Kimberly and I had for a few months exchanged idle suggestions that I come to New York to read at one of the Literary Experiences.  Then United had a special.  Buy a ticket with the moon and Pleiades in Acme special configuration, and get another ticket free.  I happened to be traveling for business under that auspicious astronomical prodigy, so I thought to myself, still with an idle inflection, “hey, what better use for that free ticket I have coming?”

I asked Kimberly what she thought, and after a while she responded, “Well, you know, late March is about right for the next TNBLE.  I’ve got you down.”  Oh shit.  So much for idleness.  As I firmed up travel plans I increasingly looked forward to meeting Kimberly and others with whom I was familiar from TNB, including Kristen Elde and Tod Goldberg.  Kimberly set the theme “Growing Pains”, which gave me plenty of space for creation (which is to be expected, since this is the most prominent theme of TNB pieces).

I wrote and re-wrote my piece, a poem called “Growing up Misfit” which I’ll post in a day or two. [Done].  I picked out an appropriate Senegalese kaftan with Djellaba stylings (minus the hood, of course,) made by the excellent tailor Dantata near the Muslim Quarter, Bogobiri Corner, of Calabar.  I was ready.  After an uneventful trip Friday morning I arrived at LaGuardia and took the shuttle to the hotel, taking a moment to puzzle at the groups of soldiers with prominent sidearms hanging out ostentatiously with police at the Queens–Midtown Tunnel.  “What, do they think they’re the Comitatus Posse?” I wondered.

I checked in at the midtown Holiday Inn, put my feet up for a while, and then headed to Chinatown to meet Kimberly at Nam Son, a little traditional Vietnamese bistro.  Kimberly had told me it was by the markets whose smell so reminded her of Taiwan.  Emerging from the Grand Street tunnel, I immediately sensed what she meant, except that for me, it immediately took me back to the markets of Calabar, whose unbelievable explosion of every variety of edible thing must be the closest counterpart to, say Thai or Vietnamese markets.  It was a perfect way to set the atmosphere for my later reading.  And I was suddenly craving seafood.

After the palpable pleasure of meeting Kimberly in person, and a towering appetizer plate of breathless conversation, it was time to get down to business.  We both got the same dish: Pho soup with seafood, including fish balls.  And in case you had not been previously aware, fish do have balls, and they’re quite scrumptious in faux soup.


Uche and Kimberly at Nom Sim in Chinatown


Thence to the Happy Ending lounge, which still does have a somewhat grotty exterior, in keeping with the origins from which its name.  Walking inside was like a step through a dimensional portal.  It was tidy, tastefully decorated, rather mod, and yet cozy.  I could see why it is a popular venue for literary events.  A welcome departure from the old dais among tea parlor chairs.

I met my fellow readers, and a good number of the guests as they filtered in.  And then Kimberly started things off.


Kimberly opens TNB LE NYC Spring 2010


There was no set reading order, and instead Kimberly pulled the first reader’s name from a bag, and then had each reader pull the name of the next.  I happened to be first.  Since I’ve not been admitted into the out-of-body photography guild, I am unable to furnish a picture of myself in action.  It was fun reading to such a bright and engaged audience, although I am sure video evidence will reveal that I ended up reading too quickly in bits, as I is my unfortunate tendency.  I hope the bits I tried to read in a moderately suppressed  Nigerian accent were not entirely unintelligible.

Unfortunately, as you can see, the pictures from my iPhone are not of the greatest quality (which is probably why I was never even considered for the out-of-body photography guild), and some of those I took look more like spectral ghost-hunter photography than anything else (sorry Tod, Jason and Laura), but here is Daniel Roberts:


Jason Rice


And Kristen Elde:


Kristen Elde


Special mention of Peter Schwartz, who brought along a rollicking fan club, complete with big pink foam pointing hand, of which my pictures are unfortunately unusable.

After the readings, a group of us retired to The Grotto for some late-night Italian dishes to cap the night.  I spent the next day writing in cafés (the best part of such events being the compensation in inspiration), and seeing a few sights, including the Museum of Pornography, which styles itself the Museum of Sex.

United Airlines, the rather unexpected genius of the entire expedition, from my perspective, completed the trick by affording me an automated upgrade to first class, which meant I could catch up on much needed sleep on the way home.

