Leonard Gontarek and his Green Line Cafe Poetry Series opens virtually with poet, Dick Lourie.
With poetry a ‘thing’ again, what with the inaugural handy work and wise words of Amanda Gordon, it is essential that we call into view the work of Philadelphia poetic great, Leonard Gontarek, and his spoken word place setting baby, the Green Line Cafe Poetry Series.
Forever located at 46th and Locust (as opposed to the Green Line Cafe on Baltimore Avenue) near the glorious, most bucolic parts of West Philadelphia, the Green Line Cafe’s poetry jam was never the flashiest of performance space events. Not a Def Poetry Jam or even a First Arts Memoir slam. The Green Line’s poetry series was, is, has forever been dramatic, yes. But an earnest, down in the pocket, old school, Beat Gen-worthy, wordy rappinghood affair. A good old coffee house poetry session, the likes of which also occurred at Dirty Frank’s (the booze made that live session a wooly experience) and other coffee houses.
Plus, the man who created it, Leonard Gontarek, has forever walked the walk of an unflashy man throwing around flashy words in verse. The last time we spoke was upon the death of poet and musician Leonard Cohen whose “The Spice-Box of the Earth”, his writings about women, God, and politics, and his sports coats with dress shirts open at the collar made the young Gontarek figure that he “was halfway there as a poet.”
Like everything else, still at this point – vaccinations or no vaccinations – most staged and live life must be lived online. And with that comes the Green Line Cafe’s Poetry Series’ first ZOOM reading of 2021 with poet Dick Lourie on March 16 at 6 pm, EST.
Click through HERE for the ZOOM event and use the Meeting ID: 843 9248 3114 with passcode: 780831
Lourie will be reading from his due-in-April new book of poems, “JAM SESSION + Solo Saxophone,” and will find him relating and collating the relationship between music and poetry. “These poems literally depend on the music for their existence. And the poems in turn have deepened the poet’s relationship with the music as he takes to the stage and performs it. The book reflects his professional work over a half-century as both poet and musician,” writes Gontarek. “The presence of music, frequently particular pieces from the canon of the American Songbook, is integral to other poems as well. Where it serves often as a way of gathering in and focusing a wide range of what’s on the poet’s mind: ‘My Old Flame’, ‘Imagination’, ‘Send in the Clowns’. A section of elegies in the book pays tribute to such influences as Pete Seeger, Clarence Clemons, and the internationally renowned blues singer Big Jack Johnson, with whom Lourie performed for fifteen years.”
Sounds nice. Get Zooming.