Thursday, September 25, 2008

Miraculous draft of Les Murray

The daughter of Leo Connellan, our poet friend who passed away, gave me a good deal on 10 of the poet's neckties. I then gave ties to musicians who worked on our poetry score to Leo's hitchhiking epic, Crossing America.

The trustees of Leo's ties are responsible for maintaining their tie with dignity and honor, reading Leo's poetry any day they wear a Leo tie, and submitting a story to Poetry Scores about what they have done on days when they wear Leo's tie.

I chose for myself a baby blue tie with two alternating patterns. One is a line of octagons inset with what look like black measles, the other vaguely floral with suggestions of spermatozoa, tufted by clouds. It is a little frayed, like Leo when we knew him, and blotched in three places with yellow, the same shade, probably from the same meal, I'm guessing egg.

In my Leo tie I sat for my visa photos, so when I entered Ghana and Togo, the border guards knew me in Leo's tie.

I took off my Leo tie to receive shots of yellow fever and meningitis so my body would be inoculated against those pathogens should I encounter them while I am in Africa, and then I kept my tie in my knapsack, because I love Leo but loathe ties.

With my Leo tie I met Les Murray, the unofficial national poet of Australia, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Met's off-day. I joined Les and his friend Alice, who restores tapestries for the museum, for a private, behind-the-scenes tour of a Renaissance tapestry show.

"I've seen that somewhere," Les said, pointing to one of the massive tapestries. He was wearing a New York Yankees fishing hat.

"You've seen it at the Vatican, Les," Alice suggested.

Les in his Yankees fishing hat, I with my Leo tie, we shuffled along.

"These are Big Deal tapestries," Alice noted of the next room. "Raphael did the cartoons. These hang around the Sistine Chapel, just under the ceiling." We were facing Raphael's Miraculous Draft of Fishes.

"'Have you caught any fish?'" Les quoted Jesus Christ from the Bible. "'Let down your nets on the other side.' And there came a miraculous draft of fishes."

Les in his Yankees fishing hat, I with my Leo tie, we shuffled along.

"They surely did like hunting, didn't they?" Les observed, looking at the next batch of tapestries.

"They liked horses' asses!" Alice said. Indeed, rather many of the horses on the hunt did have their backsides turned to weaver and viewer.

"This is one of the Triumphs," Alice noted in the next room.

"Triumph?" Les asked. "Of what?"

"Of Lust," Alice said.

"It's also the invention of the ice cream cone," Les said. One figure's neck was, in fact, coiled like a twirl of soft ice cream.

"The fellow in the middle is saying, 'Have you ever seen a club this size?'" Les said, "but the moral of it you can't read very well."

Les in his Yankees fishing hat, I with my Leo tie, we shuffled along.

"Look at this thing!" Alice exclaimed. "This is St. Michael Overcoming Satan."

"You know, I played Satan in a Medieval play once," Les reminisced. "I had to wear a pig mask. The governor of New South Wales attended. I jumped on him one night. I jumped off the stage. The devils were supposed to flee, so I fled, and ended up on the knees of the governor. His wooden knees. He had lost his legs in the war. The governor handled it with stony aplomb."

Les in his Yankees fishing hat, I with my Leo tie, we descended the grand marble steps of the Met.

"How do you fit into all this?" Alice asked me.

"I'm a Les Murray fan," I said.

"I should photocopy and send you the letter he wrote me," Les said, referring to my first fan letter, when I told him that Les Murray was the star right fielder on my dice baseball team composed of poets. "I keep that one in my folder of very special things."

As we bid Alice farewell, and headed down Fifth Avenue for coffee, I pointed at Les' Yankee hat with a smile.

"I went to the big game," he said, "all because of your insidious influence, of course. The very first hit I saw was a homerun. I started right at the top: a homerun at Yankee Stadium. I expect it's all a slight decline from there."

At the coffee shop, I gave Les a copy of Leo's book Provincetown. I explained about Leo's passing and the trusteeship of the ties. Les thumbed through the book. "I like this feller," Les said of Leo. "He is clear, and real."

Over coffees and ice cream sodas, Les told me that my wife's name, "Karley," means "black" in Sanskrit and Gypsy, because Gypsy is an Indian tongue.

I pointed out that the name is short for "Addokarley," which means "Third Daughter" in her home African language, Mina.

"The Romans went for that, too, naming people after numbers," Les said. "If she were an ancient Roman, I suppose her name would be Tertia."

Walking Les back to the Met, I asked if he had made a spoken word record yet. He had not, though he had done some recording with the Poet Laureate of England, and wanted to do a book-on-tape of his verse novel, Fredy Neptune. When I said that is precisely one of the things that I wanted to do, he agreed I should look into it.

Les was in town to read at the Guggenheim Museum during the world premiere of new works that set his poems to music. During his performance there he had read a piece that refers to music as a "nonsense poem," so only with hesitation did I mention my other dream, doing a poetry score to his long, highly musical poem, "The Sydney High Rise Variations."

"What kind of music should go with it?" I asked.

His lips quivered with the ghost of a melody he was keeping in his head. "There should be some wind in the sound. It starts on this big, high bridge, you see. I wish I had the text in front of me."

I suggested that he mail me a cassette of melodies when he gets back to New South Wales, and he nodded yes agreeably.

In Central Park, just south of the Met, I cornered a street vendor and had him snap a picture of Les and me, Les in his Yankee fishing hat and me with my Leo tie.

"I hope that took!" I said. "That was my last picture."

"Ah, we'll take one when you come to Australia," Les said, opening up a strange new continent in my heart. "There's always corn in Egypt, as my father used to say. "


Image of Miraculous Draft of Fishes from that show at The Met we saw.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thom Fletcher makes failed proxy bid for Jamillah

Lynn Josse took a few snaps of the 2008 Experiential Auction that she has posted on her Flickr site.

This particular image reveals Thom Fletcher making proxy bids for Jamillah Jones, who made advance bids of $100 for horseback riding with Robin Carnahan and for having Wiley Price shoot her personal portfolio. Jamillah was outbid on both.

I believe in this action shot, Thom is bidding for the photo shoot. I heard him later shyly remark that it was kind of fun to bid on something like that which would hold no personal interest for him. Thom is a good shooter, not not much of a poser.

I can't bear to look at these pictures myself. The people in them are drinking beer. I am recovering from oral surgery and not allowed to drink beer.

I love beer. I miss beer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Peter F. Alexander on Les Murray's religious work

With my mind still full of a new show of contemporary religious art that opened yesterday in St. Louis, I finally got around to checking out an interview about religion in poetry that was sent to me recently by Peter F. Alexander.

Peter Alexander is an Australian writer, critic and professor who wrote the definitive biography of the great Australian poet Les Murray. We are scoring Les' poem The Sydney Highrise Variations for 2009, and I have successfully tabbed Peter to help write some liner notes.

