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Going for the Throat


Please join us for a great night of poetry and spoken word. Jim Trainer returns to Philly to perform and read with great writer Don Bajema and wonderful poet Charlie O’Hay.

Jim Trainer is a communicator. Growing up in the hardcore punk scene of the early 90’s taught him everything he needed to know about real work. Jim Trainer believes in rock and roll. It may be our only salvation in this dark world. He’s carried the torch for independent media, broadcasting as one of the early voices of Radio Volta(88.1fm)and writing for the Philadelphia IMC’s Wire in the early aughts. He’s appeared as The Reason, broadcasting on WKDU 91.7fm while writing for its Communiqué. He’s been the driver for several internationally touring bands, taking him to every state in the Continental U.S. He’s followed that Americana sound all the way down to Austin, TX where…

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This poem was wrttten to commemorate Turk leaving town. “Westbound” is a term hoboes use when they’re fixing to die. They’re westbound, going home.

Going for the Throat

this town took a hit but it ain’t no reason to cry
I’ve been crying since October anyway and Spring
has come to hit it-the blues-Spring has come to
shake it out and crown you with a bright-hot sun mane
the streets’ll be opening for summer soon
after all the kids have gone home
there’ll be a long song now
into the deep June jungle nights
there’ll be more options to get lost in
and the bluebonnets petals’ll fly like
billowing flags of victory

I could dive another season down
it’s sailor weather
I could rear down and wait it out
and hold onto punctured balloon-girl dreams
or I could tell pain some things:
we stood it up and stood it down
we paced and beat our blues
but now that Southern’s left town
I’ll have to find a new use

the grim total of your life,
the times you’ve…

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Moonstone Arts Center Poetry Presents An Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry: Featuring Austin Poet and Singer/Songwriter Jim Trainer, Don Bajema and Maleka Fruean
Austin, Texas – What is a poet but someone who reshapes the listener’s perspectives and challenges the reader to think differently about the world. Vision is a subtle thing in the hands of those who express it well.

Jim Trainer expresses his vision through poetry.

good poetry

it’s hard to find
but it’s hard to find
in the dark
hard to find
a woman with a
heart of gold.
so what?
Rumi was drunk
on the
word of god
and Papa was just
drunk in Los Angeles
Levine wasn’t drunk
at all
and Dylan Thomas
drank it all.
good poetry
sings out
it finds you
it wins you.
good poetry
takes you out of
the arena
it re-doubles you
with an impossible
it sends you
out into the wasted land
collecting grains of rice
with just a bowl
& a song.

Trainer lives with impossible – and impassioned – intimacy.

The stations of this poet’s cross have included time as a hardcore homeless punk; an acting student, a communications major, a late night freeform pirate radio DJ, a power washing remover of pigeon shit from I-95; a driver for touring metal bands; a landscaper in the projects of his native Philadelphia, a crew chief supervising underpaid hardworking minority men in converting an old candy factory into condos for the rich and largely white, and, as he recalls today, “a bartender at a pizza shop in Shitsmear, Delaware.”

Oh, yes, and a quite short stint as sexton in a Presbyterian church where he collected one, maybe two, paychecks.

Trainer’s, then, is a life led, not learned in a classroom. And he extracts from those varied experiences the essence of what it means to be a living, breathing, craving, wounded and compassionate soul in this world, mining the same rich veins that Bukowski did before him … Bukowski, who “not only showed me how to write (simply, yet profoundly), but also showed me how to live,” as Trainer notes.

Trainer, the poet, was trained by the poet Bukowski. And so it goes.

Other exemplars Trainer have turned to include poets Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine and Lamont B. Steptoe and songwriters such as Warren Zevon, John Lee Hooker, Cory Branan and Randy Newman.

So it’s not surprising that Trainer also is at home with a guitar and a harmonica, bringing his biting lyrics and bittersweet stories to life with the same fervor that defines his readings.

Now living in Austin, Texas, that so-called live music capital of the world, Trainer performs frequently in listening room venues, coffeehouses, wine bars and dive bars throughout the city. His 2010 recording “Swamp Demo” captures the unique sound he’s cultivated in the sonic soils of east coast guile and Americanish authenticity, and today, Trainer says “In the past, when something devastating or heartbreaking happened to me, I would be inspired to write a song and take refuge in music … Now that life isn’t a series of heartbreaks, I hope to move songwriting to the forefront and do it as regularly and daily as I write poetry.”

But it doesn’t stop there. The poet and performer is a communicator with a digital dais in the form of the blog, “Going For the Throat,” where he opines and pontificates on moods of the moment.

Also reading at the Moonstone Arts Center Event:

Maleka Fruean is a writer, publicist, community events coordinator, and artist. She has recently been named as one of the writers in residence at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. She’s created and organized events and programming for Big Blue Marble Bookstore, iMPerFEct Gallery, Torchlight Collective, and more, and has read her prose and poetry all the way from Tribes Gallery in New York to communal houses in West Philly. Her writing has appeared in Molotov Cocktail, WHYY News Works, Germantown Avenue Parents, Patch and Elevate Difference (formerly The Feminist Review).

