Commentaries - May 2011

Trio of reports: Radar Productions, an evening of debate with some alleged members of the Invisible Committee, and Pierre Guyotat

San Francisco Chronicle Building (exterior) / Intersection for the Arts (interior) photos by Del Ray Cross

I’m not sure if it’s the assignment I gave myself or what, but the last few weeks I’ve found myself in San Francisco way more often than usual. Often enough that I keep buying and misplacing BART tickets, finding them in the laundry later. The train thing is no small deal: I was unable to ride BART for several years after my father’s death, caught in the grip of phobias perfectly expressed by the vulnerability of the transbay tube,  phobias which in turn helped crystallize my hatred of BART, for reasons too many to list here but including the lack of public oversight re: BART cops, the way the train is so clearly designed to move money around—commuters to the financial district, bodies to airlines—rather than serve the neighborhoods it moves through. The communities it destroyed when it was built. OK. Stopping myself. Getting it together. Suffice to say: I’ve been riding the train. And going to more readings in San Francisco.

California Dreaming: A report back from the Los Angeles Times Book Festival (3)

Los Angeles is a tough city for a poet. Even a cab driver, who admitted he wrote screenplays during the day, almost swerved off the freeway upon hearing that there was a book prize for poetry. I thought nothing of it at first, but after my feature reading at the Book Festival, the crowd was hostile (even Ed heckled me!): watch a video of the audience here.

After the booing died down, Ed & I strolled over to the booth of Small World Books for our joint signing. Met many nice folks, including fellow Tinfish author Naomi Long. After the signing, I bid adieu to Ed and his lovely family and headed back to the author green room to catch the shuttle to the Marriot. And then something unexpected happened...

Sasha Chernyi's "Poems from Children's Island"

Translated from Russian by Kevin Kinsella
from Katie Fowley's  Lightful Press

If you, like me, sometimes wonder why chocolates don’t grow on beds and frogs don’t use pillows, if you think that girls are cheese and boys potatoes (or is it the other round a way?); if you, even just once in a scarlet moon, imagine that little mouses are far braver than humungous lions, then these poems may be for you. Not recommended for adults! as these rimes are far too clever, and besides adults don’t like poetry.

Rae: Making It New

Rae Armantrout,, video portrait

Rae had come to read at the Kelly Writers House. Along the way she read "Make It New," from Next Life.

George Oppen at San Francisco State, 1972

We at PennSound are pleased to present a segmented recording of George ’s May 3, 1972, reading at San Francisco State University. The recording was then broadcast on KPFA (Berkeley) on June 2, 1972. Follow this link to PennSound’s George Oppen author page. The readings are presented in chronological order, beginning with our earliest recording dated 1963.