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.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NGUYEN DO and PAUL HOOVER at Sacramento State

Nguyen Do and Paul Hoover came to Sacramento State to do a bilingual reading of some of the pieces from their anthology of post-1956 Vietnamese Poetry entitled Black Dog, Black Night on Milkweed Editions.

They initially spoke of the importance of poetry in Vietnam as a vehicle to carry important information in Vietnamese culture and of the importance of belonging to the Vietnamese Writers Association, a distinction which confers immediate unquestioned status to its members and gives them the equivalent rank to that of major in the army.

In particular, the anthology examines the work of members of the Nhan Van (“Humanities”) movement, whose emphasis on freedom and expression found them at odds with the official poetry culture of the Vietnamese Writers Association and the government.

Van Cao, also a member of Nhan Van, and a composer found himself on the outside of the accepted norm in spite of the fact that he is the composer of the Vietnamese national anthem.

Nguyen Do was, himself, asked to leave Vietnam in the early 90’s when he came to the United States. Nguyen Do’s work reflects an urban melancholy full of despair, if not downright nihilism. You can see and hear this in the poem he reads both in Vietnamese and in English ”Unlucky Days” [2:14]

Another one of his pieces read by the author in Vietnamese and Paul Hoover in English is ”Headache” [1:39].

Hoover talked of his experiences in Vietnam meeting the top members of the Vietnam Writers Association and noting the extreme respect for authority that exists there. He also spoke of the great amount of cultural authority that poetry possesses in Vietnam, how, for example, he was whisked through the streets of Hanoi with the help of police cars in front and back of the “poetry motorcade” sounding their sirens all the way. For the American poet, his tales bordered and then crossed over into the surreal.

The two of them ended the evening by reading two pieces by Hoang Hung, one of the leading figures of the Nhan Van movement. The first one, Untitled [Where Do the Stairs Lead Us] was read by Nguyen Do in Vietnamese first and then by Paul Hoover in English [1:43].

Finally, Paul Hoover read Hoang Hung’s “The Smell of Rain [1:35] and offered a brief commentary on how he came to be trusted to participate in the translations of the work in the anthology.

At one point Nguyen Do chided Paul Hoover that Paul would sing the English translation of the poem. To which Paul looked up and rather quizzically asked “Sing?” so it is with heavy heart that I must inform everyone there is no digital record of Paul singing any luc bat that night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The African American Experience at SPC

Sacramento Poetry Center presented a powerhouse lineup of African-American talent, and one expects that many of these guys will be back without African-American month as reason for the billing. And as Terry Moore reminded everyone, if you don’t find yourself black enough to identify with the poems, then you can cross out the word “black” in the poems and write whatever color you want to in.

Indigo Moor led off the evening with a piece he dedicated to Yusef Komunyakaa, whose reading Indigo saw in New York City.

He gave way to Mario Ellis Hill who read pieces dedicated to Duke Ellington and Public Enemy.

Emmanuel sigauke started off his segment by reading the novelist and poet from his native Zimbabwe who had influenced him the most Dambudzo Marechera.

In the final meditative piece where he invoked a mother that would be his and finally a mother who did become his, and the problems with the name of Rhodesia, he talked about his favorite food, the national dish of Zimbabwe: Sadza.
• 4 cups water
• 2 cups white cornmeal (regular cornmeal may be used)
• Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil in a large pot.
• Combine 1 1/2 cups of the cornmeal with the remaining 1 cup water.
• Reduce heat to medium to low and add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes.
• Slowly adding the remaining 1 cup of cornmeal. When the mixture is very thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
• Use a wooden spoon to shape the mixture into a round shape.
• You may use wet hands to help shape the sadza. [Serves 4 to 6.]

Dawn DiBartolo read her heartfelt poems, in particular, a poem about her step-father who had an untimely demise.

Noah Hayes delivered the goods in rare form as he blazed through his homage to old hip-hop while he bemoaned the culture of violence within the new schools. He also

The consummate professional that he is, Terry Moore moved the audience through his tributes to “the black king” and “the black princess.” There was a scathing critique of BET, Black Entertainment Television. Then he delivered his sermon on the 12 ways that he would treat his woman right, and finally, he touched on his signature piece that had to do with being a father and raising a daughter. He did all this while selling t-shirts, CD’s, books, coupons to get your hair done and to get your car washed.

Khiry Malik was next with a few short haikus and a few political pieces that invoked the various questionable qualities of the leaders of our country. Finally, he finished the evening with an unusual fugue of short phrases and sentences that were interrupted and repeated as though Malik were scratching a hip-hop record. Prior to hearing him do this, one might think this possible only in the mix down after a recording. The piece was a condemnation of the celebration of the downlow in African American culture, and it asked why there weren’t many African Americans buying and reading chapbooks. Answer: They don’t sell. They don’t sell. They don’t sell. To this Malik asked: Why not?

