What Is The Poetry Circus?


The Poetry Circus

Want to know more about the Poetry Circus? Step inside my closet and I’ll tell you all about 1. what to wear 2. hair 3. rain 4. light 5. sound


Final Call for the Poetry Piñata: If you have poems to share with children at The Poetry Circus please send them to nicellecdavis @ gmail . com

A Free Poetry Event Saturday, February 28th


Poetry Merry-Go-Round Rides
with readings by:Lauren K. Alleyne, Laurel Ann Bogen, Chiwan Choi,

Brendan Constantine, Nicelle Davis, Kim Dower, Blas Falconer, Kate Gale, Melanie Jeffrey, Douglas Kearney, Ron Koertge,
Justin Wallace Kibbe, Suzanne Lummis, Katie Manning,

Eric Morago, Jacqueline Tchakalian, and Yvonne de la Vega.

Interactive poetry projects, activities, and crafts for the whole family brought to you by the Red Hen Press WITS program
and The Los Angeles Review.

Make your own maracas and Join The Children’s Poetry Parade ed by twirler Peggy Dobreer!

Simultaneous Poetry Writing based on your suggestions from RENT Poet and the Melrose Poetry Bureau!

Live circus acts including performances by Post Mortem Movement Theater!

At the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
4730 Crystal Springs Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-3051

The Poetry Circus Needs a Poetry Piñata: A New Year for the Living Poetry Project


This is a Free Event hosted by

IN THE CIRCUS OF YOU: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poem by poet Nicelle Davis and artist Cheryl Gross


Poetry Merry-Go-Round, Circus Acts, Kid Crafts, and Magic Shows

Poetry Merry-Go-Round Rides with Readings by:

Lauren K. Alleyne, Laurel Ann Bogen, Chiwan Choi, Brendan Constantine, Michael Datcher, Nicelle Davis, Kim Dower, Blas Falconer, Kate Gale, Mira Gonzalez, Melanie Jeffrey, Douglas Kearney, Justin Wallace Kibbe, Suzanne Lummis, Katie Manning, Eric Morago, and Jacqueline Tchakalian.

Interactive Poetry Projects,

activities, and crafts for the whole family brought to you by the Red Hen Press WITS program and The Los Angeles Review.

Live Circus Acts

including performances by Post Mortem Movement Theater!


At the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

4730 Crystal Springs Drive,

Los Angeles, CA 90027

(323) 665-3051


Please Runaway to the Circus with Us!


If you can’t runaway; let your poems come with us!

Please send your poems to The Living Poetry Project

to go into this kid-sized Poetry Piñata

that will be broken open at The Poetry Circus!

Please submit your poems by Feb 15th to:

nicellecdavis @ gmail . com



Three Poetry Readings in Two Days: Would love to murder, paint, and glitter you!

photo 32 This weekend (September 27-28) I have the privilege of giving three radically different readings at three different locations in Los Angeles. Three readings in two days  is notably a bit much– poor planning, maybe–a constant nearly narcotic need to always be with poetry, certainly. I can only hope to see friends and loved ones as well as poetry lovers at each event.

I like events; I like gatherings. I believe people are made human through experiences with other humans.

I get to run this poetry-read-a-thon with my son. To him, I’m sure it will feel like a form of slow torture–but he will be with words; I can only hope that words will eventually woo him as they did me as a child. I can hope. He will have my friend Debra to keep him company; even if he doesn’t entirely appreciate poetry when he grows up, I know he will be grateful that he had some of the most beautiful and smart babysitters during this mad poetry life. Please come see us. Please come play poetry with us. Here is a little about each event: Hand2

Event #1: Saturday 9/27, 4:30

WeHo Reads Noir: West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.) 

Edge of Town. POETRY. With a Noir. Touch. (4:30-5:15)
Take a ride with a group of bold poets who take us to the dark side…where
poetry isn’t always pretty!
 Michael Datcher (“Raising Fences”)
 Nicelle Davis (“Becoming Judas”)
 Suzanne Lummis (“Open 24 Hours”)
 Kim Dower (“Slice of Moon”)
 Charles Harper Webb (“What Things Are Made Of”)

When the amazing poet Kim Dower invited me to participate in the WeHo Read Noir event, I couldn’t say no. Noir isn’t just an art, its a way of life that I’m constantly falling into and chasing after. I was surprised when my son and his friends asked me “what is noir?” Well, what is noir? I had to ask myself. “Its shades of grey,” I told them, “its ambiguity.” “Huh?” the team of 5 to 10 year-olds responded. “Ok,” I said, “take these detective glasses, hats, shovel–take this bottle of fake blood–and lets look for clues to “who done it.” We all took turns being blamed for some part of a murder–because we are all part of the larger story–we all have blood on our hands.

