opportunity to love and be loved, however such opportunity does not exist for abandoned Caliban.

I wanted to explore what happens when basic needs are never met? Is there a power greater than love—a word that encompasses the kindness and mercy a character like Caliban requires? Maybe something—something like, Grace? It is a word that is often described as broad, meaning it has no definition—no easy explanation. It is beyond classification. I’m afraid On the Island of Caliban is similar. It isn’t something to be understood; it is felt.

I wrote On the Island of Caliban because I felt intense isolation—a lack of humanness. I never would have dreamed of turning it into a play (a play would require many players, and I was spending endless days / nights alone in a room, writing). It wasn’t until I ran into Anthony M Sannazzaro who asked me, “Are you working on anything real?”  “I’m working on something that is making me really crazy” I told him. “I’d like to work with you on this,” he said.

At the end of The Tempest, Caliban is left and forgotten by those who leave him. What happens to such a character? How can one reflect if there is no one to cast back the light of being? Such a character breaks—fractures into many parts. These parts exist in memory, dream, and fever. They fight with themselves. They fight each other. Caliban straddles the mirror; he pivots on the fine line between self-loathing and a world that abhors him. There is nowhere for him to go—he belongs nowhere—he is beyond identity—he is all of us and he is utterly singular.



Written by Nicelle Davis
Directed by A. M. Anthony M Sannazzaro

Featuring the Talents of:

Stage Directions/Sycorax: Allaire Koslo
Ariel: Jeffrey Gardner
Miranda: Lisa Blacker
Prospero: Andrew Blacker
Operating System: Melanie Jeffrey
Caliban 1: Fransico Cedeno
Caliban 2: Jonathan Janssen
Caliban 3: Beach
Caliban 4: Cynthia Johnson/
Camille Willette
Caliban 5: Nyssa Newman

On the Island of Caliban is a brand new play-in-verse continuing William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Focusing on the character of Caliban, this modern language deconstruction of the bards classic text, presents an “everyman” Caliban for today’s society; Caliban tackles universal experience by exploring the realities of what’s left him/her alone on the island.

Split into five separate personae, and played by many genders, ages, or races, Caliban, is kept company by malevolent stage directions, Ariel’s chastising severed-tongue, and his personal revelations. In the disillusioned states of dreaming, memory, and illness, Caliban discovers the truth by grace that resides in himself/herself.

Rounding out the cast of players is a withered forgetful Prospero, a silenced domesticated suburban Ariel, and a tortured Miranda—all longing for something other than what they bargained for.

Through emails, mixed media, imaginative design, and poetics, On the Island of Caliban violently thrashes after The Tempest to look unflinchingly at the damage left after the Shakespeare’s storm.

Join Red Hen Press for their new special, formal Downtown LA reading series, “Fluid.”

**Dress Code is sophisticated, no athletic wear (gym shoes, shorts, hoodies, baseball caps, etc…) or uncollared shirts allowed.**

Admission is free with a two drink minimum.

Doors open at 7:30PM. This is a 21+ event. Please have a valid ID ready.

A blend of the past, present, and future, The Edison inspires the romance of such legendary nightspots as The Cocoanut Grove and Crio’s while remiding us that we live in a City of dreams and at a time of invention. For more information on The Edison, please see

The Poetry Circus, Burning Books, and The Size of Our Bed

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It has been busy. I can only hope life will remain this alive.

The Poetry Circus is beautiful; it takes countless hours and an intense generosity from our community to make this event take place. It takes work. I admire work–hard work. I admire everyone who came, read, performed, and became The Poetry Circus.

Soon there will be photos (thank you Edwin Vasquez), video (thank you Karyn Ben Singer), and a proper thank you (let me just start by saying thank you Anne Yale, thank you Curt Hanson, thank you Julio Gosdinski).

There are so so many things to say about The Poetry Circus…mostly words of gratitude…but for now life is racing and I’m racing to stay on creative street. I remember poet Juan Felipe Herrera teaching us, “you have to run on creative street or you’ll go cold.” I didn’t realize at the time how true his statement–I’m beginning to understand–creative street is a long road.

