Poets 11 Final Reading at the Koret!

Poets 11 final readingOn Sunday, January 18th, thirty-three poets from each corner and hilltop of the city will take center stage at the grand finale of the Fifth Poets 11. Selected and hosted by San Francisco’s 4th Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, three poets from each of the city’s 11 districts will read one selected piece of work at the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium beginning at 1 p.m.

The never-before-published poets, hand-picked over the last three months from a submission pool of over 200 local writers, will have their work featured for the first time in the 2014 Poets 11 Anthology, a collection of heartfelt, intelligent and passionate work. The Anthology will be on sale at the event and will remain available for purchase on the Friends’ website. Sale proceeds benefit programs at the neighborhood branch libraries throughout the city.

“There’s no higher sense of community participation than reading to create a unified field from a vast range of different poems,” said Hirschman, who promises all-inclusive and inspired performances.

The event is free, full of “revolutionary spirit,” and should not be missed!

Thursdays at Readers Poetry Series: Mahnaz Badihian & Lincoln Bergman

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

On January 8th  we are excited to have  Mahnaz Badihian and Lincoln Bergman read!

poet jan 8Mahnaz Badihian is an Iranian/American  poet, Painter  and a translator. She is a member of revolutionary Poets Brigade (RPB) in San Francisco. Her work has been published into several languages worldwide, including, Turkish, and Malayalam and Spanish and Italian. Her publications include three volumes of poetry, and a translation of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions into Persian.  She has MFA in poetry . Her work on a collection called “Saplings Arise”, edited by Jack Hirschman San Francisco Poet published in 2013. She is Editor-in-Chief of MahMag.org .Her collection of poems called Recycled Woman will be published in 2015.

www.Badihian.org or www.mahmag.org



 By Mahnaz Badihian

Recycled Woman

Steps into the dark street

Into the empty alleys,

Calm and quiet

She walks over the shadows

Of fallen trees

Shadows of lonely people

Who’ve left the war zone

Broken windows

And shattered doors


She walks over lost pairs of shoes


Recycled Woman is walking

On the skin of a cold night, naked

Thinking the night is too long

And its shadows feel too cold.


Bio and Poetry for Lincoln Bergman coming soon!

Best Things of the Week – 1/5/15

Best Things of the Week

January 5, 2015

Best Thing I Saw All Week: Top Five. We sneaked into this after sitting through Marky Mark’s unnecessary remake of The Gambler. Chris Rock’s comic lament about stardom, race and New York City at times glances off being funny when it is trying to be sincere, and vice versa, but it is very often both and nearly never neither. The talents of seemingly every African-American funnyman in Hollywood, plus those of a few white guys, are brought to bear on this with wide comic results; check out especially Cedric the Entertainer, J. B. Smoove and Tracy Morgan. Rock’s New York is teeming, boiling; there’s music everywhere, muffled or clear, coming out of the walls, the ceiling, the next room, the street. Warning: This is a Recovery Movie. Usually this would make me run immediately in the other direction but the publicity I saw skipped trhe suject entirely. Down there they treat their sobriety like some award given out on national television complete with choked-up speeches, something they earned through achievement rather than simple abstinence. It’s like some expensive pet; a great screeching Macaw that must be tended endlessly and hopefully will outlive them like some kind of legacy. Rock does as well with this wearying trope as can be expected—he wrote the damn thing, after all—but it still drags things down a little here and there since it is the one thing in Hollywood that absolutely no one can have a sense of humor about; the only mortal sin is to take a drink.

Best Thing I Read All Week: Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascomb Book by Richard Ford. The subtitle is disturbing, as though the protagonist of the acclaimed The Sportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land is another brand like Dave Robicheaux or Kinsey Millhone, which I guess he is. Rather than a novel this is a series of four very-closely-linked novellas, each a study in Bascomb’s bemused retirement. No detail slips his eye, no effect goes unnoticed; he over thinks everything and fends off a variety of horrors with humor.  (“The world gets smaller and more focused the longer we stay on it.”) Each of the four deals with minor and not-so-minor disruptions in Frank’s quotidian in the Christmas season immediately following Sandy’s 2012 landfall—a former client; a strange woman on his doorstep; his ex-wife; an old friend, dying. This all works in a way that is similar to a novel but not a novel at the same time. It is way larger than the sum of its parts via some inscrutably reliable Ford-ian prestidigitation.

The Rise of Autofiction


A Toast to the Poets 2014 Claimed by John Landry

A toast to those poets 2014 claimed: Amiri Baraka, Newark , NJ. Former State poet laureate.
Juan Gelman, Argentina.
René (Albert Napoleon) Ricard, New Bedford-born, painter-poet-critic.
Maxin Kumin, former Poetry Consultant (pre-Laureate) to the Library of Congress.
Bill Knott, Boston legend.
Vern Rutsala.
Russell Edson, prose poet extraordinaire, Blk Mtn student.
Jack Agüeros
Joe Gouveia, Cape Cod wizard of poetry activity, and author of SAUDADES.
Maya Angelo
Alastair Reed
Carolyn Kizer
Ron Loewinsohn
Galway Kinnell, Blk Mtn College student
Mark Strand, former U$ Poet Laureate
Jeff Poniewaz, Milwaukee poet laureate, life-partner to Antler(former Milwaukee poet laureate)
Claudia Robitaille Grace, New Bedford, Massachusetts poet. Author of THE OTHER SIDE OF WHERE I USED TO LIVE