It's rather grand and romantic for me to say this, but I met Peter at The British Library in London. My little family was on vacation in Europe, and I happened to catch Peter gallivanting from library to library, tracking down rare documents. (As I recall, he was hunting for caches of letters by the South African writer Alan Paton, author of Cry, The Beloved Country.)

Peter seemed taken by the odd independence of what we do - set long poems to music without any institutional support whatsoever. His wife is an independent publisher of juvenile literature - that is, literature by juveniles, including literature by juveniles who went on to become famous writers as adults - so he understands something about unlikely and somewhat lonesome pursuits.

I have a feeling that Peter and I will always remember that first meeting, long after our Les Murray project is behind us. While we were talking at The British Library, he took a call. His adult son, who has a health condition, had taken ill in a remote location in Papua, New Guinea and was being helicoptered to safety.

Peter received this remarkable news by cell phone, just as we were speaking. It lent a different dimension to our conversation about oddball artistic puruits. It also brought an unexpected intimacy between strangers.

Back in the U.S., we learned his son was rescued and returned to health and civilization.

At any rate, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview with Peter about Les Murray's religious poetry is available online as audio and transcript. It appeared on The Spirit of Things, hosted by Rachael Kohn.

The whole interview is worthwhile, but this bit by Peter seems especially true of the religious dimension of Les Murray's work:

"He has a whole series of poems in which he doesn't argue, but just asserts, or shows that religious belief is something ordinary and everyday and maybe omnipresent, and it's that element of religion which unites human beings and makes us see our common humanity. One of the best elements of course, of religions is one of the things he's stressing. So what he's focusing on is the kind of casual, demotic quality of religious belief and religious expression in Australia, and he does so in a slangy, often jokey way, which makes it seem very ordinary, but also very extraordinary, and that's one of the best things he does for it, I think."


Snapshot is of Les Murray browsing my library in The Skuntry Museum in its original Long Island location, looking for a book to read on the flight back to Australia. (He picked out a detective trilogy set in Nazi Berlin, but then decided not to borrow it after all.)

Hugs, thanks, love and experiences

A big hug and thanks to everyone who participated in Poetry Scores' 2008 Experiential Auction, which we held last night at Atomic Cowboy.

I did little of the detail work myself and am waiting to see the list of winners and prices, but to this pain-medicated observer the big-ticket items seemed to be horseback riding with Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a case of custom homebrew by that beautiful man Anthony Brescia, and Dana Smith paints your band performing live.

I remember the winner of Dana's painting, because he was reached via my cell phone at a remote location to see if he wanted to raise his advance online bid (which had been beat by another bidder at Atomic Cowboy) - and he did raise his bid to clinch the experience. A bigger hug and warmer thanks to the great musician and producer Eric Hall for investing in Poetry Scores and for appreciating Dana's work.

For fun, I have posted, above, my old sketch of Eric performing live with his band Peanuts at The Tap Room, and signed (with love) by the guys in the band. No one would pay for that piece, now would they, though my donated experience (a trip to Alice Neihardt's horse farm and the chance to pray in a prayer garden designed by Black Elk) attracted a tiny bidding skirmish, as distinct from an all-out bidding war.

There were more bidding wars than in the previous two years - many experiences themselves experienced competition at the bidding table - though no one high roller emerged, along the lines of Gillian Noero (2006) or Tom Danforth (2007).

What most pleases me is to see Poetry Scores finding its place in the mutually supportive creative arts scene that helps to make St. Louis a very livable city. We don't have much money in this scene, but we have plenty of ideas and an affection for one another and one another's work. This is all very valuable. And I simply can't wait to hear what comes of people's experiences, and to post them up here for the world to share!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

KDHX donates free National Film Challenge spot

Lights! Camera! Auction!

KDHX Community Media has got into the 2008 Experiential Auction action with a deluxe offering: You get a spot on the 2008 National Film Challenge!

That's an $110 value - and bidding on all experiences begins at $10!

The National Film Challenge is a timed filmmaking competition where filmmaking teams have just one weekend to make a short film. Only 300 teams from all over the world will be accepted - and one of those will come from Poetry Scores 2008 Experiential Auction.

The basic rules for the Challenge are simple. Win the bid, register your team and start lining up gear, cast and crew. At 7 p.m. sharp on Friday, Oct. 24, log into a secure website to get your genre and a character, prop and a line of dialogue that must appear in your film. Your team then has from Friday at 7 p.m. through midnight Monday, Oct. 27 to create a short film. All creativity must occur within the competition period: writing, rehearsing, shooting, editing, graphics, sound design, etc.

Bidding is open now and starts at $10. Check the Comments page on the auction's main post to see if anyone else has bid, then add your bid as a Comment - or email it to The highest advance bid will be the starting bid at the 2008 Experiential Auction 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21 at Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester Ave. The $10 admission is deducted from the price of your first winning bid.

Out of town filmmakers can email a proxy bid (as high as you are willing to go) and someone from Poetry Scores will bid on your behalf on Sunday.

It's a wrap.


Picture of someone shooting a scene from their National Film Challenge film from somebody's Flickr site.

The artist Dana Smith paints your band performing

With the 2008 Experiential Auction coming up tomorrow (5-8 p.m. Sunday) at Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester), I have my eyes on one experience in a spirit of regret:

The artist Dana Smith paints your band performing live and gives you the signed painting.

Dana painted the above image, of Ajay at Mad Art. I love it. My regret is that I no longer am in a band he can come paint. If the bidding on Dana's painting experience is slow, I'll throw in my bid and have him come paint me performing Kenneth Rexroth at the 2008 Day of the Deadbeats.

Come to think of it, I open bidding on Dana's painting experience at $10, where all bidding begins. (It costs $10 to get into the event, and you get to deduct $10 from the cost of any winning bid.)

Dana's experience is one of 15 experiences on silent auction from 6:45-7:45 p.m. tomorrow (that's the Straggler set). There also will be an Early Bird silent set of 15 experiences (from 5-6 p.m.) and a Live Auction of 8 deluxe experiences (from 6:15-6:30).

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed told me he would call the Live auction set if he can make it to the event and is in the mood. I think he will and he will be. A bike ride in the city with Lewis is one of three raffle items, along with breakfast at Goody Goody with County Executive Charlie Dooley and lunch at his country club with attorney Chet Pleban.

For a complete list of experiences and times, etc., go here; you can bid in advance there or by emailing me!

Friday, September 19, 2008

$1 off Schlafly Pale during Experiential Auction

I spoke with Bill Kellogg at Atomic Cowboy today. He said they will pour Schlafly Pale Ale for $1 off during the Experiential Auction on Sunday (5-8 p.m.).

