Apr 7, 2013 1
Mar 20, 2013 0
A FAILED VISIONARY, A DEMYTHIFIER, A PLAGIARIST: john tottenham, jarett kobek + stewart home @ the odd fellows hall
The Odd Fellows Hall is at Market and 7th, near a methadone clinic. It is a six-story structure built in 1909. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows began a few centuries ago in England as a group of people who wanted to “improve and elevate the character of mankind.” They arrived in this town during the gold rush (which did not elevate the character of mankind).
We don’t have a long history in California – I have slept in buildings in Europe which are older than this country – so I like these old buildings which feel like time machines. There was even a man operating the elevator (with a boom-box keeping him company). We levitated to the top floor and ended up in a large room with a high ceiling. Two rows of chairs lined the walls and mysterious old books filled the shelves. The light was too dim for taking notes, but not for premonitions of an occult ritual of some kind.
Sitting on a piano bench, I felt like playing some moody chords. My old friends Vale and Marian from RE/Search Publications were sitting nearby. Three odd fellow-writers read from their work on Thursday, February 28: John Tottenham, Jarett Kobek, and Stewart Home. Read the rest of this entry »
Mar 16, 2012 1
In 1998 I went to see the movie Slam and still remember a scene in the prison yard where Saul’s character is in a tense situation, but he gets out of it at the last second by breaking into an inspired rap. I was thinking about that at his show the other night at Slims, as I couldn’t understand the words to 90 percent of his songs. Maybe it was because they’re songs and not poems, or there is a tendency for some musicians to treat the vocalist as just another instrument in the mix, so the drums are getting equal volume but you can’t hear the words. Read the rest of this entry »
Feb 24, 2012 1
Yesterday we published Steven Gray’s open letter to City Lights, claiming that Jarett Kobek‘s Jan 18th reading there from his novel ATTA was “evasive in the extreme”, and the final slide of his presentation—Mae West kissing W.C. Fields—”a meaningless conclusion that the neo-cons could live with, particularly as it lets them off the hook.”
Kobek has responded: Read the rest of this entry »
Feb 23, 2012 3
I went to the Jarett Kobek event on Wednesday night at City Lights (Jan. 18), where he was explaining his book ATTA. I thought I might be at odds with the premise that Atta didn’t like tall buildings and that’s why he went through with 9/11, but I wanted to hear Kobek in person and maybe ask some questions. I did learn a few things about Atta’s background, with Kobek having done some research (which he admitted was limited), and I was willing to accept his opinion that a story by Martin Amis in The New Yorker (“The Last Days of Muhammad Atta”) was horrible, but eventually I was one of those who walked out—and there weren’t many there to begin with. I lasted over an hour, until he ended his presentation by giving it over to a woman in London reading from her book on Skype. This conveniently left no room for questions and answers (which may have occurred at the end of the evening, but I was gone by then). Read the rest of this entry »
Feb 22, 2012 2
Feb 21, 2012 3
Feb 9, 2012 1
Jan 29, 2012 5
Nov 9, 2011 1
Oct 30, 2011 2
Switch costumes with political, scientific, or nostalgic consequence and Tuesday’s all yours: Read the rest of this entry »
Sep 16, 2011 9
Sam Sax, Nic Alea and Andrew Paul Nelson organized New Poetry Mission a few months ago. What they had in mind was a reading series that would exclusively feature “new shit.” They talked about reading material with the ink still wet. They also wanted to raise the critical standard in responding to the work. They had concluded that too much unconditional acceptance was hurting the scene. They meant to take a stand.
The result has been a mixed bag. Certainly, the series has attracted poets with talent, energy and something to say. On every occasion, the room is crowded with enthusiastic performers and audience. There is always some excellent work. Indeed, about six weeks ago, I wrote a very enthusiastic review.
But, sadly, the recent resignation of the diligent Andrew Paul Nelson has been a disappointment. Read the rest of this entry »
Aug 21, 2011 1
Featured Event: Friday, August 26th- Nothing is Hidden: Matthew Zapruder & Matthew Dickman
Nothing is Hidden is a monthly series of readings and artist talks held at SF Zen Center. That’s right, the Zen Center. How cool is that? Just wait. These readings and talks are dedicated to celebrating Shunryu Suzuki’s classic book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and the featured artists and writers (in this month’s case, dos Matthews—Zapruder and Dickman) are chosen because their work embodies the compassion, engagement, and curiosity at the heart of Suzuki’s text and the Zen practice. See, I told you it got cooler. And as an extra, extra bonus attendees will receive an awesome little surprise (and that’s just a hint). Really: catch a glimpse of Z and D. Read the rest of this entry »
Aug 9, 2011 1
Jul 28 2011: Viracocha, heart of the mission, San Francisco, California, early in the 21st century. It’s happening. New shit. Good shit. It’s a hip spot in a hip neighborhood. There is a readers’ platform. It is dark, but not smoky. People of all ages, all sexes (not just two by any means), colors and attitudes come here seeking epiphany. They are here seven nights a week, under the loving care of Jonathan Siegel, a tall, dark & handsome 30-something impressario with an actor’s voice who sings torch songs, writes poetry and clucks over his brood like a new generation’s Anna Madrigal. Some nights are plays. Some nights there is new music. Occasionally, there are university classes. On second and fourth Thursday nights, poets Sam Sax, Nic Alea and Jen G preside over a most unusual open mic: “The New Shit Show.” Everything is new, the ink still fresh on the page, the audience hungry, attentive, participating. This is not your uncle’s open mic: some of the finest poets in the west (and a few wannabes like yours truly) show up and deliver the risky, untried goods. It’ll get you downtown. Read the rest of this entry »
Jul 24, 2011 0
Featured Event: Saturday, July 30th - Bay Area Poetry Marathon
Marathon is right. What used to be a weekend-long event in Boston has transformed into a momentous event in the Bay. With brief author introductions and a loooooong reading, this edition of The Bay Area Poetry Marathon features a wonderful lineup of up-and-coming and experimental authors, including Maxine Chernoff, Kevin Killian, and Dean Rader. For more information, read this profile or check out this review of their last show. Read the rest of this entry »
Jun 26, 2011 0
Featured Event: Tuesday, June 28th
Tuesday is a pretty overlooked day. Sandwiched in between the most disliked day of the week, Monday, and its ever-welcomed midway point, Tuesdays can seem pretty dull. However, the three events occurring Tuesday, June 28th might change that. What’s so great about this Tuesday’s events besides the voices involved? Well, they’re all free. That’s right. That means, if your wallet is as light as mine these days, you can spend all that extra money you’ll now have on a taco. Maybe even a cheap pint for later. Wow. Thanks, for looking out, Tuesday.
