Want to know more about the Poetry Circus? Step inside my closet and I’ll tell you all about 1. what to wear 2. hair 3. rain 4. light 5. sound
For the Speakeasy this Sunday, I’ll make a woman of you—of anyone.
With snippets of text and images taken from a 1970s finishing-school teacher’s lesson-plan book, I’ve created a handmade chapbook. I hope to, in some small way, recreate a “Charm and Modeling School.”
The lessons of womanhood might help us understand the empowerment of roles (but will haunt us with the final question “Who am I?”)
Anyone who participates will get to keep a chapbook. Anyone who attends will leave in sparkle and with their own certificate of training completion.
Please join us. It is sure to be a haunting big-hair time.
Speakeasy Sunday with Nicelle Davis
|Event Type:||Poetry/Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Reading/Performance|
|Event Date and Time:||February 15, 2015 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM|
|Hosted by the Los Angeles Poet Society:
Poet Nicelle Davis features at Speakeasy Sunday! Author of In the Circus of You http://nicelledavis.com/
Speakeasy Sunday is also an Open Mic with musical accompaniment by our House Flutist, Juan Cardenas!
All creative genres are welcome – 7 minutes. http://www.losangelespoetsociety.org/#!speakeasy-sunday/c8wb
|Catcher in the Rye 10550 Riverside Drive. Toluca Lake, CA 91602|
In the Circus of You is ready of pre-order. Please consider standing by this book as it begins entry into the world. We all need someone by our side at the terrifying beginning and this is such and odd little book–it will require a steady and thoughtful hand when the cord is finally cut this March.
Please click here —> PREORDER NOW <— Please click here
I’m getting ready to attend the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival. My suitcase is full of clown noses and feathers. I might have to dress in only clown noses and feathers. It is always exciting to preview new work–In the Circus of You won’t be released until March, but I will set a few of its poems free at Bridgewater.
I am really looking forward to being with other poets and their work–in many ways this is the best part of the writing life. Below are details about the sound poem project. Please feel free to contact me at nicelle c davis @ gmail . com if you have any questions.
Saturday, Jan. 17 4:30 p.m. (B)
Nicelle Davis Invites You
to Become a Poem
To become a poem, you must locate and record an everyday sound such as the echoing voices in a school cafeteria or the kitchen where you cook your morning pancakes—the sound of your mother’s laugh or your father snore—the sound of sickness or joy—the sound of the street, your shower, the coffee pot, your sneakers.
This sound should both delight and disgust you. (For example, I love a good time yet often feel overwhelmed by all the voices in a crowded room—the sound of a party both delights and disgusts.)
Please record your found-sound using your phone, iPad, handheld recorder—basically, any portable recording device that can easily be brought to and played at the poetry reading. At the reading we will systematically blend our recordings into a symphony of noise. This collection of noises will be recorded and later set to music to create a more traditional Sound poem.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sound poetry is an artistic form bridging literary and musical composition, in which the phonetic aspects of human speech are foregrounded instead of more conventional semantic and syntactic values; “verse without words”. By definition, sound poetry is intended primarily for performance.
From Nikipedia, poetpedia
Noise poetry is those everyday noises—those dropped plates and roller-skates—those feet on the stairwell or the conversation at the table next to you. They are the sounds that promise music and threaten to drown you in waves of sound.
This is a Free Event hosted by
IN THE CIRCUS OF YOU: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poem by poet Nicelle Davis and artist Cheryl Gross
Poetry Merry-Go-Round, Circus Acts, Kid Crafts, and Magic Shows
Poetry Merry-Go-Round Rides with Readings by:
Lauren K. Alleyne, Laurel Ann Bogen, Chiwan Choi, Brendan Constantine, Michael Datcher, Nicelle Davis, Kim Dower, Blas Falconer, Kate Gale, Mira Gonzalez, Melanie Jeffrey, Douglas Kearney, Justin Wallace Kibbe, Suzanne Lummis, Katie Manning, Eric Morago, and Jacqueline Tchakalian.
Interactive Poetry Projects,
activities, and crafts for the whole family brought to you by the Red Hen Press WITS program and The Los Angeles Review.
