Celebrating over 30 years as an arts organization.


The Center hosts readings, workshops, lectures, and publishes a variety of poetry publications. SPC is located in the R25 Arts Complex located on the corner of R & 25th Streets in midtown Sacramento.



Sacramento Poetry Center memberships support a variety of local poetry programs, publications, readings, and events. Members receive a free subscription to Tule Review and Poetry Now. Please send your check for $30 or more to SPC, 1719 25th St., Sacramento, CA 95816. Fixed incomes are $15.


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Monday, July 31, 2006

JAVA CITY POETRY MARATHON [THANKS, BARI]



The brain trust of the three day Java City Poetry Marathon. Bari Kennedy (with back turned, scribbling sketches and poems in his notebook) and Frank Andrick (black shirt). Also at the table, Bob Stanley and Robbie Grossklaus (leaning) look on.



One of Sunday afternoon's readers [Bill Carr] reading "the train poem"



Another Sunday reader [yours truly, courtesy of my 8-year-old son, Soren] delivers to the faithful

Bari Kennedy and company were able to pull it off once more. Amid the towering oaks and sycamores at Capitol and 18th, Sacramento's poets came forth, one by one, to entertain and enchant the listeners in downtown Sacramento. The weather cooperated to provide a beautiful day. And the oaks and sycamores gently swayed to the rhythms of poems that were read.

While I was there, Bill Carr read his famed train poem, complete with sound effects, and Becca Costello read a piece about truffle pigs. But this was only a short period within the 72 hour time frame.

Feel free to send what you saw (including pics) during your visit at the poetry marathon to SacramentoPoetryCenter@yahoo.com, and I'll be glad to post it here.

There are rumors that this is going to be the last marathon. Let's hope that it can continue into the future. Can anyone say 25th anniversary?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Christian Kiefer



Christian Kiefer rolled across the causeway from Davis on a sweltering Monday evening during a record heat wave. The fans started up early, but they were only slight relief against the elements.

Kiefer suggested that the few who were not scared away by the heat gather in a circle for an informal rap rather than a formal reading. Sans campfire, the small group assembled in a circle. He started by reading a few poems from Brad Buchanan’s The Miracle Shirker, namely, “ The Birds and the Bees” and “The Fuzzy Room”

Kiefer then proceeded to explain why he felt compelled more by music and its audiences than by poetry’s audience, which is often more reserved in its appreciation and more solitary in its response.

Kiefer’s own work throughout the evening was more image-oriented than rhetorical, which, Kiefer shared, led a former instructor of his to describe his work as surrealist. On that note he read from a 1973 collection by Gregory Orr entitled Burning the Empty Nests that spoke of a misapprehended reality on the part of the speaker and an acknowledgment on the part of the speaker

Several of the pieces he read throughout the evening were concerned with ritual flaying that was inspired by an incident he had in Iowa when he witnessed a pile of carcasses, the remnants of a poaching expedition gone horribly awry. In another poem with animal dismemberment as its subject, the speaker talked of nailing a small bird to the wall of his cubicle with the hope of the outrageous act drawing the attention of co-workers who had invested too heavily in maintaining an even keel, the status quo.

Kiefer read a humorous and stark poem about his trials as employee, a poem that included a list of many jobs held and their absurd requirements. From there, the speaker went on to chronicle what others who have worked with him might have said and other various reflections related to his experiences.

At the end Kiefer read "Hell is Chrome" by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco from his book entitled Adult Head on Zoo Press.

Hell is Chrome

When the devil came
He was not red
He was chrome and he said

Come with me
You must go
So I went
Where everything was clean
So precise and towering

I was welcomed
With open arms
I received so much help in every way
I felt no fear
I felt no fear

The air was crisp
Like sunny late winter days
A springtime yawning high in the haze
And I felt like I belonged
Come with me

Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me


and the fans were turned off, left to suffer under the weight of heat and moisture that filled the air.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Christian Kiefer—July 24 7:30 PM at SPC



Christian Kiefer, the practitioner of gothic folk songs and back-alley ambient music from Davis will be reading at Sacramento Poetry Center at 7:30 PM on July 24 at HQ for the Arts.

Kiefer's latest book of poems is Feeding into the Winter from March Street Press, but other more work more representative of his current output can be found here (also see below).

He is finishing up his Ph.D. in Ameican Literature at UC Davis, and he keeps a blog to record his musings about the music and recording business, including his lively Crowtown podcast.

He has released two albums this year "The Black Dove" with Sharon Kraus and a solo project "Czar Nicholas is Dead". Both have MP3 tracks available at his Christian Kiefer website.

Later this year he plans to release a psychedelic-folk guitar freak out with Tom Carter called "A Rather Solemn Promise", and he expects several other projects to be released next year.

Come out to see Christian Kiefer and see exactly where poetry and song convene in the open air.

Gravity Well


I would like to note first

that the law governing

the slow stones' circles

is the same law governing

the way in which

a wide-awake man falls

from an open window

to the street below.



Of course, the distance of the sun

is also ruled by the same law.

As are falling apples,

avalanches, landslides,

rollercoasters, and the tides.

The motion of entire galaxies.

The universe itself constantly

crashing together

and blowing apart.



Everything spindles

to a tight atomic swirl.

Even these words

held together in orbit:

always falling

and never touching down.



(Perhaps it could be the same

for the wide-awake man

falling from an open window.

The earth spun over

and a small figure suspended

over towns and villages:

an absence in blue sky,

a faint moving star in the night.