Tidal Rise

This Saturday is a poetry marathon. Beginning with book burning and ending in bed; let me explain.

My Saturday begins with this event: Red Hen Press at WeHo Reads 2015: Banned Books


Date: Sep 26th, 2015
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: West Hollywood Library
625 N. San Vincente Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069




Free event! Red Hen presents “The Books You Should Not Write” panel discussion at WeHo Reads, featuring Ron Koertage, Douglas Kearney, Nicelle Davis, and moderated by Kim Dower.

As an author who has had my books burned, this is a subject near and (smoldering) dear to my heart.

Once the fires have been put out in North Hollywood, I’ll race to Beyond Baroque for a moment I’ve been waiting years for–the release of Jacqueline Tchakalian’s first poetry collection, “The Size of Our Bed.” This is a not to miss poetic milestone.
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Jacqueline Tchakalian Poetry Reading

Date: Sep 26th, 2015
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center
681 Venice Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

So I’ll be running on creative street this Saturday, I hope to see you on the road. Best to all.

The Edison !!! Wednesday September 2nd. I’ll be in fur, latex, and fishnets, you?


The first installment of Fluid will be at The Edison, featuring Louise Wareham Leonard and MacGillivray, with appearances from Tom Janikowski, Kim Dower, and (me) Nicelle Davis.


The Edison

108 W. Second St.
Los Angeles, CA  90012


Red Hen Press will launch the first of what hopes to be a series of readings at the gorgeous Edison in LA. The series will be called Fluid as in the movement of water during a time of drought–poetry at a time of oppression and silencing.

Please come see the poetry show on September 2nd. Please be mindful that poetry was designed to be heard. By supporting this reading you will be supporting future readings at this location.

This opening show will prove that poetry is sexy and provocative–it is a show of heat and ice. It is Fluid.


The Edison is a steampunk themed nightclub located inside the Higgins Building basement in Los Angeles, California. The Edison opened in 2007. The Higgins Building basement was Los Angeles’ first ever power plant, built by Thomas Higgins. After spending several years derelict and underwater, it was rescued by entrepreneurs Andrew Meieran and Marc Smith, who made a post-industrial steampunk venue for Los Angeles nightclubbers. For more information visit:


Let me introduce you to my outfit for the event along with the designer behind this fishnet-latex-fur genius, Pavlina Janssen.

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What to Wear to The Poetry Circus: An Interview with Proto-Organic Artist

ND: Hello Pavi. I’m finding it oddly difficult to find a “normal” way to start a conversation about costumes and costuming—maybe we can begin with our beginning—talk about the first project we worked on together—or, the first costume you made for me.

PJ: Oh my goodness, do I even remember the first costume I made for you? Oh what was it? Was it the honey dress?

ND: Oh no, it was way before that. It was for the cover of Becoming Judas. Remember, I brought you a turkey carcass.

PJ: Oh. Yeah.

ND: In my defense that turkey sat in bleach for two weeks in my kitchen sink before I brought it to you, but…

PJ: I don’t think I used any of those bones at all.

ND: You said you wouldn’t take it because of salmonella and you would die.

PJ: But I did get sick, but I don’t think it was your fault.

(We giggle; I guess, because even illness is funny between girlfriends.)

ND: So, do you remember anything about making that costume?

PJ: I remember that you gave me some interesting piece to start with, things like bones, and feathers, and your negligee and said do what you do; and I did.


Honestly, I don’t really remember much about that time; in fact I don’t really remember much of when I’m making things. I just kind of put it together the way it feels it needs to go.

ND: So creating is an organic experience for you.  Which makes for a good transition into discussing your overall aesthetic –you refer to your work as being Proto-Organic Art—what is Proto-Organic?

