Thursdays at Readers Poetry Series: Michael Warr and Genny Lim

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

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!

Warr @ Fort Mason (Hi Res Cropped)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 He is currently editing “Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin” and anthology combining poems, essays, portraits, and archival images.

Her Words
by Michael Warr

(To Gwendolyn Brooks)

An archaeologist,

not a lexicologist, figured it

out.  The word was a woman.

Mingling among

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,

segregation, integration,

and false resolution.

Words worn as bracelets,

amulets and weapons.

Words that were up

long before they were down.

Word Up.

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.

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