spc Sacramento Poetry Center
poetry now may / june 2011
Book Review: Maia Penfoldâ€™s Red Buddha n interview with Keith Ekiss
Free featuring Kate
Hernandez Castillo Patricia
young voices Poems from poets under the age of eighteen.
Casey Lum Ellie Ridge
Shadi Gex and Agnes Stark are Poetry Now poetry editors. James Benton and Shadi Gex were featured alumni readers for the first day of the CSUS Festival of the Arts. This photo was taken after their reading. Photo by Sandy Thomas.
SPC Annual Membership meeting & ElectionS
August 8th â€˘ 6pm 1719 25th Street Sacramento
What a fine little book this is. Red Head Woman by Gene Avery little m press, 2011
I say little because it runs only forty-five pages, not because its impact or artistry are small, and I could have said fun in addition to fine, but calling something a fun little book might trivialize what instead is a real achievement. continues on page four
May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 1
Poetry Now, the Sacramento region’s literary review and calendar, is published by the Sacramento Poetry Center (SPC) and is funded in part with grants from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. Submissions of poems, artwork, reviews, and other work of interest to the Sacramento poetry community are welcome. Note that work submitted may also appear on the Poetry Now website. Poem Submissions Submit poems and a 30-50 word bio to the poetry editor at SPCPoetryEditor@gmail.com. Electronic submissions preferred. Distribution
Poetry Now is distributed in area bookshops, Sacramento City and County libraries, and by mail to member-subscribers. If you are interested in receiving Poetry Now, or want multiple copies to share with others, please contact us. Editor: Trina Drotar Interview Editor: Lisa Jones Interview Contributor: Dorine Jennette In Dialogue: Alexandra Thomas Poetry EditorS:
Shadi Gex, Alexa Mergen, Agnes Stark Staff: Linda Collins, Sandra Senne Design/production: Richard Hansen Copyediting: Shadi Gex, Ann Wehrman Social Network Publicist: Shadi Gex Staff Photographers:
Trina Drotar, Sandy Thomas
SPC The Poet Tree, also known as the Sacramento Poetry Center, is a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing forums for local poets—including publications (Poetry Now and Tule Review), workshops, special events, and an ongoing reading series. Funded primarily by members, SPC is entirely run by a volunteer board of directors. We welcome your input and your interest. Board of Directors:
Bob Stanley, President Tim Kahl, Vice President Sandra Senne, Treasurer Frank Graham, Secretary Theresa McCourt Kate Asche Alexa Mergen Linda Collins Lawrence Dinkins, Jr. Rebecca Morrison Jonathan Schouten Trina L. Drotar Emmanuel Sigauke Paco Marquez Mary Zeppa contact information: 1719 25th Street • Sacramento, CA 95816 firstname.lastname@example.org • 916-979-9706 www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org
2 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
bob stanley Yesterday, I had a chance to attend my first SAYS slam competition, and it was exciting to see 35 young people read or “spit” their own poems—original work.The students ranged from 11 to 18, and they all were brave enough to get up in front of a big audience and say their piece. SAYS is a very worthy project that brings together hundreds of students and gives them a voice. If you get a chance to attend the final slam in Davis on May 13, I’d recommend it highly! Kirk Parker, a great friend of SPC and the entire Sacramento artistic community, passed away suddenly in March. He was a creative and gentle soul, and it was always a pleasure to see him arrive at a reading. Kirk was only 50, and it’s hard to believe he’s not still working, writing, and helping others in the community events he loved. We’ll miss Kirk and his intellectual flights of fancy at the open mic. Alexa Mergen and I visited New Folsom Prison in March, and it was both a sobering and an inspiring visit. We had the chance to work with about a dozen men who are in a writing group. They all wrote short pieces and shared their work, and we talked about different elements of poetry. It was two hours of quiet conversation, artists talking about what makes art work. SPC is honored to support their work, and I really appreciate the work Alexa is doing to continue these visits. Thanks to everyone who has helped make poetry events happen this April. Ladies Night Out at the Guild was a full house, the Sister Spit: Next Generation at the California Stage was a big splash and a first-time collaboration between SPC and Poetry Unplugged/Frank Andrick, the SPC Poetry Conference was a great success, the Opening Day Poets event was a home run, and LitFix at the Crocker was a night to remember. It takes a lot of dedicated poets and friends of poetry to keep the art alive—thank you!