(originally published in The Sierra Nevada College Review, Vol. XIII, Spring 2002)



Winter


A strange silence could fall

over the things of the world.

If it happened

it would come like winter.



From inside the night

you cough out your sickness

three times and fall silent again.

I already know that tonight

I will dream of suffocation.



Outside, the snow is audible.

Each time it startles.

And winter comes as always:

secreted in snow.

Now I know I am finally

dead or dreaming.

For only the silence

remains as it was.

Even in my nightmares

it is identical to itself.



This winter never ends.

Until all hearts

are cold and silent.

And together we will sit

in the frozen yard by the

propane tank and we will

say nothing and our eyes

will freeze, open at last.

And it will never cover us.

Even if we sit here forever.

And it will never stop snowing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

News from the SPC Workshop & Beyond | July 17, 2006

News from the SPC Workshop & Beyond

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006, at 7:30 P.M. is the next meeting of the Sacramento Poetry Center Workshop. Our Facilitator is Danyen Powell. Bring 12 - 15 copies of your one-page poem -- and yourself -- to the Hart Center, 915 27th St. (27th and J Streets).

Monday, July 17, 2006: Susan Hennies and Joe Finkelman will read at SPC -HQ, 7:30 PM, 1719 25th Street, HQ, Host: Bob Stanley.

Taylor Graham sends the following; "Our House Defines Art poetry reading next Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m. Featured readers are Rebecca Morrison and Will Staple. An open mic follows. Our House Defines Art Gallery & Framing is located at 4510 Post St. in El Dorado Hills Town Center. There is no charge."

That's it for this week. Don't forget to send information about readings, publications, wins, acceptances, poetry markets, and other poetry related events. You can reach me at: carol4mail@aol.com.

Spread the word: the SPC workshop is an all-volunteer-staffed community outreach available to everyone. If you would like to be dropped from our list, just send me an email.

Carol Frith

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wordslingers 2006: An Evening With Amy Tan

Literature Alive Presents Wordslingers 2006: An Evening With Amy Tan
Grass Valley • Saturday, October 21, 2006 • Tickets Onsale Now!

Tickets have just been released for Wordslingers 2006, featuring an evening with famed novelist Amy Tan. The event, presented by Literature Alive!, a Nevada County non-profit, will take place Saturday, October 21, 2006 beginning at 7:30 pm at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in Grass Valley. It is expected that the event will sell out, so early ticket purchase is advised. Tickets for the main auditorium are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, $22 for Literature Alive! members (must show membership card); bleacher seats are $15.

Tickets are available at the following outlets:
Nevada City—Harmony Books, Keeping Still Mountain, words on paper;
Grass Valley—The Book Seller, Booktown Books & Tomes;
Auburn— Cherry Records;
Sacramento—The Book Collector, The Avid Reader;
Davis—The Avid Reader;
Truckee—Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks.

For more information, call (530) 272-5812 or visit the website at www.litalive.org. Wordslingers 2006 is underwritten by Caseywood, Q&Q Construction, and Back to Health Chiropractic

Amy Tan
Acclaimed San Francisco novelist Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, an international bestseller which explores the relationships of Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters. The Joy Luck Club was the longest-running bestseller on the New York Times hardcover list in 1989. The book has been translated into 25 languages and was > made into a major motion picture. She is also the author of The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses—both New York Times bestsellers—as well as The Bonesetter’s Daughter and two children’s books. In 2003, Ms. Tan published a collection of non-fiction writing entitled the Opposite of Fate. Well-known for her engaging, personable style, Ms. Tan is in high demand for speaking engagements such as this.

SPC | Susan and Joseph Finkleman | July 17

Sacramento Poetry Center
presents

HOT THOUGHTS
Two Voice Poetry featuring:
Susan and Joseph Finkleman
Jazz Flute and Vocals:
Francesca Reitano
Percussion and Sound Texture:
Sharon McCorkell

On July 17th, Monday Night at 7:30 P.M.
1719 25th St. Sacramento, CA 95816
(25th and R St.)

Poems-For-All | Andrick, Costello, Leibrock | August 12

Monday, July 10, 2006

News from the SPC Workshop & Beyond | July 10, 2006

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006, at 7:30 P.M. is the next meeting of the Sacramento Poetry Center Workshop. Our Facilitator is Danyen Powell. Bring 12 - 15 copies of your one-page poem -- and yourself -- to the Hart Center, 915 27th St. (27th and J Streets).

Monday, July 10, 2006: Bryan Tso Jones will read at SPC -HQ, 7:30 PM, 1719 25th Street, HQ, Host: Indigo Moor.

July's long warm evenings provide a great opportunity to research summer markets for those dormant poems that may be nestling in your Word files or desk drawers. For some interesting markets, check out Poets and Writers' Classified section online at www.pw.org/mag. Summer is a particularly good time to focus on the indy journals, since so many of the college magazines are on summer hiatus. Let me know some of your favorite indy markets, and I'll share them with the group.

That's it for this week. Don't forget to send information about readings, publications, wins, acceptances, poetry markets, and other poetry related events. You can reach me at: carol4mail@aol.com.

Spread the word: the SPC workshop is an all-volunteer-staffed community outreach available to everyone. If you would like to be dropped from our list, just send me an email.

Carol Frith

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bryan Tso Jones—Monday July 10, 2005 7:30 PM at SPC

Bryan Tso Jones recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Literature at California State University, Chico. In the Summer of 2005, he attended the Napa Valley Writer's Conference and will be attending the 2006 Squaw Valley Community of Writers this coming July. His work has been published in the Crab Orchard Review, Peralta Press, and Watershed.

