WEEK IN REVIEW: poetry is not dead, we demand zipcopters

(Evan Karp)

An old 16th& Mission regular moved to New Zealand 5 months ago, wrote new poems there and memorized them, came back last week to the corner excited to perform them. “16th & Mission is over,” said his best friend and poetry cohort, though there were easily 150 people there to celebrate the 8th anniversary of weekly congregations. Old-timers reemerged for the event; newcomers brought their own understanding to the circle. Some of the best poets did not perform and the aforementioned cohort screamed a brilliant new poem into a wall of indifferent sound. The corner can be frustrating, but is far from dead.

Directly before that we filled Viracocha for what many said was the best edition of (New) Poetry Mission, featuring author of the new Manic D book 15 Ways to Stay Alive Daphne Gottlieb. Young poets signed up early and walked proud to the microphone, each voice conveying proof of dedication to a rapt audience of different but likeminded zealots of self-expression, all enthused to return the favor. The warm room was shorn from traditional readings by an atmosphere that is hard to explain. Co-host of the show and above cohort Andrew Paul Nelson took the stage for one of his teleological introductions and paused: “Almost every poem has been good.” We waited as he leaned in and hushed his voice. “That’s weird.” And that’s how the room had been feeling: witness to and cause of rare goodness. Every second Thursday, Kirya Traber will be the feature on Jun 9.

A group of poets met across the bay for the 11th installment of their series Condensery, which meets in-house and features three readers, wine and snacks. Something exciting bubbleth over there (more on that soon). Next outing on Jun 16th.

RADAR Productions is on a rampage, teaming up with the ZEN Center for Worst Horse, producing their 8th anniversary show (more soon) and the 3rd annual RADAR Spectacle fundraiser all in less than 3 weeks. Don’t they leave for Mexico soon? Follow the leaders…

Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts made it back into town for another marathon of beat-style rapping, Dog Eared Books launched its Book Club Reading Series, where a small crowd of poetry nerds read a new book of local poetry aloud to one another for an hour (next on Jun 12), there were readings in a dive bar, in a greenhouse, battles of all kinds on a full-size wrestling ring, the annual California Book Awards were awarded for the 80th time, Booksmith’s Bookswap turned 2 years old, Snap Judgment went live two times over at the Oakland Museum of California, women’s travel writing was heralded in San Rafael, and on Saturday night …

A crowd of rollicking lit enthusiasts filled the basement of a swank cantina on Sutter Street while everything from hippies to hipsters to blue-collar youngsters filled the Space Gallery for a 2 year celebration of the humor reading series LitUp Writers, essay after essay of first-person narratives revealing the innate individual need for personal context and the recent swelling of mass appreciation therefor, all the while in Fruitvale the popular backyard free-for-all Naked Bulb converted itself into a sleepover (more to come on that, we hope) and at Pegasus Books the 1st Person Singular series performed a by-demand reprise of their August Wilson arias.

With all of this in a matter of 9 days it is a wonder that we aren’t equipped with backpacks of cameras and livestreaming cables, petty cash and a small arsenal of zipcopters to broadcast our aggregate dreamscape realtime into dream-impoverished lands. By whom? This is only a guess, but Litseen’s search for localized weapons of mass instruction have been infinitely more fruitful than the entire government’s search for the contrary, and have yielded bounteous crops of creation in the time not of cholera but of constipation of reason, the basic tenets of humanity life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and all else otherwise irreducible to smoke and mirrors. One is inclined to believe that had we a Pronoia news network we might be able to solve the world’s problems by proving our individual worth everywhere we went looking [live tomorrow].