We’ve brought you a month of various birthday celebrations, in writing and on the podcast. We’re wrapping up August by bringing you selections from our open mic celebration. Friends, guests, contributors and new visitors gathered online and in person at our sponsor, Words Matter Bookstore to read together. You’ll be able to hear people read from favorite poets like Poe, Whitman and Ginsberg as well as original work–poems about love, nature, history and the lives of poets. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our love for poetry and the first birthday of The Ivory Tower Boiler Room.
As part of the celebration, our Boiler Room team took a turn at the questionnaire that we ask our guests to fill out. Last week our team provided written answers to three of the questions, and we recorded the answers to four others as part of the celebration. You can look forward to us sharing those answers as well as answers from event participants. One thing Adam and Erika discovered was just how hard these questions can be to answer–there might even have been a little sadistic glint in Adam’s eye as we acknowledged this.
And since the questions ask about some of our favorite (and least favorite) things to read and watch, you might want to check out what the team’s been reading, listening to and watching this week…
Since Andrew is back to school, teaching at Stony Brook University, he is rereading texts for both the “Hill We Climb” queer poetry course (yes, that’s an allusion to Amanda Gorman’s incredible poem) and his “Whitman’s Multitudes” course (which is talking back to Whitman’s vision of Democracy). Don’t worry, Andrew will check back in about the texts he’s teaching as the semester progresses, but for this first week back, he was rereading Whitman’s 1851 unpublished poem “Pictures.” His students provided such a creative close reading that teased out how the speaker’s description of the room he’s in is not a physical room, but perhaps the speaker’s brain? Want to learn more read “Pictures” and let us know what you think?
Andrew did fall for the buzz around The Chair, and he finished all of the episodes a day before the semester began. Although there is much to discuss around the representation of crises in academia, in the show, it did give Andrew the energy he needed to prep for his courses. But, if you are curious, definitely check out these essays about the show (spoiler alert):
Review of Netflix’s “The Chair” from Buzzfeed
He’s fallen in love with Mary Wilson’s version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (and her voice is now soaring in paradise):
And if you haven’t, listen to the Supremes take on “Funny Girl” (it’s so good!):
Mary is still reading Becky Cooper’s We Keep the Dead Close. It’s been an action movie week for her and she’s been watching Nobody starring Bob Odenkirk. She really enjoyed this action movie and says it is totally worth the $5.99 rental on Amazon Prime. She thinks it’s also available on Peacock.
This week Mary has been listening outside of her usual music circle. She has been listening to Post Malone “Circles” and Dua Lipa “Break My Heart.” Both songs are super catchy and have a great beat to listen to while running errands!
Adam has been reading a variety of things this week. It turns out that Robert Caro’s The Powerbroker makes for a surprisingly engaging read during the moments of downtime one inevitably has when visiting someone in the hospital. And of course Adam has been reading through the blogs (and book) of Dr. Karen Kelsky and Kel Weinhold at theprofessorisin.com in preparation for inviting the dynamic duo into the Boiler Room for an interview.
Adam has been listening to some of Karen and Kel’s podcasts, as well as a bit of Tom Waits this week (that’s in addition to the usual Bach and Beethoven). But that eclectic grab-bag has still left some time for revisiting some old loves from Postmodern Jukebox.
Surprisingly, TV has played a minimal role this week, except for a family-rewatch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (currently in the middle of season six. Please do not tell Adam’s mom what happens; she is already frustratingly competent at predicting).
Erika has been bingeing Brooklyn 99 this week and is wondering what took so long for her to check this show out. The show is funny, but still manages to bring in some serious issues. She’s also watched some episodes of Bake Squad, and she checked out the movie Booksmart on Hulu; if you’ve been following the saga of Erika and writing a sex scene, she found there was a perfectly awkward sex scene which was exactly the kind of thing she wants to capture. The highlight of her viewing this week has been this documentary “It’s Not That Kind of Camp” about the summer camp she attended as a teenager, the same one that enabled her connection with Adam, and which brought her to The Ivory Tower Boiler Room.
She’s been listening to Bob Mould this week, as a solo artist and with Sugar and with Husker Du. She’s also been listening to Indigo Girls and in honor of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, she’s listened to a little bit of the Rolling Stones, too.
It’s been a poetry heavy week again to complete Erika’s reading list. Rupi Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers was the source for a quote in a post earlier this week. AA Milne’s Now We Are Six was the inspiration for the title of today’s post. Essex Hemphill came up earlier this week during the interview with Sarah Schulman, and has been among the choices this week, and she returned to Pablo Neruda’s Poetry, which she visits often for comfort and inspiration, despite the fact that, by all rights, sexual assault survivors should deface his grave. All the birthday-celebrating and listening to so many wonderful recordings from the open mic events reminds her of the line “And it was at that age that poetry arrived in search of me.”
If you enjoyed this piece, please consider making a donation to help us grow our literary and artistic community.