In the cut

Poet Randall Mann's breakthrough 'Straight Razor' slices into gay life now


LIT "Everywhere the gay narrative in this country is about freedom, but the reality doesn't match up. I'm interested in exploring the corners that aren't free — from bullied queer children killing themselves to the elaborate social prisons we concoct for ourselves online," Randall Mann told me. Read more »

The language of hope

With its current poet laureate, SF's literary scene is enjoying a poesía en español renaissance



By Fernando Andres Torres

arts@sfbg.comRead more »

The Performant: Cracks in the pavement


Gentrification-proof poetry

Although the ongoing eviction saga (and upcomng relocation!) of Adobe Books, “the living room” of the Mission, from its 16th Street digs dredges up memories of all the neighborhood bookstores that have closed/moved in recent years, it’s worth being reminded that the book trade has only ever had a limited impact on the persistence of the written (and spoken) word, particularly where poetry is concerned.

In fact, the more tenuous the economic climate, the more tenacious poetry becomes, pushing itself like a hungry weed through the unavoidable cracks left in the superficially smooth pavement of gentrification. That poets are themselves accustomed to staying hungry yet artistically fruitful is a condition immortalized in the famous Robert Graves quip that “there’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either.”

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'Maximus' through Flarf

Updated Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry updates updates updates



LIT Mm-hmm

Yeah, mm-hmm, it's true

Big birds make

Big doo! I got fire inside

My "huppa"-chimpTM

Gonna be agreesive, greasy aw yeah god ...Read more »

Poet laureate inauguration, Feb. 27


San Francisco's new poet laureate, who also happens to be a Guardian columnist, gets officially inaugurated Jan. 27 -- and while I have no idea what he's going to say, I expect it will be lively. Murguia's a political poet and has a lot to say about what's happening and what's happened to the Mission and the Latino community. He's also, of course, an awesome writer, so expect a lyrical presentation. 1 pm to 3 pm, Koret Auditorium, SF public library.

Meet the finalists in Oakland's youth poet laureate competition


Bay Area, our young people are wrapping words of wisdom around subjects like survival, poverty, oppression, community, life, and death. It's time to listen up.

“Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, a word can provoke a thousand memories,” says Tele’Jon Quinn, one of seven 16 to 18-year-old Oakland youth poet laureate finalists. “Memorizing goes hand in hand with reflection. If my words can cause someone to reflect on an important issue or event in their life, then my words were worth sharing.” The East Bay bards are now preparing for the first group performance at the Art and Soul Festival in Oakland on Sat/4. Read more »

Ladies and gentleman, the Bay's youth spoken word team (and where you can see them spit)


Hey you, over-20 person. Do you ever wonder what what on the minds of today's teens? The answers are heavy, and they soar from the mouths of spoken word poets -- especially those of the recently-announced team that will be representing the Bay Area at this year's Brave New Voices international slam on July 21. Care to meet them? Read more »

Too dope to be free


But it is! No ticket price required, but you might want to show up early for the wildly popular Queeriosity. 

It’s Youth Speaks’ annual queer poetry slam. The mostly high school age poets who will lay their stunningly well-worded wisdom upon you will be having fun tomorrow night, but they are not messing around. Read more »

The poetry of poverty

Winners of the POOR Magazine's Battle of All the Sexes, in verse


Editors note: POOR Magazine's 5th Annual Poetry/Music Battle of ALL the Sexes was held on Valentine's Day. This years battle, POOR's Lisa Gray-Garcia tells us, "honored ancestors Uncle Al Robles, Mama Dee and all ancestors that have been victims of po'lice terror, racism and poverty."

I love POOR Mag and all the radical poverty activists there and about do, and as a show of support, I'm happy to run the winners here.


Birth Out Mother EarthRead more »

Kenneth Patchen centennial: poetry that still resonates


Poet Kenneth Patchen was born in Niles, Ohio, 100 years ago on December 13, 1911. He died in Palo Alto in 1972. Due to a ruptured spinal disk that was never properly treated, Patchen produced some 30 volumes of poetry and prose largely from the confines of his bed — work, nonetheless, that fiercely engaged the modern world that raged on outside. In his words, “I speak for a generation born in one war and doomed to die in another.” For this, the Beats were deeply indebted to his work. Patchen however, who lived in Telegraph Hill in the 1950s, referred to “Ginsberg and Co.” and the media hype surrounding them as a “freak show.”

Patchen had a broad range — he could be political, tender, devotional, and surreal — and unlike the Beats, he vehemently opposed being labeled as one kind of poet or another. Kenneth Patchen: A Centennial Selection (Kelly’s Cove Press, paperback, $25), edited by Patchen’s friend Jonathan Clark, marks the 100th birthday of the indefinable poet. Clark first met Patchen in the 1960s as a teenager living in the same Palo Alto neighborhood as him. He describes the collection as “a personal selection of some poems in which I hear most clearly the voice of the man I remember...those seeking perfection had best look elsewhere...” Fair enough. However, the collection is also a reasonable review of the poet’s scope. And, if indeed modest, it’s still the only book that has observed the centennial.

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