PJ: Proto-Organic is a new way of looking and arranging things you’ve already seen before, like looking at the organic aspects of inorganic things or looking at things that make them seem organic or feel like they blend into our natural world because everything is technically homogenous when we get down to the core. I would try to make something

ND: Yeah, yeah. First of all, just to describe for those who haven’t seen your art yet—besides costumes you also make Proto-Organic canvases. These portraits, if you will, are made of dollies, but they are dollies that are made to look like flesh under a microscope—and on top of this you collage other organic materials.  Maybe to give a more common place comparison, your art is beautiful like a spider’s web.

I remember when I first saw it I was overwhelmed and couldn’t help but call it beautiful out loud. You responded by saying: yeah that is an exciting piece because whoever owns it will get to see it rot and decompose before their eyes. Do you want to expand on the joys of watching things come undone?

PV: Sure. I just think it’s really beautiful and fascinating to see things that are organically deteriorating; I’m interested by the visual of erosion or things that are naturally slowly rotting away or things that get deteriorating though bacteria—you know—those visually chaotic textures. Interesting enough, when I would experiment with inorganic materials it would still come out looking alive. I work to make a new type of organic image using inorganic materials, such as glitter or plastic, and depending on how you affect them they can end up looking organic and natural.

ND: Yes, organic and natural: I think most of the materials that we have worked on together have been teeth and latex, or teeth and condoms.  What do you think teeth and condoms have in common?

PJ: They either come from or go into your body.

(More giggling.)

ND: So for you, the making process is organic and it reflects organic materials. You named off all the properties of the organic that you find beautiful—words like decomposition, rot, and erosion; so for the person who all those words terrify, could you help them understand why Proto-Organic art is beautiful?

PJ: I don’t know if everyone is going to find it beautiful. I think that if I can make something that affects people—positively or negatively—then I’ve done something. There are a lot of organic textures that do bother people—a lot of people don’t like to see things like that—and I think that’s part of my fascination with creating Proto-Organic art; if I can create a texture or bring about an emotion that makes you feel the way something in nature would make you feel…then that’s good.

I think you and I think it is beautiful, but most people might say…ohhhh! That looks like a rotting carcassthat’s gross—I don’t want to touch that. But it is not a rotting carcass it is a piece of art or costume—and I’ve done my job.

(More giggling.)

ND: That brings us to costumes and costuming; you are an icon in our community.

PJ: No I’m not.

ND: You are—you are; because you spent most of your life walking around town in costumes—for example this is the most natural your hair color has ever been, and you spent a lot of time making and wearing Alice in Wonderland costumes for street clothes—I would say most of your teens and early 20s you were Alice, do you want to talk about that?

PJ: I always like wearing costumes. I’ve told you this story before—I’d be walking around L.A. wearing my Alice in Wonderland dress and people would stop me on the street and ask, Oh so why are you so dressed up?

If I told them I was in a play, they’d be perfectly okay with it. But it I gave them no reason they’d be really put off by it. There is a very fine line between clothing and costume.

I liked to challenge people’s perspectives on costumes—to play with that line. I mean clothes are clothes. I happen to be wearing a dress that represents a character people are familiar with, but that doesn’t mean that it means anything more than that being a dress to me.

Humans are trained to see a certain kind of clothing as normal and anything that goes outside those standards is a costume or not clothes. If it’s not jeans and a t-shirt, your dressing up.

ND: Do you think costume cover-up or amplify who a person is?

I think it is both. I think that people think that they are covering up by wearing what they wouldn’t normally wear.  There is an underlining peak into their psyche. Whether they choose to dress up as a pirate, or a president, or a dinosaur, why would you choose that? You can dress anything, so why that choice? What does choice reveal about us—I like that question.

ND: What new projects are you working on?

PJ: I’ve been working on translating my collage art into fabric prints.

AND you’ve been wearing my costumes; they will be showcased at The Edison on September 2nd!

Sarah Elizabeth Murphy


Sarah Murphy is a designer, photographer, writer, film maker and artist. This spring she was accepted to an exhibition Anima Mundi in Lithuania and Georgia. She needs our help to get there. 

