Poetry Now Presents November/ December 2011
Book Review Extravaganza D.A. Powell Interview Meet the Staff Event News Event Photos Upcoming Projects
Steel & bronze hanging eye - part of Joe Scarpa’s interactive artwork, “Authors of Our Own Destiny,” at the North Natomas Library -photo by Sandy Thomas
President’s Message Editor’s Farewell
Call for Chapbooks: The Special Collections Department at the University of California, Davis, seeks copies of
chapbooks published by presses and poets in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Literary Watershed, including the Sierra Nevada, and in the North Coast region, Marin County to the Oregon border. Self-published chapbooks are also desired. The Library seeks a comprehensive record of press production and of the poets who live here, and seeks at least a representative collection of these Northern California literary landscapes. Well over 90% of the poets’ chapbooks held at UCDavis have been listed in the UCDavis Library HARVEST catalog and are also in WorldCat, the international online library catalog. Please send them to John Sherlock, Special Collections Department, University of California, General Library, 100 North West Quad, Davis CA 95616-5292. You may check the websites which list publications already known about or held at www.lib. ucdavis.edu/dept/specol/researchprojects/files/bib-sacramentosanjoaquin-2ed.pdf and at www.lib.ucdavis.edu/dept/specol/ researchprojects/files/bib-northcoast.pdf (2010. 121 page pdf file). You may direct some questions to David Anderson, a Lincoln poet and a UCDavis Library retiree at firstname.lastname@example.org. Direct additional questions to Sherlock at email@example.com.
Editor’s Message It has been my great pleasure to work as the editor of Poetry Now for these past two years, but as the seasons change, so do publications. This issue looks quite different from the ones you’ve become used to under the design of Richard Hansen. This issue of Poetry Now is still filled with the features you’ve been enjoying. There’s an interview with D.A. Powell by Lisa Jones, photos from events around Sacramento, including the 100,000 Poets event in September, calendar items, and book reviews. This issue is jampacked with reviews from various small presses. Some books and authors you may recognize, and I urge you to look for these books, and those that are unfamiliar, in your local independent bookstore or your local library. You will see many changes to Poetry Now as it moves into the next year. A new editorial staff, led by Katy Brown, will include Paco Marquez and Laura Bauman Otsuba. The interview editors are moving on, as am I, to other projects. The In Dialogue and Event Mirror features have been picked up by an online journal, Poetry About Town. Young Voices will continue as an online segment of the Sacramento Poetry Center and will be managed by Alexa Mergen. Two years is a good amount of time to spend on a project, and change is not only part of nature’s cycle, but it is part of the literary cycle as well. Just as we seek fresh writing in books and poetry, we also seek fresh voices and features in publications. I’m moving on to other projects (primarily my own writing and art) . I hope you will continue to support Poetry Now by submitting poems, articles, and photos, and by communicating with the new editorial staff and with the SPC board. Together, the current staff of Poetry Now worked to bring new features like In Dialogue, Young Voices, Event Mirror, and Small Press Corner (also picked up by Poetry About Town), and most of these features were suggested by members of the editorial staff. I want to thank each of them (Dorine, Lisa, Sandy, Alexa, Shadi, Agnes, and Alexandra) for their service, for working on Poetry Now is truly a labor of love. We are all volunteers with full-time jobs, families, and other commitments. I will see you down the road. Continue to support the Sacramento poetry community (SPC, Luna’s, Red Night, Poetry with Legs, Mahogany, La Raza, Midtown Out Loud and others not listed). Go to a new venue and hear some new poets. Read new journals. Read some poetry by
an unfamiliar poet or revisit the poetry of an old favorite. Visit an art gallery and hear a poet read, ask questions, learn from artists. Attend one of the many writing conferences and/or workshops in and out of Sacramento, like the Surprise Valley Writer’s Conference, Our Life Stories, SPC’s annual gathering, or others you find. Support the poets, the venues, and the hosts who bring fresh voices. Signing off, Trina L. Drotar
Above: Ann Menebroker, BL Kennedy, and Paul Fericano at the final Red Night at Beatnik 10.19.11 photo by Sandy Thomas Left: Ray Tatar photo by Sandy Thomas
Thanks for your support!