Sichuan Pork

Peeling away this skin of garlic
in this way taught to me
reveals the clove’s smooth roundness.

My knife flashes up and down
like the tapping of a wand before this
is set aside and the brown arms

and legs of ginger are chopped,
smashed into a pulp
with the fat side of a cleaver.

The silence in the afternoon breathes
when I open the cupboard with its jars of secrets.
How grandmother gathered the ingredients

as if it were a day at the market,
digging into spices heaped like graves
because Mao was coming.

Brittle jars rattled
or clinked in their place
as others were set on the counter:

hot bean paste and hoisin,
the fire of one plum-sweetened by the other;
soy sauce to mellow

the jingle of jade she rolled into silk
packed next to grandfather’s brushes.
The little space in two suitcases was lonely

as a bamboo flute playing in an tavern
of tea cups, half-eaten dishes,
its southern melody swallowed by night;

not enough for an entire house and its rooms.
The sun slants low across the counter,
follows the red and green curves of peppers

as the wok is set heavy to the stove.
Peanut oil wells, a sea along fire-black bottom.
Sliced pork sizzles
as it is stirred, my spoon held
as she did her daughter
half-dragged and half-running

towards the spinning flash
of propellers
against blood purple sky,

the plane that would lift them across
to Kai-Chek’s last hold.
Peppers splash, meld with fire plum stir-fry,

their aroma brings a hotness
boiling up to my tongue and cheek—
spicy, and sweet and bitter.


Mowing

Now the day lengthens,
the grass curls green
over the uncut graves

of my lawn, the bushy
countenance of Shen Nung,
grandfather wild man who bit into roots

to taste their panacea.
This blade starts
with a chug, churns insistent,

gaggles into a whirl
that cuts his hair,
levels its unkempt appearance.

And where are you, Walt Whitman,
your beard springing up
in tufts from the moundy earth,

these eagerly sought graves
of my mind?
Back and forth the red bull

drives and snorts, sputters
when it has tasted too much of grass,
of moldy leaves dumped

into the rotting can.
Their green and brown mash
smells like Ginsberg pissing

off the sidewalk in Greenwich Village
before he heads in hungry fatigue
to the supermarket in search of you.

Here, under this spinning blade,
the pungent snap of fresh-cut lawn,
you and he and Shen Nung are sharing a joke,

your beards by the lengthening days
grow wild as vines and ginseng;
dashing together naked in the sun except the tufts

that stretch down to fondle nimble ankles.
Watching this boy curse and mutter,
struggle with the eyebrows of bushy men rooted deep.


Study Cooking

The art of cooking was planted by wise women,
when my mother and grandmother ushered me
into the noise beneath bright canopies.

My first open-air market, the art bared her rawness.

Between fanned leaf greens,
she was pungent in the baskets of five-spice.
The women coddled eggplant in their hands

narrow, long as a baton,

conversing in the secret language mother and daughter know.
In the kitchen, I watched the knife
and its older sister, the cleaver.

I witnessed the crisp explosion of wetness

scatter like rain onto wood.
With my own fingers learned
how to press into garlic, its essence stinging my nose

as it burrowed under my fingertips.

This is how I studied the masters:
when women’s hands revealed
how to slice vegetables against the grain.

Gathered by the tongues of generations,

I listened as their mouths named things.
I come to realize in my own time,
this body grows as it feeds on its own dishes.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

News from the SPC Workshop & Beyond | July 3, 2006

While two of the Sacramento Poetry Center's publicity vehicles -- Poetry Now and the SPC Website -- remain grounded, it's worth noting that Carol Frith's informative newsletter News from the SPC Workshop & Beyond continues to provide weekly updates useful to the poetry community. Sent to folks who request to be on her email list, I will also post it here so that it may reach a wider audience. --Richard

News from the SPC Workshop & Beyond

Special note: because July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, there will be NO meeting of the workshop this coming Tuesday, July 4th. The Hart Center will be closed.

Monday, July 3, 2006: there will be no reading at SPC this week. Readings will resume next week at SPC -HQ, 7:30 PM, 1719 25th Street, HQ, Hosts as announced.

I'm sorry to have to share with you that our fellow workshopper, Peggy Hill, lost her husband on June 28th. She has sent us this message: "James Reddy Hill, a native CA, aged 69 years, passed away quietly in his sleep on June 28th. Jim had suffered from one thing or another for the last 10 years. He is no longer in pain. We are grateful for that. He leaves his wife of 47 years, Margaret 'Peggy' Ellis Hill, 5 children, 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. A memorial service will be Friday, July 7th at 10 am at the Andrews and Greilich Funeral home on Fruitridge Road in Sacramento. An open house will follow. Donations in his memory to the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association would be greatly appreciated. An obit was posted in the July 1, 2006 Sacramento Bee and online." We send our best wishes to Peggy and her family. And, brave gal that she is, Peggy Hill adds this news: "In the midst of all the sadness and turmoil here, I received word that 3 of my poems were accepted for Cezanne's Carrot in their 2006 Autumnal Issue to go live online in September."

We are very pleased to announce that Fainting at the Uffizi by Joanna Catherine Scott, a chapbook published by Frith Press in 2005, has just been chosen as the winner of the 2006 Brockman-Campbell Book Award given for the book judged to be the best published by a North Carolina writer in the previous year. Previous winners of this prize have included A. R. Ammons, Betty Adcock, Kathryn Stripling Byer, James Applewhite, and Charles Edward Eaton. Our congratulations to Joanna Catherine Scott.

