Litcrawl swarmed across the few blocks on Valencia and Mission where I spend quite a lot of my time in San Francisco, betwen 16th and 24th. I started out parking on Mission, checking out the clothing stores, & then worked for a bit in Ritual Roasters, ran into Annalee and other people I knew. Noticed that public-event feeling where people were being unusually friendly or nice on the street, a convivial fellow-feeling, conspiratorial.
I figured that on the way to the reading I planned to go to, the MIssion poets at Dalva, I’d peek into the translation readings. Peeked. Heard John Oliver Simon do a very hilariously Ezra Pound-style reading of his translation of Gonzalo Rojas’ poem about Canto-Poundiness & imitators. Voice quavering in majestic rolling sweeps! I laughed my head off. And it was a great poem. He read the X405 poem about prison and the polyhedrons that was in, I think, the “Cells” issue of Two Lines.
Then nipped out to go to Dalva. No such luck. I could not shove into the room down the narrow corridor to the back. Damn.
So, back to the One World reading at Abandoned Planet, where I caught Chana Bloch reading a prayer for peace from a book called “Open Closed Open. And “The Politics of Applying Moderate Physical Pressure”. My notes are not great – I was listening to hard to take notes. I liked the poems. Then Nasreen and Hamida Chopra reading English translations & doing Urdu recitations. hamida’s recitations were amazing – masterful – I was fascinated with the form. Olivia mentioned “Moshaira” (sp? look for link) or the “Urdu Poetry Slam” which happens soon in Berkeley. I listened as hard as I could try to learn words and hear patterns and try to match them up with what I heard in the English. “your voice” – i could hear the powerfulness in the urdu where i did not hear it as much in the English; form and density. “There’s no messiah for a broken mirror” – an amazing poem. Fez Amit Fez? I’m sorry if I spell everything wrong… I loved this poem to death. wealth – goblets & mirrors are made – they auction off mountain after mountain, ocean after ocean.
Niloufar Talebi from The Translation Project read translations from 5 different poets writing in Farsi – all from Iran and all living outside of Iran. Heavenly variety! My notes are sketchy and I haven’t looked up spellings but I’ll do that and correct & add links:
1) poet living in Australia “Post-Cinderella”
2) Dena? Bina? b. 1934 fled 1979 living in Sweden “Yearning for Sari” (region in northern iran)
3) guy – also in sweden – “Book of Fear” – “Fear #45″
4) Ziba Karbassi – b. 1974 left 1989 living in the UK monolingual “Revolution” – very powerful poem like a children’s rhyme- “starheart” – whoa! I reacted v. strongly to this poem and want more
5) Abbas Saffari – lives in u.s. published frequently in Iran – translated chinese, japanese, ancient egyptian, erotic poetry. “Revenge en Tehran”
A fabulous reading. Then I was off to Encantada Gallery for the Flor y Canto reading organized and MC-ed by Alejandro Murguia. He declaimed “O California”. Ananda Esteva read “When Latinos go Buddhist” and “Notification of Baggage Inspection” ffrom her book Pisco Sours. Milta Ortiz recited [Take me off this timeline I'm on] about not getting married. and then a longer piece about relationships. I liked the salute. “your nazi girl reporting for duty sir! mission: no feelings! objective: pleasure!” That cracked me up… rueful recognition… Luis uribe recited from Hummingbird’s Daughter – excellent – “Teresita, only a goddamned idiot wouldn’t see god in a taco.” Ruben Alexander Barron lives in the south bay – book “American Poet” – told story about monks and river and “bbrother you are still carrying her”… dithered a little shyly and then declaimed, ranted, denounced “Imperialism” in a fiery beautiful wave of conviction & rhymes. YEAH! Alejandro did another piece for us – El Camino – y “16th and Valencia” about poets & rage, blew me the fuck away. Harold Norr, Oscar Ceta Acosta. “even the furniture was angry” “I knew this was the last call… dying for nothing, freight train … a crazy mutiny aboard a battleship every porthole filled with anger and we are NOT LEAVING.” “quicksand swallow me up or the FBI… make this poem a jungle…” I dig his work, beautiful revolutionary strong violent steadfast humorous & humanistic. Chicanopalooza mentioned & exhibit at museum
Then I was off to Writers With Drinks & Manic D Press at the Latin American Club. Charlie MC-ed the first half. The room was fucking packed so I weaselled up to the front and sat at the back of the stage; I could never stand up that long, my knee is too messed up. Alvin Orloff read – from novel about a whiny telemarketer. Lauren Wheeler – poet – erotica – whip – some very sexy stuff – Claire Light read her story about the men gone and the boys disappearing, a beautiful story and the beginning especially beautiful – the onions & crease of armpit & breast & the way the boys feel their tongues in their mouths – and then I ahve read many people’s attempts to make people see what men’s rapability would really mean, what it would take to reverse the power structure and dynamic, and this story did it; how narratively to establish some of the injustice of a system, terror & helplessness & bravado – I liked the end. Why she says the story isn’t done, I have no idea – Justin Chin read an amazing long piece about… well… damn, it starts out about his dad in heaven playing golf with Celia Cruz. His work fucking rocks. I would like to hear him and Steve Arntson read together, so they could hear each other. Then Jennifer Blowdryer read from her recent book, the how-to-be tranny one, snarky and funny – Jon Longhi read some stuff from wake up and smell the beer, which was all funny and good but i have already by coincidence heard him do everything he read, twice or sometimes more, over the last couple of years! It was good anyway.
Amazing tacos and ceviche at Taqueria Can-Cun at mission & … 20th? 19th? somewhere. Then to the Elbo Room for the afterparty which I slimed into since I didn’t have an invite. Ended up sort of making out scandalously in a photobooth with Meliza and her partner. They have the photographic evidence with my phone number and a lipstick print on the back. None of us were even drunk. Told them the strange story of my fantasy about me and Buzz Aldrin in our lunar rover. Meliza and her partner just got married in Vegas! In my opinion it makes a party better to have some wild child types careening around giggling & floozyish & flirting – so why should it not be me. I’m doing it for you, people. My noble civic duty.