The Living Poetry Project and NEVERMORE

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We would love to consider your poetry
to be featured at NEVERMORE: METRO Immersive Arts Festival in Van Nuys on October 29th, from 11 AM – 5:30 PM. We are selecting poems to be included on Poetry Umbrellas, Water Bottle Labels, and Pinata Prizes for an audience of 500 participants.

Audiences will process from hub to METRO station with the umbrellas, creating a moving, audience-generated installation as an artwork in itself. Poems will also be printed on water labels to be grabbed with relief, and will stuff pinatas that line the festival, waiting to be broken and have their prizes claimed!

We will be accepting submissions from August 1st – September 30th. Email your submission to Please include “Nevermore” in your subject line. All submission will receive a response by October 8th in which you will be informed if your poem will be an umbrella, water bottle, or pinata prize.

Poems may have been previously published, but please let us know who to credit.
Shorter poems preferred for umbrella and water-bottle publication.
Longer poems are will work for pinata poetry.


NEVERMORE: METRO is an Immersive Arts Festival in Van Nuys on October 29th, from 11 AM – 5:30 PM.

The Woodly Park Poetry Hub is part of a broader immersive festival centered around the works of Edgar Allan Poe – a haunting on the Valley bus. In the world of Nevermore, the Orange Line is transformed by the escaped works of Edgar Allan Poe, which have mingled with local legends and Mexican folklore and haunt six METRO stations.

This poetic sandbox adventure puts the audience in the driver’s seat for one day (11 AM – 5:30 PM) to discover Van Nuys, meet LA’s premier literary and artistic companies, dine with local street vendors, and explore the visceral power of poetry as never before.
For more information about this event please visit:

Nevermore is a project of Theatre Magnet, a subsidiary of Artist Magnet, and RENT Poet. Nevermore is funded in part by a City of LA Artist-in-Residency and the Creative Economic Development Fund (CEDF) with support from the Surdna Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). Additional support comes from the LA Tourism & Convention Board, METRO, the Office of Councilmember Nury Martinez, Eclectic Company Theatre and our community partners.

The Edison !!! Wednesday September 2nd. I’ll be in fur, latex, and fishnets, you?


The first installment of Fluid will be at The Edison, featuring Louise Wareham Leonard and MacGillivray, with appearances from Tom Janikowski, Kim Dower, and (me) Nicelle Davis.


The Edison

108 W. Second St.
Los Angeles, CA  90012


Red Hen Press will launch the first of what hopes to be a series of readings at the gorgeous Edison in LA. The series will be called Fluid as in the movement of water during a time of drought–poetry at a time of oppression and silencing.

Please come see the poetry show on September 2nd. Please be mindful that poetry was designed to be heard. By supporting this reading you will be supporting future readings at this location.

This opening show will prove that poetry is sexy and provocative–it is a show of heat and ice. It is Fluid.


The Edison is a steampunk themed nightclub located inside the Higgins Building basement in Los Angeles, California. The Edison opened in 2007. The Higgins Building basement was Los Angeles’ first ever power plant, built by Thomas Higgins. After spending several years derelict and underwater, it was rescued by entrepreneurs Andrew Meieran and Marc Smith, who made a post-industrial steampunk venue for Los Angeles nightclubbers. For more information visit:


Let me introduce you to my outfit for the event along with the designer behind this fishnet-latex-fur genius, Pavlina Janssen.

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What to Wear to The Poetry Circus: An Interview with Proto-Organic Artist

ND: Hello Pavi. I’m finding it oddly difficult to find a “normal” way to start a conversation about costumes and costuming—maybe we can begin with our beginning—talk about the first project we worked on together—or, the first costume you made for me.

PJ: Oh my goodness, do I even remember the first costume I made for you? Oh what was it? Was it the honey dress?

ND: Oh no, it was way before that. It was for the cover of Becoming Judas. Remember, I brought you a turkey carcass.

PJ: Oh. Yeah.

ND: In my defense that turkey sat in bleach for two weeks in my kitchen sink before I brought it to you, but…

PJ: I don’t think I used any of those bones at all.

ND: You said you wouldn’t take it because of salmonella and you would die.

PJ: But I did get sick, but I don’t think it was your fault.

(We giggle; I guess, because even illness is funny between girlfriends.)

ND: So, do you remember anything about making that costume?

PJ: I remember that you gave me some interesting piece to start with, things like bones, and feathers, and your negligee and said do what you do; and I did.


Honestly, I don’t really remember much about that time; in fact I don’t really remember much of when I’m making things. I just kind of put it together the way it feels it needs to go.

