Strange Horizons / Speculative Literature Foundation reading

This Wednesday, May 10, at Valencia Street Books — There will be a rapid fire reading and generally fun hang-out at from 7 to 9pm. Rapid fire! 3 minutes each!

I’ll be reading along with a bunch of other people, including Charlie Anders and Susan Marie Groppi, Tim Pratt, Heather Shaw, Jeremy Smith, Vylar Kaftan, Corie Ralston, Thida Cornes, Lori White, Pat Murphy, and Keyan Bowes.

I always have a great time at Valencia Street Books, because Alex generally greets me with the joy of a meerkat finding a, well, whatever the hell makes meerkats freak out with joy and spaz out, a nice juicy grub or a crippled grasshopper maybe. Anyway, zie always picks me up and swings me around in the air with strong skinny arms and a manic grin. We know each other from old “Skiffy” game-playing days at University of Chicago, where I used to kick Ken Hite‘s ass at every board game and make him beg for more.

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Flora & Fauna & poems, oh my


04-21-06_1618.jpg
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

I help to organize the Art21 series of poetry readings in Palo Alto, and am going to miss tonight’s reading. But I had to drop by in the afternoon to drop off the amp and microphone, and so got to meet Becca Goldman, the artist whose work is up in the gallery right now. I really enjoyed her graceful paintings… and it was nice to meet another sort of punky GenX-y person (she has a tattoo inside her ear) who is seriously into beauty in this complicated but gentle way. I sometimes write about punk rock lesbians smoking crack in the gutter while smashing guitars, and sometimes about lilies and egrets bending gracefully in the moonlight, so I’m down with the multiple facial piercings next to bunny rabbits and camellias.

I also love her for watching M. for a minute while I ran back to the car for the amplifier! She showed him a book about elephants who paint – he was charmed – and I tried to make him have an Educational Experience by pointing out that Becca was an Artist and look at all her paints and palette and stuff… “She is an Artist, just like your Auntie.” M. acted nonchalant. I think he does not like to be observed in the act of learning something – he likes to know everything already when you tell him, but that’s difficult when you’re only 6 years old.

Tonight’s reading features Sharon Olson and Murray Silverstein – both with books from Sixteen Rivers Press. I haven’t yet read Sharon’s book, “The Long Night of Flying,” but I’ve heard her read for years at Waverley Writers, at Jeff Grinnell’s Tuesday nights at the cafe on California Avenue, at the old San Jose Arts League, and at Art21. So I’m extra sorry not to get to hear her read a lot of her work all at once – it’s good!

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Lambda Lit night

I blame the Lambda Award reading last night and “Betty’s List” for this photo of me feeling good and just a little tipsy. I will now regale you with my shallow comments on fashion! And a few responses to the actual literature!

The reading was in the Hispanic Room at the SF Public Library. “Do you think there will be real food? Or just cheese and crackers?” I asked… “Oh, they said ‘catered’ so probably something like real food. Maybe. But you might be allergic to all of it.” The food was great; these endive apple cheese things, tomatoes and mozzerella with basil leaves, sandwichy wrap things, hellish lemon squares and brownies. All good and super fresh…

The room started to fill up. I bought a copy of Bullets and Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry. Between being tired, distracted by thoughts of my giant anthology project, and stuffing myself full of the mozzerella tomato things, I wasn’t feeling too chatty. But I did talk with Horehound, and with Nikos Diaman who is an artist and novelist and was super nice. And then I went up to talk to Charlie and complimented the chick she was talking to’s nifty fluttery-sleeved black gauzy trench coat thing, and she turned to me automatically in this certain way that was graciously accepting of my starry-eyed fangirl love, which was great except I had no idea who she was even when she said her name – it was Kate Braverman. I must fit the profile of her adoring fans… perhaps I’ll join the throng of KB minions out there! She seemed rather mad and charming. “Are you a writer?” “Er, mutter mutter, um, yup.” “You are? How come I haven’t heard of you then?” I’m sure she meant it kindly. I’ll hear her read this Saturday at Writers with Drinks!

Some library guy introduced things. Gayly. Then Charles Flowers did some more introducing and talked about the Lambda Awards & how they’re important to the country… to declare our diversity and say “here is the best of what we’re making, and it’s part of the mainstream of culture too.” I applauded this heartily!

Charlie Anders read from her fantastic novel “Choir Boy” – a few pages where Berry, a teenager who has started taking hormones so his voice won’t break, gets awarde the “mack hat” by his fellow choristers and then talks to his choir director about music and “signal vs. noise”. “If music is just about itself, then what makes it … goddy?” I’ve read Choir Boy twice. I highly recommend it! Charlie’s retro-stylish black dress fit her curves perfectly and I also loved her shiny-toed velvet and vinyl pumps. The dress was also cute with sneakers and a leather jacket, later.

Joshua Gamson read from “The Fabulous Sylvester.” Great writing, I could listen to his descriptions of Sylvester’s outfits and sparkling charisma all day long… I kept thinking of the feeling I get when I listen to “Mighty Real”… this sort of angelic utopian quality, ethereal and soaring… the sort of angel who would prance around in public in a dress made entirely of aluminum pie plates and silver angelhair christmastree tinsel. One sort of hoped… that the professorial dignity of Joshua Gamson himself might be influenced by his material… but no, he was something of a prepster. Maybe he was secretly wearing spangled underwear.

Let’s listen to “Mighty Real” right now! Wooooo!