First up, at lunchtime, is Youth Speaks: Words & Voices. Don’t know about Youth Speaks? Check this out (or just show up). In the evening, choose between two very different events. The first, Found in Translation, is a book club meeting held each month to discuss some of the best new fiction from around the world. This month’s selection, “Never Any End to Paris” is a unique blend of fact and fiction written by one of Barcelona’s most renowned authors, Enrique Vila-Matas. Though prior knowledge of the book is bound to help, newcomers are always welcome! The second event, Writing w/o Walls, is the debut of a reading series that likes to party. Phil Genaldo, Gina Goldblatt, and Jeff Von Ward invite you to join six featured readers in some “drunken limb flailing” which they promise will bring the audience closer. Snuggle up, but keep an eye out for elbows, would ya? Read the rest of this entry »
Jun 17, 2011 0
I contract. I dilate.
I wax. I wane.
“Push! You can do it!”
“Congratulations! It’s a nonprofit organization.”
At some point, I mistook the voices in my heart for yours. Maybe I’m distracted because there’s so much going on in my life. Or is my heart so strangled? I don’t feel to blame. Maybe I listened, really listened while you spoke, thought, ‘we are the same,’ or, ‘we are close enough.’
I write for a living, and what living. Once I dreamt this, and devoted my every waking hour toward it, did everything but cut my eyelids off to stay awake and move toward it, and here it is: happening. Read the rest of this entry »
Jun 6, 2011 1
Sure, the room was packed because Daphne Gottlieb was there to read from her new book 15 Ways to Stay Alive. Yes, it’s nothing new that a strong feature brings people in the door. We all want to avoid it. Some of us do. And shows with integrity will bring people in and they will keep coming, even when, silently, the veil is lifted and there aren’t any more features, or the features aren’t people we’ve heard of, or we just know that this is the dope place to read your poems. Read the rest of this entry »
May 29, 2011 1
We were trying on different hats and stealing glances at ourselves when the readings began at Goorin Bros. hat shop in North Beach, part of Litquake’s Epicenter series that featured Out of Our poetry magazine this month. Editor Sarah Page smiled as her husband Steven Gray read his poem about a frustrated couple on the first day of spring, jackhammers outside their window not blue jays [here for videos]. Then it was onto the 45, crushed against commuters in Chinatown through the Stockton St Tunnel, into the bustling cool of Thursday evening in Union Square and West up Post St to Café Royale, where two dozen veteran literati plopped down on plush sofas and shared a living room experience at the five-plus year-old InsideStoryTime reading series [here for videos]. No sooner had April Sinclair finished her tale about moving to Woodacre, in chase of the small town feel found in childhood viewings of the Andy Griffith Show, and only to be one of four black residents there, some of us hopped in cars and drove over to Fivepoints Arthouse to celebrate the release of Jesús Ángel García’s transmedia novel badbadbad. Read the rest of this entry »
May 25, 2011 2
An intimate crowd gathered in Goorin Bros hats in North Beach on May 19th to celebrate the release of the tenth edition of Our of Our magazine. Litquake teamed up with editor and founder Sarah Page for the event, featuring the quarterly magazine as part of their monthly Epicenter Series which aims to bring the literature community closer together by hosting free gatherings all over SF. Poets mingled among the hats, trying them on, and laughing over glasses of wine while they waited to hear Rudy Waltz, Steven Gray, and Meri St. Mary read their pieces from the new edition. Read the rest of this entry »
Jan 5, 2011 0
Mon Jan 3 11, Public Works
Never before was the feeling of waiting for an author to walk from the depths of a crowd to the stage more dense with patience. Not a dog barked; supportive friends sent their wishes into the air via silence and hope (communal breath was a brainwave). The predominant thing was expectation, and nearly (if not) as strong was the sense of trust; there was no desperation in the air, no doubt about what we were doing. What will happen? What will happen? What will happen? It keeps coming. Like the night. The following was heard outside during intermission: “My butt hurt so bad, but I couldn’t move.” Read the rest of this entry »