It began years back, in the poetic wastelands of Riverside. Eric Von Mizener (host emeritus) hosted a reading series in a number of venues, including coffee shops and bookstores, before landing somewhere in Orange County and becoming the North Orange County Poetry Continuum.
Aside from having one of the longest names known to man, it also was a wandering reading for a number of years, going from Borders, to a law office, to PJ’s Abbey, to the Springfield Conference Center. There, it settled for a time and began to take root. It attracted regulars such as Steve Goodyear, Michael Kramer, Carrie Robertson, Nacho, Ryfkah, Ben Trigg and Heather Melissa. It also featured a number of well-known poets from around Southern California, including Derrick Brown, Larry Jaffe and many others. It remained an intimate and friendly reading, with readers sharing work in a very hospitable environment.
Then it turned it’s attention to McClain’s Coffee in Fullerton. Again, it settled for a time, and took root. Continuing its fine tradition, it included features by the1999 Laguna Beach Slam Team, Paul Suntup, and even the debut of one of the current hosts, Steve Ramirez. After a time, as was it’s way, the reading again moved, this time to Diedrich’s Coffee in Brea. It also lost Eric Von Mizener due to work considerations and was taken over by Heather Melissa and Ben Trigg. They did indeed ask current host Steve Ramirez to help out, but were turned down initially.
The reading gained its first actual sound system (an off-brand karaoke machine, which worked surprisingly well in the confines of the Diedrich’s). It also continued featuring well known local poets such as Lee Mallory, Robert Lanphar and the Brea Borderlines writing group. Somewhere in there, they even managed to convince Steve to help host.
The first major change occurred with the name change. Heather Melissa offered to use her website to tell people about the reading, and the name officially changed to DragonPoetry! Ben came out with his first chapbook, and she and Ben began featuring together. Steve managed to slip into the 2000 Laguna Beach Slam Team, and began helping with booking the venue, bringing along such poets as Jane Cassady (okay, Ben helped there, too, but we found her at the slam!), Victor Infante and Lea Deschenes.
DragonPoetry! moved once again, this time to the Ugly Mug Caffè. The sound system was upgraded to an actual powered mixer and any number of combinations of speakers and microphones. Heather moved to San Diego and the name once again changedÖ this time to its present incarnation as Two Idiots Peddling Poetry.
Since that time, the Two Idiots have traveled to many readings, reaching out to find the many features they’ve had in the past two years, since landing at the Ugly Mug. They also shamelessly stole the traditions and ideas which they felt worked in an open/featured reading, leading to such fine literary traditions as the sorbet poet, the poet before the feature, the round of applause for the audience and of course, alternately the Lightning Round or Round of Death.
The sound has finally settled into a mid-range system. Plus, the Two Idiots have reached far out of state and across the seas to rope in the best poets they can find. They also continue to steal shamelessly, so no good ideas are safe as far as poetry venues go.