Tirza True Latimer then read from her book about women in Paris in the 1920s and lesbian visual coding. Like, how to tell if someone were queer or not from the subtle details of their outfit. Latimer’s outfit had already been knocking my socks off, kind of an understated classy pimp butch thing, with a bronze satin wide-collared button down shirt and an oceanic swirly blue tie that made me think of all the modernista poetry and the ocean nymphs wearing only a blush and sea-mist. Well, Latimer went on to define exactly what we mean or don’t mean by “Lesbian” and to complicate that word in the finest of academic-ese so that I felt I knew what she meant even though I didn’t. I wondered if she had read Margaret Reynolds’ “The Sappho Companion” and what she thought of its construction of what Sappho meant to artists and writers in the 20s and also felt like having a good long conversation about the public reception of “The Songs of Bilitis”. Then I’d make out with her modernista necktie.

Katia Noyes read a bit out of Crashing America, a part “about guns and sex”. It was awesome… I can’t wait to read the book. I can’t even talk about Katia’s outfit because it was too cute. I wanted to steal her dress right off her.

Ursula Steck read from one of her mystery novels, a scene with two women in the woods, some creepy guys with baseball bats, and a dead maggoty raccoon. Eeep! Scary! She was dressed in black and had a cute nerdy butch dyke look with spiky black hair, thick-framed glasses, and black wheelchair. She totally had a matching girlfriend. “All in black” sounds goth but the effect was NOT goth but overwhelmingly library-nerd-hot.

Horehound read his poem “bottom who doesn’t”… “A butch motherfucker with a twelve-year-old girl at my inner core/ I’m a huge sissy and one of the original punk rockers…” I love Horehound because I’m totally the opposite. I’m a twelve year old girl with a butch motherfucker at my core. And whenever I dress up like a guy I copy Horehound’s punk sissy look. I hope he doesn’t mind.

Mattilda then pranced… sashayed… runwayed… up to the front of the room to deliver a rousing diatribe against the title of her own book, Best Gay Erotica. We are against bad, boring, ho-hum erotica that follows the genre constructed with tame meekness! And we are against boring limiting constructions of ultramasculine masculinity and we are definitely not into Gay! We were all ready to start roaring and rioting. I think some gay guys hung their heads in shame, then ran out of the room to put on plaid pants and tear up the streets. But that was just the intro. The story, DogBoy and the Beta Goth, was an edgy story about two teenage boys named alec and ben. Nadyalec and Ben read us the story with irrepressible bouncy cuteness. They were ineluctably masculine, just like James Tiptree, Jr. I loved the story… and their outfits. Nadyalec was in a black nerdy-sissy outfit with a pink striped tie from hot topic. It is no wonder people sometimes mistake us for each other (only when my hair is slicked back.) Ben was gothy. And Mattilda was resplendent. I want to write poetry to his amazing outfits of stripey plaid flowery rainbowed glory! I used to get sent upstairs by my mom to change for wearing just such ensembles! They do my heart good.

Amber Flora Thomas read poems from “Eye of Water”. I particularly remember one about the urge to carve names into wood and about love. They were sweet poems… I felt that I could not judge them without seeing them for myself… Amber’s outfit was cute, mostly black, notably cute necklace with a big semi-precious stone… I did not figure out what kind of stone but maybe it had super crystal lesbian powers or emotional significance!

Then Katherine Forrest, who was nominated in three categories, read from her intro to Lesbian Pulp Fiction, all about how seeing (and, choking with fear, buying) an Ann Bannon novel in Detroit in 1957 changed her life and in fact saved her life. I bought Lesbian Pulp Fiction, which looks GREAT. We had a nice talk afterwards about SF and the wonders of Suzette Haden Elgin’s books, newsletters, blog, emails, Laadan, philosophy; in short we are fellow inhabitors of the Suzette Haden Elgin Empire or Utopian Vision. I don’t remember Forrest’s outfit at ALL which probably means it reached a pinnacle of lesbian understatement. Probably you aren’t supposed to notice it. Anyway, today I read Forrest’s own pulp SF novel “Daughters of the Emerald Dusk” and … well I kind of laughed my head off. I am totally going to send it to Nick Mamatas, I know he will LOVE it. It’s sort of like the lesbotopian drug-orgy version of “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke. And it’s pulpy to the MAX.

We went off to Lesbian Night at this bar and restaurant, Mecca, on Market Street which if I were a REAL lesbian hipster instead of a pretend one, I would have already been to. Instantly I ran into the organizer of the event, Betty of Betty’s List, and tried to take her picture. It came out too dark. If you go to Mecca on Thursday night, do not have a lemon drop. Have a mojito. The virgin mojitos are also good. Anyway, we hung out with Elizabeth Stark, who wrote Shy Girl, and Angie and Katia and Wendy, and had a great time! It was far too crowded but still fun… and the drinks were expensive but the fries were cheap, delicious, hot, and came in a sort of bottomless basket of salty greasy-yet-still-chi-chi goodness.

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translation, Lit and Lunch

This sounds great. I’ll be going! The Center for Art in Translation sponsors a lot of great events in SF, but I hardly ever get a chance to go to them.