Live Circus Acts
including performances by Post Mortem Movement Theater!
At the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
4730 Crystal Springs Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Please Runaway to the Circus with Us!
If you can’t runaway; let your poems come with us!
Please send your poems to The Living Poetry Project
to go into this kid-sized Poetry Piñata
that will be broken open at The Poetry Circus!
Please submit your poems by Feb 15th to:
nicellecdavis @ gmail . com
In the Circus Of You
Book trailer for IN THE CIRCUS OF YOU: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poems by poet Nicelle Davis and artist Cheryl Gross. The book will be released in March 2015: preordering begins in February 2015.
More information at http://www.rosemetalpress.com.
I am not a barker. There is no kiosk here to see. No ticket vendor. No brightly lit sign, painted hand or enormous arrow that points to this place.
We are not attending the carnival or the midway but we are all gathered under the big top. We are the attractions. We view ourselves with equal parts delight and horror.
Out in the Midway, as the ride begins, it slowly lurches forward with us tightly belted in to our seats. It is a journey that promises much; fear, anticipation, and joy all wrapped together. We are pulled past windows where we are shown carefully created dioramas depicting Oddities that somehow both match and outstrip our own imaginations and orchestrations.
These tickets were bought a long time ago. Life is a freak show and all of us are participants. We jump from audience to performer as quickly as we wish to be separate from one or to belong to the other. We slide in and out of shadows, like shape-shifters of compromise. We contort ourselves in service of the pragmatic, the mundane, or the bigger whole. We desperately wish we were seen as the magician, sorcerer or conjurer of our own illusions.
We are in awe of giants, coveting their power and perspective. We fear them for the same reasons.
I don’t have a tattoo. I appreciate the art. Even more, I understand the need to make a mark or public display of being an outsider. The act of covering my skin with an image has just never seemed to fit with the desire to peel back and expose the truth of living in that skin.
The broken knuckle from a forgotten fight that blooms from a finger is an awkward ornament. The scar that sits just above the knee from a reckless moment on a bike is a crescent moon drawn into the skin. Our scars, creases and configurations are the art that history makes of our bodies and illustrates our humanness.
As with any good sideshow, if we are lucky to look long enough, we end up seeing each other. We are a lucky audience to find ourselves in what is revealed in others.
As we catch our reflection in the peripheral mirror of vision, we recognize ourselves in the performer’s knowing gaze. We are what we are delighted by, when we are invited under the flap of the sideshow tent. We are freaks.
Cheryl Gross is an illustrator. Nicelle Davis is a poet. They met through the publication, Broadsided, which puts visual artists and poets together to collaborate and create literary-posters that are distributed across the world.
This process of collaboration almost always results in a revelation for each, because poets can’t anticipate what an artist will see in their words and the artist is always surprised by the power of words to suggest the image.
The power in this particular partnership illuminated and infused both the words and the images. The words are twined with the illustrations as though the poet and artist are sharing the same soul. As with conjoined twins the two share “In the Circus of You” as an expression of a unique bond that creates an additional intimacy, as though sharing arms, legs or a torso.
The collaboration you hold in your hand is joined by all of us who hope to recognize each other in our search for what makes us beautifully human, joyous in the expression of our differences and willing to celebrate the intrinsic connections between us.
Welcome to the circus.
We’re excited to give you a preview of the cover of the Rose Metal Press spring release, IN THE CIRCUS OF YOU: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poems by poet Nicelle Davis and artist Cheryl Gross. The cover features artwork by Cheryl Gross and was designed by Heather Butterfield. The book launches in March. Subscribe now to be among the first to receive a copy! Preordering will begin in February.
Evie Shockley says of In the Circus of You:
“Nicelle Davis’ newest book mythologizes pain, makes grief, anger, disgust, and fear bearable by transforming them into finely wrought poems. These poems are filled with sharp edges, dissections, illusions, and images of flight, both in their language and in the ways they occupy the page. They are perfectly matched by the drawings of Cheryl Gross, who translates Davis’ poetry into an equally grotesque, equally eloquent visual language. In the Circus of You is a visceral spectacle of controlled excess; it dismantles the three rings we use to contain our most domestic horrors and shows us the way through vulnerability to release.”