First WednesdayS poetry Series Hosted by Bob Stanley 6pm. Central Library, 828 I Street. Sacramento
Calls for Submissions Write for Details
Young Voices SPCPoetryEditor@gmail.com Snail Mail Review email@example.com Tule Review firstname.lastname@example.org
Contests SPC Book Contest • sacpoetrycenter.wordpress.com Swan Scythe Press • www.swanscythe.com a publication of the sacramento poetry center
small press corner
Swan Scythe Press http://swanscythe.com Swan Scythe Press is a local, small publisher “committed to discovering and publishing the best new poets in America today.” Currently headed up by James DenBoer and founded by Sandra McPherson, Swan Scythe has published award-winning books by authors such as Francisco X. Alarcon, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Nwando Mbanugo, Betty Davis Miller, Yosefa Raz, Joan Swift, and Nhan Trinh—and will release a book by its newest author, Patricia Killelea, this spring. Patricia, along with Shadi Gex and Marcelo Hernandez, will read at SPC on June 6, 2011. Her new book will be available for purchase and signing. Please look for poems by these three poets in this issue of Poetry Now. Swan Scythe also sponsors an annual chapbook contest. The June 1, 2011 deadline is fast approaching. For details, please visit their website where you will find additional authors, a list of titles published, and more information about this local press.
behind the scenes For three years, Linda Collins has managed SPC’s membership roster and has produced mailing labels for Poetry Now. For the past year, Linda has worked as a co-editor of Tule Review and co-host of the release readings, which are always well attended. About herself, she says,“Like our other SPC board members, I write poetry and participate in various writing groups. As for my day job, I am a project manager for AT&T. There’s nothing much poetic about that!”
spc tuesdays poetry workshop
Facilitated by Danyen Powell 7:30pm. E.M. Hart Senior Center 915 27th Street. Sacramento New and experienced poets welcome. Bring 15 copies of one, one page poem. www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org
Trina L. Drotar We’ve come a long way this past year. We’ve added more photos, more columns, and are distributing more widely than ever before. Thanks to our designer, Richard Hansen, our online version is in full color. A great group of people invests much work and love into each and every issue. “Young Voices” and “In Dialogue” have become popular, as has “Small Press Corner.” A few issues back, I suggested that you attend readings outside of your comfort zone. I wonder how many of you have done so. One reader, Sacramento’s own Sandy Thomas, did. Look for her reflections in this issue in “Event Mirror.” Speaking of readings and events, have you checked out the following Sacramento venues: Red Night Poetry at Beatnik (3rd Wednesday – hosted by Genelle Chaconas), Midtown Out Loud at Mondo Bizarro at 19th and I Streets (1st and 3rd Wednesdays), or Art Bazaar put on by Sacramento’s own Yaz and featuring poetry, art, and music every second Saturday? Look for more information on Facebook. Another event that I will not miss is the Squaw Valley Community of Writers fundraiser at the Crocker Art Museum on July 15 featuring Robert Hass, Sharon Olds, and many others. Tickets are sure to sell out fast at $20 each. I’ll be there, will you? Poetry Now will be on hiatus for the July/August and September/October issues. Poetry Now will return for the year-end special issue in November, which is the last issue I’ll work on with Richard Hansen and the rest of the Poetry Now team. Please note that adult submissions of poetry have been closed. Young Voices poetry submissions should be sent to this new email, PNyoungvoices@gmail.com. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to email me at PoetryNowEditor@gmail.com.
Poetry Event Calendars n medusaskitchen.blogspot.com n eskimopie.net n sacramento365.com May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 3
Book Review by Bill Pieper
Red Head Woman continued from the front page
I’ll confess, too, that I had doubts when I picked it up. The typeface often changes and changes size in midpage, and also wanders about in a way that takes some getting used to, and there’s quite a bit of unattributed or minimally attributed dialogue, as well as slang and nonstandard use of language. For those not typically drawn to the surreal—a category that includes me—such things can pose a challenge or even cause migraines, but in this case, no problem. The reader of Red Head Woman quickly acquires a sense of clarity and of the book’s logic, which ultimately the typographical hi-jinks both support and enlarge, and the same applies to the clever artwork, also by Avery, that appears throughout. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed it. By coincidence, I read Flannery O’Connor’s celebrated novel Wise Blood at the same time as I read this book, and while they’re not at all similar in plot, setting or theme, they are in their quirkiness, their originality of language and dialogue, and in the creation of compelling fictional realities via the slow, seemingly effortless, accretion of detail. In this latter respect, in fact, Avery’s book may even be superior. What we have is a street-weary main character who is endlessly loyal to his former lover, the red head woman in question, whom we never meet except in his memories, because she has mysteriously disappeared. In his off-and-on search for her, however, our unlikely hero arouses the unwelcome suspicions of the cops. Much of this emerges through dialogue, with the settings described only in passing, yet we still come away
with a strong understanding of who these people are, of their humanity, their longings, and of the places in the Sacramento region that form the background of their lives—a very impressive writerly trick. The current volume is known to be an excerpt from a longer work and it’s billed ironically on the cover as Book 4–Module 1. Avery says more installments may follow, or they may not, as the spirit moves him. If any do, though, I’ll be an eager buyer, and will meanwhile just have to be nostalgic for the days when pulpy magazines made it possible for the likes of Dickens and Dostoyevsky to publish serial novels as a routine thing. Of course they’d be doing that on the Web now, so maybe Avery will too.