We hope you’ll join us on April 11 and the second Tuesday of each month
from
12:30 to 1:30 pm (doors open at 12:00)
111 Minna Gallery
Minna Street at 2nd Street (two blocks south of Market)
Downtown San Francisco

Spring 2006 Schedule

April 11: Writers from Europe and Latin America
Pulitzer Prize-winner and translator Galway Kinnell
Galway Kinnell has won almost every honor that can be bestowed on an
American poet, from the Pulitzer Prize to the National Book Award. He is
renowned for spellbinding readings. Kinnell has translated some of the
greatest modern poets, including Lorca, Neruda, and Rilke.

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Waverley report, January reading

I’m behind in my notes on readings that I go to. Here’s some notes from the January meeting of Waverley Writers, a large, friendly open mike that happens in a Quaker church. The MC, Jean Chacona, introduces people in groups of three.

Willy – “remember standing… wearing sheepskin vest, wanting nothing…” Streetcorner poem. “Before there was a before.” A bit of messing with rhyme and meter. I think for a moment of the Tom Lehrer song, “The Folk Song Army.”

Ron Lang – “Middle East Politics”

Ella Rae Locke – as always, her odd use of language stands out. She will always use a 50 cent word where you’d expect sparseness of a nickel one. It’s jarring, I’m not sure it works, it struck me at first as if she took every noun and adjective, looked them up in the thesaurus, and replaced them with the longest most multi-syllabic word; and yet it charms me as part of her attempt at baroque style. “mouth to mouth resuscitation, loaded beyond recognition, and accrue malignant momentum, evolutionary editing as involuntary as wet clothes, consenting mandatory neutralizing meaningless significants awareness nuisances lay their libellousness immunity testimony reality….” That is not a direct quote but as I listened I was jotting down the Big Words. I like the effect, in fact, the more it grates on me.

*

Muriel – “Short Stories”. “She is afraid of him. He was afraid of her. He likes his own friends more.”

Anita Holz – “Paper making”. Competently descriptive prose paragraphs. I wonder why it’s a poem. In fact, it’s not. Would be fine as a short magazine article or memoir about an experience.

Steven Riddle – “Notes of the bird.” “My lost ghost tracks me… The egret stalks; beauty eats beauty.”

*

Tom Digby – Quality vs. Quality. Dammit, I can’t read my notes and I’ve forgotten the poem. Does this say “wheelmaker”?

Dude whose name I forgot. This poem was so long and simple in concept that I began to write down bits of it. “I was a bad boy. They didn’t beat the others, only me. The cycle must end. Let it end with me. No abuse from me for my boys. So I left them. I was bad. I was not a bad man. I am a good man. I have done good things. I have done bad things. Fear into strength. Pain into enlightenment. ” Okay, it was heartfelt and sincere. But it made me think of the children’s book, “Pickles the Fire Cat”. “Pickles was not a good cat. Pickles was not a bad cat. He was good and bad. He was a mixed-up cat.” I recognize the value of such therapy poems. This one was very sweet and very clear. Just not my cup of tea.

Christine Holland – “so lightly out, brief candles… Fatima at 16… he murdered her to clean their name.” Christine has been reading more political poems lately. Much more raw and painful than what she was reading a year ago.

*
Brucey Slama – “Merlot merlot/ low to the ground/ coy as a boy/ joy for all/ tall not small.” and an ice cream poem. “Flavors with nuts/Best, I assert/ Don’t like sorbet or sherbert.” Okay. Let’s move on.

Peter Chow – Guy who wrote that one really good, long, 100-poem, with the line I liked about bones and snow. This poem is one he wrote when he mom (recently) died, and it’s a burial poem, an acrostic on “gratitude”. He read a second poem about her in the morgue. “a quilt with eight swans over us / Plato says the swan sings… /the Sanskrit for swan/ you have a good heart, mama…”

Greg Kimura – Oh, now here’s a poet. Huzzah! “The thousand and first kiss; or, how men love”. So excellent and such a relief, I did not take any notes. I’d like to hear him feature somewhere.

*

David Cummings – “The last of the leaves”. Hearing David’s poems is one of the main reasons to go to Waverley. always excellent.

John Hutton – “July 4 1998”. “You are celery and I am tomato/ and somehow we embrace/as your mother / cruises by on a Harley…” Excellent! Everyone liked it, too. Hutton’s nerdy quirkiness worked well, here.

Aline S. – “in the hospital, 45 breaths per minute from the respirator/ to keep your organs pink and healthy/ later I counted/ the people at your funeral…. your urn… we can measure that too, you get smaller all the time/day by day by measured day.” Good! Very quintessentially Waverleyish.
/>*
Rob Parry announce a meeting of Bay Area Book Arts.
(Announcement deleted at poet’s request)
Someone recommends we take a look at the paintings in Books, Inc. in Mountain View.

*

Steve Arntson – “Helicopter dust”. Another main reason to come to Waverley. One of the best poets in the Bay Area, but almost no one seems to know it.

Me – two poems, “queen of swords” which is just 2 lines, and “this is the first morning”, a hard poem for me to read. It’s like it’s in the voice of me 15 years ago. “where is the surface of my body? organ sonorous,/ when in the wave-cold blast i shrink from touch/ the present mixes with the past and I tune out…”

Bruce Jewett – “I never get screwed by car salesman/ I never play video poker/ But I bought a war, once.” So good! Another poem on paper-making; “paper a paper-maker just made…. long after I forget my own name…” I dig Bruce’s work and his aesthetic.

*

(Deleted at poet’s request)

Kit bliss Jones – “girlfriend” “Life is uncertainty, so eat dessert first.” Rhyming poem.

