I don’t remember where the party was, because I was drunk, though I know it was around Valentine’s Day, 2013. And I don’t remember her exact words.
But she was livid. One moment I was trying to find a way to clean cigarette ash out of my Dixie cup, and the next I suddenly had a short, swarthy, very angry young woman up and close to my personal space, her eyes shooting daggers at me from three inches away. She emailed me about her POEMS! And I had not RESPONDED or asked her to READ at my monthly LIT EVENT. Who did I THINK I WAS?
Of course, I hadn’t really rejected her. I didn’t even know who she was. What people often don’t understand is that, because I am the L.A. RECORD guy, I get ridiculous amounts of emails, because every band and PR person from high to low is going to email me every week about some new release or tour or Tumblr feed. It’s too much to handle even if that was my full time job, which it’s not. Also, I’m just kind of crazy. I have memory problems. I have problems committing to more things than I have time for. I have weeks of wild energy levels where I do eight things at once, followed by weeks when I don’t even have the energy to log out of one email account to check the other.
And that’s another problem: somehow out in internet land, I have six or seven email addresses. I’ve checked since then, and I never got her original message. So I think Sally must have sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or another such email address which is advertised heavily on the L.A. RECORD site but doesn’t actually work at all.
And yes, the angry, jilted poet at the party was none other than Sally Boozar. Almost immediately, I realized I had seen her before. She’d been at an early A Rrose in a Prose. There was even a photo of her on my blog (taken by Lina Lecaro)…
For some reason, I thought she was Adam Shenkman’s girlfriend and had just tagged along because he had been upset with me for not booking him (“just some guy’s girlfriend…” what a very sexist thought to appear in what I I thought was my very feminist noggin!). Nay! Sally had gone stag to the Hedgehog Coffee Shop with the purpose of impressing me as a poet so that she could read at A Rrose in a Prose. At the end of that event, as we cleaned up the chairs, she must have talked to me, gotten my email, and then contacted me, all of which my craziness (or, perhaps, the booze) had managed to strangle in the back alley of my personal memory lane.
Now, at the party, she needed to know why I had rejected her. I needed to answer. She wasn’t going to walk away until she GOT some kind of answer.
Perhaps I should have told her to go fuck off, and to respect my personal space? That I don’t negotiate with terrorists?
But I felt for her. She had a lot of passion, and bordered on madness. And we all go a little mad sometimes. And she was a poet. And we are a desperate bunch. I understood her hunger.
Somehow, I talked her down. And after the party, I gave Sally my very best email address, and I bid her to contact me. And almost immediately, she did, sending more poems and a few essays. They were raw but interesting, especially an “automatic writing” experiment she had done. When March came around, I had a sudden opening in my event, and I sent Sally an asking if she wanted to read.
And maybe this was my mistake… but I didn’t just tell her to read. I gave her tips on HOW to read. You see, I had now been doing A Rrose in a Prose for a while, and I kept seeing really good writers of words, on the page, not be able to translate that into an interesting aural experience. Here was Sally, someone who had a lot of emotion in real life and in her writing, but there was a shyness about her, too. I guess I thought it would be a waste if she was to get up and mumble.
So I sent her an email that went a little somethin’ like this:
If you’d like to come down and read 1-2 of your poems, I’d like to have you. My only requirement is that you must promise me you’ll read them with a LOT of emotion (anger, rage, sadness, confusion) and a LOT of dynamics (quiet, volume, moving your arms around, shaking, stomping, pointing/staring at people in the audience, turning inward, etc). It’s your choice what exactly to do, but I think if you approach the reading with the same intensity of emotion you expressed to me the other night at that party, and then you really EXTERNALIZE that emotion, it will captivate the audience.
I guess I thought I was being helpful?
Sally’s response was blunt:
People telling me how to do my poetry makes it worse destroys everything about what it is thanks for that.
So, unfortunately, this all went down at around 7:30 a.m. in the morning on a Sunday… not a good time for me! I got mad back at her, and I rescinded the invite, and she told me off again. And Sally did not show up to perform at my “bullshit” event.
But then Sally reached out to me, about half a year later. And I was glad of it. I was slated to read at an event at Vlad the Retailer, and she appeared, there, almost as if out of the woodwork. And she was very apologetic. She said she’d been going through an emotional time back in March, and that she really liked my event and liked L.A. RECORD. In fact, she’d like to intern for L.A. RECORD if we had the capacity.
And I really loved this. I may look like a fine piece of punk rock attitude with a debonair psychedelic glam flair (okay, no, that’s just the fantasy me, but you get the idea), but deep down, I’m kind of a hippie. I believe in situational ethics and free love and understanding and forgiveness and that we’re all one, and I HATED having someone like Sally, with her energy and potential, at odds with me. Fast as lightning, despite the fact that technically, she had no writing history with me, I forwarded her info to L.A. RECORD and I prepared to have her appear at some vague Rrose in a Prose event in the near future.
But it never came to pass. Somehow the email chain we had started with L.A. RECORD never completed itself, and she never did write anything for us. And she never came back to read at A Rrose in a Prose.
And she never will. Not, anyway, in the format I would like, with those words and that anger and that joy of bringing her knowledge of culture and her personal experience of life’s fullness. In writing this piece, I discovered her LiveJournal, and some of the essays and diary entries there show a person deeply in love with life, even if it’s in the role of someone demanding things: to be accepted, to have clarity, to end the war in Afghanistan! There were a lot of demands, and a lot of condemnations. This was a person who did NOT like to play by anyone else’s rules.
And that goes for me too, and for my insistence on how she should perform at my event. Sally, I’m sorry. If I had known that my performance notes would be insulting, that they would be the barrier preventing you from joining me that day, then I would never have given them to you. It might just haunt me forever.
BUT I STILL HAVE YOUR POEMS, Sally. I couldn’t help give you peace, but maybe, just maybe, I can help you gain a little bit of immortality—which may not be of any use to you you right now, I dunno, but which will hopefully help those who remain. A part of you remains with us.
For those who joined Daniel Austin Warren and I on Sunday for A Rrose in a Prose, this is the piece of Sally’s I read. Sally, I hope I read it (and I hope I laid it out here) in a way you would have liked. And if not, I hope your righteous, beautiful anger is strong enough to bring you back to confront me at another party very soon.
3 thoughts on “Sally Boozar R.I.P.”
Beautiful, thank you. I didn’t know Sally well but I knew her for a long time. She always stood out to me, her big eyes, the inherent Iranian anger and passion!!! So glad she graced us with her presence even just for a short while.
Sally was not one to be forgotten easily! At least, once we all got to know her. And her passion and, yes, anger, always seemed like such a good thing to be in this world, even if one was at the receiving end of it on occasion! She cared. She cared a LOT, and about the important things: art, and music, and literature, and herself! Too much of the world is apathetic. Not Sally. I didn’t know her that well but I miss her immeasurably.
I just wanted to say thank you. She would have loved it — it meant everything to her.