President’s Message September 24th made Michael Rothenberg’s dream into a reality as poets all over the world shared visions for change. Michael is a poet and runs Big Bridge publications. We had a fine turnout here in Sacramento for 100,000 Poets for Change, and I look forward to being part of this event in the future. Thanks to all the poets who read, listened, hosted, set up, sang, and danced for a day of poetry and peace. Most of all, thanks to local poet Red Slider for bringing this event to our attention. It was great to hear everyone read, and I hope this event grows both locally and globally. Frank Graham’s been working hard to plan for the new Literary Lectures series in 2012.I’ve made my reservation to be among the listeners. This should be a great program, so be sure to register. It begins in February. November 7th through the 10th brings our third annual Confluence Poetry Tour, which is supported by SPC, Poets and Writers, and the Borchard Foundation and will feature Katy Brown, Josh Fernandez, Patricia Killelea, and Anna Sprowl. On Monday, November 7th, you can hear all four poets at SPC at 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, November 9th, this group will be at Folsom Lake College at 6 p.m. And Thursday, November 8th, catch them at the Rancho Cordova Library at 6 p.m. In between these free, public events, the Confluence poets will be visiting classrooms, sharing their work, and talking about their life in poetry. Two big Fundraising events are also coming up: Saturday, November 19th at California Stage is Jazz and Poetry with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet--a tribute to the work of James Humphrey. Humphrey, in case you don’t already know, was a poet, a painter, and a baseball player who strove to break barriers. He was also a big advocate for victims of child abuse. Your $20 donation at the door will benefit the Stanford Home for Children. And, finally, SPC’s traditional benefit at the home of Mimi and Burnett Miller will be Thursday, December 1st, from 6 to 8 p.m. Come one, come all! Support Poetry and Poets and the many causes that are in need this year! Bob
(photo of Bob Stanley
Support your independent bookstores Beers Books (9th and S) The Book Collector (24th and J) Time Tested (24st and L) Peruse the shelves because you never know what you’ll find 3
by Sandy Thomas)
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. Poetry submissions are currently closed. Poetry Now is distributed to area bookshops, Sacramento City and County libraries, and by mail to members. If you are interested in received 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 YOUNG VOICES: Alexa Mergen STAFF: Linda Collins, Sandra Senne DESIGN/PRODUCTION: Trina Drotar COPYEDITING: Shadi Gex SOCIAL NETWORK PUBLICIST: Shadi Gex STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS: Trina Drotar, Sandy Thomas BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Stanley, President Tim Kahl, Vice-President Sandra Senne, Treasurer Laura Bauman Otsuba – Secretary Kate Asche Alexa Mergen Linda Collins Rebecca Morrison Lawrence Dinkins, Jr. Jonathan Schouten Paco Marquez Emmanuel Sigauke Theresa McCourt Mary Zeppa CONTACT INFORMATION: 1719 25th Street, Sacramento, CA 95816 firstname.lastname@example.org – 916979-9706 www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org
D.A. Powell Discusses the Misinterpretation of Werewolves, Environmental Change, and the Honest Gush Interview by Lisa Jones The poet D. A. Powell has been in the news lately because he keeps winning awards, most recently a Guggenheim. He grew up in the Central Valley and recently read at SPC, from his latest collection Chronic. The valley is a central landscape in Chronic and in his more recent work. Chronic is probably his most accessible collection and has been recognized with a Kingsley Tufts Award, a Northern California Book Award for poetry, and as a finalist in the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. Powell has also received a Pushcart and NEA as well as awards for his other collections: Tea, Lunch and Cocktails (a kind of trilogy of poems, written while watching friends struggle with aids and eventually discovering he had aid’s himself). Powell has maintained a steady, manageable state of health for the last 13 years, so Chronic is a different kind of book. While still steeped in an awareness of time and mortality, its focus is not aids, but love lost. The poems are simultaneously more intimate than his previous work and more environmental, attending to the chronic state of the world itself. In an interview (Southeast Review), Evan J. Peterson notes that the collection contains a great despair, but also “romps with a sense of camp, humor, and dancing in the face of doom.” D. A. Powell replies “I didn’t call the book ‘Terminal.’ I called it Chronic. The world, despite the way we dirty it up and make it feel cheap, keeps sending us flowers.” Powell also co-wrote, with David Trinidad, By Myself: An Autobiography. Each poem in the collection draws from one sentence from each of 300 celebrity autobiographies to tell the story of an unknown star. He’s an active tweeter and was one of the pioneers of internet publishing when he co-edited the very eclectic Electronic Poetry Review with Katherine Hazard (1995-2008). He is an associate professor of English at USF. I interviewed him (on the phone) because he is one of my top five favorite poets. He’s also remarkably good at reading his work. You can find tapes from his reading on SPC’s video archive. .... A friend of mine, who also really likes your work, was saying that the risk with the direction you’ve taken in this book is sentiment. Which is what I quite love about the book, but it is a risk, right? She was thinking that form had to do with how you managed to meet that risk, but I often think in terms of