Joyce Odam just had three poems taken by the journal hardpan and work accepted at Ship of Fools. Very nice going, Joyce.

That's it for this week. Don't forget to send information about readings, publications, wins, acceptances, poetry markets, and other poetry related events. You can reach me at: Carol4mail@aol.com.

Spread the word: the SPC workshop is an all-volunteer-staffed community outreach available to everyone. If you would like to be dropped from our list, just send me an email.

Carol Frith

After July 8th event, La Raza Galeria Posada will temporarily close

La Raza Galeria Posada, which has played host to a number of poetry readings held by Escritores Del Nuevo Sol (Writers of the New Sun), will close after a last Second Saturday event on July 8th.

According to a July 4th story in the Sacramento Bee, the closure was " 'temporary' and would allow the group to 'revisit and revise existing programs.'"

Escritores Del Nuevo Sol, a literary community established in 1993 which especially honors the literary and artistic cultures and traditions of the Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples, held both readings and monthly workshops at LRGP. No news presently on where they will relocate their events, but look for updates at their website: http://www.escritoresdelnuevosol.com/

The last event at LRGP will be the July 8th closing reception for the Chicano Collection Exhibit which runs from 6 to 9pm. 1421 R Street.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A NIGHT OF TRANSLATION [Featuring Nguyen Do, Art Mantecon, and James DenBoer]



A NIGHT OF TRANSLATION [Featuring Nguyen Do, Art Mantecon, and James DenBoer]

The evening got off to a slow start when the first reader Nguyen Do (otherwise known around these parts by his pen name Dos Nguyen) began his recitation while struggling with his English. He was very nervous reading in a tongue other than his native tongue. The result for the audience was a string of phonemes that served as a kind of Rohrschach test that used poetry and sound instead of ink blots to tease out impressions made by listeners. Mr. Do showed great courage in reading these poems in English. Unfortunately, they didn’t always register with the audience. The incomprehension was a pity. Mr Do’s poems that have been translated in conjunction with Paul Hoover really are quite interesting, and they become even more interesting when one understands the context they were written in and how they have taken the risk of opposing the official versifying culture in Vietnam. Do is a member of what is referred to as the “Renovation Movement,” a movement that endeavored to speak of loneliness and depression instead of the official happy verse of the nationally-sponsored Vietnamese Writers Association. Here is one of Mr. Do’s poems that has appeared in New American Writing 23

A Symphony of Friendship

Is it possible to return to an old blind alley
full of nasty eyes?
I launch
into questions in a darkness that’s five below
then call myself at my old phone number–
8299221–
and listen to its lonely hoarse voice scream continuously–
my heart
is so painful it seems to be choking–
my memories are like a door falling off its hinges–
old, broken, but full of love–
I’m scared
to put it back together–
because it opened and closed my life
nowadays I fall to pieces easier than the kids
I sit feeling sorry that I couldn’t bring with me
the phone’s voice and an old tattered shirt
shirts
and other garments have their own fates
writing
above each sentence I suddenly remember
a small likeable poem of an old friend
everything has its own karma, everything
a song of sounds ceasing
is more interesting and lives longer than the original itself
my lovely friends–
Tagore or Whitman
or Ginsberg writing to praise you
Do, a skinny illness
but I swear I won‘t be less than you without sorrow
the cane
grass hair of my fate will be gray as you are
living
miserably but well on the way to my goal
with fresh airlessness and lacking the cheerful, particular perfume of your faces
me dropping a long rope down my life
to fish out
your shining glances–
which would never be there if the well were dry!

Nguyen Do

translated by Paul Hoover and Nguyen Do


Mr. Do read Nguyen Trai’s “Closing the Seaport,” which was inspired by both Vietnamese and Chinese characters. Trai (1380-1442) is considered to be one of Vietnam’s greatest poets. He also read his “Light,” and “Headache” before reading the poem above “A Symphony of Friendship.”

Then he proceeded to read several pieces by Van Câo, another member of the Renovation Movement and a poem by Hoang Hung. Finally, he ended the evening with a long poem by Thanh Thao, entitled “A Soldier Speaks of His Generation.”

A Soldier Speaks of His Generation

The day we’re leaving,
the doors of the passenger train open wide,
no longer a reason for secrets.
The soldiers young as bamboo shoots
playfully stick their heads out of the windows.
The soldiers young as bamboo shoots,
with army uniforms too large for them,
crowd together like tree leaves on the stairs of the cars.
The train whistles too loudly
and too long, as if broken,
like the
voice of a teen who nearly has his man’s voice now.
In our generation,
that train whistle is a declaration.
The generation in which each day is a battle,
its mission heavier than the barrel of mortar 82
that we carry on our shoulders.
The generation that never sleeps,
that goes half naked and patiently digs trenches,
that is naked and calm in its thinking,
that goes on its way as our past has gone,
by ways various and new.
There are forest trees on which names are quickly engraved.
The canteens are engraved with the letters
Each backpack contains a uniform,
some dried fish sauce, and a small lump of steamed rice.
The camp’s wood stoves flame on the stone bank of a creek,
above which hang tall cans of sour soup
made from