SPC will be closed on Monday, July 4 4 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
a publication of the sacramento poetry center
Book Review by Ann Wehrman
The poems in The Red Buddha comment naturally and perceptively on deep-life issues, without artifice, with humor and restraint, using simple, everyday diction and mostly mundane images from daily life.
Truthsayer It is tempting to scrutinize the poems in Maia I do not admire her work because it takes me The Red Buddha Penfold’s The Red Buddha with a twenty-first back to the 1960’s, however. Penfold’s poems century, product-of-an-English-graduate-school by Maia Penfold resonate with timeless humor, sensuality, life, and program, literary-critic’s-arguably-jaded eye. As Hcolom Press, 2010 wisdom. The understanding and confidence in such, one might find fault with Penfold’s style her voice and her message speak from millennia as appearing unpolished or overly humble. ago, quietly and steadily with women’s wisdom Penfold’s “I’s” are lower case; in fact, almost no or that of the world-inheriting meek. words are capitalized in the collection (including Rather than featuring fancy wordplay or proper nouns). Seemingly randomly, certain poems have every obscuring subject matter through a decorative style, first word capitalized. Penfold’s diction is straightforward the poems in The Red Buddha comment naturally and and unsophisticated rather than complex. Line breaks seem perceptively on deep-life issues, without artifice, with random rather than calculated to enhance meaning. humor and restraint, using simple, everyday diction and However, with sincere respect for such nay-saying colleagues, I confess Penfold’s poems in The Red Buddha move me, both as a woman and a human being. Penfold, originally Gerda Penfold, is an octogenarian who lived and wrote poetry in the 1960’s in California and whose voice has not lost the humility and deep connection to humanity, Earth, and the entire universe for which the flower children of that decade traded brain cells, corporate jobs, university educations, and the American Dream.
Rattlesnake press Presents
Wednesday, June 8, 7:30pm Join us for the release of INSIDE (Love Poems) A new Rattlechap Chapbook by
Ann Wehrman All at The Book Collector (Home of the Snake) 1008 24th St. Sacramento
mostly mundane images from daily life. Her words breathe, the lines breaks creating readable, rather than intellectual, emphasis. In “Sturm and Drang,” she writes:
the words are heavy indigo shot with lightning shudders advancing relentless a downpour we are wet soaked to the skin with rain strum and drang the words wring us out this is my mother tongue ………………………. midorsin migeesegau the cree woman said saying it’s a nice day her syllables soft floating like feathers her words a song of praise. (1-8, 38-42)
The seventy-six poems in The Red Buddha read like stories told on a long, road trip or before a campfire. They air Penfold’s wisdom and commentary on issues ranging from childhood memories to twin souls to Paul Klee’s paintings to Marilyn Monroe. One can hear Penfold reading these poems. One can imagine her reading from a sheaf of pages clutched in one hand in a warm kitchen with mugs of comfort all around. One can hear her reading aloud in a field of corn, the wind taking the pages from her hand one by one as she finishes them.
May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 5
by Dorine Jennette
Cover More Ground:
Keith Ekiss on Place, Story, and History Keith Ekiss is the author of Pima Road Notebook (2010, New Issues Poetry & Prose). His poems have appeared in Blackbird, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, New England Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. His translations have appeared widely in such journals as Circumference, Copper Nickel, MidAmerican Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, and Subtropics. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford, Ekiss is now a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing there. He teaches courses in poetry and other genres, and for Stanford’s Online Writer’s Studio, he teaches poetry and creative nonfiction. Pima Road Notebook is a linked collection that interweaves personal narratives, lyrics of landscape, and exploration of the Southwest region’s complex cultural mix and history. The book braids together observations from a childhood spent in Arizona’s suburban desert-scape, sequences exploring the natural history of the area, and stories of its original inhabitants. In these latter poems, Ekiss sketches the Pima people’s pre-colonial traditions, architecture, and agriculture, and then their suffering at the hands of westward-moving European expansion. He studies also the changes in the area’s bird and plant life that have accompanied its changes in population. Pima Road Notebook combines ecopoetics with accessible, musically tight narrative and lyric pieces. Ekiss’s connection to the Sacramento Poetry Center began with his first published poem ever, which appeared in the Tule Review. More recently, Keith Ekiss’s wife, poet Robin Ekiss, read at SPC in 2009 from her book The Mansion of Happiness. Keith will complete the Ekiss family SPC showcase when he reads from Pima Road Notebook on July 11. Jennette: Pima Road Notebook is an intricately layered
work. At what point, working on the individual poems, did you realize you were writing a linked collection? Or did you know from the beginning? Ekiss: I definitely didn’t know from the beginning that
I was writing a linked collection. Knowing where you want to go with your material as a poet can be helpful, [in that] it gives you a place to return to each day, much like a fiction writer working on a novel, but it can also impinge on your creativity, making you write for the collection rather than for the poem at hand. I steered a path in the middle of these two options: I wrote poems about the Southwest for a long time, but I also wrote many poems about other topics, often related to place, that ended up not belonging in this collection. As my writing progressed, it became clear that the better poems, the ones with the most emotional energy and complexity behind 6 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
