Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘poetry reading’

Clearing the Chamber

In anxiety, Being An Artist, self-help, therapy on February 12, 2016 at 2:22 pm

“…that guy is trying so hard to get out, and he’s never gonna be the one to hurt you, believe me.  Let him talk.  Let him tell you what you did that was so bad.  Listen, you know what you did?  You hung on, kiddo.  That’s it.”
-Berger, Ordinary People

Therapy works.  Take it from me.  First time in the chair I was strung out on cocaine.  High for over 30 hours but coming down hard.  Oh, right.  Not my first time seeing a therapist but certainly the first time I wanted to.  I remember sitting in therapy when I was 20, with a swollen black eye and thinking that if I fought this counselor well that would be alright, too.

Generally speaking, something happened and I got buried.  To think on it or wonder why boggles the mind and sometimes there are no answers, no matter how hard you try to find.  Dysfunctional upbringing?  Ok.  But I had become my own man before I even left home. The self-talk I used to help me twist from the wreck of dysfunction worked.  I guess there was more than one way out, but I chose mine and now I’m free.  Or getting there.  The mere existence of self-talk is a loss of innocence.  You’re beside yourself.  Apart.  My brand of the stuff was particularly harsh and unforgiving and, well, ridiculous.  Should somebody have told the rageful 2o year old me that Ayn Rand and Henry Rollins were at best mythical but at least as one dimensional as a page in any of their hard-bitten and overwrought books?  Point is no one could have.  Their and others’ work for me was fuel.  And the point is no one did.

I’m not on here to victimize anybody.  Ok, that’s not exactly true, but I certainly don’t want to victimize myself.  Ok, that’s not true either.  Ugh.  Let’s just say that it’s a wonder nothing short of a miracle that I sit here today, mostly sober, drinking tea and reflecting on the past.  The glory and the wreckage.  I’ve been talked down from the ledge of addiction to cocaine, the depths of alcoholism and the abyss of seeking unconditional love from damaged and narcissistic partners.  Rick, if you’re listening, I owe it all to you.  You’ve been like a father to me, and we roped off my demons and laughed and cried and held on our way to freedom.

Know thyself.
-First Rule of Magic

That I do, good Reader, and often to my own determent do I know myself.  Of course there is the danger of being so active and engaged with your own issues, no one else has to be.  But fuck them.  They can go on living a charmed and unexamined life.  The real danger in plumbing your own depths is simple-you run the risk of isolating yourself.  But, let’s face it, that’s not always a bad thing.  I feel like I’m always heading for the cave, seeking out space and wide swathes of time to “write”.  What’s up for me these days is anxiety.  I’ve roped off the bad blues.  I don’t drink.  I practice Yoga.  I devoutly get 8 hours of sleep every night and fucking isn’t at the fore on my list of priorities.  I am me, at a higher intensity and for more sustained periods of time.  I’m not trying to avoid and I have allot less to prove.  Drinking and fighting and fucking.  Take these off the dais and all I’ve got left is this dream and the audacity of it, calling down to me where I sit and agonize over the details of September‘s Austin release.  I am thinking of all the right things and that’s the problem.  My identity as an artist is on the line and that’s the problem too.  I’ve been strung out on bad anxiety since I published the book, and I’ve dealt with it by laying around and watching Howard Stern.  Jerking off.  I fear the relinquishing of my identity as an Artist to the extent of paralysis.  I let another day go by with my dick in my hand without placing the ad, making fliers or editing the proof.  The fear that I’ll be found out when no one shows up to the reading is my main motivation.  Depression is the slothful bedfellow of anxiety.  Anxiety is the real and it’s a real mother.

I’ve been lucky with therapists.  My first therapist, Rick Ferry, is the man.  We trawled the savage road together for almost a decade.  Don Jones won’t let me off the hook and he’s like the master on the mountain, slapping my self-talk across the face weekly.  If me&Rick went on safari through the rich veldt of the heart, Don and I are in the pit of the arena, where the lights burn the brightest, and we’re doing work.  We will make this dream happen.  It’s my hero’s journey, and how lucky, how fortunate and auspicious that I still got a dog in this fight.

“Of course you know your self-talk is ridiculous and of course you can see the logistics clearly, after the gig.  But that’s of no use to you now.  Not while you’re in it.  You’ve got to track the anxiety.”