meaning: you have these almost Shakespearian [and] romantic ways of saying things, but then you are always connecting to the darkness, always touching both sides of everything, which keeps the complexity there and keeps it from feeling datedly sentimental. Do you see Shakespeare in Chronic? I see quite a bit of Shakespeare and then another playwright who is always ghosting me is Tennessee Williams. There’s a perfect example of somebody who allows for these moments of pure lyricism that could very much run the risk of feeling overwrought and yet somehow in the world of Streetcar Named Desire, where even the lowliest neighborhood has its balustrades and its wrought iron decorations, you feel like there is room for a voice like Blanche’s and say [here Powell draws out the I’s southern style] “I, I, I took the blows in my face and body! All of those deaths! The long parade to the graveyard...” and you think “Oh, of course you didn’t die for it, Blanche, you’re still right here” (laughs). But you understand that in her mind she did die and we need the minds of those kinds of characters at the outposts of sanity. She’s bringing something grand and dramatic into this-Yes and growing up in the Central Valley many of my models for a queer self were often these very grand, wild performative men. I knew a drag queen who lived in East Nicholas and his alter-ego was named Janine Massengill and she had her own room in which everything was leopard print and Janine could say something very grand, but when he was not in drag, when he was just Ernie, he spoke like the rest of us. But there was always that ability to shift and I think everyone understood that there were occasions where the grand operatic performance of a sentence was called for. You’ve mentioned the Central Valley and it seems you are talking more about the Central Valley in this last book than in previous work. I think I didn’t write about the valley for a long time because I felt there was nothing--you know it was the reason I left! It didn’t feel like there was anything there. And now in fact, time and distance reminds you that, in fact, there’s this whole world to be explored . . . . There’s a fantastic drama right now in the Central Valley, which is the way in which development and agriculture are moving in
can to not put themselves in a certain situation or they’ll stage many dramas in which nothing happens and I think “Lets put something there that happens. Let’s create a drama.” And they say “Well isn’t that disingenuous?” And I’ll say “Isn’t it disingenuous of a 19th century landscape painter to paint this particular hill with that sheep on it, when that sheep had moved by the time the painting was actually being created? In fact, most of the painting was done in a studio later on. We are all assembling, from what has happened to us, various occasions that different directions. It’s this opposing vision of the valley that I may or may not be true in the deepest want to return to--the valley of my late childhood where there sense, the factual sense, but true in the sense of how would were canneries in every town, all of the bustle, all of the drama. these characters, places, events, situations actually act upon one All of the work and energy fed off of the agricultural products another. The poem that I had the most fun with in Chronic and and how they were transported and processed and shipped that acts as a great key, in to how I feel about the problematic and brought dollars back. That was what everyone fed off of. idea of disclosure, is a poem called “confessions of a teenage drama queen.” That entire poem is composed of title’s of films Now the main industry is building--making bedroom communities and each title has some presentation of a self in it, so when put for economic centers and it’s created a different valley. I’m not so all together it sounds like someone is telling you everything naive to say the natural world is disappearing, because the natural about them, but it is an assembled self “I was a male war world has pretty much the same presence in the valley as it’s had, bride,” “I was a spy.” I can’t tell you how many times people in places like the Sutter Wildlife Refuge. But there is much more will take parts of this poem and say “Oh, I remember feeling opportunity for wildlife to co-exist with farming. Farming has to like I was a teenage werewolf.” I don’t think I ever felt like I keep things alive. That’s part of the nature of farming. Housing was a teenage werewolf (laughs), but I’m glad that you did!” developments--not so much. That’s not one of the things that they worry about. So the idea that the farming community is . . . . disappearing, is growing smaller . . . . What we’ve got are larger farms so people don’t know the folks who are growing tomatoes down the road. That’s being done by some larger cooperative. In the “central valley” poem and others there’s a sense of a teenage So that fascinates me and that is something I began to explore in Chronic and I’m doing a lot in this next book. .... I remember you describing, in a previous interview, a desire to move away from the personal narrative, but then here you are writing about the interior and when asked at a reading about the problems of writing about the self, you said “Well what are you saving it for.” These days so many students and mature poets are either very focused on or very averse to writing about the self or in first person. How do you guide your students in writing the interior or confessional poem, when they come with both these rigid reactions against and American impulses to focus on the self? Well I try to model for my students a sense of honesty and by honesty I don’t necessarily mean that everything in the poem is true, because if we are just writing true confessions then why don’t we just write tell-all memoirs? But honesty in thinking about yourself as a character in the drama of your own poem and how would you behave and what would you actually say in this situation. It is very revealing sometimes--students will do everything they
vulnerability. Should I interpret that as a sexy vulnerability or an abusive time in the speaker’s life? It is not a major theme in the book, but it does seem like it is important to the processing of this relationship [returned to throughout the book]. There’s all kinds of exploitation at work in this landscape. Sexual exploitation is one kind and its not even one that I address as well as I might. I could talk about how farm workers are selling their children into child prostitution, but it feels like it would be slightly disingenuous for me to explore that in a really large capacity, because it’s somebody else’s story. I’m o.k. with taking parts of other people’s stories and weaving them into my own story, particularly where the intersection provides a locus of shared emotion, but I want to be really careful to say that not everything that’s presented as my life is necessarily my life . . . . I was quite sexually active at an early age. Whether that sexuality was exploited? Hard to say, I mean (laughs) I was a pretty self aware kid. . . . . Sometimes there are ghosts in every poem. [In] “cinemascope” . . . the main ghost is Sylvia Plath. Once you go through and think “Oh, Sylvia Plath!” then you find-The oven.