them, were about my childhood in Arizona. Eventually, I started writing poems about the history of the Pima Indians, whose reservation bordered the neighborhood in Scottsdale where I was raised. These poems became important to figuring how to situate my personal story against the larger history that we’ve all inherited. Jennette: Those poems about the Pima Indians are among the most vivid in the collection. Can you speak a little bit about your strategies, aesthetic and ethical, in approaching that project? Ekiss: I approached writing about the Pima with quite a
bit of hesitation. Growing up in Arizona, I’d read plenty of poems and stories by non–Native Americans that attempted to appropriate “Indian-ness,” often with wellintentioned, but short-sighted, reasons. My main concern was to let the poems tell their own stories, to stick with a publication of the sacramento poetry center
the images and facts and avoid judgments. I did a lot of research, especially in a series of books by Amadeo Rea, who investigated the Pima’s traditional relationship to the land and how it’s changed over the past 150 years. I was conscious of trying not to romanticize the Pima way of life; nevertheless, the record is clear that they were never at war with the U.S. and only helped starving settlers who were on their way to California. I’m aware that I’m treading on some difficult ethical ground in telling a story that’s not my own, but I can only hope that any criticism of the work is given in the same spirit in which it was written.
poems, which I think have loosened up my style and allowed me to cover more ground, so to speak . . . I have a near-complete manuscript of translations, the selected poems of a Costa Rican writer named Eunice Odio, who died in 1974. She’s their leading poet of the twentieth century and there hasn’t been a collection of her work published yet in translation . . . I’m not actively working on any creative nonfiction at the moment, but I hope to make time in the near future for writing about my experiences working in Silicon Valley for ten years. Jennette: How has your writing life changed since
Jennette: Some of your Pima poems, like some of your other poems in the collection, are sonnets. Can you talk a bit about your relationship to received poetic forms?
becoming a father? Ekiss: Good question! My writing process has changed,
out of necessity, since becoming a father last year. Our son Ekiss: Many of the sonnets in the book are “accidental.” Benjamin was born on March 26, the birthday of Robert Meaning, I didn’t always set out to write a sonnet, but the Frost, so we have high hopes for his poetic career, if he revision process often pulled the poem into what I’ll call chooses to follow his parents. Before becoming a father, the gravitational field of the sonnet, which can be quite I usually liked to write when I knew I had a large block strong. In that sense, the sonnets in the book, because they of time in front of me. So, I would typically try and write often didn’t start out as sonnets, don’t feature many of the for three to four hours in the morning. But, as a parent, form’s traditional elements, most especially the rhetorical you follow the child’s schedule, so I now write when I development of an argument. I use the brevity of the can. Sometimes this means waking up early and writing sonnet to compress narrative and house image. So the long for an hour or two before he wakes up, or it means taking sequence, “Landscape with Saguaros,” which is a crown of a half an hour when inspiration strikes. In general, I think sonnets, where the last line of each poem becomes the first this lack of free time has given my poetry a more urgent line of the next poem, sometimes with variations, was not quality. I need to make the poem work the best I can when started as a sonnet sequence. I’d written a number of poems, given the opportunity. Of course, he’s also given me a new none of which seemed finished, and I started noticing the subject about which to write. way the poems were speaking to one another, how they all seemed part of one larger poem, so I brought the material into sonnet form and looked for hinges and development between the individual poems. I find that working within the restrictions of a closed form can help structure and … focus a poem’s material, but that doesn’t mean that the Dorine Jennette is the author of Urchin to Follow (The poem needs to begin as a closed form. National Poetry Review Press, 2010). Her poetry and prose have appeared in journals such as Verse Daily, the Journal, Jennette: What sorts of poems are you working on now? Puerto del Sol, the Los Angeles Review, the New Orleans And, any non-poetry writing projects on your desk? Review, and the Georgia Review. Originally from Seattle, she earned her MFA at New Mexico State University, her PhD Ekiss: . . . For the last year I’ve been writing about San at the University of Georgia, and now lives in Suisun City, Francisco and the Bay Area, mainly in the form of prose California. www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org
May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 7
Opening Day Poets April 6th, 2011
Photo by Jen Cimaglio
Major League Poet Baseball On April 6, 2011, The Sacramento Room was transformed into a grandstand waving red and yellow poet pennants. The first ten fans received baseball poet cards. Bob Stanley, the team manager, introduced the line-up with each poet’s stats. The evening was filled with the poets reading baseball poems, theirs or others. Team poets from left to right and back to front are: Ann Conradsen,Viola Weinberg, Martha Ann Blackman, Peggy Kincaid, Ann Menebroker, Sandy Thomas, JoAnn Anglin, Allegra Silberstein, Bob Stanley, Trina Drotar, Reiner Kahl, and Tim Kahl. Not pictured is pinch hitter, Carlos Alcalá. The official MLPB (Major League Poet Baseball) sponsors are Poems-For-All (which designed the Poet Cards) and the Sacramento Poetry Center. —Sandy Thomas 8 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
poet cards 11 cards
opening day poets april 6, 2011
What would a poetry reading about baseball be without collectible poet trading cards!?