ND: So creating is an organic experience for you.  Which makes for a good transition into discussing your overall aesthetic –you refer to your work as being Proto-Organic Art—what is Proto-Organic?

PJ: Proto-Organic is a new way of looking and arranging things you’ve already seen before, like looking at the organic aspects of inorganic things or looking at things that make them seem organic or feel like they blend into our natural world because everything is technically homogenous when we get down to the core. I would try to make something

ND: Yeah, yeah. First of all, just to describe for those who haven’t seen your art yet—besides costumes you also make Proto-Organic canvases. These portraits, if you will, are made of dollies, but they are dollies that are made to look like flesh under a microscope—and on top of this you collage other organic materials.  Maybe to give a more common place comparison, your art is beautiful like a spider’s web.

I remember when I first saw it I was overwhelmed and couldn’t help but call it beautiful out loud. You responded by saying: yeah that is an exciting piece because whoever owns it will get to see it rot and decompose before their eyes. Do you want to expand on the joys of watching things come undone?

PV: Sure. I just think it’s really beautiful and fascinating to see things that are organically deteriorating; I’m interested by the visual of erosion or things that are naturally slowly rotting away or things that get deteriorating though bacteria—you know—those visually chaotic textures. Interesting enough, when I would experiment with inorganic materials it would still come out looking alive. I work to make a new type of organic image using inorganic materials, such as glitter or plastic, and depending on how you affect them they can end up looking organic and natural.

ND: Yes, organic and natural: I think most of the materials that we have worked on together have been teeth and latex, or teeth and condoms.  What do you think teeth and condoms have in common?

PJ: They either come from or go into your body.

(More giggling.)

ND: So for you, the making process is organic and it reflects organic materials. You named off all the properties of the organic that you find beautiful—words like decomposition, rot, and erosion; so for the person who all those words terrify, could you help them understand why Proto-Organic art is beautiful?

PJ: I don’t know if everyone is going to find it beautiful. I think that if I can make something that affects people—positively or negatively—then I’ve done something. There are a lot of organic textures that do bother people—a lot of people don’t like to see things like that—and I think that’s part of my fascination with creating Proto-Organic art; if I can create a texture or bring about an emotion that makes you feel the way something in nature would make you feel…then that’s good.

I think you and I think it is beautiful, but most people might say…ohhhh! That looks like a rotting carcassthat’s gross—I don’t want to touch that. But it is not a rotting carcass it is a piece of art or costume—and I’ve done my job.

(More giggling.)

ND: That brings us to costumes and costuming; you are an icon in our community.

PJ: No I’m not.

ND: You are—you are; because you spent most of your life walking around town in costumes—for example this is the most natural your hair color has ever been, and you spent a lot of time making and wearing Alice in Wonderland costumes for street clothes—I would say most of your teens and early 20s you were Alice, do you want to talk about that?

PJ: I always like wearing costumes. I’ve told you this story before—I’d be walking around L.A. wearing my Alice in Wonderland dress and people would stop me on the street and ask, Oh so why are you so dressed up?

If I told them I was in a play, they’d be perfectly okay with it. But it I gave them no reason they’d be really put off by it. There is a very fine line between clothing and costume.

I liked to challenge people’s perspectives on costumes—to play with that line. I mean clothes are clothes. I happen to be wearing a dress that represents a character people are familiar with, but that doesn’t mean that it means anything more than that being a dress to me.

Humans are trained to see a certain kind of clothing as normal and anything that goes outside those standards is a costume or not clothes. If it’s not jeans and a t-shirt, your dressing up.

ND: Do you think costume cover-up or amplify who a person is?

I think it is both. I think that people think that they are covering up by wearing what they wouldn’t normally wear.  There is an underlining peak into their psyche. Whether they choose to dress up as a pirate, or a president, or a dinosaur, why would you choose that? You can dress anything, so why that choice? What does choice reveal about us—I like that question.

ND: What new projects are you working on?

PJ: I’ve been working on translating my collage art into fabric prints.

AND you’ve been wearing my costumes; they will be showcased at The Edison on September 2nd!

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



Welcome to the circus.

In the Circus Of You

Book trailer for IN THE CIRCUS OF YOU: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poems by poet Nicelle Davis and artist Cheryl Gross. The book will be released in March 2015: preordering begins in February 2015.

More information at

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I am not a barker. There is no kiosk here to see. No ticket vendor. No brightly lit sign, painted hand or enormous arrow that points to this place.

We are not attending the carnival or the midway but we are all gathered under the big top. We are the attractions. We view ourselves with equal parts delight and horror.