Douglas Kearney says of In the Circus of You:
“Accompanied by Cheryl Gross’s illustrations of stretched flesh and biomechanical anatomies, In the Circus of You writhes in a fever dream of divorce, depression, and an undercurrent of poverty. Nicelle Davis directs a cast of disfigured pigs, desiccated pigeons, and circus freaks in poems whose forms are often cinched with wasp-waisted girdles or filed into jagged angles. Never simple oddities, these afflicted characters and music amount to a harrowing account of loss and how one has to fracture herself in private to appear unbroken in public. Don’t miss Davis’ acts of lurching grace and terrible beauty.”
There is an undeveloped field—no tract homes but holes
for rabbits, rattlers, packrats.
Out of 365 days, we know 24 days of rain—life here
requires deep and extensive roots.
Developers wait until dark to topple and stack Joshua Trees. It isn’t impossible to wake to a whole world reduced to a small heap—morning reminds us.
This lot has been left new because of its proximity to the prison.
Across the road is the Institution—minimum and maximum security—male inmates.
I feel a snake at my feet.
You ask, Is everything ok?
Is ok. I say but shake like a rattle.
It doesn’t seem like night falling, so much as stars rising. Day and night weighed equally—the horizon vanishes and the prison lights shine like earth bound stars.
You light a cigarette. In the dark, I can see you breathing in the distance—a walking star.
We steal a shopping cart to gather objects left in the desert. We have one night to make an apocalyptic go-cart.
What else would we do? What’s left to do?
We collect what has been left behind by others. I find baby shoes and bullets—a full bucket of each.
You find a shanty town made of broken chairs and sticks.
In the dark, we imagine the worst—bullets in a baby’s foot—buckets full.
From the back of your truck, we watch the meteorite shower.
The sun goes up like a string-puppet. The chairs’ being is to speak—
“Air Show 2014;
we were board here.”
At the foot of the prison, people can watch without paying, fireworks. Independence Day, shots are fired at the sky while babies lose their shoes to snake holes.
This is not the end of the world, but its edge.
Photos by Marcelles Murdock
Words (and footnote photos) by Nicelle Davis
Apocalyptic Go-Cart by Kevin Swiney
This weekend (September 27-28) I have the privilege of giving three radically different readings at three different locations in Los Angeles. Three readings in two days is notably a bit much– poor planning, maybe–a constant nearly narcotic need to always be with poetry, certainly. I can only hope to see friends and loved ones as well as poetry lovers at each event.
I like events; I like gatherings. I believe people are made human through experiences with other humans.
I get to run this poetry-read-a-thon with my son. To him, I’m sure it will feel like a form of slow torture–but he will be with words; I can only hope that words will eventually woo him as they did me as a child. I can hope. He will have my friend Debra to keep him company; even if he doesn’t entirely appreciate poetry when he grows up, I know he will be grateful that he had some of the most beautiful and smart babysitters during this mad poetry life. Please come see us. Please come play poetry with us. Here is a little about each event:
Event #1: Saturday 9/27, 4:30
WeHo Reads Noir: West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.)
When the amazing poet Kim Dower invited me to participate in the WeHo Read Noir event, I couldn’t say no. Noir isn’t just an art, its a way of life that I’m constantly falling into and chasing after. I was surprised when my son and his friends asked me “what is noir?” Well, what is noir? I had to ask myself. “Its shades of grey,” I told them, “its ambiguity.” “Huh?” the team of 5 to 10 year-olds responded. “Ok,” I said, “take these detective glasses, hats, shovel–take this bottle of fake blood–and lets look for clues to “who done it.” We all took turns being blamed for some part of a murder–because we are all part of the larger story–we all have blood on our hands.
Event #2: Saturday, 9/27 6:30 PM
LAR @ Bergamont Station:
Building Bridges Art Exchange, Bergamont Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave. Unit F2, Santa Monica, CA 90404 This will most certainly prove to me my favorite reading. I won’t be voicing my own work, but reading selections from the upcoming LA Review issue. I love this journal, as I love all of Red Hen’s eggs. Bergamont Station is at the heart of art. It is beauty layered with more beauty. Please do not miss this event!