a publication of the sacramento poetry center
poems by Allison Moen Sonnet for the Farm
When the ditch flooded, I waded, thigh-deep, splashing until mud caked onto my knees, seeped through my swimsuit striped purple and pink. Nothing stopped me, those summer afternoons, from climbing to my branch on the apricot tree, using the knot to rest my dirty feet. I snickered when mom passed by. She didn’t see me. From my perch, I soaked in everything: Green John Deere tractors rumbling down the road, feedlot aroma coating the breeze, sprinkler spray misting my sunburned cheeks as it combed over rows of corn and milo.
Someone new moved into our house today. Trudged their cardboard boxes up our stairs, hung their jackets on the hooks you attached to the hallway wall with your dad’s drill.
I didn’t notice the sun setting until the whirr of locusts lured me down.
The worn hardwood floor knows our secrets.
Pool for Jordan
Someone’s underwear piles on the built-in shelf where I stacked my jeans.
We dove underwater and told stories of mothers and fathers, histories of scars in between legs and inside hearts, chlorine and secrets spilling from our lips
Music floats over the back porch railing where I rested my forearms, breathed in the city sounds past midnight, comforted friends over the phone. Staring at the overgrown weeds of vacancy and an empty parking lot.
an ease of breathing.
I hid no verbs or adjectives. We waded waist-high, the Fresno sun drying our exposed shoulders. When the 115-degree heat melted water droplets from our skin, we tiptoed over hot concrete and laid our bare backs across plastic pool furniture rubber strips cracked from heat indenting lines between the tattoos drawn down your spine. Water and sweat dripping from my hands into ink onto paper: This friendship of water and words. Tides
Someone slept in the room we came home to and left from. The room we sunk into after long days. Long drives. The home we came home to the first time we were we.
Underneath the heater, the smell of amber lingers from the candle I left unattended. Scraped the wax with a spatula, but missed some spots. In the bottom of someone’s new oven, crumbs from our charred crusts gather.
The moon shines over ocean waves and you hear them crashing. These rocks you walked on, barefoot, sat on at night when the sky and water shared the same blackness except for the thin white crests. These mossy rocks you slipped and scraped your knees on, wanted to carve your initials into. These rocks you kneeled on to stick your fingers into suctioned mouths of sea anemones before the tide came in and covered them. In college, we drove to the beach at midnight to see the “red tide”—the rare time in early winter when billions of decaying phytoplankton lit up the waves with iridescent blue. Neon death sprinkled like a glow stick strewn across the sand. We forgot a blanket and dug our feet into the sand. Stared up at stars. Woke up shivering.
May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 9
poems by Ann Wehrman Variations on Perfect, Opus 1 Hearing me play, your smile tells me I’m flat Human voice howls outside the locked door Bread just from the oven; my mouth waters Double-digit unemployment Rain thunks, whooshes, drives, pitters Silence night vision Three a.m. pitch darkness, wake alone and turn, keep the light off, look inside, down a corridor of space, searching for your shoulders, your back, my hands reach, gently caress. Is it all right? In sleepy assent, your voice responds in my mind, Hold me, touch me, and I know where to touch you, though we act as strangers, have never gone out, I can’t call you, to let you know I am losing my mind waiting for you, who might never be mine. Comforting you, I find my own; my body relaxes, warms, responds, as if you were in my bed, not yours, or with someone else. It seems we share this closeness, so much more than sex—so that I (it seems we) cry as we make love in waking dreams at three a.m., pledge our lives, pledge fidelity, how can it seem that we care this much, yet only be a one-sided fantasy, all a mistake?
