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?”

 

Best Thing I Saw All Week: Poetry and Jazz at the Top of the Mark; From San Francisco to Europe and Back: Conceived and presented by the Beat Museum’s Jerry Cimino and Bob Booker, this series of nine events—every Tuesday night in March and April—brings challenging poetry to a carriage trade audience. A tight mob of loyal fans surrounded the stage and ordered the cheapest stuff on the menu while eying the magnificent view, listening to Jack Hirschman, Agneta Falk and saxophonist George Long as a mostly indifferent suit-and-tie crowd downed their dinner around the room’s perimeter, doing their best to talk over or ignore the proceedings. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Jack bellowing “You shit on my grave.” while the stiffs dab at their lips with the finest linen in town. The joint was completely sold out to the point where all our attempts to smuggle our perfectly-respectable-looking guests past the palace guards placed outside the elevator doors through bullshit, subterfuge and plain pleading, were thwarted—though Harpo and Chico would still have been proud of us—until the guards suddenly relented and made an exception. My only regret was that I didn’t go to the rest of them.

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