Saturday, October 1, 2022

Introduction for Jaimie Gusman, winner of the Loretta Petrie Award, 2022

Jaimie Gusman: Loretta Petrie Award, 1 October 2022

(after Joe Brainard’s I Remember)

Remembering my mentor and friend, Marie Hara, who introduced me at the Cades Awards, and hoping to pass on some of her mana to Jaimie.

I remember a young graduate student named Jaimie, arrived recently from Seattle, sitting in my office in the late aughts who told me that Honolulu needed a reading series and that she intended to start it.

I remember thinking “well, there’s a can of worms.” I remember not saying it.

I remember her strong and buoyant voice that day and from then on in classes, meetings, readings, over coffee, and at her beautiful wedding to Evan. My late colleague, Miriam Fuchs, who was pithy, once turned to me and said of Jaimie, “that voice!”

I remember offering what I thought was sound advice to Jaimie, and her not following it. As the poet, Tony Trigilio notes, stubbornness matters to an artist. You’re doomed without it (perhaps with it, too, but we won’t go there!)

I remember not knowing what MIA meant, except like anyone of my generation, “Missing in Action.”

I remember her MIA (Mixing Innovative Arts) at the Mercury Bar in Chinatown, where the bartender waited until a reading had started to loudly shake the ice. I remember the series moved to Fresh Cafe in Kakaako, where there was no barkeep that I remember.

I remember there was a window behind the performers in the Mercury bar. I remember Kaia Sand showing a flickery movie there about the Pacific Northwest.

I remember Jerrold Shiroma projecting doctored Shakespeare sonnets and beautiful bits of graffiti on the wall. He’s from San Diego, but I remember thinking, “very east coast.”

I remember a fabric artist, two or three times, who performed in huge outfits he’d made. I don’t remember what he did, just his imposing and comical and fabricated presence.

I remember the wide range of Jaimie’s selections for the series: local, international, continental, funny, sad, creepy, down to earth. Award winners and award losers.

I remember her engaging introductions, that she clearly loved bringing artists together.

I remember that Jaimie could not have done this had she not been such a fine poet herself; her book Anyjar is brilliant. Read and remember it. From Black Radish books.

I remember the book as a love song and an elegy stitched together. I remember there was a poem about cock slinging.

I remember when Jaimie gave MIA away, a great act of generosity. She was becoming my mentor. I will remember how truly she deserved this award for her brilliance and her ability to bring writers together.


No comments: