It seems like now is the time when we disclose how we do or don’t know our fellow bloggers, so here goes:
The first time I read with Patricia was September, 1993, a venue called the Women’s Building in the Mission District (San Francisco). It was the semi-finals of the National Poetry Slam. We actually read back-to-back as our teams were competing against one another, though I don’t think I registered on Patricia’s radar; she was the reigning national champion, and her team was about to win it all. (One odd detail about that reading was that right before it started, some local guy got stabbed on the street and ran into the lobby, seeking refuge, collapsing in a red heap.) In the years since, Patricia and I have read together a number of times, including twice in the past three months, and we have many people in common. We’ve also overlapped in several anthologies.


I don’t know Rachel personally, but we did read together at a launch for the anthology Legitimate Dangers last year. I am also coincidentally reading her first book in a few weeks with my Visceral I class. Rachel and I are in at least two other anthologies together: Saints of Hysteria, (fifty years of poetic collaborations, edited by Denise Duhamel, Maureen Seaton, and David Trinidad); and New, Younger American Poets (edited by Kevin Prufer). I did a search typing in my name with Rachel’s, and we are mentioned in the same sentence by someone named David Shakelford, who refers to as a “couple of new quality poets”. We also apparently both did the Reading between A and B in the fall of 2001, and some guy named Dennis The Menace on myspace lists us as among his 100 or so favorite writers.
I have never met Kenny, or been published with him (though I have listened to some recordings that he’s assembled on his website). I think Kenny teaches at U of Penn in Philadelphia, the city where I grew up, so we must have some places in common. I went to a hardcore show at a church on the U of Penn in 1985. Even though Kenny and I have not met, I’m sure we have some people in common. I’m guessing it’s one degree of separation. Last summer I read in Graz, Austria with Juliana Spahr. And I know Rod Smith a little bit from when I lived in DC. I also made an odd cameo in that Chris Stroffolino/Lisa Jarnot anthology New (American) Poets. I’m not sure if Kenny is tight with any of those people, but I’m thinking their paths may have crossed. Kenny is reading at Sarah Lawrence in May, unfortunately I may be on baby duty that day; (we have a 5-month old, Camilla Wren).
I have never met Kwame either, and, as far as I know, we’ve never been published together. I just did a Yahoo search typing in both of our names, and we have one page in common: Wikipedia’s “1994 in poetry”. I showed up as one of 75 contributors in Best American Poetry that year, and Kwame won the prestigious Forward Prize, for the best first collection published that year in the United Kingdom. I’m sure Kwame and I have people in common, (besides Patricia). Probably some people from Cave Canem and others. That’s one funny thing about the US poetry landscape—even though it’s a factionalized world, containing parallel universes, there are very few degrees of separation. If we all sat down in a café and began gabbing, we might have more in common than we think.
*
It just hit me, the poet who links us all, the poet we all have a connection to. Could it be possible that the poet that unifies us is...(drumroll)...Harryette Mullen? Is that where our sensibilities intersect? I think so.

Originally Published: April 9th, 2007

Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...