Len Anderson – Flamenco poem. “The deeper his grief/ the … consolation… / he too was… by the turning of the earth…” Damn. I can’t read my notes, but it was a very good poem. I always enjoy Len’s poems, usually explorations of a form, and he also has a keen pen for style. I love his marvellous parody of Howl – the silicon valley version, “Beep”.
“I am always grateful for the repetition of notes; /it tells me the music will go on / after I leave the room.” Aw yeah! Tell it, Len!

*
Judith Bishop – Ants. “I spray hot water over the crawling dishes… ” Ants on the dishes. Suburban goddess of destruction.
Then a long story. Solstice – Native american ceremony – spirals – recovery from alcoholism. This, also, very quintessentially Waverleyish. But must it be a poem? Why not foray into memoir or “spoken word”? There’s some necessary fermentation missing, a bit frustrating to hear because it’s so close, and Judith is a good writer.

Jayne Kos – Temple… stairs… I’m sorry to Jayne but at this point I spaced out and lost the thread of attention.

Jean Chacona – “Infiltration” – love – entrails – black box – a lock, but also leaks – knowing there is no cure. Another good poem from Jean. Also, I admired her black, grey, and pink argyle sweater…

*
Mary Petroski – what trick of light/makes today/ different from other days?

Nelly Capra – “Job Interview in Alameda”. Scene. wait and pray. breezes. butterfly. birds. truck. workers. sun. write and wait. Oct. 31. No clouds. Here is a diary entry or blog post…

Esther Kamkar – I’m a huge fan of her work. Esther, main reason #3 to come to Waverley and if you come and she’s not there it’s a disappointment. “Simple Words”. 1. Bones A baker bakes bread/ A shoemaker makes shoes….”

*
Robert Parry – “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”

Carol Hankemeyer – “Red” “Red is…..” etc.

JC Watson – Excellent as always. Reason #4 to come to Waverley. I always scribble like mad when she reads. “Art is made in Death’s kitchen… the war is made up. The leaves fell again this year. ..” “Where is the tunnel? You may choose / darkness, / It’s a good friend. Doesn’t make promises, doesn’t lick at your heart…”

*
At some point I began thinking hard about modernismo. The private aesthetic appreciation, and retreat into self and perception. Trying to make the moment glorious. Encapsulating a moment and its depth. How many connections can it handle?

me the moment has to have infinite connections and is a nexus of possibility. You can’t wrap it up too neatly.

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East Coast bilingual poets

“In Two Tongues/En Dos Lenguas: Bilingual Spoken Word.” Emerging poets (or student poets) living in the Mid-Atlantic region sought for a new reading series to begin this Spring in Arlington. Each emerging poet will be paired with a “master” poet. Poems will be presented in both English and Spanish. Submit 4 typed copies of up to 3 poems in English or Spanish.

Deadline: Feb. 24. Mail to:

Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. For more info
and entry forms, see: http://www.arlingtonartscenter.org.

Related posts:

status report, Art 21, Waverley readings

I’ve been sandblasted by the “holidays”, with not much leisure! Writing continues, but what critical thinking still is possible has been directed towards the SF book award I’m helping to judge.

Still… poetry! I’ve found some wonderful poets to translate, including Olga Acevedo, Marí Luisa Milanés, and María Antoneta La-Quesne. I came across a really inspiring book by Catherine Davies,A Place in the Sun? Women Writers in Twentieth-Century Cuba, and ordered it for mulling-over outside of the library halls. Here it is on my kitchen table, thanks to online used-book ordering! I’m totally drooling to read the whole thing instead of just a few chapters – and want to nerve myself to write to Davies.

It’s hard to do that! But it helps so much. I want to be like all the women who have helped me immensely, writing me long detailed emails and directing my attention… who will never be paid for it. One thing I can do is to resolve to pass it on, and try to behave that way myself to others – to be helpful and respectful, and never obstructionist, competitive, or dismissive. (Because I’ve run into that attitude too, of course!) Also, I want to make my work the best it can be…

But onwards! Tomorrow, Friday at 7pm, is the Waverly Writers open mike at Friends Meeting House, Colorado, Palo Alto. It’s usually 25-30+ poets, each reading one poem, to a group of perhaps 50 people. It’s a good slice of poetry in the peninsula, but I would say it leans heavily towards the white page-poet… I have yet to untangle who is in whose factions or has been in the same workshop for decades or who shared a poetry mentor 15 years ago, etc. All of which is interesting politics that seethes below the surface. I take notes on the poetry, and have great interest in following the poets’ development over the last few years. And don’t let my comment on “politics” scare you, because it’s a warm and welcoming group, very accepting of personal difference and of varying poetic styles.

Next Friday, Jan. 13th, is the reading at the Art21 gallery in Palo Alto. Its crowd intersects with Waverley’s but is not identical. This reading tends to be 30-ish people; the gallery is spacious and pleasant; there’s often jazz musicians who participate; they’re a fun, friendly crowd who buy books and bring wine and cheese to share (both of those things, the book-buying and the food, make one feel so loved! Not to be sneezed at!) I like to read translations there. Well, this month I’m the MC and organizer. Our featured poet is Serene, who I met at the Nomad Cafe in Oakland; I liked her rapid-reading approach and the books she quoted (I mean, who reads the feminist poet Alta, these days! I do! Me, me! and her too, huzzah!) I felt that her poetry would appeal to the peninsula poets and might shake them up a little bit. I also asked a few others… but it’s hard to compete with events on Friday nights in SF. So I think Serene will be the sole featured poet and then a break, then a lively open mike, and I look forward to doing fun introductions for everyone.