Pleban, Dooley, Lewis Reed on raffle

Poetry Scores has added three new experiences on offer at The Experiential Auction, going down this Sunday, Sept. 21 from 5-8 p.m. at Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester Ave.:

* Lunch with attorney Chet Pleban at his country club

* A bicycle ride in the city with Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen, and

* Breakfast at Goody-Goody with County Executive Charlie Dooley.

Unlike the other 38 experiences on offer, which will be auctioned off (in three sets, two silent auction sets with a brief live auction set in the middle), these experiences will be sold raffle-style.

For the other 38 experiences and details, go right on over here. Bidding on all experiences is open now over there. Just check the Comments to see if anyone has already started bidding, then add a Comment of email me at

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michael R. Allen is a poet zombie tour guide toaster

The diligent and talented Byron Kerman is out in front of bidding on the abandoned house tour with champagne toast being provided by Michael R. Allen for the 2008 Experiential Auction (bidding underway on the Comments page for that post or in my email inbox).

That experience is worth $20 of Byron's dearly earned money. The monies will fund the translation of poetry into other media. The auction moves into three dimensions this Sunday (5-8 p.m.) at the swank, handsome and vibrant Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester Ave. in The Grove. Please come and bid against Byron and break his heart, depriving him of what he most wants in life.

As for the experience host, Michael R. Allen needs less and less of an introduction every day. I would have thought he was a citizen journalist, Landmarks historian and activist, and amateur thespian. It turns out he also is a poet. To you, Michael.


By Michael R. Allen

My return comes with
a cloud burst, golden light
flooding the streets and
making everyone’s face
exquisitely beautiful.

The act of forgetting
this place brings me closer
to it, later. So many years
pass that memories
being to displace each other,
merge, interlock.
The specifics are less harmful,
the people downright lovely.

I will speak their names as if
each is an answer to
a question
that I have asked for a lifetime.

I will walk into the
center of the city without
crying. My feet carry me forward,
my home remade with every step.


That was lovely. Take a bow to the people, Michael.

Michael will read with Victoria Brockmeier (Buffalo, NY) at Rust Belt Readings next Friday, September 26 at 7 p.m. Venue: Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, 3151 Cherokee Street.

Missouri native Victoria Brockmeier's first book, my maiden cowboy names, won the 2008 T.S. Eliot Prize. This is the latest accomplishment for someone who has worked as a waitress, a web designer, a drive-thru girl, an artist's model, an Air Force marketing specialist, & a palmist.

More information: Email or call 314-920-5680.

I have a five-year-old, rather than a social life, but I'll endeavor to "publish" more work by either poet before their big event in an effort to bid it up. Also, for those who have not seen Blind Cat Black, here is a scene with lots of Michael R. Allen in his zombie bartender attire. (Word to the weird: It also has a zombie orgy.) The image here is by lead gaffer Mathew Pitzer; Michael is the silhouette to the right, behind the zombie bar (location: CBGB).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Experiential Auction diversifies Cinema St. Louis

Nina Thompson comes early to Poetry Scores’ annual Experiential Auction, she comes often (she has attended the auction in both of its first two years), she bids on many experiences, and she wins a lot.

Last year, among her prizes was the experience of having Cliff Froehlich, honcho of Cinema St. Louis, consult on her filmic tastes and suggest a film she should like but had not yet seen, and then screen this film for Nina and friends at Cinema St. Louis’ offices in Midtown.

Cliff and Nina consulted and agreed to screen “Shoot the Messenger,” a production of BBC Films directed by Ngozi Onwurah and written by Sharon Foster. Foster says the film is about “the propensity for blaming in the black community and the difficulty with taking responsibility.” The film has proven difficult for many black people to watch, because of its candor.

Nina managed to get more than 20 people (most of them black) to trek out and see it.

“The film that I chose, ‘Shoot the Messenger,’ was a perfect platform for reflecting on the relationships that African Americans have to themselves, people within their race and society as a whole,” Nina wrote to Poetry Scores, as we encourage all experience winners and donors to do.

“Cliff offered to lead a discussion after the film, which worked out well because people had very strong reactions and wanted to talk. My father made a comment that he really doesn’t care for going to theaters because those films don’t speak to him. They aren’t written by African Americans, they aren’t about the culture of African Americans and they don’t star a cast of African Americans. So, he really enjoyed the movie and would love to be in the loop when movies like this are available for the public to see.”

Cliff – a veteran journalist and cineaste in St. Louis, who has held leadership positions at The Riverfront Times and Post-Dispatch – might be described as a “white guy who gets it.” He gets the need to diversify our civic institutions. A bunch of black folks discovering independent film through Cinema St. Louis was way cool by him.

“Most of the people who attended wanted to see if they could get copies of the film and were interested in learning more about Cinema St. Louis. I mentioned all of this to Cliff and told him that I thought if people within my community knew more about these film offerings, they would show up more,” Nina reports.

“Cliff then said that he could use some help spreading the word about upcoming film showings, especially to the African-American community, because this was a segment of the population that Cinema St. Louis wanted to market to in a more concerted manner. He also mentioned that they didn't have funding for that endeavor.”

By then, surely Nina would have told Cliff that her company, NICHE, does PR and marketing. “So, we made a deal,” Nina says.

“I am offering in-kind marketing guidance and support, spreading information on specific films to a long list of friends and associates. In return, Cliff will let me have the thrill of watching and reviewing movies.” File under: “win/win.”

Nina says, “Not only will that be great because I love to watch foreign films and films written, produced by and starring Africans and African Americans, but also I can offer some marketing advice because I have actually seen the film. That’s a pretty sweet deal.”

A p.s.. from Nina:

“This is a great motivator for people to support the Experiential Auction by donating experiences. Sometimes the yield is pretty good. This time Cinema St. Louis is getting free PR and marketing support, and last year Mike Whalen (Rams masseuse) ended up with me paying for about four additional full-body massages after the one he donated that I bought at the auction. It really does work.”


Photo is of Nina Thompson at Experiential Auction 2007 at The Royale, with proprietor Steven Fitzpatrick Smith.

The 2008 Experiential Auction will be held 5-8 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 21 at Atomic Cowboy. Cliff's cinema experience is on auction again. Advance online bidding has pushed it up to $25 from the $10 starting point for all bids. Bid in advance by dropping a comment on the auction post or emailing

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beer, baseball and friends: a case

A case of customized homebrew brewed to your specs is an annual feature of the Poetry Scores Experiential Auction. For the inaugural 2006 auction, Joe Esser was the homebrewer and Larry Weir (of KDHX) had the winning bid. This is Larry's story about his customized case of homebrew. The photo is of Larry and his wife at the 2007 Experiential Auction.