leaves
and shrimp sauce.
What we have,
we share,
share on
the ground
completely.
To enemies, we spend all we have in battle.
To friends, we give until all we have is gone.
If you see
that our skins are black from the sun
our misshapen bodies seem older than they are,
and you can count the calluses on our hands
along with the war medals‘
still,
nothing quite describes us.
Oh, the clearing in
forest
with its dry, curved leaves
Every footstep crackles like a human voice.
In the night as we march,
several fires suddenly flare on the trail,
our generation with fire in our hearts
to light
the way to our goal.
One night when rain lashes on all four sides,
with no tree to hide us.
As the swamp floods, we have to push our boats against the rising tide.
The horizon lies behind whoever drags himself ahead,
Silhouetted by the flash of lightning.
Our generation has never slept, walks every night in the flood.
Mud covers us thickly from head to foot.
So our voices are those of cowboys,
and our gazes are sharp as a thorn,
because the fire that can burn in a bog is the true fire.
When it flames up,
it burns
with all of its strength.
What do you want to tell me in the hazy night
as you sing passionately the whole flood season?
flower
raises its hot yellow petals
like the
face of a hand that sunlight lands and stays on.
Our country comes from our hearts, simply,
Like this
that doesn‘t need making up
and is completely silent.
Stronger than any falling in love, this love goes directly
to any person
who doesn’t care about the limits of language.
Unexpectedly, I meet my close friend again.
We both lie down on a
trail,
on an army
coat under the dark sky,
where just this evening a B-52 harrowed the earth three times,
where for several years the bomb craters are uncountable,
where I suddenly speak a simple dream:
When peace truly comes,
I will go to
trail number four, spread out a coat and lie down–
completely satisfied.
My friend gazes–
at a star rising from a water-
filled
crater.
His eyes
look so strange; I see
they contain both the star and the crater.
A vortex
spins on the roof of an ancient forest.
The wind
whistles a long time inside the empty shells of trees.
The bats
flicker in and out of sight.
A flattened space in the cane grass smolders.
We have passed the limits of the dry season,
passed
the rainy season, the long limits of the rainy season
when every night our soaked hammocks hang on
poles.
Our boats move across the river under the faint flares of the American army.
Sometimes, in awe of the skyline filled with red clouds at evening,
we forget we are older than our real ages.
Our feet
walk in rubber sandals across a hundred mountains,
but our shadows never walk ahead of our futures.
The battles of the past come again in memory.
Rockets exploded in air in a mass of smoke.
Our hearts beat nervously in our very first fight.
Our army
issue canteens smelled as they burned
on the roofs of the trenches.
And the garbage cans lay strewn all around.
In the silence and deafness between two bombings,
a voice suddenly called
from a small, ruined canal.
Our generation has never lived on memory
so we never rely on the past's radiance.
Our souls are fresh as
Chuong
our sky the natural blue of a sunlit day.
The transport boats sail the crowded
Bang Lang
canal.
That evening rockets attacked,
bending down the
Binh Bat
trees.
Sunset
covers both banks like blood.
The canal is white from the flow of toxic gases.
Suddenly I see my face on the water’s surface,
among those poisonous mists,
on which
floats the
Binh Bat
fruit,
on which
floats our breaking country,
also floating the faces of many people,
some of them friends and some I have never seen.–
They are
so very young
as they flicker along on the stream
into a faraway meadow
on an endless evening.
They are the people who fought here first,
twenty
years ago as one generation,
and also
the ones who will come later,
twenty
years from today.
That evening
on the small canal
artillery attacks and flowing water.
How clearly you can
see the faces of
our generation.

Chuong is a kind of Southwest wind.


The alienation and isolation are apparent in these pieces [“A Soldier Speaks of His Generation” can be read in its entirety in New American Writing 23], and these stand in contrast to the Norman Vincent Peale-approved thinking that Do’s generation was encouraged to put on display at all times. Knowing that Do’s disaffection has been profound and that he is no stranger to loneliness, it was heartening to see a polite Sacramento Poetry Center audience give him his due despite being largely befuddled by the experience.

Art Mantecon stood before the podium in the trademark head-to-toe black that signals a “power performance,” and he delivered what his garb hinted at. He read the work of Leopoldo Maria Panero, a Spanish poet who became a schizophrenic and voluntarily committed himself to a psychiatric ward. Panero is currently a resident in the insane asylum in Las Palmas on the Canary Islands, and his work reflects a brilliant but deranged imagery that is reminiscent of the patron saint of Spanish poetry, Federico Garcia Lorca. However, Panero’s infatuation with the grotesque somewhat differentiates his work from that of Lorca’s. Panero’s universe is often violent and filled with lurid spectacle. The imagery comes at an audience/reader in rapid-fire succession, and it is not always possible to swallow in one listening/sitting.

Mantecon started by reading the delightfully bizarre “The Man Who Ate Nothing but Carrots.” The poem begins with the image of two lighthouse lights shining out, and from here we are told the man who ate nothing but carrots did away with his wife for one. The man begins to scream and call out for carrots and generally let his passion for this vitamin A-laced vegetable do him in. The poem is sonically girded by the refrain of “the man who ate nothing but carrots,” which sounds as good in English as it most likely does in Spanish.

While “The Man Who Ate Nothing but Carrots” was vaguely whimsical, “The Plan of A Kiss” was more demonic and darker in tone. The first line sets up this darker atmosphere, “I will kill you tomorrow when the moon comes out.” A series of bizarre imagery ensues suggesting a world that is both chaotic and distinctly ordered. A “third dog barks in the ninth hour” and the “thirteenth leaf falls upon the ground of misery.” The speaker addresses the beloved with an overtone of sadistic tenderness, “and you will see what a beauty you will be when you are dead.” The speaker tells the beloved that “she will beg in the morning, that he will love her ghost and thrill it with the mysteries of semen.” The chaotic is invoked again by the speaker throwing dice, and the poem ends, noting that the speaker will kill the beloved when the improbable event of “the last loon tell[ing] me its word” occurs.

