Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series! Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman. For a full line-up and more information please visit our website at www.friendssfpl.org.
Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library
This Thursday, May 12th we are excited to have Michael Warr and Genny Lim read!
Michael Warr’s books of poetry include The Armageddon of Funk (2011), Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex (1999) as a co-editor, and We Are All The Black Boy (1991), all published by Tia Chucha Press. His awards include the 2014 Creative Work Fund award for his multimedia project “Tracing Poetic Memory in Bayview Hunters Point,” 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, 2012 Poetry Honor Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, and others. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association described The Armageddon of Funk as “A poetic soundtrack to black life.” The Crisis Magazine, founded by W.E.B. DuBois, refers to Warr as a “literary long-distance runner,” and “poet-traveler.” A frequent collaborator with musicians, visual and performing artists, Michael’s poems have been dramatized on stage, depicted on canvas, and set to original music. For links to his writing, recordings, and multimedia experiments in poetry go to armageddonoffunk.tumblr.com. He is currently editing “Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin” and anthology combining poems, essays, portraits, and archival images.
by Michael Warr
(To Gwendolyn Brooks)
not a lexicologist, figured it
out. The word was a woman.
the Oromos of Ethiopia,
brandishing a painter’s
brush in a dig territorially
defined by string,
the archaeologist swept away
ancient crust and sediment
finding language, alive
and agitated, instead
of the fossilized femur
of a long-dead ramapithecus.
Words wrapped in rhythm,
pleasure, knowledge and pain.
Words as sharply defined
as an Ashanti sculpture. Words
of an African dynasty
made of peoples
not restricted to kings.
Words that survived
the Atlantic. Words
that survived Atlanta. Words
that survived migration,
and false resolution.
Words worn as bracelets,
amulets and weapons.
Words that were up
long before they were down.
Words that give more
than she has taken.
Children’s lives reweaved
first through her poems
and then through their own.
Words that could weave a world.
The Armageddon of Funk (1965/2006)
(In Memory of James Brown)
The one thing that can solve most of our problems
is dancing.” – The Godfather of Soul
Watts rebels. A tethered cosmonaut “walks” in space.
T.S. Elliot, Nat King Cole, and Sir Winston Churchill die.
Malcolm is murdered. The “Grateful Dead” is born.
Sekou Sese Mobuto steals and sells the Congo.
Che crosses Lake Tanganyika as “Tatu” to take it back.
Ginsberg Howls, speaking “flower power” in the city
where I first imagine. The entire Northeastern United States
blacks out. The Voting Rights Act is passed. U.S. troops
deploy to Da Nang, Vietnam. Gang of Four ascends.
My only worry, at ten years old, is what will happen to
the world if James Brown dies?
Monks rebel. Pluto is no longer a planet. The sun eclipses.
Robert Creeley, Coretta Scott King, and the King of Tonga
die. Monks are murdered in Myanmar. The Dead still
play live. Congo holds its first “true” elections since
Lumumba’s assassination. Howl turns fifty. Jack Hirschman,
communist, is Poet Laureate of the city where I first imagined.
Deadliest heat wave since the Dust Bowl plagues Midwest.
Voting Rights are extended another inadequate quarter.
Saddam Hussein hanged. Forbidden City evicts Starbucks.