Best Things of the Week 4/27/15

 

Best Things of the Week

by Byron Spooner

April 27, 2015

 

Best Thing I Saw All Week: SFJazz Poetry Festival curated by Ishmael Reed: We skipped Saturday’s San Jose poets out of a mix of snobbery and a simple need for a break in the four-nights-running affair, but the much-anticipated Sunday of San Francisco Poets more than made up for it. Sharon Doubiago combined the intensely political with the intensely personal, reading entirely from her latest book, The Visit, “A book-length poem in the tradition of investigative poetry that takes on both the Church and the State in a complex search for justice and reconciliation of crimes and the abuse of power past and present as told through one man’s story – a full-blooded Shuswap-Lillooet Indian convicted of a crime he claims he did not commit.” Former SF Poet Laureate devorah major read her ecstatic James Brown poem, which catches the rhythms and jubilance of Brown and makes you want to pull out all his CDs and turn ‘em up, a wonderfully honest love poem to her husband Greg, who beamed in the audience and a smart piece about the sudden proliferation and near hegemony of crows in San Francisco where until recently they’d been virtually nonexistent. Current SF Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia doesn’t read, he recites from memory. He did a terrific Lenny Bruce poem I don’t recall ever hearing and a bunch of old favorites including “Homage to the Cockroach Poet.” Tony Rodriguez inexplicably projected a PowerPoint presentation pimping his latest book, which didn’t sound good and was not even poetry anyway, briefly marring the evening by causing everyone to think, “Just what the hell does this guy think he’s doing up there?” Read more »

Interview with David Meltzer

David is one of my favorite poets, always funny and personable. He’s extremely smart. — BJS  read here.

The Necessity of Books

All book lovers will recognize a little of themselves in this.  — BJS

Read here.

Beatnik Shindig in June

This should be a fantastic event.  Friends will be sponsoring and providing space for events. BJS.  Read here.

http://www.beatnikshindig.com/hoodline-beatnik-shindig-in-june-will-feature-poets-scholars-artists-more/

Best Things of the Week, 4/20/15

Best Things of the Week

 

by Byron Spooner

 

April 20, 2015

 

Best Thing I Saw All Week: SFJazz Poetry Festival curated by Ishmael Reed: On Thursday night’s Berkeley Poets, Robert Hass performed what a more religious man than I would call a small miracle at the top of the bill, delivering an ecstatic set of modern poetry that has to be one the best I’ve ever seen. (Reed thought so too, and said so at the end of evening.) Beginning with a startlingly honest dream poem, then a couple of elegies to departed family, where by poking around in grief’s back yard and jotting down the obduracy of memory, Hass created awe. He moved on to his nature poems, imbued with the sound of pines and scent of wind. In his intro Al Young rightly called him, “an American Master.” Young was all over it as well. Accompanied by virtuoso bassist Dan Robbins he stuck with his music poems, many from his 2008 collection “Something About the Blues.” Al swings like Sonny Greer under any circumstance but Thursday he seemed inspired by the building, the crowd, the accompaniment, and the constant sidewalk of passersby whose reactions ranged from indifference to fascination with only a plate glass window between them and wonder. He and Robbins pulled a couple of verses of “Sir Duke” out of their kit bag to close things out—boldly striding into the continuum of jazz poetry that runs from Langston Hughes to Kaufman, Joans, Meltzer and Baraka to Wonder and Young. At such a moment one wonders where poetry ends and jazz begins or if there is a line at all.

Best Thing I Saw All Week: SFJazz Poetry Festival curated by Ishmael Reed: Friday night was Oakland night with Tennessee Reed as reader/MC, April Sinclair, Theo Konrad Auer and Avotcja Jiltoilro. Between poems Auer pointed out that Ishmeal had hung out with Miles Davis and Jackson Pollack in New York back in the day and marveled at sharing the stage with him. When we ran into April in the lobby she was nervous and claimed to be uncertain about what she was going to read. She uncrumpled a piece of paper from her purse and read us a short piece about growing up over a tavern in Chicago. When the time came she read the piece to applause but it turned out to be merely a warm-up for her triumphant ‘Straight Outta Marin”—published in 2011 in Black California: A Literary Anthology—which was simultaneously very funny, sharply observed, sad and outraged. So what if it wasn’t poetry? It was true to the spirit of the festival. Introducing herself as “storyteller, wild woman, and bona fide sound junkie,” Avotcha closed the evening with her blues/jazz-inspired free form poems, evoking the music of Oakland, name-checking seemingly every singer, drummer, horn man, guitarist, and pianist who’d ever come through town. The poems grew into incantations that threatened to summon the shades of those long gone musicians. I’d seen Avotcja several times before but never in such high form. Sunday is San Francisco Night. Stayed tuned.

 

Behind the Image, a new poem by Peter Sherburn-Zimmer

Behind the Image

 

We’re not living in negative space today.

The edges are not that clean. One slight step

under the steps to heaven leaves us looking for the star.

It ain’t there.

 

Angel’s sweeten badly

on despair, regret

the sulfurs in their uniforms,

fix their hair.

 

Say stuff like:

‘Are those words on the table?’

‘Lovers weep

mainly for themselves.’

‘Shut the self off.’

–to pass the time away.

2015 Pulitzer Prizes Announced

The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced today. Here’s the rundown–BJS. Read here:

http://blog.longreads.com/2015/04/20/the-2015-pulitzer-prize-winners/

 

Best Things of the Week 4/20/15

Best Things of the Week  

by Byron Spooner 

April 20, 2015

images(7) Best Thing I Saw All Week: SFJazz Poetry Festival curated by   Ishmael Reed: On Thursday night’s Berkeley Poets, Robert Hass performed what a more religious man than I would call a small miracle at the top of the bill, delivering an ecstatic set of modern poetry that has to be one the best I’ve ever seen. (Reed thought so too, and said so at the end of evening.) Beginning with a startlingly honest dream poem, then a couple of elegies to departed family, where by poking around in grief’s back yard and jotting down the obduracy of memory, Hass created awe. He moved on to his nature poems, imbued with the sound of pines and scent of wind. In his intro Al Young rightly called him, “an American Master.” Young was all over it as well. Accompanied by virtuoso bassist Dan Robbins he stuck with his music poems, many from his 2008 collection “Something About the Blues.” Al swings like Sonny Greer under any circumstance but Thursday he seemed inspired by the building, the crowd, the accompaniment, and the constant sidewalk of passersby whose reactions ranged from indifference to fascination with only a plate glass window between them and wonder. He and Robbins pulled a couple of verses of “Sir Duke” out of their kit bag to close things out—boldly striding into the continuum of jazz poetry that runs from Langston Hughes to Kaufman, Joans, Meltzer and Baraka to Wonder and Young. At such a moment one wonders where poetry ends and jazz begins or if there is a line at all. Read more »

Good News for Book Collectors

At Friends of the Library book-selling venues, sales of collectible books are as strong as ever.  Read article here.
–BJS

 

National Library Week

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jul13hong/10-reasons-why-librarians-are-awesome?sub=3039983_2531113#.nrX4PAo2DW