What a difference a year makes.
In 2009, thanks in part to this website, I nabbed a three-minute open mic slot at the Arkansas Literary Festival’s Pub or Perish and read three poems with shaking hands. That night, I was the first reader. I was the curtain jerker, the lead-off batter, the lamb to the slaughter. There’s no shame in going first, and the authors aren’t placed an any particular order, but I wasn’t a featured performer. I had never read my poetry to an audience outside of a few creative writing classes. I hate to admit it, but until then, I hadn’t attended poetry events on a regular basis and had no idea what to expect. The thought of reading to an audience made my stomach churn. It was one of those things I knew I wanted to do it at some point before I died, but when the opportunity landed in my lap like a dancer at the Foxy Lady, I just had to slip a dollar into Fate’s proverbial g-string.
Even though Pub or Perish is at a bar, when you’re the first one at the mic, the crowd is stone cold sober. Even worse, when you’re first, you’re stone cold sober, too. But I did it, with my friends and co-workers cheering me on. I read my three poems and survived to enjoy the rest of the night. I remember watching the other poets and authors take the mic. A few of them read from their own books. I thought to myself, Man, that’s so fucking cool.
I returned to the Pub or Perish mic last night, one year later, not as an open-mic-er, but as an advertised performer. To put the exclamation mark on my year, I was the final reader of the night – the final reader with his own book in his hands. The crowd was primed, pumped, loud, and drunk by the time my turn came. I don’t know how long I read. Fifteen minutes? I did eight poems – “Splattered,” “Flawed Families in Biblical Times,” “Introduction to Eve,” “Car Crashes are my Family’s Cancer,” “The Crusades,” “Autumn,” “Sons of Abraham,” and, to hit the home run, “Levi.” So the Arkansas Literary Festival came to a close on Saturday with the line, “I want to see Russia from your crotch.” People love the crotch line, folks. I’ll take what I can get.
But I’ll always say thank you afterwards.
So thank you to David Koon who put on Pub or Perish. Thanks to all my buddies who came out to support me, and thanks to all of you who were there with me in spirit. Thank you my main squeeze Christopher, who doubles as my publicist these days. Thank you to last night’s lead-off batter, the incredible Lennon Simpson (who started last year, like me, as an open-mic reader and who graduated to featured performer, too. He was absolutely fantastic last night). Lennon is a slam poet from my alma mater, and he’s going on a national tour this summer with Big Poppa E. Check out what he said about me on Facebook today:
Lennon Simpson had a damned good time at Pub or Perish last night. Thank you everyone who came out and supported creative arts. Big shout out to Bryan Borland for rocking the house with his phenomenal closing set. Everyone should read his book “My Life as Adam.” It is amazing.
Then David Koon, who is the equivalent of a mob boss in the Arkansas literary scene, posted on Facebook:
“Excellent job, my man. You blew the roof off the dump.”
If that wasn’t the icing on the big, fat chocolate cake. Those are coming from guys I really admire.
Another cool thing about the Arkansas Literary Festival this year was that I got to meet author Christopher Rice, son of the late poet and artist Stan Rice and the so-brilliant-it’s-creepy Anne Rice. I asked him why he writes, and he said it had a lot to do with his father’s unwavering support. Those who follow this blog know that I write in large part for the same reason, so, yeah, Christopher Rice and I shared a moment (although I’m sure the moment was more one-sided and stalkerish, but, hey, what can you do?). I gave Chris a copy of Adam, which was also pretty cool.
On top of that, Stephen S. Mills and I received word that our collaborative Hanky Code project is being eyed by Velvet Mafia.
So, yeah. It was a pretty good weekend.