Indigo Moor took the audience out of the evening with the reading of several pieces from Tap-root, including what is becoming my favorite piece of his.


There is an extra star in Orion’s belt.
I arc my mason jar up through the fading
light and snatch the firefly in mid-pulse.

the heat lightning’s a distant sweetness.
Sugar-pink throbs on nimbus clouds
draining from the night’s basin. A screech

owl’s cry hugs the pine-peaked horizon.
Behind me is an aluminum whoosh!
A swing, a miss, a curse.

In firefly baseball, the elusive
lime-green flickerings mock us all.
Blind in the graying, we are forever

doomed to swing where they were.
We swear and corkscrew to the ground.
The tall, uncut grass plays silvered kite

to the evening breeze. Silhouetted, Momma
laughs at every exaggerated lunge, twist, and fall.
Her fingers are Promethean tongs that trap

each cigarette’s volcanic ember. but tonight,
there is more flame than heart and hand can hold.
a twelve-firefly lantern pressed to my cheek:

Does my face glow, Momma? Do I shine?
tomorrow noon, the rusted beak
of the weathervane will swing north.

momma, summer,
the fireflies.
All gone.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

two poetry events coming up soon!

Monday, Feb 18 at 7:30pm -- African American Heritage and History Month Poetry Reading, held at SPC HQ @ 1719 25th St., Sacramento, CA - this event includes Khiry Malik Moore, Indigo Moor, Dawn DiBartolo, Terry Moore, Mario Ellis Hill, Emmanuel Sigauke and Supanova.

and on

Thurs, Feb 23, Frank Dixon Graham (that's me) reads at Luna's, on 16th between O and P streets. Come enjoy the show!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pat Grizzell and Alice Anderson at Time-Tested Books 2/11/08

Patrick Grizzell and Alice Anderson graced the elegant setting at Time-Tested Books. The chairs were aligned in a semicircle, butts in seats, for this pair with old Sacramento ties.

At an occasion like this one, after a few conversations, one begins to learn who begat whom. And it was exactly this family lineage that Grizzell traced in one of his poems in which he listed a whole wallet plastic-photo-protector full of crazy uncles and other family members possessed by demons. It was an insight into how the origins of a family in the South can turn a family in every which direction. During Grizzell’s reading of this poem I kept looking over at the person seated next to me and wondering if somehow he might be related to me.

Grizzell carried on with his hardest-working-main-in-show-business routine, apologizing for the apparently unsightly build-up of sweat on his brow. I took a liking to it. It reminded me of almost all the plumbers I have met in my life, and it went a ways to establishing an idea that I think I have held onto for years: more plumbers should be poets and more poets should be plumbers.

Grizzell also read short poems with long titles, a specialty of his, and he warned that Alice Anderson would be reading a similarly long-titled short-content poem. It came to pass, my brethren. It was so.

Grizzell handed off the mic from himself as one southerner to Alice Anderson, another, who read from her prize-winning book Human Nature and some of her new poems.

Pat Grizzell returned at the end of the evening with a hint of his folk-blues-jazz stylings. On guitar and harmonica he sang songs of loss and misfortune, a real blues sensibility. He sliced his way through sevenths and minor chords that in a way hinted at the trail of severed body parts in his songs which finally led to the heart of the speaker itself becoming broken.

Hey did somebody run off with Pat’s mic stand after the gig? Hey, Pat, man, it wasn’t me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Eve West Bessier and Francisco X. Alarcon—Feb. 4, 2008

After Art Mantecon did his celebratory introduction for Eve West Bessier, she stepped in front of the podium and rattled off a scat, then headed into her first poem, wearing her leopard skin hat [this on a night when Francisco X. Alarcon would later remark that the Guarani word for jaguar was the same word for The Milky Way]. Eve riffed her way through several poems with an exquisite sense of timing and phrasing, much of it inspired by Beat and jazz inflections and rhythms. However, she did read a concrete poem entitled “Bite” that was arranged on the page into the shape of an apple with a bite taken out of it. She also read a few pieces inspired by the painting “Portrait of my Father” by Stephen Kaltenbach in honor of her recently deceased father-in-law. Of course, there was Zoo You, Boogaloo

Francisco X. Alarcon read in his impassioned manner on the subjects of the animals taking refuge in the forest around Iguaçu Falls, the spirits at Macchu Picchu, children’s poems (after admitting he had given up on adults), erotic Latino poetry, and a letter to America imploring her for more tolerance and inclusion. He implored us all to vote for Obama the next day [“Go beyond the drama, vote for Obama”] because he was the only candidate who supported giving drivers licenses to undocumented workers. Alarcon empathized with the plight of today’s immigrant workers from Mexico who could be deported at any time because his own family suffered a similar fate back in the 30’s. His grandfather lost his job in LA back then and had to bring his family back to the small town in Mexico where they were from. Alarcon talked about how it was a disenfranchising experience for his family, and he didn’t want that to happen to a new generation of Mexican immigrants.