Thanks to Kimberly for organizing the event, to my fellow readers, and to the audience.  I’m refreshed, inspired, and ready to welcome the AWP refugees seeking asylum in my own patch to the next installment in this wandering adventure, TNB LE Denver.

TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UCHE OGBUJI is a founding editor of the TNB Poetry section. He is also co-creator and co-host of the Poetry Voice podcast. His short collection of poems Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press, 2013) is a winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Awards. To expand a bit, Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado where he lives with his wife and four children. Uche is a computer engineer (trained in Nigeria and the USA) and entrepreneur whose abiding passion is poetry. His poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared widely. Uche also snowboards, coaches and plays soccer, and trains in American Kenpo. You can catch more of the prolifically fraying strands of his life on his home page, or, heck, even on Twitter.

102 responses to “TNBLE NYC, a quick fly-by”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    Fantastic! I wish I’d been there! And really? A museum of pornography? Should Simon and I add it to our itinerary???

    • Simon Smithson says:


    • Irene Zion says:

      There’s a museum of sex or something like that in Miami Beach. When I get home I’ll get the correct name. You all can go there too.

      • angela says:

        guys, don’t get too excited. the museum of sex in NYC is fun but the one in amsterdam is much raunchier. (don’t ask me why i’ve been to the museum of sex in two cities.)

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Angela, it’s actually the Amsterdam edition that inspired me to check out the NYC edition. It’s not just that it’s raunchier, but there is so much more to it in the first place. A friend told me Copenhagen also has a good Sex Museum.

        • Irene Zion says:

          So let me get this straight, Uche and Angela have been to the sex museums in amsterdam and NYC, but NOT in Miami Beach where perfectly good rooms await them for free to visit and do other Miami Beach things?
          Just trying to get the full picture here.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Oh gosh. I’m not sure how I should answer that. So tell me. How long is the enforcement arm of the Miami Beach cultural police?

  2. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Just make sure you get the $5 entrance coupons. The normal $14.50 entry is a bit much, considering it shouldn’t take you more than about 40 minutes to explore. At $9.50 it’s a reasonable distraction.

    Here’s one exhibit that made me ponder the eternal question “So just how clever is a urinal cum bidet, anyway? I shall never know being unequipped to appreciate.”


    There was not much more to photograph, to be honest. Plenty of all that on the Internet.

  3. Uche Ogbuji says:

    I forgot to mention: In introducing me, Kimberly said she wanted to ask me what AKKI Kenpo Karate is, but we never returned to the topic. AKKI Kenpo Karate is one of the branches of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo, and in particular the branch continued by Paul Mills. It’s my favorite style, having been in dozens of schools of all different styles. It’s mostly hard style, but with a lot of pragmatic adjustments to make it more useful in real-world self-defense scenarios. Elvis Presley is its most famous practitioner, but I haven’t let that dissuade me.

    • Kimberly says:

      So that’s where Elvis learned to shake his pelvis?? 🙂

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        Kimberly, according to legions of Kenpo writers, yes. They claim that the exercises helped keep him limber, and that the shift from what we call a neutral bow to a forward bow stance was the basis of Elvis’s famous pelvic thrust. True, the movements are pretty similar, but I’m not sure the chronology is right for that claim.

        Regardless, there is no doubt that Elvis was a Kenpo student for a long, long time, and Ed Parker was one of his bodyguards. If you look down this page, to the right a bit, you’ll find one of many famous pictures of Parker and Elvis practicing.


        I realize I should clarify, however, that the AKKI branch of Kenpo came after both Parker and Elvis, but it does try to stay reasonably close to Mr. Parker’s style and philosophy.

        Another interesting tidbit I forgot is that it’s well documented that, as Wikipedia says:

        “[Ed Parker] also helped Bruce Lee gain national attention by introducing him at his International Karate Championships…”

        The article is an interesting, shallow read:


      • Erika Rae says:

        I will have you know I have stood in awe before Elvis’s “Ed Parker Kenpo” gi in the museum inside of Graceland. In awe, people.

        And Kimberly – I should have coached you before you met Uche. You should have demanded a jumping front ball kick aimed at something (ie a low hanging branch) at least three feet above his head while walking nonchalantly down the street. The man can knock sparrows off limbs, I’m telling you.

        “Let the bodies hit the flo!”

        …and then he will look you straight in the eye and in successive order quote Tennyson, an arcane hip hop band bred in the streets of Katmandu circa 1995, smile, and in perfect French, comment on the angle of the sun and how it relates to Pythagoras of Samos in the year 455 BCE.