It’s Thursday afternoon.  I’m waiting on word to go ahead with the ad for the reading.  Waiting to hear back before I book a flight to Crescent City and a train ride back.  I’ve been shot-through and ridden since I got back from Portland but there’s one thing I can do and that is track the anxiety.  Once a nervous wraith of doubt hung, I turn the barrel around and take the safety off.  I’m not strung out on coke, weighted and soggy from booze or mad with perseverant lust-but a nervous and dreaming boy, wide-eyed and wanting more, wondering if I deserve to have the life I want for myself, but not for long.

My time here is parsed with deadlines.  I’m nothing if not stubborn, my Italian mother’s son, my cocky Irish father’s boy.



In Bevan McShea, Charlie O'Hay, Jim Trainer, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, Spoken Word on May 10, 2015 at 8:31 pm


Please join us for a great night of poetry and spoken word. Jim Trainer returns to Philly to perform and read with wonderful poet Charlie O’Hay and multi-media artist Bevan McShea.


Charles O’Hay is the recipient of a 1995 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. His poems have appeared in over 100 literary publications including Gargoyle, South Carolihna Review, Brooklyn Review, West Branch, Mudfish, and New York Quarterly.
The author lives with his wife and daughter in eastern Pennsylvania. Far From Luck and Smoking In Elevators, O’Hay’s full-length collections of poetry are out now through Lucky Bat Books.

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Farewell to Armor, Jim Trainer’s debut full-length collection of poetry, is out now through WragsInk Press. Trainer is the founder of Yellow Lark Press. He currently lives in Austin, Texas where he serves as contributor, curator and editor of Going For The Throat, a twice-weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance.


Bevan McShea is an artist, musician, and poet from Philadelphia. His journey into poetry began while living in New York City’s East Village, where his spoken word performances earned him a feature presentation at NuYorican Poets Cafe. Bevan’s style has continued to evolve as he weaves his spiritual reflections, lyrical mysticism, and his love for cities and travel into his poetry. His first collection, “The Contour Lion,” is out now through WragsInk Press.

Moonstone Poetry Presents
An Evening of Poetry&Spoken Word
Jim Trainer, Farewell to Armor(WragsInk)
Bevan McShea, The Contour Lion(WragsInk)
Charlie O’Hay, Far From Luck, Smoking in Elevators(Lucky Bat Books)
Thursday June 18
Brandywine Workshop
728 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

CONTACT: Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288

Farewell to Armor

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Got the raw, red window open to the wide, waiting world. These 3 roses on the broad oaken table will not drop their petals. The fuckers will not die. There’s a tour bus parked on 8th, the kids from Khabele are loading up for some kind of trip and I’m thankful for it. The bus is loud. It drowns out the sounds of construction workers building that insipid tower on 7th and the insufferable blower on the landscape crew (I know he’s out there lurking around I heard him earlier). I thought I’d just get back into the swing of things down here at the Office.  Pay no mention to my near three-week absence from this blog and life as we once knew it. But I’d be nothing if not honest and you are my People so-here goes…

The last two and a half weeks have not been fun.
Sorrow had marooned me in seas of cold linen and I was shot through with nightmares of loss and devastation. Waking fared little better, and it was nothing but pain in the black morning. I started every day of the last two and a half weeks with a ritual. The burning kind. The ritual was administering a type of pain I could control. 2 MCDs, 2-3 Espressos and the written word, first thing in the morning, every day for the last two and a half weeks.

It was a ritual of pain that I am very familiar with.

And what do you think I came up with in those bitter&burning hours, good&cherished reader? Poetry. That’s right. Motherfucker. Sadder than Morrissey on a codeine bender at the mink store. Ok, maybe it was somehow better than all that. I mean, we both know how pathetic that romantic shit can get and the stuff I came up with may be better artistically, but ultimately it was really much worse-for Life. That’s right, ol Grim Jim was holding court and trying to kill love by setting his heart on fire with carcinogens and hot, black coffee.
Whoa. I didn’t expect it to sound so…sad.

But I spoke to Brother Don Bajema on Sunday. He was in Central Park, feeding the mallards with his beautiful children.
“This is it Brother Don,” I told him. “Y’all are gonna have to carry me out of here.”
“Jim, Jim, Jim.” Don said sagely. “Your blues are chronological man.”
“What do you mean?!” I shrieked into the phone.
“It’s like you’ve been saying, what a drag it is, getting old? I’ve had chronic back problems ever since my Quadruple bypass. I’ve been using my 5 floor workout routine. The best single exercise is to walk up 5 flights of stairs with 10lb dumbbells extended over your head.”