I will kill you tomorrow when the moon comes out,
and the first loon tells me its word.


“The Lament of Joseph of Arimathea” pays homage to that biblical character who requests Jesus’ body from Pilate in order bury it. He achieves almost disciple-like status in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, but in apocryphal gospels Joseph of Arimathea is depicted as caring for Mary after the ascension (and as the patron saint of Glastonbury, England as well as being involved in the Grail saga). But Panero takes the exploits of Joseph of Arimathea one step further. He depicts him as Mary’s lover.

“The Dance of Death” started out as if it were an interlude between a previous piece of writing and the current one, but Mantecon remarked that there was no specific precedent in Panero’s work to which it alludes. It started, “Before proceeding to the next chapter . . .” and then pursued the surreal imagery that Panero excels in creating. A parade of unlikely characters ensues down a street where a “chain of imbeciles” passes death. the imbeciles, "hand in hand." A figure is dancing, but it is difficult to determine if it is a boy or a girl. At the end of the poem a matchstick girl offers up death, but an old woman appears and objects; then she reveals that indeed she is death, but no one believes her.

“Snow White Bids Farewell to the Seven Dwarves” is written in the voice of Snow White, bidding her little male suitors adieu. She promises to write them all. The poem vacillates between silence and grotesquery, finally concluding with the hard truth that the Garden of Cherry Trees is up for sale.

"Hallucination of a Hand, or Posthumous, Absurd Hope in the Charity of the Night" seemed to address the thrust of Panero’s libido and his mentally enfeebled state. The speaker "looked upon her incredulously." He offers her "his naked brain . . .useless . . . that he might touch her with it" The chain of meditations and wild imagery ends with the assertion that the act of the beloved touching the speaker's brain is an act whose "one and only meaning is the sacredness of forgetting its meaning," a very Borgesian-like (of “Funes, the Memorius”) sentiment.

...And I looked upon her incredulously
like one in the desert who looks unbelieving
upon the horrific suspicion of water.
I loved her without even daring to believe it.

And so I offered her my naked brain,
as obscene as a toad, as obscene as life,
like a completely useless peace,
urging her day after day
to touch it sweetly with her tongue,
repeating in that manner a ceremony,
whose one and only meaning
is the sacredness of forgetting its meaning.


“To My Mother (A Reclaiming of a Thing of Beauty)” begins in a garden where the speaker (presumably the mother) is addressing someone as she commands this person to “contemplate the falling stars . . . to talk about the furniture.” At the end she tells this person to who she is speaking to come here. She says this like she would say it to a boy as she implores this person to “see how the night will end.”

Panero’s work is tour de force and exhibits the typical libidinal force found in the best of the surrealists, a force that exaggerates the drive within all living things as the most essential thread that binds speakers in all tongues. The following is a short example of Panero’s work:

LA POESÍA DESTRUYE AL HOMBRE...

La poesía destruye al hombre
mientras los monos saltan de rama en rama
buscándose en vano a sí mismos
en el sacrílego bosque de la vida
las palabras destruyen al hombre
¡y las mujeres devoran cráneos
con tanta hambre de vida!
Sólo es hermoso el pájaro cuando muere
destruído por la poesía.

Por Leopoldo Maria Panero


POETRY DESTROYS MAN

Poetry destroys man
while the monkeys leap from branch to branch,
searching in vain for themselves
in the sacrilegious wildwood of life.
Words destroy man...
and women devour skulls
with such a hunger for life!
A bird is beautiful
only when it is destroyed
and slain by poetry.

By Leopoldo Maria Panero


James DenBoer brought his scholar’s passion for the obscure to the beleaguered audience which until that point had quietly anticipated the fall of darkness. With the actual onset of night, DenBoer read poems from two sources. He read two poems from the works of Venantius Fortunatus, a Christian poet of the sixth century who was later Bishop of the See of Poitiers. DenBoer remarked how as a young man Fortunatus had navigated the treachery of the courts of the Frankish kingdoms, whose endless in-fighting and power-hoarding was remarkable for its bloodshed.

DenBoer read two poems from Fortunatus’ Opera Poetica Book 11 that he translated with his sister-in-law, Maria Den Boer, from the Latin. The first, “Black Plums” is a poem that implores a recipient of a gift (probably his great friend St. Radegunde) of black plums to take this gift without any malice of forethought, to “take this pure fruit in the mouth.”

DenBoer remarked that Fortunatus was something of a gourmand. He also very eloquently described Fortunatus as “bibulous” (a word which I had to scurry to the dictionary to look up; bibulous. (def.) given to or marked by the consumption of alcohol). In this light the second poem read made a good deal of sense.

“The Drunken Muse” can best be described as a sixth century out-of-body experience brought about by a bit of the merrymaking. The speaker seems to take great delight at the suspension of his wits by the product of fermentation. At the end of the poem, before going to sleep, and while still tipsy, the poet nevertheless takes time to write Radegund and her adopted daughter Agnes a thank-you note for the feast they provided that night.

DenBoer shifted gears and talked about a new translation project he has embarked on, that of the kharjas in Romance, a proto-Spanish that appears in Arab-controlled Spain in the tenth century.