        THIS is why I adore this man.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Oh, dearie me, I do believe that is a rillet of tears upon my fact, having been spoken of so kindly by such an extraordinary lady.

          psst, Erika, well done. The bribe in the form of various Calabar dishes, including the Ekpang Nkukwo, as we discussed, is in the mail…

          Ah where was I? I’m glad you didn’t preset Kimberly’s expectations, because my aging joints no longer allow me to do my nine foot jumping front snap kick circus trick. And the whole reason I learned that was in case I ever got into a fight with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as Bruce Lee did, and that %@#$%# never happened. Right now I think I’d be more looking to fight Curly from the Harlem Globetrotters, or just do the sensible thing and aim kicks at the groin, belly, ribs, or leg pressure points.

          Anyway, you just know all that because we’re of the same mold. Martial arts, languages, obscure knowledge, etc. And if I sing you can play every instrument. Nothing like perfect harmony sweet sistah.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Oh, and that Drowning Pool song is a favorite of our kids, because there is a nerf gun battle YouTube video set to it, and for a while they would watch that over and over. Lori would look at me and the three boys headbanging at a song that seems tailor-made to inspire high school shootings, shake her head and say “And this is why the next one had better bloody be a girl.” Except you know Lori, she goes for stronger than “bloody.”

  4. Judy Prince says:

    Oh you irrepressible punster, Uche: “Pho soup”/”faux soup”. Not to mention those fish balls (BTW, food photo w you and Kimberly’s truly delishus—hey, Kimberly, tell me about Taiwan!). Hope you can get Peter Schwartz’s big pink foam pointing hand pictures. Upgraded to first class—oh I *am* envious! Re Elvis as the most famous AKKI Kenpo Karate practitioner, when he really needed self-defense he opted to use his gun—and shot his TV. Thanks, Uche, for the great peek into a wonderful TNBLE experience. Hope I get to one of them!

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Judy, actually, if you believe it, I was a bit repressed in my punning. I was tempted to throw in additional extemporization on mock turtle soup but I thought I should be getting on with the narrative. And of course mock turtle soup had me thinking of lessons, one hour less each day, of course, in Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision,…etc. etc.

      BTW I forgot one more picture from the day had already made it to TNB:


      As for Elvis, there is a Kenpo legend that he incorporated Kenpo techniques into some of his dance moves, as bizarre as that sounds.

  5. Greg Olear says:

    I’m glad you had a good time, Uche, and as mentioned, am sorry to have missed you. I look forward to hearing you perhaps read a touch too quickly in spots when the video clips are posted.

    The Grotto…did you have the dish with the cream and the bacon? I want to call it campenella, but that’s the catcher, not the menu entry.

    NYC’s Sex Museum is relatively new, and came after the almost certainly more interesting one in Paris. T-Pac, really, no need. Time is better spent milling around Washington Square Park.

    • Kimberly says:

      The dish you had, Greg, was Carbonara. Bacon and eggs and cream sauce… ON PASTA! The Grotto is definitely the new POST-TNBLE tradition!! YUM!

      (also: Jeollado [that cheap sushi place] CLOSED!!! – sigh)

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Next time Greg. After all, TNB is becoming a winking support group for the siblinghood of the wandering pen. I’m sure our tracks will cross soon.

      I’ve heard mention of frequent pick-up soccer at Washington Square Park. Next time I’ll come prepared with cleats and such.

      • Greg Olear says:

        K-Dub – I gained five pounds that day.

        Uche – NYC has cleaned itself up more than I feared if there are soccer games in that park. WSP is where the lunatics gather to prophesy, and it’s all paved.

        Also: see my Gravatar? I am in that little park, on my way to Happy Ending.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Oh. Um, I guess I was thinking a different park. Shows what I know of the Big Apple. Sounds like a must-visit, too. We don’t get enough judgment-day last-call announcements in our lives.

  6. Kimberly says:

    Uche, it was a true delight and pleasure to have met you!!! You and the entire gang were a hit! We had several “non-TNBers” in the house Friday night (first time!) and they sang nothing but praise and joy at what you all brought to the table.

    Have an amazing time at TNBLE-Denver!!!

    (and YouTubiness will be coming this week… I’ll post the links here in this comment thread!)

