Since the birth of our son Ian in December, I haven’t managed to get out to do very many readings. In fact, I’ve only managed two, the Hoboken Historical Museum and Colorado College.
Well, I’m going to sneak out the evening of Sunday, December 4th to read with two excellent young poets, Dawn Manning and Luke Stromberg, at the famous Pen and Pencil Club in Philadelphia. I will read from my three books as well as some new material, written since the publication of Caligulan last year. I hope you’ll join us for a Sunday evening drink and some new Philadelphia poetry.
* * *
Ernest Hilbert, Dawn Manning, Luke Stromberg
Hosted by Bob Zell
Sunday, December 4 8-10PM
Pen & Pencil Club
1522 Latimer St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102
* * *
“Queen of the Demonweb Pits” by Ernest Hilbert, from Caligulan
The deal feels wrong. Feeling’s gone. Or has it?
Are you holding or are you holding out?
At this frantic hour, what can a word mean?
Would you stay so you can do one more hit
Or take the last bag, safe in your pocket,
To lock up back in your apartment unseen
And alone . . . no, you stay with those who can’t
Stop pacing and talking again and again through
The same stories—are they the same stories?—
Now that the heavy curtains won’t keep slants
Of aspiring light out, and the things you
Said are said by another, and worries
Snare your mind in a wire tangle of too quick
Thought quickly thought and quickly thought again,
Because left alone or leaving you will greet old fears.
So you stab at a smile but you’re getting sick,
Then an eerie half-sight—at dawn as a child
You woke and stepped out and took in—oh, years
Of buried embarrassments start to flow—
But no—there is the sunlight where you stepped,
Bright as a supernova on the new snow
Where you curled up in white so soft you slept.
* * *
Luke Stromberg’s work has appeared in The New Criterion, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hopkins Review, Think Journal, and several other literary journals. He lives in Upper Darby, PA and works as an adjunct English instructor at Eastern University and La Salle University. Luke also serves as Associate Poetry editor for the culture blog E-Verse Radio.
“A Dedication” by Luke Stromberg, from Oddball Magazine
I am surrounded by women.
They talk amongst themselves, ignoring me.
A cocktail party is in progress:
Laughter, the clinking of glasses,
conversations blending into one steady drone.
A brunette gracefully wields an unlit cigarette
between two fingers, always
on the verge of lighting up,
and speaks excitedly about work.
In a chair on the other side of the room,
a black-eyed blonde crosses her legs:
Looks around, bored.
She sips from a flute of champagne.
Someone laughs shrilly. A drink is spilled.
The room fills up with fog.
The women become indistinct, a crowd
of chattering shadows.
The starlight is locked out.
I’m closed in.
I open my mouth to speak
and produce a sound like shattering glass.
You out there, in the night, somewhere,
maybe sitting in your car at a red light, alone,
turn on your radio—
You might hear my song.
* * *
Dawn Manning is the author of Postcards from the Dead Letter Office. Her awards for poetry include the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, the Edith Garlow Poetry Prize, and the San Miguel Writing Award. Her poems have been published through Crab Orchard Review, Silk Road Review, Smartish Pace, and other literary journals. In her spare time, she herds cats for a local animal rescue. When the stars align, she travels.
“Hit, Run” by Dawn Manning, from E-Verse Radio
of the orange tabby
seeps between the seams
of the earth a little each day,
a white picket
stuck down her throat to lob her
into the irrigation ditch,
stuck so deep it dislodged six half-circles
curled in her belly.
We keep vigil from our bicycles
as life scurries back into the cat,
ant by ant.
* * *
A word from the series host, Robert Zell:
The following is a bit lengthy and covers the questions I am frequently asked about the poetry readings.
The P & P is located at 1522 Latimer St. in Center City. Latimer is a side street running between Locust and Spruce; the club is situated between two parking facilities midway between 15th and 16th. It is easy to miss if you have never been here before (or you have been and consumed a few adult beverages), but there is a neon sign in the window that is lit when the club is open. The outer door is always open, but to gain admittance into the club, you must knock on the inside door to have someone let you in.
There is a camera that allows the bar tender to see you if you are waiting, but if he is serving customers or otherwise occupied, it may take a few minutes for him to get to the door. Occasionally, there will be someone else available to let you in (like myself or a doorman), but it is not given. In these situations, please be patient, and do not bang on the door, since someone may be speaking.
All poetry events are free of charge and take place on Sunday nights from approximately 8-10 PM. However, purchasing books and other merchandise from the poets is strongly encouraged. The club opens at 7 that night and the kitchen is closed, so you are welcome to bring outside food in with you. Please purchase your drinks at the bar though. Normally, smoking is allowed inside the P & P, but not during events. If you need to go outside to smoke, use the front door and bear in mind that each trip you make outside requires someone to open the door back up again.
Because the club is in Center City, free or metered parking is not always available nearby. Most of the spots closest to the club are two-hour parking zones. Just check that you read the signs and don’t expect to find a space immediately if you are planning to arrive at a certain time. Of course, you could always pay for parking or take public transit to avoid the hassle.
The website for the club is located at: http://www.penandpencil.org/
If you are interested in becoming a member of the club, please speak with the bar tender during your visit. We normally waive the membership requirement during poetry events, but if you want to return during regular business operations, we request that you purchase a membership.
The bar phone number is: 215-731-9909.
The open mic follows the featured readers. Generally speaking, each person signing up for a slot is allotted approximately 5 minutes to read from the moment they take the microphone. If it is very crowded, the time limit may be less. Please be courteous to others in attendance and finish speaking within this time frame (introductions to the poems are on the clock too). You are welcome to read any poems you like, even if they are not your own.
Frequently, the poetry readings are filmed and posted on YouTube. If you do not want to appear on camera and the Internet, please notify the host and he will ensure your privacy.