Knife|Fork|Book at Monastiraki
Reviewed by Kian Vaziri-Tehrani
On Saturday June 25th, Monastiraki held the Knife|Fork|Book poetry chapbook launch of Jeff Kirby‘s She’s Having a Very Doris Day and Jonathan Garfinkel‘s Bociany (Storks) which featured readings by the two author along with poet David Bradford.
Walking into Monastiraki (for the first time I might add) I was struck by its quaintness and the subtle elegance of what it had on display, with a vintage Conan the Barbarian comic and a How do You Say it in Chinese? guidebook particularly catching my attention. It wasn’t long before a few familiar faces popped up, like fiction writer Guillaume Morrissette and poet Klara du Plessis. But of course, the afternoon belonged to Kirby, Garfinkel, and Bradford, who were making the rounds through the shop, mingling and chatting before their readings.
Kirby first introduced David Bradford, who read a handful of poems, some of which appear in his chapbooks A Star is Boring and the upcoming Call Out (Knife|Fork|Book, October 2017). Bradford read in a slow and purposeful tone, one which demanded precise attention to every single spoken word. This was most apparent as he read “Why Can’t We Live Together”, with peculiar and striking lines like:
“…Black squirrels sparkling
like warm steak knives for my twix bars”
“Wheezy stardust sucking on gold cellophane
where they buried the garrison in a gravel pit”.
Next up was Kirby himself, who, before even beginning to read seemed overjoyed to share this moment with the standing crowd of smiling faces. His excitement was infectious; his voice, resonant. Kirby’s selected reading from She’s Having a Doris Day was inviting, warm, and eye-opening. Each spoken verse carried the emotions of the poet. His work explored themes of gender identity, homosexuality, love, and loss. Heavy stuff, admittedly, but the personal struggle was counteracted with just the right balance of biting humour. His shortest poem, entitled “Pink,” simply read:
“Why not orange?”
Finally, it was Jonathan Garkinfel‘s turn, and with two amazing readings preceding him, my expectations were high for the poet and playwright. As he delved into his past experiences travelling far across the globe, particularly of the time he lived in Poland, Garfinkel spoke and read in a tone that lingered, much like the lingering images of the human condition he paints in his poems. The last poem Garfinkel read from his chapbook, entitled “Bociany (Storks): After Chełmoński,“was featured in Vallum’s 14:1 “Evolution” issue. Combining the mystical with the concrete, the final lines of the work are haunting, beautiful:
“He believes in proximity, worms
piling off the highway.
He coalesces dreams of black turtles
swimming in fetid waters.
He wants them to call him.”
Of course, the real star of the show was this cake that I happened to be standing next to for the entire reading. Though it was calling to me incessantly, with it’s shiny green frosting and red gum-drops, I left before having a slice…
To read or hear more about these fine chapbooks visit Knife|Fork|Book’s website.
Find Jonathan Garfinkel’s poem in Vallum 14:1 “Evolutution” here.
Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!