February Literary Events in Sacramento

1 Friday
The Other Voice, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church
of Davis presents the award-winning husband and wife poetry
team: Carol and Laverne Frith. 7:30 to 9:00 in the library of the
Church at 27074 Patwin Road, Davis. Refreshments and Open
Mike follow - bring along a poem or two to share.

2 Saturday
All are invited to Escritores del Nuevo Sol’s writing workshop and
potluck. 11am. at La Raza Galeria Posada, 1024 22nd Street,
Sacramento. For info call Graciela Ramirez, 456-5323 or
joannpen@comcast.net. Web: www.escritoresdelnuevosol.com

4 Monday
Sacramento Poetry Center @The Book Collector presents
Francisco Alarcon and Eve West Bessier. Art Mantecon hosts -
at The Book Collector -1008 24th Street (24th and J). 7:30pm

5 Tuesday
SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, Hart Senior Center, 27th & J.
Bring 15 - 20 copies of your one-page poem. Info: Danyen, (530)

7 Thursday
Poetry Unplugged features TBA at Luna’s Café.
Hosted by Mario Ellis Hill. Festivities begin at 8pm and there will
be an open mic as well.

9 Saturday
Culture Collection features Candy, vocalist Carla Fleming, Bene'
Bailey, Alicia Pratt and Supanova. Plus open mic. 6391
Riverside Blvd in Greenhaven. 2 – 4 pm. FREE!

11 Monday
Sacramento Poetry Center @ Time Tested presents a reading
by Patrick Grizzell and Alice Anderson. Time Tested Books
1114 21st Street, 447-5696. 7:30 pm, FREE. Hosted by Mary

12 Tuesday
SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, Hart Senior Center, 27th & J.
Bring 15 - 20 copies of your one-page poem. Info: Danyen, (530)

13 Wednesday
Rattlesnake Press presents Don and Elsie Feliz at The Book
Collector, 1008 24th Street, Sacramento, to celebrate the release
of TO BERLIN WITH LOVE, their new chapbook of poetry and
photographs of their time as newlyweds in Germany during the
building of the Berlin Wall. Also appearing that night will be a
littlesnake broadside, “Going the Distance,” from CARLA WIKE,
plus Vol. 2 of Conversations, the second anthology in the
Rattlesnake Interview Series by B.L. KENNEDY. Refreshments
and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody
else's. 7:30-9 PM. More info: kathykieth@hotmail.com/.

14 Thursday
Luna’s Poetry Unplugged features TBA. Open mic before/after.
Hosted by Geoffrey Neill. 8pm at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th Street.
Info: 441-3931 or www.lunascafe.com. Free.

16 Saturday
Underground Books features The Finklemans (Joe and Susan),
Jock Smith and vocalist Jessica Teddington. 2814 35th Street
off 35th and Broadway. 7 - 9 p.m. $3.00

ONE HUMAN FAMILY, featuring Poetry for a Changing World, by
Red Fox Underground poets Taylor Graham, Irene Lipshin, Moira
Magneson, Brigit Truex, Kate Wells, Wendy Williams. Cozmic
Café, 594 Main St., Placerville, CA 95667. (530) 642-8481. 8:00

18 Monday
SPC celebrates Black History Month presenting Indigo Moor &
Khiry Malik. Check http://www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org for
Location Announcement. 7:30pm

19 Tuesday
SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, Hart Senior Center, 27th & J.
Bring 15 - 20 copies of your one-page poem. Info: Danyen, (530)

21 Thursday
Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café. 8pm. hosted by Frank Andrick.

23 Saturday
The Show features NerCity from Oakland, Tamara Blue from
Pasadena and Judah 1 from Los Angeles. 2863 35th Street off
35th and Broadway. 7 – 9 pm. $5.00

25 Monday
Sacramento Poetry Center @ The Book Collector presents Gil
Rodriguez and Rob Lozano. Art Mantecon hosts - at The Book
Collector -1008 24th Street (24th and J). 7:30pm

26 Tuesday
SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, Hart Senior Center, 27th & J.
Bring 15 - 20 copies of your one-page poem. Info: Danyen, (530)

28 Thursday
Poetry Unplugged features Joe Donohue, Ed Bowers, and Matt
Amott at Luna’s Café. 8pm. hosted by B.L. Kennedy. Free.

And coming up in March at SPC - (back at HQ for the Arts)...

March 3
Sacramento Poetry Center features Julia Levine and Rick Campbell. Hosted by Tim Kahl
HQ for the Arts – 1719 25th Street. 7:30pm

March 10
Sacramento Poetry Center presents a chapbook celebration for Edythe Schwartz, in honor of her new collection, Exposure. Hosted by Bob Stanley.
HQ for the Arts – 1719 25th Street. 7:30pm