The kharjas are short refrains that appear at the end of a longer muwashshah (variant spelling muwashshaha). The muwashshah was a sung form that was derived from classic Arabic and can roughly be translated as “girdle poem”.The muwashshah consists of five to seven strophes and contains a rhyming pattern that is reminiscent of classical Arabic poetry but not completely consistent with canonized forms in Arabic, such as the qasida. The muwashshah is seen as the predecessor to rhymed verses of the troubadour which appear a little later in Europe. These songs of the troubadours, in turn, are seen as predecessors to today’s popular song.

The kharjas at the end of the poems are interesting in two particular ways. They represent a major shift in diction and tone.

The shift in diction is represented by the change from elevated language in the muwashshah to the more common language in the kharja. The kharjas were written in either vernacular Arabic, Romance or Hebrew, all languages that did not rise to the preferred poetic language of classical Arabic. Thus, the presence of the kharja signaled a distinct downward shift in rhetoric.

The shift in tone results from the speaker’s voice which is primarily that of a woman (while all the poets writing the kharja were men). Some believe that the kharja were actually quotations of popular songs of the day in the vernacular. The shift to the voice of the woman stands in contrast to the predominant male voice in the muwashshah itself.

DenBoer’s particular interest in the 60 remaining kharjas written partially in Romance was the feature of the evening. DenBoer was encouraged to take on this particular literary oddity by Sam Armistead, a professor at the University of California at Davis. DenBoer pointed out that he was working from translations of the partially Romance kharja done in French in the 11th Century so that his English translations would be taking the circuitous path from Romance to French to English.

Many of the kharja are attributed to anonymous authors, but the first kharja read by DenBoer was by Yosef Al-Katib:

I love you so much, so much, lover. I love you so much that my eyes shine red with weeping and always burn.

DenBoer followed with an extensive catalog of kharjas, most with unattributed authors.

As I've told you before,
what can make
my sweet little mouth
even sweeter than it is?


The following kharja was quite popular as it was attached to three different muwashshah, and it amplified the common sentiment among young lovers of the age—to avoid chaperones (the chaperone being a common requirement for the young man and young woman who were interested in each other.)

I loved a dear boy from another tribe, and he loved me. But his wicked guardian wants to keep us apart.

DenBoer gave variant versions of the following kharja:

Everyone, friends, family, come. I’m going to shoot him with arrows. My man is singing to another woman in the courts of Valencia.

The variant form inserted “hawking his love” for “singing to another woman.”

DenBoer explained that there were kharjas and muwashshahs with clearly homosexual subjects. But he tempered this by saying that Arabic often used masculine pronouns when addressing women, so there is little clarity about who the real addressee might have been.

Another kharja is addressed to a woman who tells fortunes, a diviner who can see the future.

So you know divination and can truly see the future. Then you can tell me when he will come back to me, my beloved Isaac.

This kharja is of a woman who seeks a humbler stance, confident in the power of her own charms without artificial additives:

I don't want a string of pearls, mamma.
I already have many nice things,
and my lover wants to see my snow-white neck,
bare of any bangles!


Here the voice of the kharja is that of a cuckolder:

Seducer, shameless, seducer. Oh, come back in. As soon as my jealous lover goes back to sleep.

The following dialog between the poet and his lover in the muwashshah sets up a kharja that occurs later in the poem:

You old drunks, you get tipsy on water instead of wine
- can't you see that the feelings that devour young men
come from the wild mountains and the cold springs;
that they claw us like lions!


The kharja employs a woman’s voice that addresses a lover and her impatience with his absence.

Oh, dark-skinned lover,
apple of my eye;
who could put up with your absence,
my friend?


The Romance kharja are never linguistic spectacles. They are in all cases very simple statements in the voice of women (the underclass in medieval Europe). In some cases they address the power imbalance in the society. In other cases they are expressions of deep human longing and yearning. In either case, they stand as universal examples of the human condition that can still be understood nearly ten centuries later.

The evening ended with some Q & A. Many of the questions were directed towards DenBoer who had just finished. Art Mantecon posited that the muwashshah might have been an altered form of the word “mudejar" which referred to "(1) Spanish written in Arabic letters (2) A form of architecture employing Moorish forms for Christian purposes, e.g. a cathedral with a minaret structure or arabesque designs. (3) A Moslem who chose to stay in Spain after the Moorish and Jewish expulsions, adopting the Spanish language and conforming to Spanish rule and laws, while maintaining a secret adherence to Islam." This was left open as a possibility.

The evening ended when Jim Anderson asked each poet to read in the original. DenBoer declined because he did not bring any of the originals with him. Mantecon read another poem by Panero entitled “Evil Springs from the Hypocritical Suppression of Delight,” and Do read another of his poems from memory, translating each line into English before he proceeded with the next line of the poem in Vietnamese, which provided a very fragmented reading of the poem in Vietnamese (which Anderson had initially asked to hear)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

SPC's SACRAMENTO POETRY EVENTS [JULY]

1

Escritores del Nuevo Sol's writing workshop and potluck on 1st Saturdays. 11am, second floor at La Raza Galeria Posada, 1421 R St. (15th & R). Info: Graciela Ramirez, 456-5323 or joannpen@comcast.net

3

Sacramento Poetry Center No Reading

5

Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour, host andy Jones, 5pm, KDVS-90.3 FM or subscribe to podcast at www.kdvs.org

Mahogany Urban Poetry Series, 9pm. Hosted by Khiry Malik and Rock Bottom. Sweet Fingers Jamaican Restaurant, 1704 Broadway. Info: www.mailspeaks.com or 492-9336. $5 cover.

