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The Bitter Poet: Finding Irony In All The Right Places (FRIGID New York 2011)

by Stephen Tortora-Lee on February 27, 2011

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According to The Bitter Poet (real name, Kevin Draine) when the audience first meets him, he makes it clear that this is no “show”, and that he has no “narrative”. He has no pretenses, just poetry. He also has a ruffled red shirt as well as a beautiful and rich perspective and the “luck” to “live in interesting times”. He warmly invites us into his life for this hour to hear of everything from a purging of crazy self-help books to a quest to woo many unavailable women who just pulled his heart-strings the wrong way.

Drawing off of the history learned in the poems (some spoken word but many etched into our collective unconsciousness as folksy ballads paired with catchy tunes) we see backwards to at least 1999 as The Poet tells of making his way as an actor and poet in life and love (and the misadventures thereof).  It all served to make him a fixture in the New York alternative scene and as he recounts stories of playing at the Sidewalk Cafe it all seems like a different age.  His stories resonate to the present in what seems almost as a post-theater performance that encapsulates yet transcends the scenes of the beautiful off-off performance art of New York.

A magic happens when hearing these stories.  They sound like Draine’s catharsis of being a modern minstrel and by sharing his Truth with many an audience he has perhaps made himself less Bitter and more Wise; generous enough to share the jokes that life has played (and at times is still playing) on him. He doesn’t so much give it to us straight as much as along a delightful road of irony to teach us the ways the world can ebb so we may better flow.

In his guise as the Bitter Poet, Draine will often play The Fool, but not merely a jester to make us merry.  We see how he uses his creativity as a poet as well as a practiced performer like The Fool -hero of Tarot- whose journey is interpreted in so many guises but whose core remains to keep being willing to put himself out there for whatever transformation the world may have ready for him.

He could have all the secrets of the universe built into the nooks and crannies of his poetic english muffin of darkness, but transmission is an important part of the experience of learning, so take the opportunity to take in The Bitter Poet while you still can.  You won’t regret it.


The Bitter Poet: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Black Box Performance Spaces
Presented by The Bitter Poet New York, NY
UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place) $10
Thu 3/3 @ 9pm, Sat 3/5 @ 4pm, & Sun 3/6 @ 5:30pm

FRIGID New York Festival 2011 will run February 23-March 6 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1sr Ave and Ave A). Tickets ($10-$16) may be purchased online at or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. All shows will run 60 minutes long or less.

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