Poet Lee Mallory is carrying on a tradition of his own creation. For decades, he’s organized Valentine’s Day-themed poetry shows.These started in Orange County, California. He’s continued the tradition in Las Vegas, where he’s lived for the last couple of years.
On celebrating love this time of year:
"I believed there was kind of failure of communication among a lot of partners in that we have a lot of stresses in life and schedules and now cell phones and computers and all these things demanding our attention. And it came down to the sad reality that we don't express ourselves well face to face. We rarely put something in writing, like old time cursive hand writing, where you leave a 'love you note' in the morning.
And I thought this is a way to bring people out and get them to express their feelings. Also, a way for us to dislodge some of the stereotypes, some of the misnomers about poetry. That it is just drippy, overly, romantic, sentimental, moon, tune, June stuff and just learn to speak from the heart. And above all communicate with one another."
Do have music playing when you recite your poetry?
I can have quiet background music, characteristically an acoustic guitar or something like that behind me, but normally I just roam around and get outrageous, may lick women's knees.
I will disprove the misnomer that poetry is boring, tedious stuff. Stuff read by effete individuals who only come out after dark. No! No! This is guy who has run 11 marathons for love.
As we're speaking, you are waxing poetic. Do you do this all the time?
"I'm having a good time looking at you. No really communicating. You see, you can have business people in a work place that lodged into cubicles and they may be just six feet away but they talk by email. I heard about a horrible thing: a young couple had a wonderful romance going on but she broke up with him by text message. How cruel is that? But that is how we're speaking in this high stressed world with clipped language, cold cyber talk, staring at our screens, not reaching out to touch, not reaching out to look right into somebody's eyes."
Desert Kiss by Lee Mallory
How long did it take you to write your poem "Desert Kiss?"
About four minutes, because the best poem should bubble up in a sort of unconscious flowering. I was mentored by Charles Bukowski, very lucky.
On being mentored by Charles Bukowski:
"Famous, famous American poet who had 52 books when I had a little, little measly chap book, he'd been writing 25 years and I had been writing two years. He said, it's been written on his epitaph... sadly in San Pedro... Don't Try... He was trying to say don't force the poem. Let it bubble up."
On courting and marrying 'The One':
Men are like microwaves, they ought to calm down. They ought to court. They ought make her know that she puts the meaning in her life, in his life. In any partnership: a man and a man, a woman and a woman, if that person is your romantic ideal, tell 'em, look 'em in the eyes, grab 'em by the shoulders and say 'I love you so much. Every moment of my life lead me to this one, to be in your midst.'"
A Nurse’s Hands by Lee Mallory
offered up freely
the well, sick
They open warmly
to other hands
with trembling fingers
others clammy with fear.
Thank you, nurse
lady, friend, you
who with your own
cares and woe
to the refuge of your heart.
Bless you, always
and your hands
Lee Mallory is calling this year’s Valentine’s Day event, “The Human Love Experience: A Night of Poetry, Music, and Song.”
The event is at Hop Nuts Brewing in downtown Las Vegas on Monday, February 8. Mallory will be joined on-stage by singer and bass player Mizz Absurd (aka Jill Avilez) and jazz singer Philena Carter.
Lee Mallory, Las Vegas-based poet
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