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April 15, 1998

O listens as a friend from the streets reads a poem about a rose


Famous for his brass unicorn bell, street poet and former Central Park resident Isidore Block (aka Poet-O) conducted a poetry reading in the library of Marymount College last night. I say conducted because O only recited a few himself (from memory, having forgotten his glasses, he asked for cues from the audience who followed along on Xeroxed copies with KEEP FOR $1.00 SO THAT POET-O CAN SURVIVE at the bottom of each).

Lenny the Speller r-e-a-d-s

Instead, students, fellow street people, and your reporter were invited to perform the autobiographical poems about drinking scotch in a refrigerator box on Wall Street Christmas Eve, fighting for space at a weekly free meal for the homeless, and landing in jail for accepting a joint on Times Square. Some were coerced, like the student who'd wandered in looking for a professor but then surprised everyone with a beautiful reading to start the evening, but for the man who apologized for his lispy Spanish accent and two of O's friends from the streets who shared a pair of eyeglasses it was a moment to feel important.