I like her eye, how in her poetry and visuals she captures the intimacies that make life worth living. We have a chance to welcome her art into our homes (with the GoFundMe incentives)  

She is making powerful and intimate work. I find her brave. She was kind to let me interview her about her latest project.

You do an amazing job of bridging the arts—of blending different mediums. It seems like this merging is in keeping with your overall message, which centers on symbiotic structures and balance. How is Anima Mundi & The Mares of Diomedes in keeping with this?  

I really struggle with this, so I’m glad it doesn’t show! I used to think I should just be really great at one thing, rather than struggling to master so many mediums. However, know I think my multi-disciplinary nature is actually an asset, and I am finding as I become more skilled, the whole is becoming more than the sum of its parts. It’s more holistic in a way. Things seem to come in cycles and waves, where one avenue will pick up and another will lull. I never get bored at least! There seem to be a million things running around my mind at any given moment.

Anima Mundi is actually the art festival. ( I think as an artist when you’re submitting to things and facing both acceptance and rejection, you forget that there is someone out there looking for what you are doing. I think knowing what I know now about what anima mundi is both in language (Latin for soul) and philosophy my work actually fits pretty well within their mission. It almost becomes a symbiotic relationship on its own. The Mares of Diomedes actually was an extended exploration of a singular shoot for my circus freaks project. When I processed the 35 mm film in the darkroom, the negatives actually looked black and opaque, but when I scanned them in, these beautiful images appeared that were completely ethereal and unexpected. I firmly believe in the happy accidents, serendipity and allowing the work to flow through you, rather than trying to control every aspect. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for technicality, but I find my best work comes when I least expect it and trust in intuition. Perhaps that is the balance, that fine line between control and gut instinct.

Tell me about “Keepers Tale”?

I’m not exactly sure what “Keeper’s Tale” is yet. I know there is a story to be told, when I read about the flood, my heart was breaking for the human lives lost, but the loss of zoo animals lives seemed tragic. When we keep animals in captivity, they are at our mercy. Many couldn’t escape because of their closures, and many of those that did were predator animals that became threats to the general population during a time of chaos and uncertainty. Seeing the indignity of their muddy bodies strewn across the grass really pulled at my poet’s heart. I thought about the animals I’ve been fortunate to know in my life. When I was young, my dream job was to be a zoo keeper. When I rode Rob Roy from Kentucky to Virginia, I couldn’t believe how close we became. I would whistle for him in the night and he would come to me. I imagined these zoo keepers losing their charges, how close and intimate it must be to know them, their likes and dislikes, schedules and habits. I want to give voice to their experiences. This is the first time I’ve attempted a documentary style film. It just so happens that Pro 8mm, a company who specializes in Super 8 stock in Burbank, CA is offering a grant program. So I applied. Finger’s crossed!

You yourself went on a wild ride to better understand Anima Mundi. Could you tell me a little about this experience?

This is what I mean about my work fitting in with their mission. The ride from Virginia to Kentucky actually happened four years ago. I became involved with the mountaintop removal movement and I wanted to see for myself what it was about. I’d been to Appalachia Rising, in DC and met people who lived in the coalfields. I think there is a lot we don’t know about production in America. Where things come from and at what cost. The whole thing became this beautiful lesson in relenquishing to the Universe, trusting humankind to keep me safe, to give me a place to rest my head. Sometimes my life feels so far removed from that, but in some ways this journey to Lithuania and Georgia just becomes another journey to spread the message about our resources and the connectedness we all share.

Tell me about femininity.

Femininity is loaded. I used to be a part of an all-female talk radio show on WXJM called Dame Theory. We would choose current events from the news and spend a segment discussing them. Oftentimes they would deal with women’s rights, or social injustices against women. I was always surprised by people who didn’t want to be identified as a feminist. I do agree that it’s a word that has gotten a bad rap, but really it’s just equality. When I went on the horse back ride, a lot of men thought I should have a gun, or that I shouldn’t go at all. I was really resentful of that, sometimes I envy the ease with which men can go through the world, exploring and adventuring. Femininity is something a woman should be able to claim for herself, her own frontier that she can find, not something that is defined for her.