At both readings, there’s always some people from the Poetry Center San José, some from the Saturday Poets, and some from the Not Yet Dead crowd. Sometimes people come from over the hill, from Santa Cruz, including Len Anderson, whose brilliant parody of “Howl” — “Beep”, a history of Silicon Valley and personal computing, I gave to many people for Christmas this year — and we also get a spattering of people from Stanford, though I’m always surprised who doesn’t come… *cough*Stegnerfellows*cough*. Heh! More fool them, because they could sell their books, promote their work, and be in touch with the local poets, their natural base… and as I said, the friendliest people in the world…

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A few notes from Arntson’s reading and the NYDPS

I had been looking forward to this reading of Not Dead Yet Poets’ Society, and had planned for it, but my childcare options suddenly fell through on two levels. John was late, my neighbor had a complication, and so I had to stuff Milo into his raincoat, boots, whisk him off unwelcome and harried and late to the reading at the Main Street Gallery in the dimly awakening nightlife of Redwood City. Instead of composing my mind to think of my poem or even having a moment to practice I was answering questions from him about the night, the city, the gallery, Main Street, What Is an Art Gallery. Then questions about him, some from well-meaning people, some NOT. Oh, the little disapprovals and snideries! Out late, isn’t he? Is he going to be a Good Boy? You do understand that a child can be Distracting? I hope you can keep him Quiet. He knows not to touch anything, right? Rather than focus on the people I would like to talk to, I have to keep my mind focused on my son and his experience. Yes, people, I do understand that a child can be distracting. What do you think?

The temptation to answer everyone with flippant rudeness… running a spectrum from “oh, fuck off already” to “Actually, as you have correctly discerned, I am the sort of unwed teenage mother who feeds my child on diet pepsi, goldfish crackers, twinkies, and crack cocaine, and I encourage him to scream as loud as possible during poetry readings in fancy art galleries with delicate breakable Art made of glass, to express my punk rock disrespect for you and all your ilk. By the way, he has double pneumonia.” Well, I held my tongue, Milo quietly read Asterix in the corner, and John showed up just before the reading was about to start, since the rain and lack of chairs and large crowd delayed the reading for 20 minutes or so. Thank god!

Now that that’s off my chest! Whew! It’s a blog, so I get to say whatever I want!

The room was packed. Way more so than usual for the NYDPS. Really the cream of the peninsula poets came to hear and be heard. Forgive me for saying that… (Or don’t.)

Jayne Kos hosted the reading, and we kicked off with some tributes to Anatole Lubovich. Kathy St. Claire wrote in talking about Anatole’s attempt to write the shortest poem possible that would express the essence of cats: “Cat sits.” James Lee or James Li wrote in from Sacramento with a poem about stars. “Stars are maps to the soul” …that sort of thing. Bruce Jewett – who sometimes sends me poetry postcards and who used to publish small books and magazines in the.. 70s? 80s? I think the Fat Frog… talked about how Anatole was vibrant with verve but how they were oil and water.

Jayne then read parts of Arntson’s introduction. It was funny and sort of touching when in her inimitable kindergarten-teacher style she said that many things were important influence on him, including “The Burning Man” said with a strangely wrong emphasis as people normally say it with no “the” and the “ing” elided so that it’s trocheed, equal stress, BURN(uh) MAN. (Like saying “house boat” or “tow truck”. The lights went off. There were xmas lights, and EL wire in a long coiling tangle on the floor, and some zappy globes making you think of the beauty of neon in the rain. All cheesy and half-assed, but in a good way that gave us beauty and atmosphere… dislocation. Arntson in his fez and pakistani-looking tunic thing. (Salwar kameez? I can’t remember the name of it. ) A little tinsel and vaudeville. Two radios, one with swing music and one with a crackly broadcast of the Day that will live in Infamy… Fellow Americans… Pearl Harbor.. the pearl that fell into the ocean. Remarks from Arntson.

First – “She saw a ghost” which was brilliant and lovely… a somewhat halting start until he got into the swing of it. You have to rememeber he recites it all from memory and he recited for probably 40 minutes nonstop. An ode to saltines, clouds, ghosts, journeys, exhaustion physical and spiritual. His poems just keept going. You realize, “Oh. There is no reason to stop here,” and keep writing. This was one of the main head-opening lessons for me when I first started hearing Steve read at Waverley and San Jose Arts League at the minor street house. I wrote the essay “On Stopping” and began to push myself beyond – a push also helped by Diane Di Prima.

This little bit of the poem is not formatted properly. It should be rambling all over the page with a lot of white space, staggered and open-handed. Maybe I will come back later and try to do it correctly. (It’s time consuming with HTML.)

tired of all that waking state
she started to dream before she slept
And her dream was our own on the way to the lake
qualified by crackers
nourished by those same saltines
of sodium and chlorine
packed for just this occasion of reconnaissance and homelessness
So the scenery is haunted
in spite of better knowing
the night as eclipse
collapsing the sun on a diet of corn starch
seeing all the way to the stars
the last she saw before they saw HER
like rock n roll psychedelia staring back
she thought a city to have receded with all of the sun
east to westside gone
she is of the cult of the newcomer to all this terrain
including clouds
as beautiful
as the right idea at the very right time
the sky is royally appointed
therefore she things of her angels throughout the evening
and angels there may be, convening
allowed just enough substance
to startle the mortal
traveller gone crackers-giddy in the twilight