Longing I can only speak your name my thoughts try to take up a task only to melt into calling your name whisper tumble of your hair pull of tendons in your forearm slender base phalanges of your fingers eyes steel blue into gray blue into rain blue I can only cry your name 10 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
Now You say I never write poems about now, only the past. Evening settles in. Buildings turn pink. Bells toll at Grace Cathedral. You shake a silver tumbler, ice clinking out stories of the day’s hopes, as your fingers brace against frostbite. Okay, I will. I will write you poems of how yesterday the sky was azure then turned to tourmaline as fog rolled against Grace Cathedral, chilling children playing four square, scattering their laughter like the silver tumbler as it clinks and shakes our hopes. In my mind, I write poems for you of days and nights we cannot get enough before now fades into blurriness of the past , the way fog swallows Grace Cathedral and its silver hopes that tumble out into Sunday mornings. My heart beats poems of us now, of legs laced, arms entwined, hands meditating over landscape of skin, eyes shining the hope of silver tumblers, blurring flaws the way lovers do under skies of blue and tourmaline. I will write poems of strangers who remind me of you as I glance from the window of an apartment that is yours and sometimes ours. I imagine the way you’ll look and walk and what you’ll wear, not now, but twenty years from now as you shake a silver tumbler that held our hopes as it clinked against a sky of blue and sometimes tourmaline and the eyes of Grace Cathedral. —Shadi Gex
a publication of the sacramento poetry center
Naránjas It was early fall when he broke my mother’s promise and took me anyways to sell oranges door to door to build some character. I walked tall through the Hollywood trailer park of West Linda, lugging a bag to sell to pasty old gavachos lounging on porches, flipping through The Christian Science Monitor. I must have been ten and my father, walking behind me, in his late forties. He followed me from a distance, like my mother walking me to school. I pretended not to hear the leaves crackling under his boots and clutched the bag to feign that I was strong enough. At the steps, I tapped the door and yelled inside with a voice slipping into a childish squeak, naránj-as! I left the bag and scurried back to the truck, without thinking why my father was already buckled. I lied and told him, que al rato me la paga. He sunk into his seat and sighed, no le digas a tu madre. We thundered down the main road in our Ford ’77 pic-up I held an orange in my hand; there is an air pocket between the leaf-stalk and pulp, the emptiness that it grows into. I peeled it there, savored the sour beads and found reason not to drive on his lap the last mile home. —Marcelo Hernandez
poems by Patricia Killelea A Voice to Travel 1. So many faces hovering the shore, confused about prayer—must it be scripted, must there be a god listening in? I want to say “No matter to me” and walk with my black boots along the rocks, gathering the smooth round pebbles that remind me so much of poets, desperate and stammering. 2. A long bird is maybe some kind of prayer, its seeking eye skimming the tidepools— what is plucked and swallowed will serve as the amen. Children know this and I remember knowing this too, though I am taking the long way back. 3. When I get to the place of good words, I will speak a fire— I do not wish for shield from winds, nor even that my small fire shall last the night. The prayer in me knows only that I will prepare a voice to travel. 4. It’s in the preparation, then: all the silences of the world gathered around you and the sound of your life saying itself to life again, crawling with ridiculous hope out of the cold, dim sea True North I move forward in the sound— killer whales returning my name, the shore not far from where I’d dreamt. I row the light from other suns when words come up for air. Suppose there is a meteor shower and we are all about to be born.
May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 11
poems by Linda Collins Flower Children, 1969 We weren’t real hippies still, we looked the part feet hidden by bell bottom jeans peace sign pendants bumping our chests knees dusted by fringe dangling from braided leather belts. We sang Marrakesh Express into microphone thumbs shouted make love not war at dads in Buicks shuffled through the neighborhood’s fiery yellow and blood red leaves giddy over the moon’s “magnificent desolation” and Nixon’s troop withdrawals in those afternoons before darkness before we learned of Charlie Company’s
On Midvale Lane A creek ran behind our house where kids scooped mud for pies and trapped tadpoles who later died a dry shoebox death. Trickling water spilled a harmless lullaby until the day Nancy’s little brother went missing. Chins on windowsills, we big kids watched umbrella’d grown-ups search the neighborhood like ocean-skimming gulls. Someone found a sodden shoebox along the creek’s swollen bank and people gathered as men arrived to drag. When they snagged one blue Ked by its perfect rabbit-eared laces Nancy’s mom collapsed into her own arms while the others folded their umbrellas under sleet-streaked skies.
savage rampage and that spinning Revolution 9 backwards says Turn me on, dead man.
SPC’s 2011 Quinton Duval Chapbook Contest
Poetry Venues around Sacramento and Beyond
Deadline July 15, 2011 Open to writers from the Western U.S.
