In late 2010 we attended a reading we'll never forget. We didn't know it, but a madman was about to take the stage. Except he didn't take the stage. He hopped down off it, and immediately a dozen people rushed to form a semicircle around him on the floor. What came next was a controlled seizure. With desperate body gyrations, eyes on fire, and the voice of a four-barrel carburetor, he delivered a literary sermon with rhymes and cadence so precision you could almost say it along with him. And some did -- they'd known this salvation before.
The poet was Charlie Getter -- you can see his performance in a video clip below -- at the series Quiet Lightning. Getter's performance is the kind of thing you can expect at the series, which happens again tonight (Monday) at the Elbo Room. Quiet Lightning was started by Evan Karp and Rajshree Chauhan a couple of years ago. It's now a nonprofit group, Karp its president. Writers submit pieces, and the best are selected and published in a literary magazine called Sparkle & Blink that's sold at the event.
Among tonight's readers is Jarett Kobek, whose fictionalized biography of 9/11 terrorist Mohammad Atta suggests the attacks could have been as much about architectural criticism as religious extremism. (See a trailer for that work below too.) He also reads transcripts from celebrity sex tapes.
Paul Corman Roberts runs the reading series Bitchez Brew and Anger Management; he writes "metaphysical treatise rant poems that seem to contain the entire universe," Karp says. A first-timer is Pierre Merkl. He goes by the stage name Mr. Lucky and leads a dynamite Sinatra-style lounge act that's run in San Francisco for years. Merkl is also an accomplished painter. Until now we had no idea he also did spoken word -- but if he made this lineup, we know he's good.