Tell me about power.

Power is also loaded. I think in current society it’s come to stand for oppression. For one group maintaining their position on top, at the expense of another. Really power should come from within, and move outward. Power can also be defined as force, which can also be abused. Force should also come from within, with confidence and self-motivation not through bullying or objectification.

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” – Lao Tzu

What do you need? At its core, what is this crowdfunding effort about? 

It’s important to me to know that those in my community support me, and believe in the value of what I am offering to the world. This is a huge step in my career and a giant leap outside my comfort zone. I want to know that I can trust the world to catch me.

Les Figues Press Read-a-thon Ends Today


So here is my actual tally for books read:

From the Trench Art: Casements Series / Nuala Archer, Sissy Boyd, Vincent Dachy, Christine Wertheim

From the Trench Art: Maneuvers Series / Harald Abramowitz, Lily Hoang, Paul Hoover, and Mathew Timmons

From the Trench Art: Parapet Series / Stan Apps, Alta Ifland, and Stephanie Taylor

From the Trench Art: Recon Series / Jennifer Calkins, Pam Ore, and Vanessa Place

(I don’t know how or why I lost my copy of Teresa Carmody’s book from this series, but I know I’m mad about it.)

From the Trench Art: Tracer Series / Sophie Robins, Amina Cain, and Kim Rosenfield

That brings my total to 17 books. Not quite the 20 I was aiming for, but the day isn’t over yet is it?

Please give me a bust to finish three books today by giving to the Les Figues Press Fundraiser. Here is my page:

The Final PUSH! Les Figues Press Read-a-thon

All donations will help Les Figues Press make more books. As a nonprofit literary press, Les Figues is dedicated to publishing innovative books of poetry, prose, and translation, focusing especially on works that are too outside genre or marketing conventions to find a home elsewhere. Like this and this, or this and that and this one too.

My Les Figues Press Fund Page  :

If I make my goal ($100) I’ll get three beautiful books; I’ll share them with you. I’ll call you at night and read to you before you go to sleep. (If you think that’s creepy, I won’t do it–I’ll just say thank you.)

Okay. Okay. I’m behind. It happens. I said I would read 20 books but this and this and this and this and this kept happening. BUT HERE IT IS…

the final week of the Les Figues Press summer Read-a-thon fundraiser!

I really do love the books Les Figues make. I want them to make more. I also like keeping promises, SO this summer’s read-a-thon has just turned into a marathon (well a walk-read-a-thon). Last night with my trusty second-hand treadmill (I call her Sally) I walked 6 miles and read 3 Les Figues Press titles.



Alta Ifland’s book is stunning. Broke my heart at times, delighted me countless times. This book has such a familiar yet surprising language.


Chop Shop by Stephanie Taylor is cool. She makes a word game out of “Riding In My Car” by Woody Guthrie that explodes into a visual, audio, conceptual masterpiece that centers around car theft. (Yes this was a faster tempo read on the treadmill than the first; Les Figues publishes all kinds of silent music. And YES! that is a book centerfold–so sexy!

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Stan Apps / God’s Livestock Policy is official on my top 10 list of awesome reads. I will say more bout this later, bur for now I have to start reading again.

Tonight’s Read-Walk-a-Thon will include the following titles:


Boston, New York, and the Dress of Useless Treasures

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Monday night I leave for Boston. From Boston to New York. Than back to the beloved desert.

Touring with poetry is as awkward as it sounds. There is a lot of trading planes for trains, trains for buses, even the occasional hitchhiking (Yes, people still hitchhike, though I try to avoid this option.) I’ve gathered many stories along the way, some so true no one would believe them. I try to document some of these experiences so I might re-believe them when they popup as memories; I have countless photographs, sound recordings, and notebooks. I feel such analogy (for example blogging, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and the list continues) is popular because we are all trying to figure out “if THAT really did just happen.” Social Media is Descartes monologuing on “The Passions of the Soul” only done collectively in the form of selfies.