Out in the Midway, as the ride begins, it slowly lurches forward with us tightly belted in to our seats. It is a journey that promises much; fear, anticipation, and joy all wrapped together. We are pulled past windows where we are shown carefully created dioramas depicting Oddities that somehow both match and outstrip our own imaginations and orchestrations.

These tickets were bought a long time ago. Life is a freak show and all of us are participants. We jump from audience to performer as quickly as we wish to be separate from one or to belong to the other. We slide in and out of shadows, like   shape-shifters of compromise. We contort ourselves in service of the pragmatic, the mundane, or the bigger whole. We desperately wish we were seen as the magician, sorcerer or conjurer of our own illusions.

We are in awe of giants, coveting their power and perspective. We fear them for the same reasons.

I don’t have a tattoo. I appreciate the art. Even more, I understand the need to make a mark or public display of being an outsider. The act of covering my skin with an image has just never seemed to fit with the desire to peel back and expose the truth of living in that skin.

The broken knuckle from a forgotten fight that blooms from a finger is an awkward ornament. The scar that sits just above the knee from a reckless moment on a bike is a crescent moon drawn into the skin. Our scars, creases and configurations are the art that history makes of our bodies and illustrates our humanness.

As with any good sideshow, if we are lucky to look long enough, we end up seeing each other. We are a lucky audience to find ourselves in what is revealed in others.

As we catch our reflection in the peripheral mirror of vision, we recognize ourselves in the performer’s knowing gaze. We are what we are delighted by, when we are invited under the flap of the sideshow tent. We are freaks.

Cheryl Gross is an illustrator. Nicelle Davis is a poet. They met through the publication, Broadsided, which puts visual artists and poets together to collaborate and create literary-posters that are distributed across the world.

This process of collaboration almost always results in a revelation for each, because poets can’t anticipate what an artist will see in their words and the artist is always surprised by the power of words to suggest the image.

The power in this particular partnership illuminated and infused both the words and the images. The words are twined with the illustrations as though the poet and artist are sharing the same soul. As with conjoined twins the two share “In the Circus of You” as an expression of a unique bond that creates an additional intimacy, as though sharing arms, legs or a torso.

The collaboration you hold in your hand is joined by all of us who hope to recognize each other in our search for what makes us beautifully human, joyous in the expression of our differences and willing to celebrate the intrinsic connections between us.

Welcome to the circus.


 with Tobi Harper, Molly Frances Wingland, Maureen Alsop, Alexis Vergalla, Lauren K Alleyne, Katie Manning and Cindy Rinne.
with Tobi Harper, Molly Frances Wingland, Maureen Alsop, Alexis Vergalla, Lauren K Alleyne, Katie Manning and Cindy Rinne.

AWP. AWP. What to say about AWP? It leaves us all spinning. If you haven’t left a piece of you sanity in the assigned city, you haven’t really been to AWP. This year I left crazy umbrellas wherever I could. In retrospect, I wished I had brought more umbrellas, more poetry. It is always an issue of more with AWP. 30 umbrellas are swallowed quickly by 10,000 writers. Being swallowed is a good way to describe AWP.

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This year I convinced a few of my writing students (the very talented Trish Donahueto and Andrea Thamm) to attend. They fought with themselves over time and money spent—it’s just a conference, they objected when I described the whirl of energy, lack of sleep, and the effect that three miles of books has on a word lover. Eventually they resigned to go (maybe just to shush me up for a moment). I was delighted when we eventually crossed paths. They could no longer blink. You tried to tell us, they said. Yes, I can try but there is no way to describe what it is about this event that allows for—I am going to say it—transformation.

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The transformation is never expected; in fact the best way to attend AWP is with zero expectations. It is never the same; what you hate one year you may love the next. Some people walk away with the full recognition that life is larger than words. Some fade deeper into the folds of imagination. All is good, even if it feels like hell.

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In our own AWP troupe there was a trip to the E.R. due to exhaustion. I heard feet where broken on the giant escaladers and I witnessed several first time attendees break into spontaneous tears. Had I not been saved by Jason Cook and Maggie Hess (with their magical cup of coffee and hot crêpes) I may have entirely lost my mind in Seattle. I wish I was joking. No. This is no joke. This is AWP. But it’s not. Not really. I mean, it’s just a conference. Right?

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Okay, it’s a conference. But I don’t know of any other conference where a person’s ethics, desires, and ideas (/ bodies) are pushed to a breaking point. If you’re lucky, this four day conference strips you to your most primal self. It gives you permission to be what you want—a writer. Even more profound, it reveals who you are—the reason you write. Such epiphanies are not easy to weather.