The open oven, salvia, “full fathom lies”--Sylvia Plath has a poem called “Full Fathom” which is an elegy for her father, which takes its echo from The Tempest, “sylvan blue” --there’s another version of Sylvia. She’s buried throughout this poem. And your use of nature in your writing and hers--I think she has some real genius when she describes nature or uses it in metaphor--and you do the same. . . . So you like Plath? Oh my god. Yes! . . . I adore her.
yes, the moths have visited and deposited their velvet egg mass the gnats were here: they smelled the wilt and blight. they salivated in the folds of my garments: you could practically taste the rot look at the pluck you’ve made of my heart: it broke open in your hands oddments of ravished leaves: blossom blast and dieback: petals drooping we kissed briefly in the deathless spring. the koi pond hummed with flies
It’s gotten to the point where I really see some of her failings, but then I think “My god, she was so young.” unbutton me now from your grasp. no, hold tighter, let me Some of those poems--a little overwritten! (Laughs). disappear into your nostrils, into your skin, a powdery smudge against High drama. your rough cheek . . . . Daniel Hall says that when he’s reading Shaheed Ali, he’s reminded of what Gerard Manley Hopkins’ roommate said about him at Oxford “he gushes, but he means it.” And I think “Yeah! That’s right, sometimes we gush. But it’s not because we are being dramatic, it’s because sometimes people gush. And if there’s a sincere reason for that gush it’s fine. Who’s to say we cannot tear up the scenery once in a while. • Article photo of D.A. Powell by Trane Devore
Two Poems by D. A. Powell
sprig of lilac in a week you could watch me crumble to smut: spent hues spent perfumes. dust upon the lapel where a moment I rested
EVENT CALENDARS medusaskitchen. blogspot.com eskimopie.net sacramento365.com
confessions of a teenage drama queen I was a male war bride. I was a spy so I married an axe murderer. I married Joan I married a monster from outer space I am guilty, I am the cheese, I am a fugitive from a chain gang maybe I’ll come home in the spring. I’ll cry tomorrow whose life is it anyway? it’s a wonderful life I want to live. I want someone to eat cheese with who am I this time? I am cuba. I am a sex addict why was I born? why must I die? I could go on singing I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I know who killed me I was nineteen, I was a teenage werewolf, just kill me kiss me, kill me. kill me later. kill me again give me a sailor, if I had my way, I’d rather be rich I wouldn’t be in your shoes. I wish I had wings I wish I were in dixie (I passed for white) I was framed I was a burlesque queen, I was a teenage zombie I was an adventurers, I was a convict, I was a criminal I did it, I killed that man, murder is my beat, I confess —for David Trinidad Both poems are from Chronic, reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.
EVENT CALENDAR SPC EVENTS October 31 – Halloween reading featuring Allegra Silberstein and William O’Daly November 7 – Confluence featuring Josh Fernandez, Patricia Killelea, Anna Sprowl, and Katy Brown November 21 – Matthew Cooperman and Amy Kaupang November 28 – Mary Mackey and Sharon Coleman
Poetry Editors SACRAMENTO AREA LITERARY EVENTS Red Night Poetry is moving from Beatnik Studios Luna’s hosts poetry each Thursday evening at 8 p.m. The Shine Café hosts Poetry with Legs the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month November 3 Poetry in the Garden featuring C.J. Sage and J.P. Dancing Bear
December 1 – Miller Party – 6-8 p.m. at the Miller home. SPC’s annual year end gala
November 4 – Center for Contemporary Art will feature Remembering Facundo Cabral: A Dia de los Muertos Poetry Reading
Third Thursday at Central Library noon - bring a poem to share
November 9 Poetry with Legs features Neeli Cherkovski and Frank Andrick
Every Tuesday Hart Senior Center Poetry Workshop Bring 15 copies 7:30 - 9:00 For more information: www.sacramentopoetry center.com
November 10 Logos Books features Albert Garcia November 10-13 Loomis hosts the 17th Annual Cowpoke Fall Gathering
started writing as a child, stories about animals. She’s still writing--about animals, people, places and histories--primarily (now) in poems. For lemurs, ‘possums and cats Come out, Retrieve. East darkens Plum sky Under Sun, moon: Can you see? Irises Undulate in linger Light as you Appear, Recur.
Shadi Gex Rain Water for Maxfield My son stands on the porch, legs braced wide against wind, hands cupped to a sky that forgives everything and nothing. He holds rain in palms unlined by time, collects water, watches drops flowing between his fingers, follows the trail to earthen cracks.
My hands formed the same cup years ago, felt drops falling from another August sky before time lined my palms heavy Richard Hansen and Kim Richerson at S. and the paths around Clay Wilson Benefit 10-15-11 at Shine Café my eyes. And I see my son (photo by Trina Drotar) stand, bare-chested, pulling Shadi Gex lives and tight writes in the Bay Area. the skin covering his Poet, scholar, friend, and ribs, mother, she travels in and out of time and memory— moving in and out of then and now loving the lives travelling with her. Her work as he breathes in the has appeared in Poetry smell of rain, Now, Calaveras Station, knowing one day he and The Suisun Valley will stop, Review. Amber Moon breath heavy, Press recently published a remembering Broadside of her poems, what drops of water Memory: Then and Now. felt like Her master’s thesis, against new skin and Bergsonian Memory and Time in T. S. Eliot’s an August sky. Beginning and End, can be read in its entirety online.
