I did my first reading from Madhouse Fog on April 25. It was kind of a pre-release event. James Jay joined me in this reading. It must have been somewhere between the twentieth and fiftieth time I’ve done a reading with him. For various reasons, each one seems different.
When did I first do a reading with James Jay? I don’t know. It probably would’ve been back in Flagstaff, somewhere around late 1994 and early 1995. I seem to remember a basement space called the Difference Machine hosting some readings. Did we team up there? Was it at that other weird art space near the brewery on Beaver Street? Our first reading together could’ve been either, neither, or both.
James Jay teamed up with me when I did a Drinks for the Little Guy reading at Bookman’s in Flagstaff in 1999. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just booked the reading and rustled up the crowd. I know we did Bookman’s together when Glue & Ink Rebellion came out. I read with him at the book release events for both of his books. He joined me on a West Coast tour to support my short story collection Barney’s Crew.
We’ve teamed up to do readings in packed theaters for big time events, in empty record stores and sweaty art galleries and the most crowded bookstore in Seattle one summer night nearly a decade ago.
This time, he joined me in the science lecture hall on the campus of CSUCI. He was more of the big time guy than me, even though I was the one with the new book. My students had been studying his collection The Journeymen in their writing class. They’d spent several hours discussing his poems. They’d written essays on his work. Now, they were seeing him live.
I couldn’t pick a better writer to be upstaged by.