Don’t ever expect me to introduce you to anyone. It’s not that I don’t care to, its just that I assume everyone already knows everyone else in this city. SF is a small place, and the people I know are interested in many of the same things, read the same books, go to the same bars…
But a lot of the time, they don’t know one another, which is strange to me. Rather than reach out, they’ve grouped together, moving within spheres of familiar faces, orbiting the same minds day in and day out.
If they’re writers, their spheres may be a bit wider; faces get replaced with word of mouth. People become names. And, these names may have heard of one another at such and such reading from so and so, or read something about one another in this or that, but they’ve never actually talked. Which is interesting because I’ve heard so much talk lately about the importance of bringing the bay area writing community together. Perhaps, there’s always been talk of doing this. I don’t know; I just joined the conversation. All I know is that, if there has always been talk of this, it’s never been apparent enough for me to notice- its never been so loud.
And it’s not only evident in the conversations I’ve been hearing, it’s becoming something tangible. I thought it was ironic that the past three events I reviewed were on new reading series, all of which aim to bring the community together in some way: New Poetry Mission which provides a stage for writers to produce new work and then speak to and obtain feedback about it from other writers, Clattering Loom which gets writers to take part in the creative process collectively by prompting them to step outside of the confines of our language and express what they find there, and Bitchez Brew with its nod to Miles Davis’ landmark album and the revolutionary way he approached and forever altered sound.
If you haven’t guessed yet, you’re in the middle of that aforementioned Bitchez Brew review now. I’d written a more textbook review of the third installment of the show (held on Fri Feb 25 11), but after talking to Paul-Corman Roberts, who co-curates the series with Valerie Chavez, I deleted it. The article I had written had missed the point I was trying to get at. I wanted to focus on the interesting way in which readings without themes sort of theme themselves sometimes as the readers get up and perform. Small threads of shared subject or style appear and weave themselves together, making the succession of readers seem natural. This happened at Bitchez Brew, and I wanted to understand where it came from and whether it was simply due to the intuitive nature of the curators.
However, after talking to Paul outside of the Anger Management benefit which he and H.k. Rainey put together for Litseen about a week later, I realized that I was thinking too narrowly. Instead of asking how this coincidence occurs, I should be focusing on what it says that the works are speaking to one another. At the beginning of the show, H.k. mentioned the different groups of writers in the room and how cool it was that they were finally able to meet one another and perform together. As usual, I’d been oblivious to the fact that these people didn’t really know each other despite sharing the same passion, and didn’t really think much about the comment until my conversation with Paul. We talked about Litseen and why people cared to benefit it in the first place; about how it really puts the idea of community-building in motion by bringing all sorts of different groups within the writing world together in its archives and otherwise, and I realized the full extent of what it means to be a part of something like this.
Creative minds meeting and exchanging ideas with other creative minds is a very powerful thing, and this is exactly the type of conversation that series like Bitchez Brew are trying to facilitate. Talking with Paul made me realize that I should delete the textbook review, throw out the textbook, and join the conversation.
And you really should too. It’s time to start talking. Now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not when the weather is better or you write a better poem. Now. Seriously. Because the better weather and the better poems—they’re all in there. See for yourself. Go to the calendar page on this website, go to an event and talk to people. Hell, get up in front of the microphone and talk at people. But, like I said, don’t expect me to introduce you.
Bitchez Brew III: A West Coast Celebration of Rusty Truck Magazine
“…she can’t talk, and with difficulty swallowing she needs to push the food and mucus out like a whale with a blowhole to keep from aspirating”
“…your fingerprints are cursive letters written on the parchment of your skin, spelling out over and over again on the countertop, on the mirror, on the wineglass: “you are here…you are here…you are here…”
“Consider this then my crying out of the corner I was forced into by your mediocracy. Consider this then your final notice, your welcome mat heartily shredded….”
“…and if you’d care to know, most days I think about sex more than 500 men gathered in a great mausoleum for the circle jerk of all time…”
Mr. Young’s words were too bold even for this website.
“…she grows to hate all of those around her who smile and dismiss it all with a kindly laugh or a languid gesture of the hand. All those wretched little smiles. Not one of them alive enough to burn”
Music by Jam Hands
“…it doesnt matter if you come in early or come in late, you’re still coming with your boss, and, sister, that ain’t great…”
The Anger Management Benefit for Litseen
“…tonight, somewhere in salt lake, there is a couch curling its cushions for the cries my body will bring to it, the window lipped and pouting all ready for my chest yawning techtonic. There is violence to every new beginning…”
“…in fact, when someone told me the story of earth’s moon, a story I have never bothered to check, it was told as a tale of coincidence. There was no intent, no yearning, no yawning hole waiting to be filled, just mass and friction and speed…”
“but now, when I raise my hands, the clouds roll back, the streets soften to sand, and the buildings tumble under the ocean without rocking the land, and the latitude deflates like a tired balloon..”
“He just absorbed me thorough a goddamn half inch slot in a wall. You touch me with trepidation like I’m a piece of fruit that may have gone bad. You say you don’t, but your hands say you do…”
“…poems pour out like dry heaves, like scraping the last meat of melon from the rind, but there’s hurt I just can’t get at, worms in wood, rats in the walls, the skin of a kernel of popping corn trapped between the teeth and gums…”
“I spoke myself and my voice was unrecognizable, my scent more mercury than human, I licked my finger and I tasted foreign, like no body, like I had nobody. I tasted like nothing, like invisible, undocumented, like destruction and absence…”
“I can hold a hammer in my hand and understand the word value. Weightless and intangible, I can hold a feeling in this poem, put here like a deposit of mineral ore to withdraw when I need it, so I can get on with my life without the weight of it…”
Music by Dan Weiss
“I’m still waiting for a moment I might catch you by surprise, make you turn around and listen, make you look at me and tell me one thing that I don’t know anymore as I’m falling through the crevice and the cracks along your spine…”
Join the conversation. The next Bitchez Brew is this Sunday at Viracocha.