Journey with Me: The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (San Francisco: Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) By Ann Wehrman When I was growing up, reading was my favorite pastime, probably like many of you. The imagery, words, and storylines of the works I read were my vehicles for escaping a difficult home life, and reading provided excitement, adventure, and new horizons as I otherwise dutifully conformed through my middle and high school years. My days included earning straight A’s at school, Girl Scouts after school, helping prepare dinner, washing the dishes by hand, doing homework, and then going to bed, all the while internally urging Mom and Dad to stop egging each other to the point of emotional explosion. As a shy introvert, I found relief not by roaming the mall with friends, but by taking an hour or so whenever I could to journey to alternate universes, usually in my room with the door closed, to imagined worlds beyond my situation as portrayed in classical mythology, science fiction, European and American literature, and poetry, The poetry in The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed will take readers on such an enchanted journey. The trip will be different for each reader, particularly depending on whether or not the reader has lived in Northern California. Murray Silverstein writes in the Introduction that the original editors of this anthology requested submissions that were, “‘poems of place set in the greater San Francisco Bay Area’” (xvi). However, despite the subject matter’s focus, this collection’s poetry soars with both universal appeal and high attention to craft, so that diverse readers, even those who have never been to California or the Bay Area, will appreciate it. The poets will be well known to many readers, as they are to each other: Camille Dungy, Quinton Duval, D. A Powell, Thom Gunn, Gary Snyder, Brenda Hillman, Lew Welch, Sharon Doubiago, Jane Hirshfield, and Robert Bly are just a few of the over ninety luminaries featured. The excellent edition includes an informative Contributors’ Notes section, a Forward by Robert Hass, an Introduction by Murry Silverstein, and lovely cover art by Tom Killion. Silverstein writes, . . . we sorted the poems into five sections, each a thread of call and response. Such discoveries became for us the great and unexpected pleasure of the book— like finding between two poems something new, another poem almost, an undiscovered niche in the terrain—“the place,” in Stella Beratlis’s haunting phrase, “that inhabits us.” (xvi) Additionally, the poems are grouped into sections whose titles, to me, seem to refer to the four magical elements (“This Air,” Like One Eternity Touching Another,” Their Green Flanks,” and “Between Fog and Drizzle”), with a fifth section perhaps referring to a beginning/end point of such magical interplay (“Shuddering Back to this Coastline”).
Each reader will find his or her personal magic when reading this collection. For me, a high point was discovering the inclusion of a poem by Zbigniew Herbert, “Sequoia” (29), which charms and leads the reader through, “Gothic towers of needles in the valley of a stream / not far from Mount Tamalpais where in the morning and / evening thick fog comes like the wrath and passion of the ocean”(1-3). Inexorably, however, Herbert moves toward the scorpion sting of final lines whose content I shall not reveal in order to keep his surprise intact. I highly recommend The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed as a means of experiencing the poets, culture, and physical reality of Northern California/The Bay Area, and I especially urge English teachers to consider using it in their classrooms. •
ELSIE TRIBUTE READING 10-16-11 Photos by Katy Brown Top – chatting Left – Don Feliz Above – Joyce Odam
Abe Sass, Bob Stanley, and Red Slider at Fremont Park for 100,000 Poets for Change 2011 – photo by Sandy Thomas
From Frank Graham:
In 2011, I coordinated benefit readings for nonprofits that focus on health and social issues (Amnesty International, autism, mental illness, and families of prisoners). I also organized a walk/run team and raised money for, and awareness of, AIDS/HIV. I participated in the Race for the Arts Sacramento. Outside of SPC, I organized Poets for Peace IV and Writers RX, a workshop for writers experiencing emotional issues. For 2012, I am looking ahead to Literary Lectures, a new series at SPC that I am organizing. Lecturers include Dr. Joshua McKinney, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Emmanuel Sigauke, and Judy Halebsky. The series premiers on February 16. The annual autism benefit reading featuring Rebecca Foust and Connie Post is scheduled for April 5. All benefit readings will occur on the fifth Monday of each month at SPC.
S. Clay Wilson Benefit Reading at Shine Café on 10-15-11 L-R Richard Krech, Gene Avery, D.R. Wagner, Log Instagon Photo by Trina Drotar
Evening Winter wheat sleeps in sheaves. The fur on all the animals is licked in the same direction. Thin in their gowns of ice, the lindens. A plank for every adze. Steam gathers shadows on the sill and each grape sees itself in a glass. Preserves.
Frank Graham - photo by Sandy Thomas
100,000 Poets for Change 2011 Fremont Park 9-24-11
Dorine Jennette is a former interview contributor to Poetry Now and a forever fan of the Sacramento Poetry Center. She is the author of Urchin to Follow (The National Poetry Review Press, 2010), and her poetry and prose have appeared in journals such as Verse Daily, theJournal, Puerto del Sol, the New Orleans Review, the Los Angeles Review, and the Georgia Review. A Seattle native, she earned her MFA at New Mexico State University and her PhD at the University of Georgia. She lives in the Bay Area, and is an editor for World Trade Press.