Poetry is a little different from philosophy or analogues; I’m learning it is something beyond definition. It records everything except the actual event in order to kept the event ever present. There is no need to prove something “just happened” because with poetry the moment is perpetually happening. Poetry undefines; it follows possibility and I follow after poetry.

“Interesting” places I have slept because of poetry include: numerous floors, numerous couches (couches are great), sometimes there is a guest room (thank you Portland), construction sites, a ditch (long story), graveyards (spooky), a window ledge (Seattle), a park bench (San Francisco), on top of a pic-nick table (Paddington Station). There are locations without a place to stop. I keep safe by moving. I walk all night in such places. I have landed in locations that have felt like palaces and I’ve spent the night in a door-frame. I’ve been given generous honorariums and I’ve had people hand me a dollar thinking it might help me on the streets.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like this. In fact, I love this. I’ve learned so much about people and places by searching, sharing, and risking. I’ve seen how others live–what / who they love and how they love it. Unfortunately, I’m unsure if this travel-voyeurism has helped me understand what / who to love or how to love any better; with poetry there isn’t much knowing, there is just being.

This week I will be in Boston. I will be in New York. I hope to be with you.

I made a dress just for this trip. There is (maybe too much) information about the dress in the videos below. The poetry film is by my friend Karyn Ben Singer; it is set in one of my most beloved locations in the desert, Antiques at the Barn. The interview is by my friend Edwin Vasquez. I hope to bring a little of the West to the East. Maybe bring some the East back to the West.

To sum it up, I wanted to make you something beautiful, it might be just a bunch of junk but with poetry and you it might just be beautiful.

What is The Dress of Useless Treasures: An Interview with Edwin

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Friday, July 10
Nicelle Davis reading from In the Circus of You in the BASH reading series at Brookline Booksmith at 7:00 pm. With Carina Finn and Gabrielle Klein. Free and open to the public.

Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard Street
Brookline, Massachusetts

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Saturday, July 11
Nicelle Davis reading from and Cheryl Gross projecting short films and images from In the Circus of You at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop at 7:00 pm. Free and open to the public.

Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Book Shop
126 A Front Street
Brooklyn, New York

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Sunday, July 12
Nicelle Davis reading from In the Circus of You in the New York Quarterly Reading Series at 6:00 pm at the Bowery Poetry Club. Free and open to thepublic.

The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
New York, New York

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Les Figues Press Summer Read-a-thon

Hello Friends,

Les Figues is an important press; their books are innovative and edgy.
I am hopeful that you will help me support this press during their summer Read-a-thon.

This summer I plan on reading 20 Les Figues titles and writing brief response to each, in hopes of sparking a conversation about these works while raising money towards future Les Figues titles. I’m asking for sponsorship in this Read-a-thon; please consider donating $5 dollars toward each book read.

Book love to you,
Nicelle Davis

Day 2 of 30 for The Les Figues Press Read-a-thon

NOT BLESSED by Harold Abramowitz

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Do you have a story? You know, The Story—that story that is dusted off for every grant application, personal statement, awkward dinner, cocktail party, newly developing friendship—that story. You’ve told The Story so many times you can feel it shifting on you. Eventually it isn’t even your story anymore, even though it has been drafted and redrafted to define who you are; it’s just a story. You can change it to be funny, tragic, flippant, didactic, meaningful, meaningless. You can feel when your heart is not in it and it flops. You can feel when the story is swelling and growing to be larger than the actual event.

This is the problem with storytelling. The more telling, the more difficult it is to know if the story is true.

NOT BLESSED, by Harold Abramowitz, is a novella in which there is a boy, a grandmother, a hunter, a war, a police officer, a mystery. There might be rain. There might be a radio speaker. There might be a car. There might be a ghost. There might be a doppelganger, or a missed friendship. I say might because these facts change as this same story is told 28 times.