  7. Erika Rae says:

    Looking forward to seeing the vid. See you in Denver soon!

  8. Irene Zion says:


    I can’t wait to watch the videos!
    I’m afraid I’m stuck on envy that you got a free upgrade to first class. They don’t even let me walk past that section!

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Oh Irene, the free upgrades that come with Premier status are paid for in blood. It takes a lot of dreary work trips, and a lot of careful diligence to make sure that each batch of bananas I buy at Safeway gets me bonus miles, all to hit the magic 25K miles per year (and to think that some of my friends are 100K club members). If I weren’t traveling so much I’d have more time for TNB. I accept what nice compensating perks there are, with the downside in mind.

    • Matt says:

      Because the airline had double-sold my seat, I was given a free upgrade to first-class on a flight back from Maui. Damn, that was cool. Leg room. Warm towels for my face. An actual printed menu to make my dinner selection from. Dinner served on a tray with a little tablecloth, tiny glass salt and pepper shakers, and actual metal cutlerly.

      Best way to top off a great vacation.

  9. Irene Zion says:

    I’ll bet you could stretch your legs ALL the way out!
    What did you get to eat? I bet it was wonderful.
    Describe it all, I want to live through you.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Hah! OK OK. I had Eggs Florentine with seasoned potatoes, fruit, and a croissant. And yes, I could stretch out and lie sideways so I could sleep like a baby for the 3+ hour flight.

  10. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Oh, silly me. I forgot to mention I met, and had a good conversation with, Will Entrekin. If you’re reading this, Will, you know you want to come visit Denver again. We’ll keep your visit secret if need be 😉

    • I’m always reading, Uche! It was great to meet you, and yeah, I do want to return to Denver at some point, if only to divorce Colorado more firmly from my previous experiences there. I would have hit the AWP soon had I the resources. Another time. But no need for secrecy, I don’t think. Unless my reputation too greatly precedes me, perhaps.

      Can’t wait to read your Misfits essay. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it as text since I heard you read it.

  11. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Whoa! What happened to the formatting?!

  12. Matt says:

    Damn, that looks like fun! Can’t wait to see the videos, and read your poem.

    I’ve just recieved a fairly substantial raise at work. Hopefully this’ll let me travel a bit more. I’ve never been to New York or Denver or Chicago, and a TNBLE would be just the excuse to visit.

    • Matt says:

      Also, Uche, if we’re ever in the same town, we’ll have to put our pads on a hop into the ring for a bit of sparring. Though I’m only passingly familiar with AKKI, I’ve had the pleasure of doing a bit of training with some of Ed Parker’s students here and there.

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        Most importantly, congrats on the raise. I’ve seen from your FB updates that you’ve been working hard, so I’m glad it’s paying off.

        And yeah, as for sparring, umm, ah, sure. What’s this I heard about your winning tournaments in Las Vegas or something? Ah, full body pads, right? 😀

        Anyway, if you do come to Denver, please plan to come one evening to our class (we have day classes, too). Just to check it out, and more opportunity to discuss martial arts. And if I’m ever on your patch, I’d love to join one of the classes you are teaching.

  13. friends of TNB says:

    Actually when you wrote Here is Jason: the picture beneath it is Daniel!

  14. Irene Zion says:

    Oh, Uche,

    I feel so rested now.
    And I had such a good meal last night!
    It’s good to fly first class.
    (Too bad all the rest of you don’t have as good imaginations….)

  15. Richard Cox says:

    Great post, Uche. Love the pictures and living vicariously through your first ever TNBLE! I’m looking forward to watching the videos. I’m sure you read just fine. We all think we read too fast, I think. I always try to imagine I am pushing my words through molasses, and still I read too fast.

    I saw the picture of the urinal/bidet. Whoa! That seems a little too familiar for me. I’ll want at least to share a few drinks and laughs before I’m willing to commit to that sort of intimacy.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Richard, where do you live? Is there a TNBLE coming near you? I’ll be looking to live vicariously through everyone’s TNBLE experiences. Now that I have a fix, the itch is going to be killing me.

      As for the femi-urinal, I agree that it looks a little bit too much like an inanimate crotch-grab. And how do you get situated? Do you swing a leg over, horse-rider style? Do you disrobe and then back slowly over the business end? I’m curious whet female observers think of it.

      BTW, I had a friend in Dallas who enjoyed showing off her prowess peeing at a men’s toilet urinal so often, she’d accompany me to the bathroom just to see if she could shock some Texan gentlemen.