Luna’s Café (Thursdays) Midtown OutLoud at Mondo Bizarro (1st and 3rd Wednesdays) Nevada County Poetry Series, Grass Valley (3rd Thursdays) Rattlesnake Press at The Book Collector (2nd Wednesdays) Red Night Poetry at Beatnik Gallery (3rd Wednesdays) Sacramento Poetry Center (Mondays – other special events/locations)
Final judge: Dennis Schmitz
20-24 pages of poetry on any theme. $10 entry fee checks payable to SPC. Winner receives publication and 50 copies of chapbook. Do not put your name on the manuscript pages. Attach a separate page with contact information and the title of the collection. Send questions to: email@example.com
Send paper manuscripts (and checks for all entries) to: Sacramento Poetry Center Attn: Quinton Duval Chapbook Contest 1719 25th Street Sacramento, CA 95816
12 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
a publication of the sacramento poetry center
luna’s cafÉ poetry unplugged
by Sandy Thomas
April 14th, 2011 2/24/11 SF Main Public Library, San Francisco, CA. 6 pm Photo: Sandy Thomas
Toni Mirosevich read from her new book, The Takeaway Bin (2010 Spuyten Duyvil), which was inspired by “Oblique Strategies.” Maisha Z. Johnson, activist and fiction writer, presented her poetry side, while Mary, Toni, Maisha Mary Peelen, a theologian and mathematician, tells us that when she goes to the beach she takes a math book to read. Poetry worlds open up to us with a different spin. 3/17/11 Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA. 7:30 pm
Ellery Ackers read her confessional poetry, Jane Hirshfield read with her quiet presence and reserve, and Kay Ryan completed the poetry song with her ability to incite laughter and add light with her words. These amazing women were published in Sixteen Rivers Press’ The Place that Inhabits Us (2010). Update: Kay Ryan, the 16th United States Poet Laureate (20082010), was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on April 18, 2011 for her collection, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010 Grove Press). 4/13/11 The Book Collector, Sacramento, CA. 7:30 pm
The evening’s theme was the celebration of the Lucky Seven Rattlesnake Birthday. Wrangler-in-Chief Kathy Kieth hosted an audience of snakepals. D.R. Wagner read from his new book, A Limited Means of Expression, (2011 Rattlesnake Press – www. rattlesnakepress.com) leaving his words resonating in our hearts.
Photos of Ann Menebroker and Josh Fernandez were taken at Luna’s when Bill Gainer, Ann Menebroker, and Josh Fernandez were featured readers. It was the evening of red noses—Bill passed them out. Photos by Sandy Thomas
csus Festival of the arts April 13th, 2011 Joshua McKinney hosting Festival of the Arts at CSUS 4.13.11. The photos of Joshua McKinney and Peter Grandbois were taken at the CSUS Festival of the Arts. Joshua McKinney hosted the readings over a period of 4 days. Peter Grandbois is a former English professor at CSUS, and he was reading from his newest novel, Nahoonkara. Photos by Trina Drotar (Josh) and Sandy Thomas (Peter).
May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 13
Young Voices Poems from poets under the age of eighteen.
Hearts on the Road
Submit poems for Young Voices
I am graceful and dazzling. Imagination pulls me, pride rises in me. Forgetting worries me. Tears come when I can’t do the step. I am graceful and dazzling.
The empty hangers were bonelike and cold She dropped her cigarette in the dirt She would get new nice things; the old ones had been sold.
Submit 1-3 poems at a time, a one-sentence bio, and an email address with the name of a contact person. No more than two submissions during a calendar year, please. SPCpoetryeditor@gmail. com Subject line: Young Voices. We seek poems that show the world through young eyes with insight, humor or both. Please allow 1-3 months for consideration by the editors. If your poem is selected for publication, you must sign a release form authenticating that it’s your original work and granting Poetry Now permission to print it.
Rhythm flows through my body. Dancing takes over my mind. Standing straight, I point my toes, turn out. Ribbons of my pointe shoes zigzag across my ankle. I am graceful and dazzling. The audience makes me wonder. I finger the tulle of my costume. Music starts, I hold my breath. Curtain rising, show starting, I spin and leap across the stage, dance my heart out. Applause, applause, I smile and sigh. I am graceful and dazzling.
Her scuffed tap shoes left hearts on the road Her cheeks were slapped the color of hurt The empty hangers were bonelike and cold. She was leaving to go to the world With bruised elbows and one clean shirt She would get new nice things; the old ones had been sold. In Los Angeles, she had been told You could get rich by being a flirt The empty hangers were bonelike and cold Her scuffed tap shoes left hearts on the road She would wear lipstick and scrub at her shirt She would get new nice things; the old ones had been sold. The bright lights would make her bold Cover her scabs and shorten her skirt The empty hangers were bonelike and cold She would get new nice things; the old ones had been sold.
—Ellie Ridge enjoys ballet, soccer, and music. She is an active member of National Charity League and values academics and inner beauty. Casey loves words and competes in spelling bees and national Scrabble tournaments.
Sample bio: Alex Smith attends fourth grade at B.F.F. Elementary School in Sacramento, and he enjoys baking cupcakes, walking dogs and playing soccer.
is a fifteen-year-old student from Berkeley, CA.