So it starts on a whim. Poetry Scores is hosting their first “experiential auction”; a chance to share an experience with various local people of note. My wife and I have no other plans that evening, the event is to be held in one of the favorite places in our neighborhood, The Royale, which is run by our friend Steven Fitzpatrick Smith.

What better thing to do? We like to support arts organizations, and we enjoy sitting outdoors on a fine evening and having a few beers with friends, and we got into the spirit of things by joining the silent bidding on several of the experiences offered.

Ultimately we were outbid for most of the items (including having dinner with our friends Art Dwyer and Ann Haubrich in their lovely home overlooking the Mississippi River), but I got into a fierce bidding war with Steve Smith over having a case of beer brewed especially for me, in a style of my preference. This was the item I wanted the most.

I ended up with the winning bid for the case of beer, only because I was able to make a last minute bid while Steve was pre-occupied with the business of running his business. As a friend, I promised him that I’d reserve a bottle of the beer for him. Afterwards, I met Poetry Scores cofounder Chris King for the first time, and we exchanged contact information for getting together and discussing what style of beer I would like to have.

There was never a question in my mind about the style of beer that I would like. I love Scotch Ale. And Schlafly’s makes the best one I’ve ever tasted. So that was an easy choice. I wanted to scotch ale modeled after Schlafly’s. And I even had a name for it: Highlanders Scotch Ale.

This is where baseball comes into the picture. I play in a Strat-o-matic Baseball League. It’s the Soulard Table Baseball League, currently in its 18th year. We’ve played in various bars in the Soulard area over the years. It’s a combination of beer, friends, and baseball.

From March until October, if you stop by Hammerstone’s at 9th and Russell in Soulard and step back into the private room in the courtyard on any given evening, there’s a fair chance you can see the league in action. Maybe one series will be being played; maybe several.

If the weather is bad, lately we’ve been going to Phelan’s at 8th and Soulard. If you see some of us there, have a beer, and come by the table for a chat and we’ll be happy to talk about the game, and maybe make a friend.

It’s a tough one to describe in just a few words. Think Rotisserie Baseball with dice using last year’s numbers. In-game strategy and evaluating available and developing players are equally important.

When I first got involved in a Strat-o-matic baseball league I knew I wanted my franchise to have its home base in Cleveland, due to a short story I wrote many years ago that had a key plot point revolving around an Indians game at Cleveland’s Memorial Stadium. And as luck would have it, my wife and I would soon be attending a high school reunion - from Cleveland High School. So I named the team the Cleveland Highlanders.

Getting back to the beer, the next step in the experience was to meet again with Chris King, and for the first time to meet homebrewer Joe Esser, who would be doing the brewing. We got together on a Thursday afternoon in September at the Tap Room to talk things over and have a few samples of other things that Joe has brewed.

Joe makes good beer. And he loves doing it. Over the samples and the conversations, we discovered we had many mutual friends, and were joined by Schlafly’s brewmaster, Stephen Hale. More samples followed.

It was inspiring to hear expert brewers talk excitedly about their craft. The highlight of the afternoon was a trip to the basement to sample a few of the young beers directly from the brewing vats, including a taste of their Imperial Stout, just before it was poured into Bourbon barrels for aging.

I would have loved to stay longer, but it was a Thursday afternoon, and for years, I’ve been in a Thursday night softball league. My position is sometimes in the infield, sometimes in the outfield, but my real job is to bring the beer.

The next step was designing a label for the beer bottle, and for some time my wife and I had talked about drawing a logo for my Strat-o-matic baseball team. It turns out that it works well as a beer label too, with the addition of a bit of text that Joe added.

Because Joe lives in New Jersey, and it takes time to brew beer, I knew it would be a while before the experience would be complete. But finally the time came, and once again I headed to the Tap Room with my wife to meet Chris and pick up the case of beer. Some chat, a light dinner, and a surprise. Our waitress brought us a sample of their just untapped Imperial Stout. The same beer that I had sampled from the vat had just been released from aging in the Bourbon barrels. And boy was it good!

The next step was simple. Take the Highlander Scotch Ale home, put some in the fridge, and wait.

Twenty four hours later, it was finally time. We sampled the first bottles with a bit more ceremony than your average softball beer. Found a couple of souvenir mugs (from a Schlafly beer tasting event), and poured carefully. And the taste ... a bit of bitterness at the front, which was expected, good smooth finish, and by the end, all I could think was YUM!

This is no everyday beer. It’s a beer that demands the company of friends. Or baseball. Or both.

Since then I’ve shared a few bottle with some friends, including Steven Fitzpatrick Smith as promised, and have enjoyed a few myself, but sparingly, and saving for special occasions. All of the reviews from friends who have tried it were very positive.

One such occasion was our softball team’s winter get-together. In the fall, we would have grilled, but in the icy winter, a pot of chili seemed more appropriate. I often include beer as part of the chili recipe, and the Highlander Scotch Ale seemed just right for the event. Two more were capriciously consumed by the cook.

The chili was made the night before the party, so I could spend more times with friends at the party. During the course of the evening, we sampled various beers, including the Scotch Ale and the Imperial Stout.

I was able to save the final bottle until Opening Day of the 2007 Major League Baseball Season. Despite being a huge baseball fan, I’ve never had the chance to see the Opening Day Ceremonies, and now I could be there for the celebration of the Cardinal’s World Series Championship. Before heading downtown, my wife and I opened the final bottle of the Highlander Scotch Ale and had a toast.

We knew it was time for another season of beer, baseball and friends.


Poetry Scores will hold its 2008 Experiential Auction from 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21 at Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester Ave. in St. Louis.
Admission is $10, which will be discounted from your first winning bid. All proceeds from the auction will go to Poetry Scores, a St. Louis-based arts organization that translates poetry into other media.

Bidding for this year's customized case of homebrew (brewed by Anthony Brescia) is open now by emailing or adding a Comment here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Baseball for an Australian Poet

One of series of pieces about Les Murray, whose poem "The Sydney Highrise Variations" we are scoring for 2009.

A Baseball for an Australian Poet
By Chris King

I always judge a book by its cover. It's never my last judgment, and not always my first, but it figures in there somewhere, part of books' physical magic that makes them irreplaceable.

So I was picking through a milk crate of books in Mercer Street Books in Greenwich Village when I saw a hard farm family in simple clothes, painted in a primitive style with bold colors, flanked by dogs who alone seem at ease on earth – one dog even has his back turned, leg hiked in mid-flea-scratch, gazing away, as if he were restless to escape the severity of this little painting. Some thumbing convinced me that the poetry was every bit as tough as the painting, while showing a wider range of technique and emotion.

On the back cover (I judge books by their backs, too) major poets like Derek Walcott and Richard Howard (with whom I once dined on Moroccan fish soup) were dishing out high praise. I decided that Les Murray, the author of this book, was one of the countless heavies who had slipped by me undetected. I bought the book.