Capoeira Agua de Beber – Sacramento perform – photo by Sandy Thomas Dorine Jennette hosting Gillian Wegener & Keith Ekiss - SPC photo by Trina Drotar
Literary Lecture Series
When: Eight Thursday evenings 7:30pm-9:00pm; Feb. 16, 2012 through April 5, 2012 Where: The Sacramento Poetry Center 1719 25th St., Sacramento, CA 95816 Cost: $99 Season Pass $65 Half Season $20 per lecture. Contact: Frank Graham GrahamPoet@AOL.com 916.606.4303 This exciting new program presents intriguing lectures by 8 northern California authors and professors. 2-16-12 Dr. Joshua McKinney. 2-23-12 V.S. Chochezi 3-01-12 Molly Fisk 3-08-12 Emmanuel Sigauke 3-15-12 Susan Kelly-DeWitt 3-22-12 Judy Halebsky 3-29-12 James DenBoer 4-05-12 Tim Kahl Visit the SPC website for updated topics. www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com Photos this page (by Trina Drotar) Far upper right - Dave Boles at SPC Upper right - Maceo Montoya and Tim Z. Hernandez at SPC Below - DR Wagner, Doug Blazek, Andrew Joron at SPC Bottom - Kathy Kieth of Rattlesnake Press and Medusa’s Kitchen and Katy Brown (2012 PN editor) at The Book Collector
Notes on the Nature of Things 1. On the trail, the naturalist points to the muted scarlet berries of manzanita, “Why would the plant pack its seeds in such tough little pods?” he asks, then explains: parent plants avoid competition with their offspring. When fox and coyote carry the seeds away, the young plants grow in another wellspring, some other shaft of light. Inside every story, a strategy. I don’t blame him for the language of why. We demand the raven have a reason for her black feathers. 2. Language for Monkshood: The flower hooded itself for God. After a cost-benefit analysis, the flower made a pact with the bees. Before they called her Aconite or Wolfbane, before bees, she chose her own name, curled inward let her sepals go violet. 3. A bird can’t smell--she needs to travel lightly. Her empty brain, carrying 300 songs. The human ear can only hear a portion of these songs They drop down canyons, between our conventions of thought, or lift up above us, like the birds themselves. 4. Desire has its reasons, sure. They tell us it’s all in the pheromones. How comforting to know: we are who we are, but first, we are children of stories, stories of damp forests, heavy with scent. L. A. Jones has published poems in Tule Review, Convergence (online), and Qarrtsiluni’s Journaling the Apocalypse (online and print). She won first place in the Constance Topping Memorial Prize for poetry (82nd Annual Bay Area contest) and an honorable mention from the Sacramento Poetry Center’s 2008 Contest. She has a manuscript called Animal Stories and a Ph.D. in Sociology.
At the Edge of a Dream by Ann Wehrman
The Potential of Poetry by Eric Greinke (Presa Press 2011) Traveling Music by Eric Greinke (Presa Press 2011)
Readers often mistakenly believe that to be “good,” poetry must be written with exquisite, complex language, almost like the trills and other flourishes decorating Baroque music. However, as prize-winning poet, publisher, essayist, social worker, and philosopher, Eric Greinke (1948 - ) explains in, “The Potential of Poetry”—the first of seven, recent essays in his collection by the same title—in poetry, the enchanting, decorative quality of language is less important than the fact that language represents ideas. “Every word is a concept. New concepts grow from concepts that are more fundamental. Human progress depends on the discovery of new concepts, meanings, nuances, moods, recognitions and attitudes. Many of the answers are in us already, and can be retrieved and discovered through poetry” (“Accessibility and Quality in Poetry,” The Potential… 41). Fundamental to poetry, says Greinke, is the “transportation effect” (“The Potential of Poetry,” The Potential…18), in that “a poem should somehow enrich, inform or move one from a previously convergent feeling or thought” (18). Greinke also writes, “The entertainment value of poetry is secondary to its primary purpose: exposing the unknown, forming alternate ways of perceiving our reality, and advancing human awareness” (19). This is Greinke at his best, advocating at the cutting edge of human growth in consciousness and love, and doing it with poetry. Greinke holds “a Master’s Degree in Social Work …in addition to undergraduate degrees in English and Psychology. He has been active in the American small press since the late sixties” (www.ericgreinke.com), and has worked with the major poets of the last half century, from Bukowski and Ginsberg to Donald Hall. Reading his essays in The Potential of Poetry, as well as the poetry in Greinke’s new collection, Traveling Music, one can easily recognize the maturity, idealism, experience, and wisdom he has wrung from life. Greinke’s website, <www.ericgreinke. com>, informs one that, “. . . Eric Greinke has addressed the issues of literary politics and poetic freedom through his essays and his poetry. He has been a champion of eclecticism, diversity and tolerance on the too-often divided literary scene. His poetic style is wide ranging and has been influenced by French surrealism, the deep image and New York schools.” Indeed, Greinke writes, “[p]oetry can help us transcend normal states of mind and spirit, to enter the level of consciousness of collective soul, archetypes, symbols, and dreams”
(“Accessibility and Quality in Poetry,” The Potential… 37). Traveling Music pulls the reader from cover-to-cover in one very satisfying sitting, though one wants to return to re-read. The eighty-page book is divided into four sections, the second of which “Kayak Lessons,” seems at first to be merely that, short pieces about kayaking, until one looks closer at these poems’ Zenlike metaphors about how to live. The poems in the other three sections vary in topic and style, but all carry Greinke’s irony, deep philosophical focus, dreamlike imagery, and occasional wry humor. Many speak to me; for example, “Dream Home”: In the home of the clown there are many rooms. In the den, a statue of the Buddha palms some coins of the realm. In the bedroom, oversized clown-slippers, clown-boots & clown-flip-flops are scattered on the floor, like beached whales. (1-5) The clown looks into the mirror & sees a wise man with a big red nose. (8-9) Calliope music plays continuously. The clown lives tenderly alone, in his beach home. (14-16) I recognized myself in that clown, and forgave myself a bit more than usual based on Greinke’s loving portrait. I highly recommend Greinke’s book of profound essays on the nature and role of poetry, as well as his new collection of deceptively simple poems that will lead seeking, perceptive readers to the edge of a dream and, perhaps, to a new level of consciousness.