      • Slade Ham says:

        Rich and I get the raw end of the deal when it comes to TNBLE’s. We’re not close to anywhere down here, or even each other for that matter. The burdens of the South… We really should throw one of our own.

        Glad it was a good event.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I think a TNBLE Durrty South edition sounds like a great idea. And I have friends and family in Houston, so could come watch you guys while taking care of obligations and all that.

          Would purple codeine syrup be the de rigeur drink, tho?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Straight sippin’ syrup. Gotta keep it trill and whatnot.

          What exactly don’t you know about, Uche? Hahaha. I should look into a Houston event.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          LOL. Actually, the one thing I have the most fun studying is American vernacular, including AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). One of my proudest nerd moments was being name-checked by the great linguist Mark Liberman after schooling him on formations such as “zurp,” from “sizz-urp,” from “syrup”.


          (He also name-checked me in a discussion on whether T.S. Eliot invented the word “bullshit”, but that one gets fewer nerd points.)

          It helps that I have a few guilty pleasures among Houston music, including Big Moe’s “Bang Screw”, which is fun because you can sing

          “All I wanna do is bang screw…”

          And shock those listening, since they probably don’t know that Big Moe was actually saying “All I wanna do is play records by DJ Screw.”

          Chop it up, solja!

        • Richard Cox says:

          Uche, I’m in Tulsa, and we actually have quite a nice book club/author promotion outfit here called Booksmart Tulsa that was created by my friend and author Jeff Martin. We have hosted many talented and award-winning authors courtesy of Booksmart, including TNB’s own Wade Rouse.

          But alas, as far as TNB authors go, we’re a bit sparse. Tawni is an avid reader and commenter, and Gloria has offered to visit, but two readers is a bit sparse to label an “event.” However, I will be in Houston sometime in the next few months, so if you made it as well we would have at least three readers. And perhaps we could lure one or two others.

          Or we could use costumes and bad accents and do a Benny Hill-style variety show. That might be fun.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Rich – I’d do Tulsa. Seriously though, we should consider an event. I’m relatively new to Houston, so I’m not as connected as I could, or should be. Still… I’m not the only Houston writer here, am I?

          @ Uche – Amazing. The nerd points were well earned. I’m hardly current on my hip hop, though it was impossible to grow up next door to Port Arthur and not be intimately familiar with UGK. And the Houston Screw sensation. I haaaaated it, and still do when I hear it now.

          Curtis Mayfield tracks chopped and screwed. Like fingers on a chalkboard for me. On a related note, my hip hop exposure has been heightened by the fact that my brother is somewhat involved with the Wu Tang Clan. He might actually be a member, though that status is not as impressive as it was back in the ODB days.

          He and the RZA are close friends, and to my knowledge his album will a big W on the cover. None of that changes the fact that he’s still broke and living in our hometown with a day job.

          All of my knowledge of the vernacular comes from him now, so I’m never too out of date.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          @Rich: Oh snap! TNBenny Hill! I am so there.

          Then it would have to be TNB Caddy Shack, and maybe even a few Monty Python adaptations….

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          @Slade: I agree that Chopped N Screwed is like chalkboard fingers. My rare guilty pleasure, such as that Big Moe track, is usually not so heavily distorted.

          And the very idea! The very temerity to Chop N Screw Curtis Mayfield?! Wow. Heads should roll for that. And by that I don’t mean a bunch of young punks should get in a ‘lac sitting on dubs and drive around aimlessly. No, I mean it in the old fashioned French revolutionary way.

          Big up to your brother, and I hope he gets his payday. That is defo cool kid points to be associated with the Wu! My youngest brother is also an aspiring Hip-Hop artist, but living in Cleveland apparently isn’t the best start for that career.

        • Richard Cox says:

          It may seem silly but it’s worth consideration if we can lure a few TNB writers here. If we did it in conjunction with Booksmart, we can assume a decent audience. I don’t know what the other TNBLE events have been like, but smallish Booksmart events typically draw at least 20 people. Wade brought in maybe 75, Wells Tower about the same. David Sedaris pulled in 2300 but that doesn’t really count. Hahaha.