Now for a bit of madness.

I soon discovered that I loved this poet so much that I had to have him on my team. I was tiring of Pablo Neruda, who was slumping at the plate (and sounding stagey and vague in English translation), so I traded my star centerfielder to a rival club, moved Ovid to center and signed Les Murray, this Aussie rookie, to play right field.

He started off on a ferocious tear, quickly joining the league leaders in every major offensive category, and I found myself more and more absorbed in the poetry. A web search revealed both an upcoming New York reading for Les and a listing of his home address in a tiny hamlet in New South Wales, Australia, so I dashed off a fan letter (written on breath-thin pink paper that a long-ago girlfriend had brought me as a gift from New Delhi), saying I'd like to interview you when you come to Brooklyn. Believe it or not, you are a star in a dice version of the American pastime that some buddies and I play with poets as the ballplayers. And by the way, would you sign a baseball for me when you come?

Soon enough a postcard appeared from Australia declaring, yes, you can interview me for a story, but your letter is already the highest praise and my best piece of fan mail, ever.

Then some very dedicated men showed the extreme bad taste of flying commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, killing thousands and scaring a great many good people, including Les Murray, out of the skies.

In our grief, my buddies and I kept our hobby alive – verseball returned to action before Major League Baseball did – and Les continued to excel as my right fielder. Not long after his cancelled reading (and immediately after a verseball game against the North Jersey Turkey Vultures, in which our man drew three walks from John Donne, as if the veteran right hander were afraid to pitch to the Australian slugger), I cheered myself up by writing Les a long letter, which I enclosed in a box with a baseball that I asked him to sign (and maybe even add a tiny poem, too, right on the leather).

When the ball never came back, I figured that the anthrax scare got to Les, too, and kept him from opening a bulky package from New York. Or maybe I had tried his patience. Or perhaps the commission for a poem was too far over the top, biting into his professional pride (he gets paid for poems, after all). It wasn't the first time I overdid something. Sigh. We'll always have the postcard.

But then, one day, waiting for me on my doorstep was a box that once held self-drilling screws, postmarked in New South Wales and inscribed (for the benefit of customs), "GIFT ONLY. Contents: one baseball. No commercial value." And indeed, there it was, a baseball that had flown from a factory in China to a Sports Authority outlet on Long Island to a poet's home in rural Australia, then back to me, annotated:

He knocks on the door
and listens to his heart
approaching. -----

And, on the other side:

for Chris King
with rhymes and reasons
Les Murray

With this talisman came another poem on paper, obviously hand-typed using his typewriter:

Mid-19th century

Good-looking young man
in your Crimean shirt
with your willow shield
up, as if to face spears,

you're inside their men's Law,
one church they do obey;
they'll remember you were here.
Keep fending off their casts.

Don't come out of character.
Like you, they suspect
idiosyncrasy of witchcraft.Above all, don't get out

too easily, and have to leave here
where all missiles are just leather
and come from one direction.
Keep it noble. Keep it light.

This one is addressed "for Chris & the Sans Souci Poetasters," which is the name of my verseball team, in honor of my Uncle Skippy Sans Souci, a chef who published a small booklet of verse by that name. With that poem, Les included quite a long and remarkable letter:

Dear Chris,

Yeah, well, I was a damn ninny not to come to NY and perform & meet you. It goes like that sometimes: the family get worried about their breadwinners. The news is so gloomy you don't believe your innocent verses can dispel or countervail the gloom – and presto! You let yourself and everyone DOWN. It was a momentary thing, much regretted ever since.

The day you wrote your second, disappointed letter to me was my birthday (17 Oct.), and I spent it first in the air en route to Tokyo. Then all on my Todd Malone in an impersonal hotel before flying the great length of Siberia and Russia the next day. I still had a month's busy tour to do in Britain, you see. The Brits were an object lesson to me, cool and unflapped – non-kamikazied and un-massacred in their chief city, too, of course – trying not to say beastly things about the Muslims in their midst but scared of them all the same. Just like people in Sydney, all squinting up at the word Racist in the sky and striving not to have it fall on them. The tour was hard work but fun, as ever – and flying is a pleasure, now. Lots of empty seats, room to spread out and sleep ... I did lose my nail clippers at the start of both my big flights, but happily the real deadly weapon I have to carry at all times, my supply of insulin injectors, wasn't looked at. And yet, a spike from one would kill a non-diabetic stone dead. Ironic, eh, the world of terror?

I'm bemused but much impressed by the moves of the Sans Souci Poetasters (very good name, I agree, to have been conferred in honor of a poet chef!). I like the case of nerves I caused in John Donne. Herewith your baseball, with a very short poem and a cramped signature, plus a better, plainly legible signature. The only real equivalent gift I can add is a poem about a young man called Nannuttesa, as Aboriginal cricket player of the 1850s-60s. His handsome portrait, in a red Crimean shirt, hangs in the National Gallery in Canberra. The first two cricket teams ever to go play in Britain from Australia were both Aboriginal. One went in the 1860s and amazed the superior British by winning half of its games. Not so "primitive." The second Ab. team did pretty well, but not quite so well – and after them the sniffy white colonists back in this country impeded further Ab. tours so as not to be shown up. Which they wouldn't have been, as it proved. I think you have a team called the Braves – is that Boston? Imagine if they were & had always been braves in the full sense.

"Casts" in the poem refers to the trial by ordeal warriors undergo when they've broken tribal law. They have to stand and face a given number of spears flung at them, & they only have a small shield to deflect these with. For really bad deeds, they have no shield, but may still duck and weave. For offences just short of the death penalty they have to endure a spear thrust in the thigh. Deep. Big adultery will get a man that. These punishments still go on, on tribal lands & other Outback places, despite misgivings from the Whitefeller law. Not even the North Jersey Turkey Vultures, I'm sure, would go in for such severe training.

Now how do I tell Les that he has fallen into a slump and is in danger of being platooned in right field with Alice Fulton?

2008 Poetry Scores Art Invitational

The poem “Nailed Seraphim” by K. Curtis Lyle is the subject of the 2008 Poetry Scores Art Invitational, to be held Friday, Nov. 21 at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary, 3100 Sutton Blvd. in Maplewood, Mo.

A copy of “Nailed Seraphim” is available on the poet’s blog:

The assignment: to make a new piece of art that responds to “Nailed Seraphim” and is named after a verbatim scrap of language from the poem. The work will be displayed and positioned around the space, according to where in the poem the language chosen for the title of the artwork appears. This makes for a fascinating and perhaps unique curatorial experience, in that the poem itself basically hangs the show.

The work will be sold on silent auction, with the artist setting the opening bid. It’s a one-night event, so the art will go home with someone on Nov. 21 or 22, and all accounts will be settled the night of the show.