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I find it extremely important to keep your friends close when traveling in the storms of desire. I love my Red Hen Press / LAR Family. I love the Pie Bar and karaoke nights; I love feeling like a posse of book slingers. I am extremely proud of Kate Gale, whose new book The Goldilocks Zone launched at this year’s AWP.

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I was also proud of my URC family. My UCR sister Alexis Vergalla organized a reading on a glass bottom boat that included a city race. (What?) Yes. So good. photo 3-2In an ideal world, we would all return home with three solid days to dream away the after-blur of being with 10,000+ people. It isn’t the size of the event, nor the scope, it is the whirling descent of having to face off with what and who we are.


There is more to be said, shared, posted about all of this. Yes. I am hopeful that those of you who received umbrellas will send me photos of where the words traveled. I would love to mail umbrellas to those who wanted the extra shelter but couldn’t find it.

There is more out there…so much more. I am deeply grateful for this–this something more. Love, gratitude, and most importantly poetry to all.


Please submit to The Living Poetry Project’s RAIN


I am in New York; I’m in love with New York.

New York has been teaching (or rather, reteaching me) about weather. It is giving me great lessons such as, it rains. Unlike California, where it only rains sunshine, New York gets wet.

I’ve been enjoying the grey sky and moving colors of the city. It is a lovely contrast; one that makes any rain (literal or figurative) endurable–even endearing.

This has me thinking about Seattle, the home of rain. AWP this year will be in Seattle. People will need coverings. Lets cover them in poems, yes? Please send me your poems and I will paint them onto umbrellas to give away at this years AWP. I’m sending out the call early this year, because I’m hopeful to bring a suitcase full of shelter to AWP.

Please send your poems to by February 25th, 2014. I will give your poems out here:

2014 AWP Conference & Bookfair

Washington State Convention Center &
Sheraton Seattle Hotel
February 26 – March 1, 2014

Also, if you are in New York this week, please find me at:

Red Hen Press at Cornelia St. Cafe

Thursday, Sep 19 6:00p
Cornelia Street Cafe New York, NY

Red Hen Press presents four annual reading series in New York City to parallel its own four in Los Angeles. The press hosts events at Cornelia St. Café, KGB Bar, The Players Club, Bryant Park, and Poets House, bridging the gap between the nation’s coasts. – See more at:

Laurel Ann Bogen, Nicelle Davis, Morgan Parker, and Chris Tarry.

Prom: Second Call for Zoltar Submissions

Justin Wallace Kibbe as Zoltar

Thanks to the creative forces of our Zoltar authors and the magical Justin Wallace Kibbe, our Zoltar Speaks Poetry was a great success.

Zoltar will strike again

on October 5th

for the Red Hen Kickstarter

1450 Ocean Event

in Santa Monica

If you would like to participate, please send your visionary poems to nicellecdavis @

The Poetry Prom was a great kickoff for the Red Hen Kickstarter. It is always amazing to see what happens when people gather over a common purpose.

I can’t think of a better Queen than Laurel Ann Bogen, or a better King than Douglas Kearney. These poets have enrich countless lives with their talent, kindness, and energy.

Prom5 Prom6 Queen 1Prom 11Prom

Every person, every effort, collectively makes a difference. I’ve always been drawn to Red Hen Press because they are striving to make history. There are few opportunities for us to shine; Red Hen works diligently to make the world a little more interesting, a little more beautiful. Red Hen makes the world a place where dreams can come true.

Every little bit of generosity lead to great possibilities. Red Hen needs you.  Please give what and how you can to this Kickstarter campaign.

Zoltar: Your Fortune


New Call for Submissions!!!

Please submit a short poem that reads as a Zoltar-fortune card. I will dispense these cards as a living Zoltar machine at the Red Hen Poetry Prom. With the help of a large box, paint, and cheap costuming, I hope to turn myself into a Zoltar machine and give away your poem-fortunes to readers who love the idea of a fortuitous future. Please send the future to: by June 15th.


Red Hen’s Poetry Prom

La Pintoresca Library, Pasadena Public Library

Saturday, August 3rd

4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.


Zoltar Inspired by Seance

I’m in Northern California with my good friend Johnny. Today he will show me all the places I can find vintage prom dresses and used books. He will politely tolerate my reading aloud the entire Rilke’s Duino Elegies. He will not make fun of me when I slip into my old tongue and say Real-key instead of Reel-ka. He will tolerate my desperate search for ghosts and help me catch the right buses to catch a glimmer of light—a orb of hope—the slight chance for meaning—

a feeling.