Ode for a New Year, new poem by Neeli Cherkovski


then quick to the stones
walk on bones
belittle no man and find your place
on the shelves of a cosmic dime

Hokusai’s waves meet the pale coast
just south of Moss Beach, I imagine the wind
has done this thing, the people at the café
allow me to bring the dog inside, I order
Ear Gray tea and settle down

rattle no cage of skulls
pay your dues to the maker
who makes orphans and men
“stranded without love”

send your blessings
to those who value agates washed onto shore
and do not feel compelled
to polish and sale them

read the funny papers
as if they were real news,
as if the plane didn’t sink undetected
and the martyrs were not children
and the creeps ruling over us
with traitorous intent
had not looted the last remaining strains
of beauty

go to the stones down a eucalyptus road
and find the roots as December quits
amid a blast of arctic air

because I fell for love like an idiot
at age 69, when I already have it,
my heart sank into the imperceptible confines
of an ancient ballroom in the Fillmore District

it was the young man’s profile
and his heavy eyebrows, I’ll sit vigil
in the garden now, watching for spiders
and spies

and the delirium of his poems, their ease
and confidence, the pleasure in his lines
as if the land dwelt on his fingertips

look to the asphalt where father fell
and lay supine looking
at the crowded bank of clouds
above the cemetery

tell everyone to settle down

my father will survive the onslaught
and cross over to Berlin
with a white stallion at his side

he will climb into the ambulance
with the medic who has a fantastic hat
made of blue feathers

he endure like a tough alley cat
from one year to the next
his generosity is inescapable
though anger rules and pathos
has its place

toss an orphic lute
into the mix, U2
and the wild grey of late sky

imagine California
dread light of the highways
late at night, north from the Basin
to oblivion’s shoulder

rush to stones
let your feet be bloodied
you are among the first
you will see many beginnings:
ashes from the sea
catastrophic music out there
in the deep green

Dec 29, 2014

Another Life for John Weiners, a poem by Peter Sherburn-Zimmer

Another Life for John Weiners


That dance in Groliers for Gordon

far from the quarry, John,

you didn’t mean to inspire the hunt,

did you?


A life two steps

before the hounds

…Temple Street,

up the hill…before ghosts lost shadows.


Wrinkled faces,

one glass at a time,

we lift our hands

to twisted fate and her flimsy skirt.


Can’t let you go, brother…

mad rabbits

take our breath away

back down

to those Cambridge, cold waters.


They let me scratch the window


for my own brothers & sisters—

man, the river stays windy.

LA Public Library Staff Read Their Lists of the Best Books of 2014


Best Things of the Week, 12/29/14

Best Things of the Week

December 29, 2014

  Best Thing I Saw All Week: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Released in the same year as such exuberant fare as Help!, That Darn Cat!, What’s New Pussycat? and The Sound of Music this is a dark tragedy that stalks the damp corners of the double- and triple-crossing world of cold war espionage. It’s hard to imagine it found an audience though it was quite successful. In the gone-to-seed London locales it’s as though Carnaby Street and all of Swingin’ London are a million miles away, not just around the corner, and the East German sets are even grimmer featuring a courtroom festooned with deer skulls, really crappy cars and a prison where they shackle suspects to the floor. John LeCarre’s 1963 book had already elevated the spy novel out of the comic book world of Ian Fleming and into the realm of great literature; this movie was something new as well. There is no redemption to be found in this film unless one stretches the idea to its very thinnest.  Our leaders, past and present, could learn a thing or two about the loss of a national conscience, but they haven’t  in the fifty years since the film’s 1965 debut and probably won’t. Most of them would see this as a dialectical drama of right vs. wrong which is precisely not the point.  I’d only seen this on crummy second-generation VHS, the Criterion Collection Blu-ray, with lots of good extras, is quite spectacular in crisp black-and-white. Best Thing I Heard All Week: Ishman Bracey (1928 –1930): Complete Recordings in Chronological Order (Wolf Records, Austria). These well-re-mastered recordings reveal a Delta bluesman I’ve been reading about all my adult life but never heard until now. They bolster Elijah Wald’s contention that Bracey, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson and their contemporaries were entertainers first, playing juke-joint dances and taking requests for popular songs, gospel numbers and sentimental favorites, and bluesmen second as the situation, such as white folklorists paying them to record only blues, required. Bracey here is accompanied on some cuts by a second guitar (though it sounds more like a mandolin to me) and by the New Orleans Nehi Boys—clarinet and piano—on most others. The New Orleans approach is not entirely successful but is probably as close as we’ll ever get to hearing what Wald is describing. Still Bracey is closer to Johnson than to Mississippi John Hurt in his approach, more doom and sadness rather than wit and wordplay. Along with Tommy Johnson and many others Bracey (properly spelled ‘Ishmon’) turned away from the devil’s music and played exclusively gospel after these scant recordings were completed. Ted Gioia’s Delta Blues The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music (2008) is a fine overview of the current thinking that incorporates Wald’s ideas quite nicely.  Wald’s groundbreaking Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues (2004) is where those ideas come from. Both are well worth reading.

Book Banning and Anti-intellectualism on the Rise in the US, Again

Historian Richard Hofstadter published Anti-Intellectualism in American Life in 1963. Here are a couple of recent updates.  (Hint: Not much has changed.)