Save the Date December 1 SPC Annual Celebration Home of Mimi and Burnett Miller See SPC website for details 2010 Miller Party attendees -- photo by Sandy Thomas
Poets and Musicians About Town It occurs to me Top to Bottom (photos by Trina Drotar and Sandy Thomas) after I say Kathryn Hohlwein, Robert Grossklaus at Red Night, Morgan at Art Bazaar, Jane Blue at Shine, “I want it!” Fun at Luna’s Café with Ann Menebroker, Eva and Mike West, Allegra at Poets’ Picnic, “I want it!” Tiera at Poetry with Legs open mic, Charlene Ungstad at Beatnik, That I should haggle. Mary, Manny, and Bob at Songs of Protest, Like dad used to Richard Hansen at Burns Night, D.R. Wagner at Shine Cafe in Tijuana for the plaster-of-paris skulls already so cheap. But it’s too late. He knows. Knows my pockets are plump with cash for that car. Not any car. This car. My first car. 18 years old. Blue 69 Mustang Fastback. He knows. Sees the look in my eyes, The way my fingers tremble. He knows I will give him whatever he asks.
Richard Hansen owns a small used bookstore in midtown Sacramento. From this vantage point he takes in the literary scene. Not so much a poet as someone who appreciates the poetry of others. He and his fellow BoneFolders, through the Poems-For-All project, scatter like seeds little books of poetry all around the world. He is presently in Scotland, currying favour with poets there, hoping they’ll become part of his latest project, Sma Buiks, Wee Poems.
Sacramento gathers to hear poetry at a Rattlesnake Reading at The Book Collector photo by Trina Drotar
Love - Zero by A.D. Winans Cross-Cultural Communications ISBN 978-0-89304-260-8 2010, 39 pp., $10.00 www.cross-culturalcommunications.com
BOOKS TO READ
recommendations from poets Jane Eyre The Poetry Dictionary A Poetry Handbook Pablo Neruda Octavio Paz Toni Mirosevich The Scale of Maps The H.D. Book The Paris Poems Ordinary Genius Kay Ryan Basho Baudelaire The Last Avant-Garde The Spell of the Sensuous The Key of It All The Ecocriticism Reader Look for these books and make your own list!
This limited edition chapbook features the poetry of A.D. Winans, poetry that fans might find a bit softer, and the artwork of Norman J. Olson, but these are not the usual line drawings one might expect. They are oil on canvas, and ink and watercolor on paper, and they serve to accent and complicate Winans’ poetry. Indeed, the poetry could be read without the artwork, and the artwork could be enjoyed sans the poetry, but the two have come together in Love-Zero much as the speaker of the poems and his lover have. Winans opens with “Memories,” a poem in twenty-three parts and ends with “Epilogue.” Between the opening when the speaker recalls “the way you smiled at me . . .” to the end where “old songs with half-forgotten lyrics / play inside my head,” we are led through a budding love affair, with all of its joys and sorrows and uncertainties. The language is strong, the images exact as we would expect of Winans, yet there is a softer, more sensual texture “in a soft place inside the heart where / all language stops.” Fortunately for us, the language continues, and the speaker “retreat[s] into an amnesty / of words crowded with metaphors,” but the retreat is brief as line after line carries us along as the passion grows between the lovers, especially on the part of the speaker. We feel not only his passion and love and joy, but Winans invites the reader to experience the sadness and loneliness of a lover receiving “a poem about the / many men you have been in love with” after having sent a poem professing “how much I love you.” We feel the speaker’s shame when she “keep[s] him hidden away / from [her] friends / do[es] n’t introduce [him] to [her] family / make[s] excuses not to meet [his].” Throughout, the speaker provides glimpses of life before the love affair, and how that life has changed from one of “seeking / excitement in bars at parties / at concerts and night clubs / with crazed poets failed cowboys / and jazz angels wrapped in limbs of fire” to “[his] heart finding peace with the / simple holding of hands.” These are poems to read and to reread. They should be read as the pace intends – sometimes fast, sometimes slow. In order. These are love poems, but they are love poems that could only have come from A.D. Winans. They do not ask forgiveness for their bluntness, and they do not cross the line to sentimentality. They will touch everyone who’s ever loved and lost and found acceptance. -- reviewed by Jule Cade
Congratulations to Michelle Bitting
Winner of the SPC Book Contest Look for Notes to the Beloved in 2012 from SPC Press
Really lightly . . . by Josée Andrei Les Έditions du Souffle ISBN 9782930293103 176 pp. www.editionsdusouffle.be
for Jack Kerouac
lowell place of birth and burial the man in the blue jeans and white t-shirt playing the keys of the typewriter the rain pinging against the window he looks up to see the river of words flow from his veins he looks back down and continues
