“Poetry readings have to be some of the saddest / damned things ever”
There are so many times I go to poetry readings and think that Bukowski was right. Most of the time they are at a place that is ill-fitting, like a coat that is too big and has room for other things in it -like ego. There we sit, waiting for our chance at the microphone, “sweating for applause, never considering the possibility that / [our] talent might be / thin, almost invisible.” On a Sunday evening last February, at Malvern books, I heard Jim Trainer call Bukowski “Papa”; “Hemingway ain’t my Papa,” he said. Even more surprising still: hearing him talk of his love for Bukowski while being two-years-and-a-day sober.
Trainer’s writing is good. There is in his poems a straightforward honesty that speaks to me. That same honesty is what makes Going for the Throat, the blog Trainer curates (“a weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance”) a must read for me. In it, you can find about seven years’ worth of blog entries: sometimes outward, sometimes reflections, but all the time fairly dark and highly personal. Jim Trainer’s writing is not for the weak. It is like stepping in dogshit barefoot. It’s knowing that the heart burns, with something resembling wisdom, wisdom that comes from experience and even excess.
Trainer posts every Thursday at Going for the Throat. All in the Wind, his latest collection of poetry and prose, came out last fall through Yellow Lark Press, his publishing house, along with September in 2015. Last Sunday, Trainer told all those people sitting there that “hiding will not keep you protected”. That’s what’s most striking about him. His verse is dark. It doesn’t beat around the bush. It recognizes the agony of survival-daywork and its minimal reward, for example. There’s an apocalyptic urgency burning through his work -but after the reading he’s quick to reach out for a handshake. He’s not precocious or full of himself. The humanness of the man runs through his work and seems to implore that you be yourself-uniquely you, sometimes raw and always true.
I’ve been to many poetry readings and been many times saddened. Not often because of the overwhelming emotion in someone’s work, sometimes by the lack of it. It’s refreshing to know that right here in Austin there are readings that will not leave you dismayed but affected. Any reading with Jim Trainer in the bill has my blessing. He reads around town often and you can follow him here. September and All in the wind can be found here. You can read a new post at Going For The Throat every Thursday. And, por si eso fuera poco, you can also check him out performing as a singer-songwriter, at House Wine on the Third Thursday of every month.
Trainer is rock and roll, you can hear it in his work. He is also a writer, writing about writing and disappointment, employment and romance. Read him. Meet him. Find him and talk to the motherfucker. He’ll be the one reaching out to shake your hand.