Saturday, June 13, 1998

Vaudevillainous Poets


Featured June 12 & 13, 1998

SUSAN BANYAS is a mom/artist who co-founded the eclectic SO&SO&SO&SO and Dreams Well Studio in Portland. Her work synthesizes movement, language, and visual art into performance art, short stories, theatre, and her recently released CD of monologues and music "Soul Stories." She is writing and directing a theatre piece "The Memory Place" opening in December at Dreams Well starring Leanne Grabel, Steve Sander, Wendy Westerwelle, Gregg Bielemeier, and Elizabeth Tschaler.

J. STUART FESSANT, whose alternative language is actually saxophone, can be found during the day involve din digital audio and sound design at one of Portland’s leading recording studios. Stuart worked as the accompanist and sound designer for all of the Leanne Grabel’s shows, and can be heard on several recordings, including the cassette Neurotransmission released in 1996. Always listening, Stuart derives great joy listening to his 2-year-old daughter Simone and her mother Lisa.

JOHN DOOLEY is one of the more uproarious and talented of the Portland, recently selected for Portland’s national slam team. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, as have his witty stories, illustrated chapbooks and commentaries. His band, The Hydropods, has performed up and down the West Coast and released a well-received CD in 1996. John’s poetry readings are legendary and tend to tickle even the psyche.

CARL HANNI, a member of the original Portland national slam team and the author of Night Shift, a very well received book of poetry released in 1996, lives in Portland where he works in the music business. He produced the "Talking Rain: Spoken Word and Music from the Pacific Northwest" CD in 1994, and has been known to floor audiences with his incisive, lethal, hilarious poems that move from the gothic and noir to the pagan, psychedelic, apocalyptic and just plain pissed-off.

STEVE SANDER, who has played Job in "JB" and George in "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf" on Portland stages, is a songwriter, actor, poet, and the co-creator of Café Lena, Portland’s premier poetry café since 1991. Steve was instrumental in the organization of the Columbia Theatre Company, has performed in myriad theatrical and musical performances, and appears every morning as the breakfast cook extraordinaire at Café Lena.

LEANNE GRABEL has been writing and performing poetry in collaboration with a variety of talents over the past twenty years in Portland. She wrote and performed three poetry-based theatrical shows in the past five years: "One Woman Shoe," "The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression," and "The Circus of Anguish & Mirth." She has published several books of illustrated and regular poetry, including Short Poems by a Short Person, Flirtations, and The Last Weekend of Sylvia Plath. She co-founded Café Lena and is the mother of two fabulous daughters with Steve Sander.

WALT CURTIS is Portland’s "Unofficial Poet Laureate." His novel, Mala Noche, was originally published in 1977 by Joel Weinstein of Mississippi Mud. A decade later Gus Van Sant selected Mala Noche for his directorial debut and created the film that launched his anti-Hollywood movie-making career. Mala Noche, the novella, has just been republished — 20 years later — along with other essays in the new 1997 BridgeCity Books edition, Mala Noche & Other "Illegal" Adventures.

"I am a romantic realist." Curtis writes on page 1. "My name is associated with notoriety. However, I have written some pretty poems about friendship and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. In other words, as a poet, I’m not a total failure!"

Mala Noche, the book, provides real names and real photos of real people. Curtis is honest with his readers. He wants us to know! He wants us to understand his love! He wants us to LIKE him! (He uses a lot of exclamation points in this book!)

Walt has written and published twelve small-press books including Angel Pussy, the Erotic Flying Machine, The Sunflower, The Roses of Portland, Mad Bomber’s Notebook, Journey Across America, Perckerneck Country, and Salmon Song. A 65-minute performance documentary called "Walt Curtis, Peckerneck Poet" was recently produced and directed by Bill Plimpton. Walt was filmed in Portland, at the Clackamas County Fair, Café Lena, and Willamette Falls. The film also features various denizens of the poetic underworld, Walt’s red ’63 Valiant, and an exceptionally beautiful sketch of naked mud-wallowing along the Clackamas River. The film was shown at festivals in Fall and Winter 1997.

Walt has been hosting a poetry show on KBOO radio for twenty-five years and is the secretary of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Committee.

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