It works! This is really all I can say about this book. It works and works well. I was on edge, turning pages as fast as I could, counting the repetitions, marking the slight changes, and delighting at what felt like small reveals to a larger story. This book works the way intimacy works, that is how intimacy fails; I thought I could figure this character out—thought I could know another person—not by what the character was saying, but by filling in what they weren’t saying.

This is the problem with listening. The more listening, the more difficult it is to know if the story has been heard as it was intended.

This novella is a problem, and like any delightful problem, it isn’t designed to be solved. This work is uniquely human—it feels alive. It morphs a single page story into 81 pages that seem to expand and contract the way most human interactions do.

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Day 1 of 30 for The Les Figues Press Read-a-thon

SONNET 56 by Paul Hoover

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Today I had 30 minutes because my son had swimming lessons. “Had” is an interesting word—it seems having time these days is about the same as stealing it from the day-to-day. Stealing is what I love most about poetry. Poetry gives us space to think, to be, to choose—poetry allows us to steal our lives back from the daily grind. One poem, one good poem, has infinite possibilities; in this way, poetry is the closest thing I know to freewill. While I may not like the state of the world, there are always other worlds ready to manifest. Poetry is proof of this.

Paul Hoover’s SONNET 56 spins one poem, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 56 into a Haiku, Jingle, Villanelle, Epic (really liked the Epic), Erasure, Ballad, even an Answering Machine fight and a Chat Group discussion. And there are more variations; Hoover has Sonnet 56 bend and shift to 56 incarnations. It’s lovely—it is hopeful and liberating the ways great Jazz or dance can be. Sure, it’s the same idea again and again; however, Hoover is able to deliver somethings entirely original again and again; Hoover proves one idea has endless perspectives—love has endless possibilities. Anything can, could, and will happen.

The variations in this collection range so vastly in tone and form that my stolen 30 minutes felt like a secret lifetime. In this lifetime I was able to question love: how to love, how to be loved, and the relationship between time and love. These poems go from comical to tragic; they skip with satirical-zeal across the shallows of love and submerge its depths even at the risk of drowning. It’s an amazing book.

It was 105 degrees today, so the YMCA pool had more people than water in it. The indoor pool-house was an echo chamber of laughter and splashing, oddly a perfect location for the reoccurrence of  the lines, “Return of love, more blest may be the view; / Else call it winter, which being full of care / Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wish’d, more rare.” Between pages, I glimpsed my son’s bright smile bobbing across the waterline. His swim instructor, a kind and beautiful person, would obviously be his first summertime crush. I owe Les Figues Press a great debt; they gave me this moment—this summer—which due to poetry, seems endless.

SONNET 56 (by Shakespeare)

Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but to-day by feeding is allay’d,
To-morrow sharpen’d in his former might:
So, love, be thou; although to-day thou fill
Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fullness,
To-morrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that, when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;
Else call it winter, which being full of care
Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wish’d, more rare.

Sonnet Variations by Paul Hoover: 

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The Poetry Circus Will Return To LA: Come Fly with Us!

We did it LA!


With $2,000 donated, we will be able to have The Poetry Circus return to LA!

Save the date to hear these and other poetic voices:

The Second PoetryIf you can’t make it to L.A. I have an idea to fly you here! The Living Poetry Project is hosting a contest–The Haiku Balloon Contest! Three lucky poems will be professionally printed on balloons to help decorate the event with your words. Please submit poems to:

nicellecdavis @

snowflakeIf you are a Poetry Circus lover, please consider contributing to the GoFundMe campaign. There is only 5 more days to contribute to the Circus–the circus fly across the country.

Go Fund Me 

Blessings to all,

Nicelle Davis

What is The Poetry Circus:

The Poetry Circus was inspired by the release of the collection, In the Circus of You published by Rose Metal Press . The Poetry Circus is part workshop, community outreach, performance, ride, dance, and creations. This community focused and driven event blurs the line between performer and audience to allow everyone the chance to run away and join the circus.

By presenting poetry in an alternative venue, the egalitarian characteristics of poetry are amplified. Poetry IS for everyone, regardless of where we come from or how we got there; we all process and understand the world through metaphor.