Daily news from the Snakepit of Rattlesnake Press (poetry with fangs!) and the cauldron that boils over with the rich poetry stew that is Northern California. http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com
14 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
SPC Monday, August 1
Camille Roy, Dave Boles & Bill Gainer hosted by Trina Drotar a publication of the sacramento poetry center
contributors lives in Sacramento where she tends her garden; practices yoga; dabbles in the arts and enjoys the outdoors. She holds a journalism degree from San Francisco State University, works as a writer, editor and photographer, and is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.Visit her online at kate-Campbell.blogspot.com.
Linda Collins’ poetry has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion website, as well as in Sacramento area publications. She is co-editor of the Sacramento Poetry Center’s Tule Review, and resides in Carmichael, CA.
lives and writes in the Bay Area. Her writing has been published in Calaveras Station, Poetry Now, and The Suisun Valley Review. Currently, Shadi serves as poetry editor and copy editor for Poetry Now and is the social network publicist for Sacramento Poetry Center.
is poetry editor for Calaveras Station and an undergraduate student at CSUS where he has won numerous awards. His works appear in Carcinogenic Poetry, The Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, Softblow Review, among others. He lives and works as a handyman in Yuba City, California, and is recently engaged. Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
is currently a doctoral student in Native American Studies at the University of California at Davis. Originally from the Bay Area, CA, she holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from UCD.
Allison Moen has a master’s degree in Eng-
lish/Creative Writing from CSU Sacramento and is an assistant poetry editor for Narrative magazine. She currently works full-time as an editor in San Diego. writing has appeared in print and online journals including Calaveras Station, Medusa’s Kitchen, The Ophidian, Rattlesnake Review, and Poetry Now. Her first chapbook will be published June 2011 by Rattlesnake Press. Ann teaches writing at American River College and online for Axia College/University of Phoenix. Ann Wehrman’s
Returning for Spring and Summer Poetry in the Garden returns on May 12 with Amy Champ. (U.C. Davis Arboretum)
12-1 p.m., Wyatt Deck (if rain, Foster Room, Myer Hall) Hosted by Rebecca Morrison, Hot Poetry in the Park returns May 16 with a chapbook release by Vincent Kobelt (Fremont Park) 7pm. Hosted by Rebecca Morrison.
USED BOOKS The Book Collector 1008 24th St. • Sacramento
Large selection of poetry & literature!
First cutting, near Colusa This sky is unmistakable. Not lurid, not low, but black. It’s my own bruised dome, clouds haplessly folding into torrents overhead. Beneath this ominous cover, fields flatten to mountain edges, carry first harvest on furrowed backs, green alfalfa, sweet from mowing, slashed and humped in windrows. Careless, I stand among piles of fresh innocence cut down before flowering lavender blue, waiting for wheels, and hands, plaid-shirted men filling their arms, intent, rushing. I stand and welcome the coastal mountains, greet the clouds bellied with storm and root for the doers and the day emerging: they grasp this moment, love or go down fighting. The sky a torrent before our eyes, offers hardly a moment’s pause to stand and face this gathering howl, each to honor again what power shines beyond the storm. —Kate Campbell
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May / june 2011 | Poetry Now | 15 Mail to: 1719 25th Street, Sacramento, CA 95816
spc Sacramento Poetry Center
Poet’s fandango. L to R: Dave Boles, Trina Drotar, Charles Plymell, Sandy Thomas, Bill Gainer. Ann Menebroker, Richard Hansen not pictured. Photo: Richard Hansen.
After a long absence, poet, publisher and artist Charles Plymell returned to San Francisco in May to read poetry in the town he once called home—and where this underground, small press publisher once roomed with Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy. A few days before his reading on May 22 at the Reader’s Café & Bookstore, Charles paid a visit to Sacramento—via motorcycle with sidecar, legend has it—delivered by poet and fellow small press publisher Dave Boles to a small press fandango with local poets (pictured above) at The Book Collector. Around a table cluttered with pistachio shells and cups of strong black coffee the poets palavered for two hours before heading off to lunch at Hamburger Gary’s.
Pistachios & black coffee: Charles Plymell in Sacramento
may / June 2011
a publication of the sacramento poetry center
16 | Poetry Now | May / june 2011
Hosted by Mary Zeppa and Lawrence Dinkins. Noon. Central Library, 828 I Street. Sacramento The Poet Tree, Inc., also known as The Sacramento Poetry Center, is a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing forums for local poets— including publications, workshops, and a reading series.
The Sacramento Poetry Center presents NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE PAID SACRAMENTO, CA PERMIT NUMBER 1956 Poetry Now The Poet Tree, Inc. 1719 25th Street Sacramento, CA 95816
Third Thursday Brown Bag Lunch Series
Sacramento Poetry Center Newsletter