Saltines, clouds, journeys, dream and waking come together. Whiteness in want of water.

and the answer: “Pai-ute” : “water-there”
And thus a people are named
for a direction you take to slake a thirst
And now t his witching for water in the dark
Waterboarding to blue tremolo of trembling shore
so that you shudder with the cheddar
collide with nabisco, the cracker too delicate
to last the length of jolting
She studies the ghhost and ourselves
competing tangibilities
the relative corporeal
it is as if the wind had determined to be visible
beyond its agitations of botany

The deal is, you stay with it, and sometimes you can’t and you spin off into your own thoughts sparked by listening. That spacing out is okay. It takes practice to absorb and stay with a long poem. But you are reeled back in by some strand coming back. The cracker comes back and combines with cloud, or the Paiutes with water and its lack and the ghost and your attention is caught. The point of the long poem is that it is not a painting; it is a journey and you not only end up somewhere, you have travelled somewhere. Arntson’s poems are road trips of the mind. You can sit next to him in the car and enjoy the journey. You can pull off the road or space out – that’s the beauty of the trip.

He read “Wadsworth” – a long poem about an abandoned school. Beautiful!

Shark Car, which me and Rob Pesich published in the “Cuts from the Barbershop” anthology.

Synaptic Mandala – which I give a sample of here:
last bit of Synaptic Mandala: 1.6MB

And Mousetrap, to which I wondered what percent of the room got what it was about.

Well, I could go on praising his poetry and giving examples but I’d like to give that more time and energy than I have available this moment.

He passed out (free) a CD with three poems on it. Good quality recordings, but the music is intrusive and cheesy. Alas! How can this be? He’s a good musician… but must have had a blind moment or just loves his friend the cheesy-keyboard player.

To the open mike. April, Palmer Pinney with a sort of holiday poem, a couple of other people read, but I was not fully there. I read the first bit of “The Dead Girlfriend of Novalis” not really at my best. Later Jayne pointed out that I said “amApolas” instead of “amaPOlas” … er! whoops! I think because it sounds greek. But of course she is right! Bruce read a poem. Judith B. read a long poem about acorn woodpeckers, who live communally. Mary-Marcia Casoly read a poem “stay wild” about the sky and ocean.

Then the Saturday Poets crowd, all together:
Amy McLennan … ghost ships. Lisa Ortiz read an astonishingly good poem about cookies, desire, and martinis. I have written before that she is the ultimate celebrator of profundity in the suburban mundane, distilling it beautifully… dark in your bitter parts, bitter in your dark. The fierce YES of the crinkling insomniac cookie bag. More people should listen carefully to what she is doing. Robert H. “People said he had crazy eyes…” Amy Miller – In the century where nothing happened – another brilliant poem. I have trouble reading my own handwriting but I exploded into note taking with a lot of exclamation points and little stars on the page. “They washed the murals off the walls…” Quite good. A science-fiction poet and I expect to see more of her stuff out there… I wish I had a copy of this poem.

JC Watson – “for family”. “old friendship an ancient car/something always coming loose.” As always, good. Once at a readaround we took turns reading her poems in our varying reading styles. Because sometimes her delivery style blinds you a little. It’s very powerful. But the poems can be VERY different read aloud by someone else. It was instructive. It was also cool to hear her do one of my poems HER way.

Christine Holland – a poem about a painting of native americans – history – painting – colonialism – solid. I started thinking of John McPhee. She is the John McPhee of poetry? Hmmm. I’m not sure if that would please or insult her but it’s what I was thinking and I meant it as a compliment. She paints and extends vision. David Cummings in faultless flowing rhythm – “and I think of Blake’s other law,” – really a technical master and a builder of complex thought.

Charlotte talked about Anatole, a heartfelt cascade of feelings about how he was quite amazing, cosmopolitan, cultured, bizarre and fantastic, somewhat unappreciated because he was difficult and prickly as well. A story about having dinner with him and fearing death by food poisoning because the food was in the fridge but the fridge didn’t actually function as a fridge… And he is quite stubborn and of course no way to convey to him that maybe chicken should be kept particularly cold. Charlotte really is grasping over saying something between a (self and other) reproach and a confession of love for us all as a community, that… she didn’t realize until he was gone how much she would miss him, this person almost a stranger whose work she has known for so many years, seen once, twice a month at Events… And that maybe we all are that important to each other and that is as it should be – but how to recognize it? What does it mean? That’s what I felt she was saying.

Patrick Daly – read a poem of Anatole’s. I riffled through a couple of magazines but he chose the best poem of Anatole’s from that selection ‘ “Grey Hereafter Ever After” and I did not want to read one that was an order of magnitude less interesting (all the others.) A poem castigating the “grey breath” of hedonophobes. Anatole at his best when formal and technical and exquisitely clever. I like his sonnets. I am not a neoformalist or any kind of formalist, but I enjoy formality when other people do it well, and I don’t give a rat’s ass what’s in fashion. As if we are limited by time! Bah humbug!

Steve Arntson stood up again to recite (from almost-memory) a sonnet of Substance by Anatole. “When I consider the things that swirl through space…’ …”I am amazed that I can reach this far…” Alas, I cannot memorize a poem or even write fast enough to keep up. I could have typed fast enough to capture most of it, but was not quick on the draw with the laptop.
Arntston passed out a packet of poems, some typed, some xeroxed from his manuscripts. This made me so happy! I begged him and begged him to do it! And he did, huzzah! I want everyone to appreciate his genius.

