There wasn't a theme last week at Ekphrastika, a new reading series that takes place the third Thursday of every month at the Center on Contemporary Art, but everyone was encouraged several times to donate money. Ekphrastika is a project of the literary-arts nonprofit Eleventh Hour Productions, and Larisa Lomacky-Moore, who hosts the event and looks intense, began the night by explaining that donations would help with "continuing wonderful events like this and the equally wonderful poetry slam." As an aside, Lomacky-Moore announced that the organization has come up with some "extra special events to liven up the summer." They include one in which everyone is to strap on winter boots and "go on a walk of the seasons," and another that involves, if I heard her correctly, Jell-O.

The reading began with a viewing of "videopoetry" by Heather Haley that started out with images of flying cars and ended with a woman writhing on the floor, clawing at her own face. Then Kayt Hoch got up to read. Hoch has a buzzed head, giant bangs, and a personality somewhat in keeping with the videopoem that preceded her. She read one poem called "Pieces of Faith" and one called "War Isn't the Answer" and one that included a line about "when socks become mysteries and shoes don't belong," and her pieces were all bookended by considerable transitional material. For instance: "The next one's kind of new. So, if you'll indulge me while there's still ink drying on it, we'll see how it goes." And, "This one's a little closer to home. It's called 'Social Disease.'" And, "Thanks again for indulging me on the new stuff. It helps me...."

After helping Hoch in perhaps more ways than it had signed up for, the audience was then treated to a short story by Ryan Boudinot about a kid whose mother chops up children and whose father works in a crayon factory. It was excellent.

A tin lunch box was then passed around, in which you were to put your mandatory $5 donation, like at church.

Then the third reader, A. J. Rathbun, took the stage wearing shorts and reiterated the need to keep the cash flowing ("Give them your money if only through drinking at the bar"). Then he read and perspired. "I might sweat a lot," he explained at one point, "but I'm going to keep hydrating throughout, so there's no fear that I'm going to pass out." Undoubtedly, the audience did not fear that event so much as hope for it, since Rathbun's poems ("...a matinee is a Sunday/as an ex-lover's hair is a Sunday afternoon...") were unspeakably bad, and long. After a good number of them, Rathbun said, "So, according to this watch, I've only read for six minutes." The audience blurted a kind of terrorized laugh. The poet chuckled menacingly and continued.

After the reading, Boudinot said to the person sitting next to him, "Another landmark night in American literature."

frizzelle@thestranger.com

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