Join Red Hen Press for a special collaboration of poetry and contemporary art at the Bergamot Station Arts Center. Established in 2005, Building Bridges Art Exchange is dedicated to the promotion of national and international contemporary artists, providing a variety of international art exchanges, artist residencies and workshop programs. They will be joining together with Red Hen for the month of September to present poetry readings immersed in the artwork and exhibitions themselves. A portion of the proceeds from artwork provided by Jacqueline Tchakalian and Thom Dower will go towards our outreach program, Writing in the Schools. Gallery opening reception: Saturday, September 6th from 6-9:30 PM Poetry Readings: Saturday, September 13th: Laurel Ann Bogen, Jacqueline Tchakalian, Helene Cardona, John Fitzgerald Friday, September 19th: Kate Gale, Kim Dower, Brendan Constantine Saturday, September 27th: Los Angeles Review reading featuring BH James, Nicelle Davis, Michael Allen Loruss, Michael Cooper, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo All reading events are free and begin at 6:30 PM. On-going exhibitions and artwork from: Thom Dower Jacqueline Tchakalian Shadow Portraits by Rachel X Hobreigh Deep Transparencies: A Hidden Universe by Petra Eiko Feminine Mystique/Treasures from the 21st Century by Barbara Fritsche, Michael Kluch, Tanya Ragir, Mary Cheung, Larry Schuster Building Bridges Art Exchange Bergamot Station Arts Center 2525 Michigan Ave, Unit F2 Santa Monica, CA 90404 Co-sponsored by Red Hen Press and Building Bridges Art Exchange For more info, click here: http://redhen.org/events/rhp-at-building-bridges/
Event #3: Saturday 9/28 7:00 PM
OMG–THE LAST BOOKSTORE: PLEASE GO TO THIS!!! PLEASE.
The Last Bookstore is the most magical place on earth. I plan on bringing a circus with me to celebrate this fantastic place. I can not tell you what a dream space this is; you must see it to believe it. Please, please go to this event. We need you. We really do. Every circus is only as magical as those who are there to see the magic. 453 S. SPRING ST, GROUND FLOOR DOWNTOWN LA | 213.488.0599
Sunday, September 28th, 7pm: The Last Bookstore is pleased to welcome Kate Gale, with her new collection of poetry, Echo Light. She is joined by Red Hen authors Brendan Constantine & Nicelle Davis. Kate Gale is the Managing Editor of Red Hen Press and Editor of The Los Angeles Review. She teaches in Low Residency MFA programs around the country and serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America. Kate is the author six librettos including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis which premiered in October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Her latest poetry collections are The Goldilocks Zone and Echo Light. She is also the editor of several anthologies and blogs for Huffington Post.
Brendan Constantine is a poet based in Hollywood. His work has appeared in numerous journals, most notably Ploughshares, FIELD, Zyzzyva, Ninth Letter, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, ArtLife, PANK, and L.A. Times Best Seller, The Underground Guide to Los Angeles. His first book, Letters To Guns (Red Hen Press 2009), is now required reading in creative writing programs across the nation. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (WriteBloody Publishing 2011) and Calamity Joe (Red Hen Press 2012). He has had work commissioned by the Getty Museum and he has received grants from the James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. He is currently poet in residence at the Windward School and adjunct professor at Antioch University. In addition, he regularly offers classes in hospitals, prisons, shelters, and with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.
Originally from Utah, Nicelle Davis now resides in Lancaster, California, with her son, J.J. Becoming Judas is her second book. Her first book, Circe, is available from Lowbrow Press. Her third collection, In the Circus of You, will be released by Rose Metal Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Beloit Poetry Journal, The New York Quarterly, PANK, SLAB Magazine, Two Review, and others. You can read her e-chapbooks at Gold Wake Press and Whale Sound. She is the director of the Living Poetry Project. She runs a free online poetry workshop at The Bees’ Knees Blog and is an assistant poetry editor for Connotation Press and The Los Angeles Review. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, and with Volunteers ofAmerica in their Homeless Youth Center. She currently teaches at Antelope Valley