Novelist, screenwriter, actor and spoken-word performer Don Bajema first came onto the literary scene in the early 90s with Boy In The Air (2.13.61). A proud son of Newfoudland, Canada and current resident of New York City, Bajema has toured extensively in the US, Canada and Europe, sharing the spoken word stage with the likes of Hubert Selby, Henry Rollins, and Jim Caroll. His latest collection of short stories, “Winged Shoes and a Shield”, was released in October 2012 by City Lights Books.

Moonstone Arts Center Poetry Presents An Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry featuring Maleka Fruean, Don Bajema and Jim Trainer.
7 pm Wedensday December 11 at Brandywine Workshop
728 S. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19146

CONTACT: Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288


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Kingdom Found

In honor of Charles Bukowski’s birthday, I’m re-blogging this. I wrote it for his birthday last year. Please head over to Going for the Throat for a poem I wrote for him, and checkout the Facebook Page for the blog as well. Thanks for reading. And thanks for the courage, Papa.

Jim Trainer

Austin, TX

Going for the Throat

Henry Charles Bukowski humanized poetry.  The stoicism of his anti-heroes perhaps betrayed a respect by many writers of the 20th Century for Ernest Hemingway.  They called Hemingway Papa.  Hemingway is not my Papa.  In plain-spoken, dispassionate prose, Bukowski included the sometimes gross and hairy minutiae of life to arrive at a greater truth.  He was not resigned to this-sometimes there is no greater truth.  Some nights there is no peace.My Papa helped me through many war-like years and he still helps me, when I must ruefully look back on those years and try and find some peace with it all.  Giving up is easy, the fight is painful.  Losing the game is painful, until you find your own game and are eternally Victorious.He wanted to “frame the agony” and get in touch with magic, the miracle. He had more to say at the street level because that’s where he lived and…

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CONTACT: Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288, jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com

Austin Poet and Singer/Songwriter Jim Trainer Reads From His Full Length Poetry Collection

I don’t know why
between trouble&the Blues
we’re expected to function this way
some small window
some real gamble
we may have
day in the sun
we may ride high
some fearless Nights
we will have to come back down
we will have to hash it out
between trouble&the Blues.

-from between trouble&the Blues by Jim Trainer

June 10, 2013, Philadelphia, PA: Jim Trainer will read from his debut poetry collection, Farewell to Armor, on June 27, 2013, at Mugshots (
1925 Fairmount Avenue
 19130). The reading will also feature Philadelphia poet, visual artist and singer/songwriter Bevan McShea (Pheonix Veil).

Jim Trainer is a communicator. Growing up in the hardcore punk scene of the early ’90s taught him everything he needed to know about real work. Trainer put in the work, playing a vivid mix of blues/folk music around venues up and down the east coast, across the country, and many, many Philadelphia bars, house concerts, and coffee shops. It gained him a following, becoming known for his intense style that rode the artistic fine balance of romantic longing and unexpected social commentary. Trainer also read his poetry out extensively, and one of the readings led to his first full-length poetry book, Farewell to Armor, published by local press WragsInk.

Trainer took inspiration from a Bukowski biography, learning that the great poet didn’t start writing until he was 35. That’s when he really got serious about getting the words down, on a President XII manual typewriter for $17. “I devoted myself to the simple line,” says Trainer, who now resides in Austin, Texas, and plays a regular rotation of music and poetry there. “I remember mornings coming off a graveyard shift, just beat-to-hell tired, pulling into the Shell, getting a quart of beer and heading home where I’d type and drink into the 8-9-10 a.m. hours. Looking back, I think I was forging a new language for myself. I had to get those lines down simple, and quick, because I was working three jobs. It was my only release. Writing has always been a means of survival for me.”

He’s carried the torch for independent media, broadcasting as one of the early voices of Radio Volta 88.1FM while writing for the Philadelphia IMC’s wire in the early ’00s. He currently serves as contributor, editor and curator of Going For The Throat, a semi-daily publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance.

Lamont Steptoe is a poet, activist, Vietnam Veteran, photographer and founder/publisher of Whirlwind Press. He is the author of ten books of poetry. He was awarded the Life-time Achievement Award by the Kuntu Writers Workshop from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in 1996 and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Steptoe was awarded the American Book Award in 2005. In 2004, rapper Mos Def, opened the Def Poetry Jam program on HBO with a poem from Mad Minute. He has collaborated with Sonia Sanchez, Allen Ginsburg, Ishmael Reed, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Sam Allen.