I’ve been crying a lot this trip. This happens sometimes, I become a rainstorm. I usually keep busy, so busy that there isn’t time to sit and think. I took the train from Southern California to Northern—an entire day of sitting, thinking—an entire day to acknowledge how quickly the long days slip past us.

Thursday night Johnny and I went to the Quiet Lightning reading and I was once again overwhelmed by how San Francisco seems to create families out of their literary communities. Tom Comitta’s Howl in Six Voices opened the show, and as the shadows of the audience stretched across the prism shaped ceiling of Contemporary Jewish Museum, I began to slip into my old heart and believe in ghosts. Again. It is gorgeous, and I found myself nearly green-jealous of Johnny and his Northern California shuffle through fog, hills, and beauty.

That is, until I’m cold. I don’t like feeling cold.

I do love how every inch of the bay seems heavy—haunted; which makes perfect sense, seeing how the city by the bay is built on top of a giant cemetery. While here I’ve been tearing into Christine Wertheim and Matias Viegener’s Séance. Oh, I love every inch of this book. Séance is a collection of essays that look at “Mind vs. Spirit,” “Rationalism vs. Romanticism.” Matias Viegner writes, “The proof of the thesis is in the word itself, O-U-I and J-A, the French oui and the German Ja, yes yes, a double affirmation, a joyous chimera, two yeses and no no’s, yes and yes, demonstrating the essentially affirmative nature of nervous electricity, the medium, and the talking board” (9).


In Séance Janet Sternburg essay “Trochaic” explains, “One thing I understood: history was able to make people disappear. Poetry, though, brought the past alive” (33).

I was very lucky to catch one of my favorite people, Curtis, on his way to a wedding. He needed a hundred paper fans, fifty paper parasols, to keep the wedding guest cool during the unexpected / expected heat wave. So long as we kept up with his quick stride through the gold painted streets of Chinatown, I could be alive with my own past, could be child and woman at once.

Before running into the whirlwind of Curtis, Johnny and I tried our luck with the great soothsayer—the electronic Ouija board himself—Zoltyar!!! My gold fortune ticket reads:

Oh how you love to whistle and sing

oh how you love to dance and swing

your future life with joy will ring

with all the happiness it will bring.

You have a very sympathetic nature. You devote a great many hours to the welfare of others. You have a very find mind, and if you cultivate it properly, you will be very successful. You are very fond of sports and love to dance. You have a graceful walk, and a determined step. You always walk as tho’ you know exactly where you’re going. People respect you for your determination. You will endure some hardship in the near future, but eventually everything will turn out for the best, and unending happiness will be yours.

Unending happiness? Does this mean one day I won’t have to worry about becoming unexpectedly an expected storm?

Feelings of hot / cold seem to be the theme of this trip.

They say ghosts create a cold spot—I’ve been walking around North Bay hugging myself—trying to create a hot spot with my own pulse and breath. I’ve been so cold this trip, but today the unexpected / expected heat wave has arrived and I am swimming in sunshine.

Becoming Judas is ready for pre-order on Amazon. Please consider ordering this book–for some reason I have it in my head that my art-card will be taken away if I can’t get people to buy my books. (This is stupid and illogical, and I recognize it as stupid and illogical–but fear doesn’t understand smarts and logic, so please accept this self-promoting plug with kindness.) I also love this little book; I have to love it, as  Stephen Crane puts it, “because it is bitter and because it is my heart.”


This long ramble brings me to the latest (and I think greatest) Living Poetry Project.

Zoltar Speaks!

When I get home, with the help of a large book and cheap costuming, I hope to turn myself into a Zoltar machine and give away your poem-fortunes to readers who love the idea of the future. Please send the future to: by June

Poetry Givings

Not so long ago, I sent out a call for support. I asked members of The Living Poetry Project to send me something (anything) to help sustain the well-being of the project. I was amazed by the response.  People kindly gave both financially and artistically–for example, Maureen Alsop sent me a box. This box contained the artifacts of a persona–a poem so alive it picked flowers, wrote postcards, made art, and reached into the universe to make contact

This is the dream of The Living Poetry Project–to make contact. To continue with this goal, I’ve created a Kickstarter to help fund new projects. Those of you who already sent money, I will apply it to reaching our Kickstarter goal of $500. Those of you would like to give to the promotion of poetry, please consider giving to The Living Poetry Project.

Ultimately, I would like to give poems strange alternative homes, such as bus stop benches, art shows, and bill-broads; but this will require your support. I would love to more poetry in the world; I think the worlds needs it.  We need it (maybe even more than the products normally advertised.)

Please visit and share this site:

Great Blessings to All,

Nicelle Davis