Moore time for Poetry: Terry Moore's Access Television Show, 1st & 3rd Wednesdays, 9pm , co-host Tyra Moore. Access Sacramento, Channel 17. updates: tvguide.com (916) 208-7638

6

Poetry Unplugges presents: TBA. Open mic before/after. Hosted by Mario ellis hill. 8pm at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St. Info: 441-3931 or www.lunascafe.com. Free.

9

Poet's Corner Presents Open mic. Barnes & Noble, Stockton's Weberstown Mall. 7:00pm www.poetscornerpress.com

10

Sacramento Poetry Center presents Bryan Tso Jones. Host Indigo Moor. 7:30 P.M., SPC/HQ for the Arts, 1719-25th (25th and R) 451-5569. Free.

11

SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30 pm, Hart Senior Center, 27th & J. Bring 15-20 copies of your one-page poem. Info: Danyen, (530) 756-6228. Free. Workshop news, http://www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org/spcworkshp.html

12

Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour, 5pm, KDVS-90.3 FM or www.kdvs.org

Mahogany Urban Poetry Series, 9pm. See July 5 for details

13

Poetry Unplugged features Michael Halfhill—poetry and sacred chants. Open mic before/after. hosted by Geoffrey Neill. 8pm at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th Street. Info: 441-3931 or www.lunascafe.com.free.

15

Sacramento Undeground Poetry Series presents Twa'Lea Randolph and the Black Men Expressing Tour (on love, sex & relationships). Plus open mic. 7-9 pm, $3.00. Underground books, 2814 35th Street (35th and Broadway). Mother rose is the bookstore manager and La-Rue' is the series host. If you would like to be a featured poet please contact Terry Moore at 455-POET.

17

Sutterwriters workshop begins a new six-week Monday series. 1:00 to 3:00 pm at Sutter Cancer Center, 28th and L Streets. Chip Spann facilitates $10 donation for 6 sessions. 916-454-6802 for info, or spannc@sutterhealth.org.

Sacramento Poetry Center features Susan Hennies and Joe Finkelman; host: Bob Stanley. 7:30 pm., SPC/HQ for the Arts, 1719-25th (25th and R Streets) Info: 451-5569. Free.

18

SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, see July for details

Sutterwriters workshop begins a new six-week Tuesday series. 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Sutter Cancer Center, 28th and L Streets. Chip Spann facilitates $10 donation for 6 sessions. 916-454-6802 for info, or spannc@sutterhealth.org.

19

Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour, 5pm, KDVS-90.3 FM or www.kdvs.org

South Natomas Urban Voices presents Song Kowbell, Terrill & Eric, Rhony Bhopla. hosted by B.L. Kennedy, 6:30-8pm. South Natomas Library, 2901 Truxel Rd. Free.

Sutterwriters workshop begins a new six-week Wednesday series. 10:00am to noon pm at Sutter Cancer Center, 28th and L Streets. Chip Spann facilitates $10 donation for 6 sessions. 916-454-6802 for info, or spannc@sutterhealth.org.

Mahogany Urban Poetry Series, 9pm. See July 5 for details

Moore time for Poetry: Terry Moore's Access Television Show, 9pm, co-host Tyra Moore. See July 5 for details

20

Poetry Unplugged presents Jim Nolt and Cameron. Open mic before/after. Hosted by frank andrick. 8pm at Luna's Café, 1414 16th Street. Info: 441-3931 or www.lunascafe.com. Free.


Sutterwriters workshop begins a 3 new six-week Thursday series. 10:00am to noon pm at Sutter Memorial, 5151 F St.; 5:30 to 7:30pm at Sutter Cancer Center, 28th & L; 8:00 to 10:00pm (new Men's group), 28th and L Streets. 8:00 to 10:00 $10 donation for 6 sessions. 916-454-6802 for info, or spannc@sutterhealth.org.

24

Christian Kiefer, poet and practitioner of gothic folk songs will perform poems with various kinds of musical and sound accompaniment. 7:30 PM Hosted by Tim Kahl.
Sacramento Poetry Center. 1719 25th Street Sacramento,CA 95816 451-5569

25
SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, Hart Senior Center, 916 27th St. (27th & J). see July 11 for details.

26

Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour, 5pm, KDVS-90.3 FM or www.kdvs.org

Mahogany Urban Poetry Series, 9pm. See July 5 for details

27

Poetry Unplugged presents: Mario ellis hill, Terril and Eric. Plus open mic. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy. 8:00pm at Luna's Café. 1414 16th Street. Free.

28

Java City 20th Annual Poetry Marathon. 18th and Capitol. Starts at 12 Noon—continuous readings around the clock. To sign up to read contact b.L. Kennedy before July 15th. For information call 452-5493.

29

THE SHOW Poetry Series. Every last Saturday of the month, 7-9pm. Wo'se Community Center (Off 35th and Broadway), 2863 35th Street, Sacramento; $5.00. Info: T. Mo at (916) at (916) 455-POET.

Java City 20th Annual Poetry arathon. 18th & Capitol. Continuous readings around the clock. See July 28 for details.

30

Java City 20th Annual Poetry arathon. 18th & Capitol. Continuous readings around the clock. See July 28 for details.

31

Java City 20th Annual Poetry arathon. 18th & Capitol. Continuous readings around the clock. See July 28 for details.

Sacramento Poetry Center no reading tonight