THE PERSON OF THE WEEK, #3: JAMES GENDRON
James Gendron is 5'11". James’ other name is Jack. That’s what everybody I know calls him. His mom and his mom’s boyfriend, Tim, call him Jim though. It takes a little getting used to. Just a few months ago, I got to hang out with Jack, his mom and Tim in his childhood home in Portland, Maine, along with Amy Lawless and Mathias Svalina. Jack’s mom made us all beef stew, and made Mathias some spaghetti since he’s vegetarian (though he hated to be an imposition). She told us all stories about Jack as a boy which embarrassed him. We were there because Jack and Amy were all on a poetry tour together, and Mathias and I just did a couple of stops with them. Both Jack and Amy had poetry books on Octopus Books come out in March this year. Jack’s is called Sexual Boat (Sex Boats). Jack, Joseph Mains and I had a good time last fall meeting up and reading through all those poems out loud, editing them and making that book into an even better book. There is an official Portland Book Release party for it tonight, in fact, at Holocene, along with Joel Statz and Joanna Klink and some bands. The first time I ever really read Jack’s poems was a few years ago in a chapbook called Money Poems from Poor Claudia. They are so good, and it was always a treat hearing him read from them at different reading series’ around town. Jack teaches some classes pretty regularly for PSU, but he also has worked calling people for donations for the symphony, and slinging ice cream and pie and shit like that. One thing I usually tell other people about Jack is that he is sometimes a stand-up comedian, but I’ve never really seen him do stand-up comedy. I imagine it might be similar to hearing him read his poems. I’ve only heard that that stand-up comedy thing is true from our friend Derek (who has a crush on Jack’s mom). Sometimes Jack would invite me to Hilary’s, his girlfriend’s, pizza job for free slices of pizza. I probably shouldn’t say that. Because he is from New England, he roots for the Celtics. We watch basketball together, but I don’t like the Celtics. He sometimes takes care of Hilary’s sister’s cockatiel, Lowell, who likes to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and then take a crap. I mean, Lowell then takes a crap. Also, Jack’s birthday was this week, and he turned 31. Sometimes I think hanging out with Jack might be like what it would be like to hang out with one of the extras from a John Hughes film, one of the ones who walks around in the background in the airport scenes, or in the school hallway, but who is clearly far more interesting than the main characters doing all the dumb talking. Anyway, because of his birthday being this week, and his first official book release party being this week, James Gendron is this week’s Person of the Week.
Pick up Jack’s Sexual Boat (Sex Boats) at Octopus Books, or at any local independent bookseller.
Please submit your suggestions for next week’s Person of the Week to me via email.