Basically, all I had to do was go west.
On Tuesday I drove over to Indianapolis to this Vouched Presents event, my first, a poetry reading by Tyler Gobble, Ben Hersey and Heather Christle. I got to meet Christopher Newgent, founder of Vouched Books, ultimate booster of indie press in Indy, and see the Vouched table up close and personal.
It was something to see all of the books I’ve read about online laid out before me in real life array. I have a bunch of Tiny Hardcore books that I stroke every so often for aesthetic comfort, but this was something else. Every time I thumbed through Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas, I kept thinking that my fingers would come away smudged with black ink. This, set alongside slim little shrink-wrapped Annalemma’s. Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, with its censorious cover-flap to hide the nudity. Christopher let me stud the table with Safety Pin Review buttons.
I’ve made my way through The Fullness of Everything, the Tiny Hardcore anthology by Christopher Newgent, Tyler Gobble, and Brian Oliu (macho, macho, and macho), and, as per norm, it cannot disappoint. Christopher’s stories are little diamonds, Tyler is exuberprime, and Brian’s New Jersey is a marvelous textual landscape. (They are all going on tour next month, and will arm-wrestle you to death if you let them.)
Now I’ve met him and heard him read, it’s safe to say that Tyler Gobble is one of the most pumped individuals this side of the Pump Kingdom (which is somewhere to the east, if it exists at all). He read one poem from Fullness whilst enveloped in an oversized Hooters t-shirt. It actually made perfect sense. When I read through Fullness now, I hear all the poems in Tyler’s voice. It helps. It is not a bad voice to have in one’s head.
Ben Hersey’s set was disconcertingly awesome, a wash of mumbled accents, ambient noise, masticated lettuce, and expressive, salty poetry. Heather Christle (pronounced like the jewel) had us all scoot our chairs closer to the podium, creating an intimate context for her smiling poems of almost brutal whimsy, a series of shy, bubbly punches to the gut.
After the reading, Ashley Ford showed me all manner of handshakes, tried to explain where the wind comes from.
And I met Chad Redden, NAP’s current mayor. I must say, NAP Magazine is doing such beautiful and elegant things. There are so many reasons to read NAP. NAP has its own pronoun, an entity in and of NAPself. NAP has a new issue up, 2.4, which you should bounce on over to post-haste (I think Joshua Young’s piece is my favorite).
All in all, it was like a micro-AWP for young Simon. So here’s to meeting a bunch of awesome people, with high hopes that it happens again very soon (it will).
Thank you, Internet, for making this happen. Chad and I eagerly await your revamped, second iteration, with full, sideways-scrolling capabilities.