Everyone cleaned up, and left quickly… and Arntson was off to take the train to his night watchman job at a huge downtown building, a granite palace where he makes Tchaikovsky echo off the dimensions of Solomon’s Temple.

A great, memorable reading!

I always take brief notes and looking back on them can rememeber and reconstruct most of an evening. I feel self-conscious to type it up with everyone’s names… but I hope they enjoy coming across it if they do some vanity googling.

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Some notes from Waverley

From last Friday. I can’t transcribe all my notes, but I thought it might be fun to mention the people who read.

Intro by Karen Grosman.

Willy
Kit – her first time reading here. We all applaud and give her The Love. “Shepherded”.
Tony – poem about the Mekong river
Anita Holzburg – “Chances”
Jayne Kos – “Road Trip”
Charlotte Muse – I don’t have a title but it was something memoir-ish. I often really enjoy Charlotte’s pensive musings.
Karen Grosman
Brucey Slama – poem about the Holocaust.
Jackie Marderossian – Abomb, steamer trunk, small girl named Yoko, Magritte’s attitude towards objects. I follow Jackie’s work with interest. She experiments quite hardworkingly with form and subject material and I always think she is on the edge of finding a solid voice. Sometimes she catches the bus and sometimes not. More and more often, yes.
Steven Riddle – a quirky poem and I am not sure if he said “K9 Down” or “Canine Down” or something else, but I thought of that William Burroughs poem where he starts rambling about “Pilot K9, you are cut off.” A really wonderful last line in this poem that I wish I had written down or retained but it had something to do with marigolds and calendula.
Mel – the guy I think of as “The Anchorman”. A poem, rhyming & hilarious, to Anatole Lubovich.
Lu Pettus – grandchild in front of the mirror. Good. blank verse. Or, dips in and out of blank verse. Lu usually writes long narrative fantasy poems that seem to be set in some kind of consistent mythical world of her own invention. This mirror poem is a departure from that and it is quite good.
Rob N. – A villanelle. Kachina’s keep.
Tom Digby – Christmas on Terra. I always enjoy Digby’s flights of fancy. They are not “good” poems by literary snootypants standards and are often prosy, a thing which normally bugs me. But in his case it doesn’t bug me. They are vignettes and explorations of a wacky idea – in a way that entertains. (Therefore they ARE good.) Often people quietly roll their eyes or don’t know what to make of his stuff.
Sharon Olson – she reads “Blood Soup”. (Which was in Composite#2). I think last year Sharon joined the Sixteen Rivers collective. Her work is meditative, page-poety, naturey. I think of Sharon, Charlotte, Jean Chacona, Christine Holland, Patrick Daly, David Cummings, and some others as representative of the core of Waverley’s thing. Thing. But it’s a tight, odd community and in so many ways I’m an outsider in it. I think there are people who have been poeting and workshoping together for 20 years and I never understand those nuances. And for god’s sake, their work is so good, but it seems like it never gets published anywhere, which makes me crazy when so much inferior work gets published. Anyway – Sharon also is a founder and organizer for the Art21 reading series.
Marie Solis – a sonnet.
*** BREAK ***
Thanks to everyone who bought my little magazines! Yay, lunch money. I put some right back into Jackie M.’s fund for gas money etc.

Steve Arntson – Portal of Bones poem. I prompt. Actually during some of the above readings I was puzzling out Steve’s splotchy handwriting in his tiny notebook. I love this poem. He left out a lot of bits. I could feel its layered rush.
Me – a translation of nestor Perlongher’s poem “Para Camila O’Gorman”. It is weird and nonlinear. I can’t remember if I’ve read it before, here. I kind of garbled it. Oh well. All my recent work is way too long to read here so it’s translations away!
Person whose name I just can’t remember. OMG. I should. I have only known her for 4 years. Judith? Oh hell. I’m senile. She read 2 poems. Prophecies and healings. Katrina. Streetcar.
Mary Marcia Casoly – Pomo poem written at/about Asilomar. about objects and stuff. I often like her poems’ odd jumping around, very ethereal. They come at you sideways. This one did not grab me… a couple of lines did but I can’t remember thm.
Kathy Abelson – family poem. a memoir about moving to Los Altos or Sunnyvale back when it was all orchards. Actually, this is another very typical thread of what I think of as typical Waverley poems. It’s a thing they have going on. Exploration of memoir and family memories, especially connections with the dead and time. Everyone quick go read “Remembrance of Things Past.”
Jean Chacona – “Unity” . Jean has a very strong particular individual voice, quiet and definite. She works in an orchid greenhouse, I think. Or used to. She’s right in there with the meditative nature poem and Zen bonding with flowers or one particular leaf. She should team up with a painter for a poem/painting series.

At this reading I missed hearing Robert Pesich, David Cummings, Christine Holland, and Patrick Daly. I haven’t been able to come to Waverley very often this year because of my school schedule in the spring, and then doing hurricane relief work and getting really sick this fall. So I felt like I didn’t get my fix! They had better all read next time or there will be hell to pay.