We had fun being our own noir story; I’d like to continue this fun with you at the WeHo Reads Noir Event. I found all the stuff we need for murder; please come get bloody with me. Murderstuff

Event #2: Saturday, 9/27 6:30 PM

LAR @ Bergamont Station:

LAR_Logo_Web Building Bridges Art Exchange, Bergamont Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave. Unit F2, Santa Monica, CA 90404 This will most certainly prove to me my favorite reading. I won’t be voicing my own work, but reading selections from the upcoming LA Review issue. I love this journal, as I love all of Red Hen’s eggs. Bergamont Station is at the heart of art. It is beauty layered with more beauty. Please do not miss this event!

Join Red Hen Press for a special collaboration of poetry and contemporary art at the Bergamot Station Arts Center. Established in 2005, Building Bridges Art Exchange is dedicated to the promotion of national and international contemporary artists, providing a variety of international art exchanges, artist residencies and workshop programs. They will be joining together with Red Hen for the month of September to present poetry readings immersed in the artwork and exhibitions themselves. A portion of the proceeds from artwork provided by Jacqueline Tchakalian and Thom Dower will go towards our outreach program, Writing in the Schools. Gallery opening reception: Saturday, September 6th from 6-9:30 PM Poetry Readings: Saturday, September 13th: Laurel Ann Bogen, Jacqueline Tchakalian, Helene Cardona, John Fitzgerald Friday, September 19th: Kate Gale, Kim Dower, Brendan Constantine Saturday, September 27th: Los Angeles Review reading featuring BH James, Nicelle Davis, Michael Allen Loruss, Michael Cooper, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo All reading events are free and begin at 6:30 PM. On-going exhibitions and artwork from: Thom Dower Jacqueline Tchakalian Shadow Portraits by Rachel X Hobreigh Deep Transparencies: A Hidden Universe by Petra Eiko Feminine Mystique/Treasures from the 21st Century by Barbara Fritsche, Michael Kluch, Tanya Ragir, Mary Cheung, Larry Schuster Building Bridges Art Exchange Bergamot Station Arts Center 2525 Michigan Ave, Unit F2 Santa Monica, CA 90404 Co-sponsored by Red Hen Press and Building Bridges Art Exchange For more info, click here: http://redhen.org/events/rhp-at-building-bridges/

art hand

Event #3: Saturday 9/28 7:00 PM


bookstore1 The Last Bookstore is the most magical place on earth. I plan on bringing a circus with me to celebrate this fantastic place. I can not tell you what a dream space this is; you must see it to believe it. Please, please go to this event. We need you. We really do. Every circus is only as magical as those who are there to see the magic. 453 S. SPRING ST, GROUND FLOOR DOWNTOWN LA  |  213.488.0599

Photo by Jason Hughes
Photo by Jason Hughes

Sunday, September 28th, 7pm: The Last Bookstore is pleased to welcome Kate Gale, with her new collection of poetry, Echo Light. She is joined by Red Hen authors Brendan Constantine & Nicelle Davis. Kate Gale is the Managing Editor of Red Hen Press and Editor of The Los Angeles Review. She teaches in Low Residency MFA programs around the country and serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America. Kate is the author six librettos including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis which premiered in October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Her latest poetry collections are The Goldilocks Zone and Echo Light. She is also the editor of several anthologies and blogs for Huffington Post.

 Brendan Constantine is a poet based in Hollywood. His work has appeared in numerous journals, most notably Ploughshares, FIELD, Zyzzyva, Ninth Letter, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, ArtLife, PANK, and L.A. Times Best Seller, The Underground Guide to Los Angeles. His first book, Letters To Guns (Red Hen Press 2009), is now required reading in creative writing programs across the nation. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (WriteBloody Publishing 2011) and Calamity Joe (Red Hen Press 2012). He has had work commissioned by the Getty Museum and he has received grants from the James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. He is currently poet in residence at the Windward School and adjunct professor at Antioch University. In addition, he regularly offers classes in hospitals, prisons, shelters, and with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.  

