FRIDAY, 11/4: books that tickle the neurons, a celebration of patchen, and ferlinghetti + hirschman

This has been a great week! Maybe you’re starting to remember what you did for Halloween. Maybe you celebrated at Guinevere Q’s (last) Variety Show Sunday and took the day off (copycat, then). Tuesday might have seen you any number of ways, and Wednesdaycheck out footage from  Keely Hyslop‘s release party (I only hope you missed it if you went to see Mary Roach talk with Adam Savage, and if so I demand a report on the Litseen desk before you sleep, cutcopycat).

Ever been to one of The Booksmith‘s Bookswaps? Yes, they cost a few dollars. Yes, $25. Is it worth it? Depends what you’re going for. I went once and had a great time. I met a couple people who I eventually worked with and who have introduced me to other people I might not have met. I spent the night talking about one of my favorite books to people who might actually pick it up and love it the way I do (and one of them went home with it). You get a book—a book somebody really loves. Chances are, in fact, that you get to take home several books; The Booksmith has an excess of advanced readers’ copies they let attendees choose from. Oh, and the price includes wine, too. Carl Zimmer, frequent contributor to Radio Lab and This American Life and the only writer after whom a species of tapeworm has been named—for the love of science!—will be at the swap, engaging in conversation and talking about one of his favorite books. Watch Carl talk about the mysteries of the mind; production values aside, this might blow your mind (but will definitely make you want to talk with him):


You should buy tickets now—they sell out every month. Get them online or at the store.

6:30pm9:30pm at The Booksmith
1644 Haight St

I first came across Kenneth Patchen because I went into a Borders, long before they were each abandoned and turned into grocery stores and sneaker outlets, and wrote down Henry Miller‘s The 100 Books That Influenced Me Most (I don’t know why, but I didn’t think to use the internet!; now that I have looked up that list and posted it for you above I realize this is not how I found Patchen—this list—but in Miller’s prose, I suppose). In any case I went to the public library where I was living and checked out this crazy book of illustrations and whatnot that I had a really hard time classifying. Part of me thought the guy was nuts, absolute nuts, and part of me couldn’t stop looking at the book (not that one discounts the other). Above, you can see an illustration someone else made of Patchen (click the image for more). Definitely: listen to Patchen read.

For almost 10 years now, Bird & Beckett has been hosting a jazz party jam session with bassist Don Prell, who assembles an ensemble each first Friday. This Friday, when the regular session concludes, the folks at Kelly’s Cove Press—a completely new local publishing operation (this is their first offering in their inaugural list of books)— will launch Kenneth Patchen: A Centennial Celebration, which gathers some of the iconic poet’s best work.

Editor Jonathan Clark, who was close to Patchen and his wife from the ’60s on, will take the stage to read some of Patchen’s poems to a jazz bass line laid down by none other than Don Prell… Here’s some pretty excellent info:

Patchen’s “experimental protests” in poetry, painting, and prose remain unprecedented. He’s a poet dear to the heart of legions of San Francisco poets, and his “picture poems” — humorous, ascerbic, ironic, and heartfelt — comprise, in all their apparent naivete, an irrefutable tribute to the genuine goodwill we extend to each other despite the strife and trials that always seem to surrounds us.

In San Francisco clubs in the 1950s, Patchen’s experiments combining poetry performance and jazz blazed the way to a natural symbiosis of expression, embraced and extended with unabashed enthusiasm by the likes of ruth weiss, David Meltzer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, and so many others.

This ought to be a real treat.

8pm at Bird & Beckett Books
653 Chenery St

Last but not least, Mr. Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be reading his new poem “At Sea” at Meridian Gallery, and will also speak with Jack Hirschman, who will read from his “Arcana.” If you can only make one event on Friday, 11/4, this should definitely be it. Unless you are going to see Lawrence read with Gary Snyder on Monday, 11/7… but we’ll get to that soon. First thing is that the second show has a much higher tab ($25-100) vs. $10-20. But schedules are schedules, and the fact is that you have two chances this week to see Ferlinghetti read his new poetry. I caught a snippet of “At Sea” last year at Litquake… don’t miss this if you’re a poetry fan (let alone if you’re a fan of the man). I can tell you that, when I saw Hirschman read recently from “Arcana,” he prefaced it by saying he thinks it took him his whole life to get to the place where he could write such a poem; skeptical as soon as he said this, I swallowed it all the way home.

These two old friends are going to talk after their readings. Imagine. Now plan!

7pm to 9pm at Meridian Gallery
535 Powell St
$10-20 suggested


Oh, yes, Evan Karp posted this. But now what is he doing?