Poetry Scores is a St. Louis-based arts organization that translates poetry into other media, including music, visual art, film, beer, food and experiences.

For more information on the invitational, contact Chris King at or Robert Goetz at

Artists we are inviting include:

All Along Press
Jenna Bauer
Mike Behle
Derrick Bostrom
Bradley Bowers
Stan Chisholm
Jon Cournoyer
Andrea Day
Chris Dingwell
Greg Edmondson
Jaime Gartelos
Robert Goetz
Gene Harris
Sue Hartman
Rick Hawkins
Michael Hoffman
Kim Humphries
Jerald Ieans
Oliver Jackson
Alicia LaChance
William LaChance
Nicholas Lang
Dianna Lucas
Karen Lyle
Michael Lynch
Sandra Marchewa
Tim McAvin
John Minkoff
Jaxon Noon
Carmelita Nunez
Adelia Parker
Melanie Persch
John Pruitt
Tony Renner
Libby Reuter
Melina Rodrigo
Stefene Russell
Lyndsey Scott
Daniel Shown
Thomas Sleet
Mathew Strauss
Justin Tolentino
Andrew Torch
Cindy Tower
Amy VanDonsel
Jason Wallace Triefenbach
Brett Williams
Eric Woods


Image is of Jon Cournoyer's contribution to the 2007 Poetry Scores Art Invitational, Go South for Animal Index; photo by Thom Fletcher.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"The Sydney Highrise Variations" lyric sheet

The next poem we are scoring is "The Sydney Highrise Variations" by the great Australian poet Les Murray.

Since it is mostly scored (though the score is not yet recorded), I will present the track list and then the poem chopped up into songs. The bolded titles in quotation marks are the titles I gave the songs - though all drawn from the poem, they don't reappear in the poem as titles as they do on this "lyric sheet" presentation.

The score is more or less a Three Fried Men band record, with something of the flavor of English Settlement by XTC.


1. “Far above the tidal turnaround”
2. “Transients at speed”
3. “Inked in by scaffolding and workers”
4. “On its vaulting drum”
5. “Also, it’s a space probe”
6. “They docked at apogee”
7. “The new city standing on its haze”
8. “Repeat their lines repeat their lines”
9. “The peajacket era”
10. “A mulch of faded flags”
11. “Vanished from the central upsurge”
12. “Hot-air money driers”
13. “In the land of veneers”
14. “The starving spirit is fed upon the heart”
15. “Employment and neckties and ruling themes”
16. "In ambiguous battle at length"
17. “Enormous”
18. “The C19-20”
19. “Recalcitrant and archaic spirits”
20. “In the age of piety”
21. “We must fly in potent circles”
22. “Breath of catching up”
23. “Might end, and mutate, and persist”
24. “Skill and the shadow”
25. “To be solar, I must be nuclear”
26. “Six hundred glittering and genteel towns”
27. “Modernity's strange anger”


by Les Murray

1. Fuel Stoppage on Gladesville Road Bridge
in the Year 1980

1. “Far above the tidal turnaround”

So we're sitting over our sick beloved engine
atop a great building of the double century
on the summit that exhilarates cars, the concrete vault on its thousands
of tonnes of height, far above the tidal turnaround.


2. “Transients at speed”

Gigantic pure form, all exterior, superbly uninhabited
or peopled only by transients at speed, the bridge
is massive outline.


3. “Inked in by scaffolding and workers”

It was inked in by scaffolding and workers.
Seen from itself, the arch
is an abstract hill, a roadway up-and-over without country,
from below, a ponderous grotto, all entrance and vast shade
framing blues and levels.


4. “On its vaulting drum”

From a distance, the flyover on its vaulting drum
is a sketched stupendous ground-burst, a bubble raising surface
or a rising heatless sun with inset horizons.


5. “Also, it’s a space probe”

Also, it's a space-probe,
a trajectory of strange fixed dusts, that were milled,
boxed with steel rod mesh and fired, in stages,
from sandstone point to point.


6. “They docked at apogee”

They docked at apogee.
It feels good. It feels right.
The joy of sitting high is in our judgement.
The marvellous brute-force effects of our century work.
They answer something in us. Anything in us.

2. View of Sydney, Australia, from
Gladesville Road Bridge


7. “The new city standing on its haze”

There's that other great arch eastward, with its hanging highways;
the headlands and horizons of packed suburb, white among
bisque-fired, odd smokes rising;
there's Warrang, the flooded valley, that is now the ship-chained Harbour,
recurrent everywhere, with its azure and its grains;
ramped parks, bricked containers,
verandahs successive around walls,
and there's the central highrise, multi-storey, the twenty-year countdown,
the new city standing on its haze above the city.


8. “Repeat their lines repeat their lines”

Ingots of sheer
affluence poles
bomb-drawing grid
of columnar profit
tunnels in the sky
high window printouts
repeat their lines
repeat their lines
credit conductors
repeat their lines
bar graphs on blue
glass tubes of boom
in concrete wicker
each trade Polaris
government Agena
fine print insurrected
tall things on a tray


9. “The peajacket era”

All around them is the old order: brewery brick terrace hospital
horrible workplace; the scale of the tramway era,
the peajacket era, the age of the cliff-repeating woolstores.
South and west lie the treeless suburbs, a mulch of faded flags,
north and partly east, the built-in paradise forest.

10. "A Mulch of Faded Flags"

A mulch of faded flags

3. The Flight from Manhattan


11. “Vanished from the central upsurge”

It is possible the heights of this view are a museum:
though the highrise continues desultorily along some ridges,
canned Housing, Strata Title,
see-through Office Space,
upright bedsteads of Harbour View,
residential soviets,
the cranes have all but vanished from the central upsurge.


12. “Hot-air money driers”

Hot-air money-driers,
towering double entry,
Freud's cobwebbed poem
with revolving restaurant,
they took eighty years to fly here from Manhattan
these variant towers. By then, they were arriving everywhere.


13. “In the land of veneers”

In the land of veneers,
of cladding, of Cape Codding
(I shall have Cape Codded)
they put on heavy side.

The iron ball was loose in the old five-storey city


14. “The starving spirit is fed upon the heart”

clearing bombsites for them. They rose like nouveaux accents
and stilled, for a time, the city's conversation.

Their arrival paralleled
the rise of the Consumers
gazing through themselves
at iconoclasms, wines,
Danish Modern ethics.

Little we could love expanded to fill the spaces
of high glazed prosperity. An extensive city
that had long contained the dimensions of heaven and hell
couldn't manage total awe at the buildings of the Joneses.

Their reign coincided
with an updraft of Ideology,
that mood in which the starving
spirit is fed upon the heart.