Originally from Utah, Nicelle Davis now resides in Lancaster, California, with her son, J.J. Becoming Judas is her second book. Her first book, Circe, is available from Lowbrow Press. Her third collection, In the Circus of You, will be released by Rose Metal Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Beloit Poetry Journal, The New York Quarterly, PANK, SLAB Magazine, Two Review, and others. You can read her e-chapbooks at Gold Wake Press and Whale Sound. She is the director of the Living Poetry Project. She runs a free online poetry workshop at The Bees’ Knees Blog and is an assistant poetry editor for Connotation Press and The Los Angeles Review. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, and with Volunteers ofAmerica in their Homeless Youth Center. She currently teaches at Antelope Valley

The Poems Flew and Continue to Fly

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Thank you everyone who submited work to The Living Poetry Project–Bee-Winged Poems. The work of Dane Cardiel, Kit Kennedy, Lisken Van Pelt Dusand, and (my lovely English 101 student) Anna Marie Castillo created a buzz at Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper. One of the greatest gifts of this Living Poetry Project was a hug from Kit Kennedy!

The poems flew and continue to fly in Northern California. Word honey!

Great thanks to readers Tess Taylor, Brendan Constantine, Caleb Barber, who gave their word honey at Litquake; it is good to bring art to life with such amazing poets.

In addition to the amazing Litquake, my Trip to Oakland was a little like waking up from a cultural comma; I have the vivaciousness of the city and my brilliant friend Johnny Hernandez to thank for that. Johnny works for SPD and is my blood line to books. He shows me books, books, and more books. Books of all types and forms—books that question the book—books that break the book.

We watched the Kenneth Goldsmith documentary together; it took me a good hour before I was convinced it wasn’t a hoax.

Language is a flexible creature; a ghost we beg to haunt our houses. It rattles the glass, nails, and beams of our bodies. I live on the lyrical floor of Poetry-House. The lyric is so old that it makes other (more current) poetry forms feel incredibly new. I show up (metaphorically) to Poet Christian Bok’s lab, where he has encoded his verse into a strip of DNA and had it inserted into a common bacterium, E.coli, and feel amazed and in that amazement out of place.

As Kenneth Goldsmith points out, what I take for innovation has all been done before; Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity, confirms this idea. I hid the post card poems from this collection all over my train home.

It is good to be home. That word, home, is why I write. I’m always attempting to get home by way of the lyric; it is a gamble, but one I can’t help but make.   

While I’ve been home, my poems have been traveling. This weekend Becoming Judas is at the Zebra Film Festival

Reading Poetry

Every time I read poetry, it is reminiscent of pregnancy. I can feel my pulse expanding—the sound of my hearts pounding out the room—the overwhelming feeling that something, someone, is arriving inside of me.

I am very grateful to Poemeleon and Inlandia Institute for hosting a reading at the Arlington Branch Riverside Public Library. At the source of this event was the lovely Cati Porter. I just got ahold of her new work—I am really excited to reread (al)most delicious.  I was so nervous at the event that I didn’t even get a chance to tell her how great her poetry is—I wanted to thank her for writing a book that not only delights but liberates our humanity.

I was blessed to hear Brendan Constantine read—he makes me cry every time he reads. His lines are so crafty. When I read his books, I find myself laughing at the wit and inventiveness of his lines—but when he read—oh—there is that depth. Beneath the wit and charm are layers of emotional textures. The world pours through him. We readers are lucky to have him and his work with us.

I met for the first time, Robbi Nester and Larry Eby. What great work!—inventive and flowing. What great people!—kind and generous.

At this reading, I used naughty puppets. After the initial worry from the audience that “she might be crazy,” they opened up to the experience…they even loved my snake shaped boogers I gave them. It is always fun feel the shift—to feel people gather together in a communal journey–even if the adventure is a bit crazy.

If you can, please come to my next reading. It is at the beautiful Annenburg Beachhouse in Santa Monica. You can hear Brendan Constantine read—experience firsthand the flow of language he creates.

I will have a few puppets and will be dressed in layers of life (or death). There will be layers anyways.

The Living Poetry Project, AWP 2012

Here are the lovely reaction to the poem gifts…I’ll say more about the poems we gave out at AWP soon…but for now, here are the smiles your poems created–documented.

I spent most of my time helping at the Red Hen Press booth, where they were excited to support The Living Poetry Project. Great poets such as David Mason, Katharine Coles, and Brendan Constantine (just to name a few) accepted and paraded their poem gift around the book fair.

Some of the exchanges I was unable to capture on film where the poems I gave to hotel staff, random tables, cab cars, and the poems I handed out with beers at the hotel bar (which were accepted with great delight).

It will take me a few weeks to process what happened this weekend and recognize how much The Living Poetry Project has changed my approach to language, but until I reach clarity I wanted to thank everyone who contributed–you are beautiful people and it shows in your words.

Thank you to everyone who sent me your lovely words!