          Also, a friend of mine runs a hotel here and I could work out some kind of deal on rates.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Well… Simon and I are up for anything come JUUUUUNE

        • Slade Ham says:

          That’s riiiiight. This has to happen now. June. Dirrty South.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Sooouuuunds goooood to me.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          June, the sunshine of our future. So bright, bet we’re all wearing shaaades!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I think we’ve got you beat on the South front too…

          Sorry it’s taken me so long to read and comment properly, Uche! I wish we had a Happy Ending lounge over here. It sounds so fairytale-like. Surely, that’s where the name stems from, and nothing untoward?

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          You’re more south, but are you dirrrty? We need a proper name for your way, way south.

          And Kimberly tells me that The Happy Ending Lounge is on the site of what used to be a notorious massage parlor.

  16. jmblaine says:

    You TNB people
    are so
    cute & clubby
    it makes me sometimes
    I hadn’t gone for the
    damned literary Batman
    persona 4 years back.

    You’re flying around
    to TNB live meetings?
    Humbled, I am.

    Maybe I could show
    up with a bag over my head
    or something.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      I just recited
      (And was truly delighted)
      A poem called “Growing up misfit”

      Seems strange to perceive
      Any club gives me leave
      To call myself member, or list it.

      I suspect you, Batman,
      Of pure modesty’s plan,
      You’re probably a model or film star.

      I hope to persuade
      You to grace our brigade
      At a future TNB LE bazaar.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Just wear a fake beard and dark glasses with a big plastic nose. Don’t get them mixed up, you need the glasses with the nose AND the eyebrows. No one will suspect a thing.

  17. Judy Prince says:

    Uche, yes Elvis had “the moves”, but they were prolly learned at the feet of James Brown who defo had The Moves! Dontcha know Elvis was black?! You already know that one drop is all it takes, according to us USAmericans, and I think he had a few fine waves-worth.

    Now just which one of us TNBrs will xplain how one uses a bidet? ‘Tis a doggoned shame that we don’t have them routinely installed in our homes. I’ve only actually seen one in-home one, in Virginia’s Monticello country, at a huge rambling 18th c “gentleman farmer’s” home converted to an upscale B&B. The bathroom had been updated in the 1940s by the then owners. Other bidets in the USA I’ve only seen in design mag photos.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Actually I think I know how to use a bidet, having used one a couple of times, mostly out of curiosity. But bidets don’t seem to pose the same mounting problem the femi-urinal does, unless I’m misunderstanding how the latter is to be positioned.

      As for Elvis, I dunno, there has always been something a bit off to me about his dancing. I certainly see his moves as very different from James Brown’s. But some of his early, very blues-flavored stuff wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on one of the old “race records,” which is impressive. Too bad he seemed to have lost that soul as he went along and got into the grip of the machine.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Oops, Uche, I got confused (and no wonder!) with the bidet/femi-urinal thingies.

        Re Elvis’s sounds, yeah, he did get whitified there for his long later stint through the films and The Act in Las Vegas. Fame, “the machine” and money—any one of them difficult grips to loosen. Shame, that.

  18. Daniel Roberts says:

    Sweet iPhone shots, Uche, and what a pleasure meeting you.
    I am DEF down for a dirrty south TNB event…

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Pleasure meeting you too. I look forward to reading your tales from the scantron chronicles in print form. God, memories of those times when I swore I had aced the damn test, and then, POW! “Hey, teach! You need to fix your handwriting. This A looks like a D!”

      And dare I guess? That looks like an iPhone shot for your gravatar? iPhones FTW!

      • Daniel Roberts says:

        It’s actually PhotoBooth. But hey, Apple products both. haha.
        And wow, “Tales from the Scantron Machine” might be an even better title than the one I used, ‘The AP Bio Experiment.’ Will have to consider…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Daniel, get just a little closer to the PhotoBooth Apple cam…….I haven’t seen a man in a suit for weeks, maybe years! Oh, except for the ones sitting/sleeping in airplanes’ BUSINESS CLASS (that’s jibe’s for Uche, lucky flyer!).

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Hey now! Hey now! The closest I’ve ever come to a junk bond is when I didn’t clamp the super-glued sunglasses properly. Just because United decided to be nice to one of the good little guys doesn’t mean I’m getting a check from Goldman Sachs.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Uche—HA!HA! “junk bond”…..

          It’s just that your sleeping curled like a baby on the flight was too much for my Couch’y plebe-ness to grovel well. But I forgive you.