Hearing from a great American writer who just one year after quadruple bypass surgery is walking up flights of stairs with dumbbells over his head almost quite shamed me, but ultimately snapped me out of it and I knew I’d have to get back to the task at hand.

“Got it, Brother Don.”  I snapped back.  “Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna turn this motherfucker out. I’m going to interview you and we’re gonna put it in print and we are gonna make ‘em know. We are going to kill it, sir, and kill it good, at our reading in Philly. I’ll get the publicist on it, we’ll send out promotional postcards, we’ll send out a bangup press release and launch jimtrainer.net any day now; I’ll be coming home in style. Return of the King. Good Goddamn. Yes sir. Fuck it. Let’s go.”
“Atta boy! Don bounded. “Now, how right on is Too Skinny?!”  Of course Bajema was referring to the silly and shameful shenanigans going on in the Miami Dolphins locker room; but if I know Brother Don at all, he’s probably figured out a way to tie it all together, and ram home what it says about this violent&doomed nation of ours.
“I’ll send you an installment for tomorrow night.  Readership dropping means I am not giving readers what they want. I’ll have to think about that. I would also like to invite critiques from readers-pro, con, in between.  The story is topical but I am not giving readers what they want. I’m gonna have to think on this. Let’s keep fightin’ Brother Jim! It gets weird for writers but then things line up and we realize we were entitled to write by virtue of intuition.”

And that was that. I was suddenly looking down the barrel at the fuckton of a workload.  It was far from the end of my bad blues, but I’m open now.
Aho I decided to open myself up to someone who I knew would hurt me. It brought me a lot of pain, but I’m a better man for it.  I chose to open myself and I am open now.
Now what about that ream of bitter, sullen bravado, those poems&screeds I wrote while conducting Kauai in my kitchen in the black&burning-bright November mornings?
That’s Art, brother. A fun way to spend your time and sometimes the only alternative to the suicide option. Don’t get me wrong, Art is great. It helps you to visualize, to see a little further down the savage road, maybe to a night when you’re not so choked with love and the world takes its boot off your fucking throat. Art can be a means of survival. It’s always worked for me.
But it won’t take me further.
And it accomplished nothing for what I was under. It was a pill but it wasn’t the cure.
Aho the reams of shit I came up with for the last fourteen days were more of a tribute to death than any kind of paean to love lost or heartbreak. I paid tribute to death by dying and I wrote it all down. I bound them all up and wrapped them in a pink chiffon slip I found strewn downstairs in the old man’s library. I titled it “the last day of mourning” and just fucking got on with it. The rain and the winter. The readings, the shows and the website. You know, life. Simple, ordinary and solitary-life. Aho.  Brother Don’s words rang true. They redoubled me.

Well, the tour bus is moving out. Those kids are off on their own adventure. Innocence is theirs, as is love. Hopefully many of them haven’t reached the zero point in their lives just yet…That day Dean Koontz has described so well, when the world as you know it is turned upside-fucked, and everything in your life from then on out is yoked by the senseless absurdity of it all, and your only refuge is some distant point in the past before that tragic day.
But warriors like us, baby, we know.  And tramps like us baby we were born to run!
Innocence stolen and true hearts broken? It comes with the territory. It comes part&parcel with the human experience and it’s one of the conditions for those of us walking around on this side of the sun. It’s the only game in town and what a life it is, Brother. For true. If winning was everything we would have said quit a long time ago.

Which of course is a gross oversimplification. I’m not out of the woods yet. There is so much more that I could say and in fact I probably will over the next couple of weeks.  But now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work.

You have renounced putting on a new suit of armor.
You have renounced growing a thick, hard skin.
You are willing to expose naked flesh, bone, and marrow to the world.
Smile At Fear: Awakening The True Heart Of Bravery by Chogyam Trunpga



In Uncategorized on November 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm


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



In Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

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 American Book Award winning poet Lamont Steptoe and visual artist, singer/songwriter and poet 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 he bought 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.

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, and after a successful feature role at NuYorican Poets Cafe,  Bevan shifted his writing style to fit the spoken word format.

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.

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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