Poetry Incarnation '05

The story of Poetry Incarnation '05, the Philly Free School event held at the Khyber in Olde City Philadelphia on July 5, 2005, is a wry one. The primordial fact of the event was not evident to me and Mike Land until the event was underway: because the Khyber was on ground-level; anyone walking by on 2nd Street could look in and see what was going on; the chaotic, ecstatic frenzy of the Highwire P.F.S. shows couldn't happen. The labyrinth entrance to the Highwire, and its placement several floors up from street-level in the Gilbert Building, made it ideal for loosening up the inhibitions of a willing audience. So that, we got hype for Poetry Incarnation '05 (I had done an interview with Deesha Dyer of Philly City Paper from the Boston 'burbs about ten days before the event), lots of paying customers showed up, but beneath the surface, Mike and I knew that the basic premise of the Philly Free School (we offer you new kinds, forms, manners of freedom, so that you see what you can handle) was not able to be fulfilled. Mary & Abby couldn't make it; Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum was conspicuously absent, too. The most memorable performance, for me, was Hannah Miller's drunken screed about what Philadelphia meant to her. There was also some unpleasantness from the PhillySound poets; they expected to be a headlining act, and wound up reading without any particular fanfare, just like everyone else. They later claimed, falsely, that I "stole their money." All in all, Poetry Incarnation '05 was worth doing; it established us, P.F.S., as a public commodity in Philly; but was nonetheless not as much fun as the Highwire shows. Many years later, it is also noticeable that there was no one highlight to the entire Philly Free School experience of the mid-Aughts. The highlight was the sustained 2004/2005 peak of what the Highwire Gallery bothered to be in Center City Philadelphia; and how Mike and I managed to ride these waves towards a series of events that made the pursuit of real freedom the issue it should be among the human race.