15. “Employment and neckties and ruling themes”

Employment and neckties and ruling themes ascended
into the towers. But they never filled them.
Squinting at them through the salt
and much-washed glass of her history, the city kept her flavour
fire-ladder high, rarely above three storeys.

In ambiguous battle at length, she began to hedge
the grilles of Aspiration. To limit them to standing
on economic grounds. With their twists of sculpture.

On similar grounds we are stopped here, still surveying
the ridgy plain of houses.


16. "In Ambiguous Battle at Length"


4. The C19-20


17. "Enormous"

Enormous. England's buried gulag.
The stacked entrepot, great city of the Australians.


18. “The C19-20”

The Nineteenth Century. The Twentieth Century.
There were never any others. No centuries before these.
Dante was not hailed in his time as an Authentic
Fourteenth Century Voice. Nor did Cromwell thunder, After all,
in the bowels of Christ, this is the Seventeenth Century!

The two are one aircraft in the end, the C19-20,
capacious with cargo. Some of it can save your life,
some can prevent it.


19. “Recalcitrant and archaic spirits”

The cantilevered behemoth
is fitted up with hospitals and electric Gatling guns
to deal with recalcitrant and archaic spirits.


20. “In the age of piety”

It rose out of the Nineteenth, steam pouring from venturi
and every man turning hay with a wooden fork
in the Age of Piety (A.D. or B.C.) wants one
in his nation's airline. And his children dream of living
in a palace of packing crates beside the cargo terminal:
No one will see! Everything will be surprises!


21. “We must fly in potent circles”

Directly under the flightpath, and tuned to listening,
we hear the cockpit traffis, the black box channel
that can't be switched off: Darwinians and Lawrentians
are wrestling for the controls,
We must take her into Space! We must fly in potent circles!

5. The Recession of the Joneses

22. “Breath of catching up”

The worldwide breath of Catching Up
may serve to keep the mighty, slowing
machine aloft beyond our lifetime:
nearly all of the poor are blowing.


23. “Might end, and mutate, and persist”

The soaring double century
might end, and mutate, and persist;
as we've been speaking, the shadows of
bridges, cranes, towers have shifted east.


24. “Skill and the shadow”

When we create our own high style
skill and the shadow will not then part;
as rhetoric would conceal from art
effort has at best a winning margin.


25. “To be solar, I must be nuclear”

The sun, that is always catching up
with night and day and month and year,
blazes from its scrolled bare face: To be
solar, I must be nuclear --


26. “Six hundred glittering and genteel towns”

Six hundred glittering and genteel towns
gathered to be urban in plein air,
more complex in their levels than their heights
and vibrant with modernity's strange anger.


27. “Modernity's strange anger”



Image of Gladesville Road Bridge from the University of Sydney Civil Engineering site.

2008 Experiential Auction, Sept. 21, Atomic Cowboy

Poetry Scores will hold its 2008 Experiential Auction from 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21 at Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester Ave. in St. Louis.

Admission is $10, which will be discounted from your first winning bid. All proceeds from the auction will go to Poetry Scores, a St. Louis-based arts organization that translates poetry into other media.

A list of experiences on auction will be provided at the end of this announcement. A few examples, before getting into the logistics of how the auction works:

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan takes you horseback riding on her farm in Rolla; Soprano Christine Brewer takes you to a rehearsal of Verdi’s Requiem with The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; the artist Michael Lynch paints your pet as Abe Lincoln or Napoleon and you get to keep the signed painting; Tom Schlafly treats you to a beer at a Schlafly brewpub and donates a signed copy of his book, A New Religion in Mecca; the photojournalist and fashion photographer Wiley Price (St. Louis American) shoots your personal portfolio; and the homebrewer Anthony Brescia makes you a custom case of beer to your specifications with a label of your design on each bottle.

All bidding for all experiences starts at $10 and is open now. You may email a bid for any experience to (please put “Experiential Auction” in the subject line). Someone from Poetry Scores will confirm that your bid has been received and let you know whether it is the leading bid or not. Or you may leave a message with your contact information at

All advance bids will be compiled and publicized before the Sept. 21 auction event. At the auction itself, experiences will be available in three sets: an Early Bird Silent Auction from 5-6 p.m.; a Live Auction from 6:15-6:30; and a Straggler Silent Auction from 6:45-7:45 p.m. Throughout the event (and afterwards), Atomic Cowboy will be serving food and drinks, in its normal course of operation.

Winners will receive a certificate stating they were the winning bidder for their experience and contact information for their experience donor. Poetry Scores also will follow through and make introductions between all experience donors and winners. The winners will have a complete calendar year (starting Sept. 21, 2008) to collect on their experiences, and will need to sign a simple waiver taking personal responsibility for their health and well being while having their experiences.

The arts group organizing and benefitting from the auction, Poetry Scores, is dedicated to translating poetry into other media. It innovated the form of the “poetry score,” a long poem scored as one scores a film, and has completed and released three poetry scores: Crossing America by Leo Connellan; Blind Cat Black by Ece Ayhan; and Go South for Animal Index by Stefene Russell. It has also published three books of poetry: Nailed Seraphim by K. Curtis Lyle; Pink Skunk Clownfish by Joe Esser; and A Heart I Carved for a Girl I Knew by Chris King. These works are avilable locally at Vintage Vinyl, Euclid Records, Laumeier Scupture Park, Firecracker Press and Apop in St. Louis.

The group has made a film to the Blind Cat Black score that premiered at the 2007 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. Poetry Scores also organizes an annual Art Invitational, where artists make original work that responds to the same poem and is titled after a fragment of language from the poem. This year, artists are responding to Nailed Seraphim by the local poet K. Curtis Lyle. That invitational will be held at Hoffman LaChance on Friday, November 21.

For any questions about Poetry Scores or the Experiential Auction, contact Chris King at 314-265-1435 or email

A complete list of experiences on auction follows, divided into three categories: Live, Early Bird Silent, and Straggler Silent.



Secretary of State Robin Carnahan takes you horseback riding on her farm in Rolla.

Soprano Christine Brewer invites you to attend a rehearsal of Verdi’s Requiem with The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as her guest (she performs it with the symphony Feb. 13-14, 2009).

The artist Michael Lynch paints your pet as Abraham Lincoln or Napoleon Bonaparte, and you get to keep the signed painting.

The homebrewer Anthony Brescia brews you a case of beer to your specification, with customized labels of your design.

Attorney and entrepreneur Tom Schlafly has a beer with you at a Schlafly brewpub, answers all your questions and donates a signed copy of his book, A New Religion in Mecca: Memoir of a Renegade Brewer in St. Louis.

The photojournalist and fashion photographer Wiley Price shoots your personal portfolio.

The dancer Beth Steinbrenner and guitarist Liam Christy perform flamenco at your party or private dinner.

