Popsickle 2010: Hot as Hell

Over the weekend, in the Brooklyn good-hood known as Bushwick, a faction of literary arts organizations set aside their political and clothing-choice differences to bring together a cavalcade of readings, performances, video screenings and beer drinking.  The festival known as Popsickle, organized by Niina Pollari and Douglas Piccinnini, took place on Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th. Each day began in the post-brunch afternoon, and carried on until the early evening.

Ben Fama, another of the many festival organizers, provided fair warning:  “There will be a ton of limited edition chapbooks to purchase, beer for sale, and generally a casual atmosphere. It is supposed to be hot as shit and people should dress accordingly.”

The hardly bearable heat was a small price to pay to hear the lot of selected young talent share lexis at the historic Bushwick Market Hotel, an otherwise closed venue on Broadway at Myrtle under the elevated portion of the J-train. In the seventies, the Market Hotel operated as a password/invite-only Dominican speakeasy that has now morphed into, as one Popsickle audience member commented, “an awfully anarchish place” where party organizers can hold festivals like Popsickle or D.I.Y. music shows. In fact, there is a small stage in the farthest corner of the main room loaded with music instruments. Two ghosts box in a mural on the adjacent wall. It’s a dark place with black walls, black floor, minimal plumbing, a perpetual musty scent and the predictable cockroach in the scuffed bathroom. But it’s ideal for these kinds of events — or almost ideal, when one considers the reach-out-and-touch-it train that droned by the window every ten minutes or so.

Utterly particular at Popsickle was that all the readers were, by and large, mainstays in the younger Brooklyn/NYC literary scene, and were hosted by a consortium of great Brooklyn reading series curators and magazine-upstarts: Body Actualized Control, the Bushwick Reading Series, Crowd, Poetry Time, the Stain of Poetry, and Supermachine.

The performances ranged from regular poems to video poems to sex essays and on-the-spot storytelling.

–Ken L. Walker

Day 2

The second day of Popsickle began with readings by Evan Burton, Carter Edwards and Paige Taggart.  Taggart (Won’t Be a Girl) used the festival to debut all new poems; she was followed by Fama (Aquarius Rising), Natalie Lyalin (Pink and Hot Pink Habitat), Emily Pettit (How) and James Copeland (A Constructing Egg), who read one poem each in succession to promote their collective chapbooks, OMG WTF and Whole Milk.  

A raffle followed, and included book prizes from Ugly Duckling Presse, Four Way Books, Supermachine, Birds of Lace and Death Panel.  Dan Magers picked up where the poetry left off by reading primarily from his forthcoming H_ngm_n chapbook, White-Collar Worker: I am a Destiny.  Magers was followed by Leigh Stein, whose poem showed a mix of sincerity and pop-culture cynicism.  Joshua Mehigan closed out the weekend by reading new poems as well as a few from his book 2004 Hollis Summers Prize-winning book, The Optimist.

Popsickle was well-attended, and though some not-so-discreetly complained about the heat, it was clear that everyone was willing to sweat a little for the love of poetry. This was was succinctly summed up by Pollari, who said, “that’s how we roll.” 

–Steven Karl

double popsicle

Here is a list of POPSICKLE performances:

SATURDAY | July 24

3:00 – 4:00 PM          WHAT’S UP + Brandon Downing—video

3:45 – 4:15 PM            Parker Phillips & Jesse Gold

4:15 – 5:00 PM            Lauren Russell, Marc Nasdor

5:00 – 6:00 PM           Brett Price & Dani Levanthal—video, Nicole Trigg, Alaina Stamatis, Jamie Peck

6:00 – 7:00 PM          Michael Barron, Eddie Hopely, Anna Fitzgerald, Jordan Michael Iannucci

7:00 – 8:00 PM          Jarrod Shanahan, Gina Abelkop, Timothy Donelly

SUNDAY | July 25

1:00 – 2:00 PM            Evan Burton, Carter Edwards, Paige Taggart

2:00 – 3:00 PM            Ben Fama, Natalie Lyalin, Emily Pettit, James Copeland

3:00 – 4:00 PM            RAFFLE + SNACK TIME

4:00 – 5:00 PM            Dan Magers, Leigh Stein, Joshua Mehigan