Josée Andrei, poet/writer/painter, passed away in 2004, but through this book, we can learn about her, experience her world as she did. She was born in Corsica, blind, and could see objects as shadows until about eight years old. Andrei left for America and created her own immersion language learning by taking a Greyhound bus from New York City to San Francisco. She’s been the subject of two documentary films in Belgian and French, and she was also the subject of this book’s companion film, Josée . . . an insane portrait. Edie Lambert, poet and KCRA news reporter, produced features on Andrei and her works. Additionally, Lambert wrote the introduction to Andrei’s last book, Pageant of a Woman, which chronicled her life in poetry and prose. Each page is filled with much, even those pages that appear to be blank. It’s not what’s not contained on those blank pages, but what’s contained within and behind those pages that is important. They serve as the shadows that we need to see in order to understand Andrei’s life and her work. The sculptures, paintings, and the words contained within are those of Andrei, as are several of the photographs. To read this book is to experience the artist’s way of being in the world, Sandy Thomas is a poet/photographer. and there is certainly no self-pity contained within these pages. The cover, Her images have appeared in/on Medufittingly, is black, and the title, fittingly, is printed in white. Indeed, the title sa’s Kitchen, Ophidian 1, Poetry Now, can be read as a guide on how to proceed through pages filled with photographs Primal Urge, Sacramento Press, and that require the book’s reader to pull the book closer, as though pulling Josée WTF?! She holds a M.S. from CSUS. in for a hug. Perhaps, though, it is Josée pulling the reader just a bit closer. In addition to the artworks included, there are poems in both English and French. One piece, “A Little Girl Dropped From the Moon,” about a child who nearly dies under the hand of the grandmother. At three months of age. Because ‘she can’t see.’ The poem’s speaker asks, “Do I remember?” What can a baby remember? How does memory change if sight is gone? Perhaps that question is answered in a later piece, “The Journey,” where the speaker “for the first time . . . intuitively realized they could see the world with their eyes. I could only see its shadows. From that day I knew that Frank Andrick, host of KUSF in Exile’s all my life I would have to illuminate everything with my mind.” Illuminate Pomo Literati show is what she’s done throughout the book, and if we close our eyes, and open our photo by Sandy Thomas minds, we can also “change the glass concert café into a sparkling crystal rain.” There is a celebration of the other senses. It has been said that the loss of one sense heightens the others. Andrei embraced those senses until “sound and light combined their vibrations to fill [her] body with joy.” This book vibrates with life, with images. “My mouth tasted it. My skin touched it. I heard it. I smelled it. Did I see it? How was it? Water and fire together surging from a fountain of pink marble,” Andrei finishes “The Journey,” but it’s more like her journey had begun that day. Spend time with each page. Touch the paper, stroke the images, look deeply inside and use the other senses to experience what Andrei has left for us. Look into the eyes of the artist and experience life as she experienced it. Andrei exhibited her works not only in San Francisco and Sacramento, but across the ocean in Brussels, Paris, Marseille, Florence, and Milan, where she also performed her own music, song, and poetry at gallery openings. -- review by Jule Cade
RECLAIM YOURSELF You may never love your life, but you can reclaim it. Dredged from the depths, memories are sunken treasure. Recognize them as such. Never again will you be brave as you are now. This couch – this room.
Laura Baumann Otsubo grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is an attorney at the California Secretary of State’s office. Laura previously served on the boards of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Sacramento and Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary. Her poetry has been published in the Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Now, and Dad’s Desk. Laura has posted poetry on Medusa’s Kitchen and read at Poetry at the VOX. She has participated in the Sacramento Poetry Center’s Tuesday Poetry Workshop. Laura has a Masters of Science in Agricultural & Resource Economics from UC-Davis, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Meet our Newest Board Member
Laura Bauman Otsubo
One witness records your life. You alone search time. Vacation where the bodies are buried: tasting the taunts, inhaling the shame, your loneliness.
SAVE THE DATE
November 19, 2011 California Stage Honoring Poet James Humphrey with the Dave Brubek Quintet See SPC Website for Details!
Poets About Town Back Page Above - Genelle Chaconas Above Right - William O’Daly photos by Sandy Thomas
Row 1 Yaz, Sage, Michelle, Allegra and Laverne Row 2 Josh signing, Geoff, Lara, Pat Grizzell
Lorna Dee Cervantes, JoAnn Anglin, and Francisco X. Alarcon at La Raza Galeria Posada by Sandy Thomas
Row 3 Joyce with snake, Carol and Laverne, Art Bazaar, Gene Avery
POETRY NOW NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THE POET TREE, INC. U.S. POSTAGE PAID 1719 25TH STREET SACRAMENTO, CA SACRAMENTO, CA 95816 PERMIT NUMBER 1956
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.
Poets about Town