Oh yeah I have one more slightly catty thing to say. It doesn’t make it poetry just ’cause you leave out the “the”s. Remember that now. If you’re doing that to make your poetry seem less prosy – a noble goal – you need more radical surgery. Leaving out pronouns is just as bad. I’m not sure exactly what to tell people. Go read some super tight good poetry and diagram its sentences? Or its lack of sentences? Rewrite two of your lines 10 different ways? Maybe take that good poem and mess it up by rewriting two of its lines to be as bad as possible? I should come up with an exercise for it.

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Obituary for Anatole Lubovich

I’ll miss Anatole. He livened up the Not Yet Dead Poets Society of Redwood City for so many years!
At readings I would often beg his tiny, thick notebook and read through it. What excellent sonnets! He was a well-read, masterful formalist with a great sense of humor – I especially liked his dirty limericks about Milton. It seemed like he was always winning Esperanto haiku contests – he was just that sort of person – truly interesting and quirky. Hopping around madly, hyper, a little guy in glasses with a neat beard, sharp-tongued and sparkly. After he moved to Sacramento, he’d take the bus all the way back to Redwood City to come to the monthly readings of the Society he founded. He came to the Chimera Books translations readings, too, and at times to Waverley.

This Wednesday at the Main Street Gallery in Redwood City, at 7pm, there will be a reading – featuring Steve Arntson, but also I am sure there will be many tributes to Anatole during the open mike.

Anatole Taras Lubovich…
Was born on March 9, 1937, in Ukraine. During World War II, Anatole and his family were interned in a prison camp and following the war lived in refugee camps in Germany. By the time the family emigrated to the United States in 1950, Anatole had become fluent in several languages and had developed his lifelong love of words. He eventually studied 14 languages, with a particular passion for English which he spoke and wrote with precision, wit and elegance. He loved literature, particularly poetry and the plays of Shakespeare. He received a degree in musical theater from San Francisco State and appeared in numerous theatrical productions.

Anatole worked for many years as an engineer and a teacher, but it is as a poet that he will most be remembered. He was published in anthologies and journals, won several awards, and was featured at readings. Anatole translated poetry into English from Ukrainian and other languages. He was founder of the Not Yet Dead Poets Society on the Peninsula and, after moving to Sacramento, became active in the local poetry community. He was also active in the local Humanist organization. He was an Esperantist, a philatelist, an opera lover, and an ardent bibliophile. Anatole passed away on November 16, 2005, as a result of complications following coronary bypass surgery. He is survived by his sisters, Lily Empie of Wassila, Alaska, and Rose Wirolubowich of Oakland, and by his significant other, Do Gentry, of Sacramento.

Published in the Sacramento Bee on 11/23/2005.

I feel like I should post something by him, but all I have is his “Ten Suggestions for Reading Poetry at Open Mike”.

STAY AWAKE. When the emcee calls on you to read, be ready with a legible, familiar copy in hand. Shuffling through papers shows you’re not with it, wastes time and is inconsiderate. If you’ve got nothing to read, dont. It’s cool to come only to hear others; actually, it’s more of a compliment. Don’t read a poem written by another dude just to read something, and nev er read some crap you just scribbled on a napkin. Take it home; in time, you may turn it into a poem, but not tonight. Show respect for the art.

BE COOL. Don’t get shook up – there’s nothing to be afraid of. You are among friends who are dying to hear you. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you should make a fool of yourself, no big deal – that won’t be the first time, will it?

DON’T RUN YOUR MOTOR IN IDLE. Keep an introduction, if any, very short. Do not apologize for your work, offer excuses or long descriptions of circumstances and the process of writing. Such explanations are seldom called for, and seldom will they result in your work being viewed in a better light.

DON’T SAY WHAT YOU’RE GONNA SAY. Your piece shoudl say it for you. If it does not, take another look at it. But, if the poem contains a strange word, comes in some special form, or has some other kind of weirdness, where it would be a help to the listener to be prepared or warned, point it out, by all means.

KEEP TRACK OF TIME. Follow the rules of the program; don’t abuse t hem. If the emcee lets you read one poem, read one poem. If the limit is five minutes, read four, not six. Exceptions should be cleared with the emcee before, not at the time of, reading. Time your poems beforehand. Keep in mind that any introduction is a part of your allotted time. Don’t try to wow the audience with the volume of your works; leave some for next time.

READ SLOWLY AND CLEARLY. Do not hurry. Read in a voice loud and clear enough so that the farthest listener will understand you without strain. Do not swallow the initial or final sounds. Mumbling is for prayers. Mumbled recitation is a waste of time of both the reader and the listener.

DO IT WITH FEELING. Put life into your words. Make it easy for the audience to feel the cadence and grasp t he meaning. Treat poetry as art. If you can’t communicate the meaning of your work, how can the other cats make any sense of it? Nothing is more boring than hearing words mouthed off monotonously and mechanically.

DON’T MAKE ‘EM PUKE. Different themes and styles are expected and welcome. Although neither the subject matter nor the vocabulary is censored, it’s a good idea beffore reading to check out the crowd as to what the prevailing attitude of the people you are about to entertain seems to be. Do not test the hearers’ tolerance by grossing them out with gratuitous obscenitites. Don’t make a mockery of the art and you won’t be remembered as “The Gross One.”

DON’T SPLIT before the program is over. Reading your piece and then leaving without hearing those who follow is a major breach of etiquette. It is likewise a bad scene to arrive late just to hear yourself.

COME BACK (unless asked not to). It is hoped that your reading will provide pleasure and that you will enjoy hearing others. Introduce yourself to and make friends with poets in your community. Contribute to the program with your presence and support.

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