In late April, 2006, poets from all over the US converged on the rugged terrain of New Mexico to celebrate the publication of the DESERT SHOVEL REVIEW and reaffirm the validity of Outlaw poetry.
The first reading was held at the Super Chief Cafe in the tired old town of Las Vegas in north-eastern New Mexico. A fierce storm preceded the reading, as if the badlands were trying to thwart the event. But these poets would not be intimidated by a little hail or torrential downpour. Instead they double-dared the night to try and stop them.
The second reading occurred in the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe. It was a decidedly different affair, set in the posh surroundings of one of Santa Fe's best known galleries. This was no rough and tumble crowd, like the night before, and yet, despite the audience's urbane demeanor, the outlaw words still held sway, moving the hearts of those in attendance.
For two nights, they reveled in the outlaw words of Todd Moore, S. A. Griffin, John Dorsey, Tony Moffeit (accompanied by guitarist Rick Terlep), John Macker, Art Goodtimes, John Knoll, Delphine Cuomo, Don Levering, Leo Romero, Yama lake, RD (Raindog) Armstrong, Celeste Labadie, Michael Adams, John Nizalowski and Frank T. Rios while the spirits of Tony Scibella and John Thomas imbued the evenings with a magical holiness, reminding us that there is so much more to this dance, so much that is unseen (except when we are not looking), unheard (except when we are not listening), and unspoken (except when our tongues languish in silence).
Then on the third day, a small group, the core perhaps, gathered near Bernal, NM, at John and Annie Macker's place for a ceremonial burning of the words. Present were S. A. Griffin, John Dorsey, Todd and Barbara Moore, Jimi Bernath, RD Armstrong, John and Annie and their two dogs. Everyone except Barbara and Annie (and the two dogs) read a poem and burned it in a bowl out back behind their house. When the last poem had been burned, we hiked to the "poets graveyard" dubbed "Buk Hill"and buried some of the ashes there. Then we hiked a little further to a spot where John Macker had previously buried some of Tony Scibella's ashes. There he dug a small hole and buried the remaining ashes of our poems. Nearby, on a stone slab, sat the remains of an old typewriter, which we dubbed Peckinpah's Typer (Todd wrote a snappy little poem about it while we were enjoying the view). It has become quite a source of inspiration for as it turns out.
Later, over lunch we swapped tales about the good old, bad old days.
We all agreed it was an extraordinary weekend.
Photo credits: all photos by RD Armstrong unless credited to JB (Jimi Bernath) or Unknown