CA CONRAD + KAZIM ALI AT THE POETRY CENTER: writing to calm down and autiobiographical basics

On February 21, I attended a reading at SFSU’s Poetry Center featuring CA Conrad and Kazim Ali, two eccentric poets of unusual distinction.

Eccentric? Well, Kazim Ali began by remarking how delighted he was to be reading with CA Conrad, stating that they had intended to meet up earlier to levitate the Golden Gate Bridge. Mr. Conrad’s video introduction, created by kathryn l. pringle with Erika Staiti, begins with an image of an exploding sun as the narrator intones: “At the center of our universe he sits. We are all in orbit around CA Conrad.”

CA Conrad

These are two quite remarkable men.

CA Conrad is most recently the creator of a series of somatic poetry exercises. For instance, he visited the home of Emily Dickinson, took some dirt from the back yard, rubbed it all over his body and didn’t shower for three days, periodically inhaling essence of Emily for inspiration. Then he wrote a poem. (It is included on the video that follows). Prior to that he has given us The Book of Frank, and many other volumes of poetry. He is, quite simply, in a class by himself.

Kazim Ali has achieved mainstream success (professor of creative writing at Oberlin, published in The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Boston Review, and The Best American Poetry 2007, among others) without compromising his distinctive perspective as a gay man raised in the UK by Muslim parents of Indian descent. His often autobiographical poems reflect the full range of his experience.

Watch both readings, in full, below:

charlesCharles Kruger joined the rigorous litseen diet before Litseen existed; he began to assist Evan at in May of 2010, recently unemployed and quite down in spirit, and experienced nothing short of a complete resuscitation, reinventing himself as The Storming Bohemian. Read his remarkable story here. Charles has since founded the website Theatrestorm, is a staff writer and videographer here at Litseen, and serves as secretary for the Quiet Lightning Board of Directors.