          This brings us to a discussion of the nature of using the word “gobsmacked”. Would “thrilled” or “stunned” or “delightfully surprised” or “shocked” apply? Give an example or two; my UK friends seem incapable of figuring it out for me.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Your UK friends can’t figure it out for you, because it can’t be figured. “Gobsmacked” doesn’t really have a translation to US standard English. It’s kinda like “surprised”, kinda like “struck”, kinda like “stunned”, kinda like “shocked”, kinda like “suddenly corrected”. It’s independent of delight, since you can be gobsmacked into delight, or into horror, though you do hear the former more often. I bet there is US vernacular that would do the trick, but I’ve spent a few moments thinking, and I’m drawing a blank.

  19. This is what good times are all about!

  20. Becky says:


    This comment board is a total sausage party.

    What are fish balls, anyway? They seem really unappetizing, even knowing that they’re not actually testes.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Becky, yep. I think that was the plan when I made the piece itself a wandering narrative of the trip, and the comments have done an excellent time continuing the maniacal wandering.

      As for the fish balls. You’ve gotta love fish in order to love fish balls. I’m guessing it’s the bits that were rejected for filet, minced and shaped into soup-soaking spheres. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

  21. Quenby Moone says:

    I am so jealous. I actually can’t find words to express how awesome this event seems because my tummy is roiling with curmudgeonly curses against those who had more fun than me.

    Other than that, fish balls are also a part of this story:


    It’s nice to know there are many ways to approach fish balls without just cum-ing or fauxing.

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Don’t you worry. The TNBLE Fairy Godmother will whisk each of us to at least one ball. Just keep those writings under your pillow, and one night, she’ll be by, by and by. But if you curse the rest of us, you might just put her off, y’know.

      That fish balls article is short of epic status by one important detail: no pics. If they had just included one picture of the gee-gaw, even without showing the nipper nibbling at it (just to be sure CPS didn’t come knocking), that would have been the crowning glory. Until they demonstrate that, I’ll continue to please myself believing that the only way to deal with such a topic as fish balls is across the safe distance of idle punnes 🙂

      • Quenby Moone says:

        I rescind all curses! I cannot turn away the gifts of the TNBLE Fairy should she deign to visit!

        I don’t know why the picture didn’t show up–I put one there, but maybe I’ve already meted out the wrath of the TNBLE Fairy for even mentioning idle curses? I hate to think it’s true. However, someday if you go back, hopefully the testicle fish is there in all it’s gummy glory.

        We cherish testicle fish still. He hangs (!) in the basement.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Oh, I’m sorry. I did a shift-reload of the page and now I see the picture. And, you know, I’ve actually seen that toy before. I don’t recall just where, and I don’t think we had it for our own kids, but perhaps a friend? Regardless, it looks perfect for a teething kid, who can get all the gum surfaces around at least one of the surfaces of the, umm, bulbs.

          OK OK, I hereby announce that all my punning efforts have been properly surpassed by Quenby’s photograph.

          That’ll teach me. What I should have done is spooned one of the fish balls out of the bowl, and taken a close-up.

        • Quenby Moone says:

          Exactly. Take pictures. Always. Otherwise people don’t believe you!

  22. kristen says:

    This here’s some great documentation of that fine evening, Mr. Ogbuji. Thanks for relaying.

    Also always interesting to hear your city as told from the perspective/experience of out-of-towners. Glad you got some good eatin’ in (wasn’t that Grotto fare dynamite? I must return soon), a languorous day of writing in cafes (which was your favorite? hit up a bunch?), a slice of our fabulous museum scene… (Great choice, btw. They host some fun readings there, as you’d imagine. 🙂

    Come back soon!

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Oh, I’m sure I wasn’t there enough to discover any true hidden café gems. In fact, I ended up following the reviews to Antique Cafe. I also did some writing at brgr, where I had lunch. I highly recommend both.

      The Grotto food was indeed dynamite, and great choice of Prosecco. Future TNBLE readers and audience, you’re in for a treat. Great find, Kimberly.

      And I shall certainly be back, not least for the pleasure of meeting you again, Kristen.

  23. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Audio from the event is up, including my reciting of “Growing up Misfit”. I bow to TNB media production.


  24. […] the team And we were publishing poems in a steady stream One day Kimberly invited me to NYC And I jetted for my first TNBLE I met Will and Kristen and other guests And for the first time in person the charming hostess. AWP […]

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