Philadelphia artist and musician Bevan McShea has been writing poems since childhood. He began performing spoken word poetry as Lightborn after the international success of two underground hip hop albums. Freestyle and a capella versions of the songs live on stage became more appealing than the lyrics over beats, due to the focus on the subject matter content, and after a successful feature role at NuYorican Poets Cafe,  Bevan shifted his writing style to fit the spoken word format.

Promotional copies and book samples available upon request. For more information about the reading, or Farewell to Armor, please contact Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288, jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com


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A poem of mine is featured on great writer Natalie Kelly’s blog, A Series of Moments. Enjoy. -Jim Trainer

a series of moments

the headline read:
Grim Day For A Small Town
then the cop came over
to the periodicals rack
told me there’s a
in the
but I could put my cap on backwards
if I wanted
so I did.

the clerks at checkout looked on
as I stood
at the info desk
I stood there for minutes
it was obvious I was doing something wrong
I picked up the info desk sign
flipped it around
it read:
so I went up
asked her
“Do you have
The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills by Charles Bukowski?”

I got the book
went back downstairs
and the clerk at checkout
told me
I’d have to pay
in overdue fees,
but if I still had…

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We’re All Mad Here

look at this place
a cathedral of wineglass
rising from black dunes of
cigarette ash
-from Tuesday, too late

It was true enough. Three months inside the pages of a book.  My life, otherwise ruined, was editing; punctuated by trips to the Conoco at 12th&Lamar for MCDs and big boys of Sapporo while muttering my mad verse into an iPhone and walking into the screaming afternoon traffic.
I came in from my last trip to find last nights french fries&ketchup drying on the table beside the carbons and the white sheets, the red pens and candles, the cigarettes and the wine and the ruin and the waste.  All spread out on the broad oaken table.  Also, there was a note from the publisher:

Hey Jim! If you’re going to post poems, could you possibly add more than just the poem? Maybe a little bio on yourself, the fact that you are a poet featured in the book, stuff like that?
I just saw the post (which is very good, of course!) but would like to see a little more.
Thanks so much! Great to have you posting on the blog :)

This was in response to a poem I posted on here on September 11th. I’d written it a year before, on the 10th Anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks but, much like my blog celebrating Charles Bukowski’s birthday and my blog about the death of the underground on the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind, I sat on it. I was trying to somehow be ahead or above or beyond the curve by not reporting on it at all.
I know-brilliant, right?
So I put it up this year.  And I didn’t have anything else to say that day.  So I didn’t.

I humbly offer you a little insight into my vision&process, my goals as a writer and all such droll minutiae that is my madness as I creep down this crooked road that I first stepped foot on nearly 23 years ago…

The poetry happens mechanically, mostly. I type most of it on the President XII Tower (an old, manual typewriter with no ribbon) on a paper sandwich of three white sheets and two carbons in between. This yields two exact copies of the poem, as created, and a “ghost” cover sheet (where the keys have struck but left no ink).
The best stuff flows, sure, but there’s a huge torrent of flow and it’s not all good.

Poetry is sacred to me. Poetry is the song of your heart.  It’s a wisdom of song coming to you one line at a time. There are:
rags, ragas, blues, and my personal favorite, rock&roll motherfucker.
That’s right.  It pours out like lava then.
I am aided by the spirits.  A good poetry jag can be concurrent with a bad bender, scandal&slander on the social networks, confused text messages on the phone in the morning and missing pants.
Poetry&you do not mix. Poetry, to me, is the slipped sheath of this reality, the empty mansions of the heart but with a language that is eternal. Poetry sings.
Poetry is a reason?
Poetry is some stowed away love, breaking away from the masses and the twisted wreck of my personal history and finding for peace.

One (1) night of poetry can hear me laughing, crying and leaning sodden on a turnpike of history w/:
bluesmen, swamps&toil, nightjobs, dayjobs and broads-both crazy and unrelenting.
One (1) night of poetry is like a swipe of the Matador’s cape and foolishly thinking myself brave until the next day when the kitchen/office looks like the Bull got in there and wrecked shop:
ashtray, ash, empty wine&beer bottle, thick squat glasses thick w/syrupy Herbsaint, used limes, ink&carbons and white sheets.
The white sheets.  Poetry is striking black against the white sheets.  It’s kicking against the pricks. Declaring war and reigning supreme or singing high, lonesome songs into the night.
Poetry is listening for echos and walking with the dead.
Two (2) carbons, three whites and hopefully some truth coming down through the crown chakra with the peck-peck-pecking of brittle, old-bone or plastic keys.  Real&High Adventure in the Great Indoors.
I have enjoyed the spoils of war but I have won nothing. I have conquered myself. I have lost myself.

Thank You.  You’re welcome.

Jim Trainer lives in Austin, TX where he serves as contributor, editor and curator of Going For The Throat, a semi-daily publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance.  Join him for a reading and the release of Farewell to Armor, a full-length collection of his poetry published by WragsInk, w/Lamont Steptoe and Maleka Fruean, at Imperfect Gallery in Germantown on December 15.  7pm

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