Two Venetians Kick Off Poetry Books at Beyond Baroque

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By Greta Cobar

My two most favorite poets in the world launched their books, together, while being watched by many others, at Beyond Baroque on Friday, July 1. WOW! Jim Smith shined bright as he read from his masterpiece, “If The Dead Had Email,” while fireworks exploded out of Hillary Kaye as she recited from her own magnum opus, “Hour of the Moon.”

Loved it! Suzy Williams recited and then put to music, dance and drama Jim’s awesome poem “Modern Times” in a performance that the audience loved being part of and truly cheered for. “You, Songbird of Venice, please sing to us again the tunes and wisdom of that song,” people were saying at the cheery after-party. Eric Ahlberg on bass, Sam Clay on guitar and Nick Mattoni on Sax accompanied Williams as well as other readers, making the evening even livelier and more melodious.

Karl Abrams charmed all the ladies in the house as he MCed the tens of poets taking the stage to read either some of Smith’s or Kaye’s verses. Most notably, Pegarty Long stepped up to read several of Jim’s poems about Philomene Long, the one and only late Venice poet laureate. The Beachhead collective had a strong presence both on stage and in the audience, as this paper truly is a poem. Other readers span across lengths of time, experience reading, or clout – a real picture of Venice today.

I found that both books try to expose the real world behind the curtains, the one that we conveniently too often ignore. Although I appreciated the optimism, I also cringed through the cynical criticism that both Smith’s and Kaye’s poems embody. Some of my favorites, of course, are Smith’s poems about Venice, on which he focused during that magnificent Venice summer evening, as July is considered the birth-month of our city.

And Kaye herself is my favorite, of course,  as I see her child-like innocence and beauty melting with her ageless wisdom, all in a flash of exuberance, all before my eyes. And yours. Hopefully you were there.

Both books are spiritually and materially made in Venice, so why wouldn’t you get your own as well? They are available at Beyond Baroque and at www.venicewestpublishers.com. A YouTube video of several readings can be viewed at the Venice West website.