The actor and artist Jeff Miller delivers a singing telegram to a friend or loved one, arriving at a front door to be determined, ready to share the emotion through song and dance, to express thanks, love, endless devotion.



Direct descendent of Dred Scott and parelegal Lynne Jackson takes you on a tour of the Old Courthouse, where her great-great-grandparents’ suit for freedom from slavery was heard, and talks family history.

Former Fire Chief Sherman George cooks you black eyed peas for supper.

Party specialists at Lucky You Productions will provide either a floral design lesson for you (and you keep the arrangement) OR a table design for your next dinner party/cocktail party/house party (and you keep the arrangement/centerpiece). Either option is worth $350. A great gift for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas!
The film historian and curator Cliff Froehlich of Cinema St. Louis consults with you to choose a more obscure film you should like based on what you already like, and screens it for you and a small group in the Cinema St. Louis space in the Centene Building.

State Sen. Robin Wright-Jones takes you on a tour of the Missouri capitol building, with lunch on her in Jefferson City.

East St. Louis Poet Laureate Eugene B. Redmond takes you on a tour of the Katherine Dunham Museum in East St. Louis.

Former Comptroller Virvus Jones takes you on a tour of City Hall and tells you old war stories over a cup of coffee.

The poet K. Curtis Lyle performs poetry for your group of friends and you all get to keep a signed copy of one of the poems.

Wellness specialist and local historian Dianna Lucas offers you one of two experiences: a half-day retreat for you alone, or with up to three friends, full of inspirational activities to relax and energize mind, body and spirit, based on the wellness needs of the participants. OR: a guided tour of the Payne-Gentry House on the Missouri historic register in beautiful Bridgeton, MO, which houses a restored period doctor’s office, complete with ghost stories, cookies and cocoa, and perhaps a chance to meet with ancestral daughter Elizabeth Gentry-Sayad.

Yogini Karen Weiss of Marbles Yoga takes you through yoga exercises as you teach a partner yoga class with her.

Kyrle Boldt and Peter Shank take you on a tour of Modernist architecture in St. Louis. Kyrle is building the ArtHouse development in Grand Center, the first Modernist construction in the city of St. Louis for decades, and Peter Shank is the son of famed architect Isadore Shank.

Take a field trip with the EarthWays Center's Katy Mike Smaistrla to a far away place, that place simply known as “away” – as in where you throw your garbage “away”. Get a firsthand look (and smell) of one of the local landfills along with a personalized home recycling & composting class. Should you like, a composting bin will also be constructed for you – all compliments of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s EarthWays Center, the best place in St. Louis to learn about green lifestyle practices.

The Broadway and hip-hop producer Adam Long takes you and your small group on a star party, where you gaze at distant celestial features through his wide assortment of telescopes; overnight camping optional.

The artist Lyndsey Scott (Nevertidy) offers you a smorgasboard of playtime in her studio at Lemp, possibly including ... acroyoga, interactive drawing exercises, with output of personalized Hero Doll. Appropriate for all ages!

The artist and printer Eric Woods of Firecracker Press gives you a personal demonstration in the art of letterpress printing and you get to keep whatever you print



UMSL Chancellor and jazz pianist Tom George has you over to his house (the Chancellor’s Mansion) for informal cocktails/drinks while he plays jazz piano, perhaps joined by another musician or two.

Schlafly chief brewer Stephen Hale takes your small group on a tour of a Schlafly brewing works, followed by a private tasting and discussion.

The award-winning producers Orlando “Pretty Boy” Watson and Bradd Young license you non-exclusive rights to one of their tracks and donate five hours in the studio for you to add your vocal or verses

The artists Robert Goetz and Kim Humphries take you to the gun range and produce a DVD of the experiece (in collaboration with you, if you wish) that you get to keep.
[Note: For anyone who inquires handguns (pistols and semi-automatic sidearms of various calibers), rifles and shotguns will all be available – instruction in safe operation will be given and the experience/demonstration/documentation can be tailored to meet the winning bidder’s comfort/experience level. Join us and extend the power of your body through precision built mechanical devices!]

White Flag Projects Founder & Director Mathew Strauss takes you on his unique interpretration of The Straight Dope Art Tour of St. Louis - an unfiltered Saturday afternoon of museum and gallery hopping, full of insights, intrigues, and introductions to the people and places that make up the St. Louis art scene. And lunch is on him.

The musician, songwriter and badleader Celia writes and records a happy song about you, which you get to keep.

Landmarks activist and citizen journalist Michael R. Allen takes you on a personal tour of an abandoned building (your choice; suggestions provided) for up to five people, complete with a rooftop champagne toast.

The artist Dana Smith paints your band performing live and gives you the signed painting.

KDHX Community Media gives you a spot on the 2008 National Film Challenge! That's an $110 value - and bidding on all experiences begins at $10!
[Out of town filmmakers can email a proxy bid (as high as you are willing to go) and someone from Poetry Scores will bid on your behalf on Sunday.]

Phil Valko of The Urban Studio, Trailnet, and Old North St. Louis offers one of two adventures: a daytime bike tour of Old North St. Louis and the new Branch Street Trestle, followed by a ride up the Riverfront Trail (including historical and contemporary interpretation). OR: a hobo-style dinner at sunset and nighttime bike ride through St. Louis, including a stop at Shady Jack's Biker Bar, your very own custom-designed T-shirt, and a complimentary flask full of your drink of choice (tequila strongly recommended; if you choose this sub-option, organic limes included).

The poet and actor Stefene Russell reads your Tarot for you. Choices of Tarot deck include the Rider-Waite, Dante's Inferno Deck; the Alice in Wonderland Deck; Hello, Tarot ("the cutest Tarot deck you will ever own") or the Queen Victoria Deck.

Public house owner and gadabout Steve Fitzpatrick Smith of The Royale takes you on an escorted afternoon bar tour in the city.

Post-Dispatch journalist Matt Fernandes of the Rock Candy blog takes you to the show of your choice at the Pageant.
DJ Jaxon Noon Spin lets you on the turntables to spin records for a set at The Royale or Atomic Cowboy.

Local artist Tony Renner tours you around the modern art collection of Saint Louis Art Museum and makes a painting in consultation or collaboration with you that you get to keep.

The writer Chris King takes you to the horsefarm of Alice Neihardt Thompson, daughter of John G. Neihardt, author of Black Elk Speaks, in Columbia; optional prayer in the prayer garden that Neihardt planted to Black Elkl’s specifications.


All bidding starts at $10 (see Comments for bids that are already in). Email your bid with contact info to, or drop a Comment here, or just come to Atomic Cowboy on Sunday, Sept. 21!

Image is of "The Mona Bob," painted by Kevin Belford for Tom Danforth to fulfill the highest bid at Experiential Auction 2007.