Poet As Radio Remembers Colleen Lookingbill

From the May 25th Poet As Radio:

On Sunday we gathered an unprecedented number of poets at Lightrail Studios to celebrate an unparalleled poet and spirit, Colleen Lookingbill, who unfortunately left us on March 30th. Besides the Poet as Radio hosts, Tiff Dressen, Susanne Dyckman, Todd Melicker, Joseph Noble, Steven Seidenberg, Candy Shue along with Colleen’s husband Jordon Zorker took part in a memorial show, which included a reading of Colleen’s work and a discussion of her life. We heard work from both her books Incognita (Sink Press, 1992) and a forgetting of (Lyric & Press, 2011), as well as some other pieces published in literary journals.

After the break, the group shared anecdotes from Colleen’s life and artistic endeavors. Jordon told us that she was influenced by the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets and she liked the term ‘experimental poetry.’ Colleen was also a visual artist and she created visual poetry that was included in a forgetting of. Colleen was an incredibly open and giving person. Tiff introduced Colleen’s relationship to Buddhism and Jordon expanded on this, discussing her interest in different spiritual traditions. Joseph told us about his experience of book shopping with Colleen, where she gravitated towards obscure texts. One of her last projects was an anthology of women poets she compiled with Elizabeth Robinson, As If It Fell From the Sun (Ether Dome, 2012).

Thank you to all the poets who took part in this show.
And thank you Colleen for your poetry, your presence and the beautiful mark you left on this writing community. You are surely missed.

Click Here to Listen:
Poet and Visual Artist, Colleen Lookingbill

Under the Influence: Italo Calvino

Who could not love the premise of Evan Karp‘s reading series, Under the Influence? Each writer chooses an author that (s)he loves, introduces the audience to that author, then reads a short piece inspired by the work of that writer. I stumbled upon Italo Calvino’s novel, If On A Winter’s Night, A Traveller, when I was working at my first bookstore job in San Francisco. I fell into it completely, with its 2nd person narration and its unconventional, twisty storytelling. I went on to read Invisible Cities, Cosmicomics, Under the Jaguar Sun, Marcovaldo, Mr. Palomar, and many other Calvino titles. He had a prolific imagination that made the world seem possible.

My story, “Invisible City,” was inspired by Calvino’s stories told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan. To me that book is several books rolled into one: fairytales, travelogue, architectural guidebook, and bromance. Still one of my favorite books to read on an airplane.


“Invisible City” at The Emerald Tablet, August 2, 2014

Bay Area Generations at Duende Bar and Bodega

I had the great pleasure of guest curating the eighth edition of Bay Area Generations: A Reading Series for the Ages at the Lorca inspired setting of Duende Bar and Bodega in Oakland, California. It was an appropriately inspired night for poetry and music, including the duo of Paul Hoover and Justin Etc. on the mic and jazz musician Michael Parsons on the piano. Enjoy the video!

Also reading were novelist Patricia Powell and award-winning fiction writer Melissa R. Sipin.

Bay Area Generations Reading with Norma Cole

Getting back in to the swing of things, here is the video of the Bay Area Generations Reading that I teamed up for with the lovely and esteemed poet, Norma Cole. You can watch the entire reading, or go to the playlist to skip to Norma and me.


Bay Area Generations #3, December 6, 2013 at the Sports Basement, San Francisco

Bay Area Generations: Poetry at the Clubhouse

I was watching Tom Brady lead a heroic 4th quarter drive against the North Carolina Panthers; one last play with 3 seconds left on the clock. It looked like the Patriots might pull it off, but Brady’s last pass was intercepted in the end zone, and even though there was a yellow flag on the play, referees recalled the penalty to bring the game to an end.

I thought it looked like pass interference, but that’s just me.

I guess it’s appropriate that I’m in a sports mood, because I just found out that I’m reading at the Sports Basement on Bryant Street in SF next Monday, November 25th. I’m especially honored because it’s a partner reading with one of my favorite poets, Norma Cole, who has been an instrumental part of the SF Language Poetry scene, along with Rae Armantrout, Ron Silliman and Susan Gevirtz.

So if you’re in the ‘hood, come and hear Norma’s fantastic chap poem, 14,000 Facts, and my found language poem, “I Have No Title,” which I’m considering renaming “A Pocket Full of Onion.”

We can talk football, or baseball, or onions, or whatever you’re in the mood to talk about. Or we can talk about how Rae Armantrout borrowed my pen at Naropa once.

I’m pretty open.

Bay Area Generations Reading
Sports Basement Clubhouse
1590 Bryant Street @ 16th Street
7:00pm doors open, 7:30pm reading begins
$5:00 suggested donation (no one turned away)

Hope to see you there!

For more info on readers and on Bay Area Generations click here.

Changes Great and Small: Preparing for Provincetown

Life, as we all know, is unpredictable and that has always been part of its joy and sorrow. Recently and very suddenly, we lost a very good person from my daughter’s school community and today my husband and I went to the memorial service for him at a beautiful Jewish temple. I sat with other parents from school and felt grateful to be there in the warmth of so many families. I learned about the depth of love and the life our friend had lived. I felt the great dignity and sorrow of his family and friends. The music, a woman singing acapella, was keening and sad, yet somehow an expression of the joy we had with our friend. We were there to witness this change in the world and in our lives.

So, I am thinking a lot about change as I prepare to go to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. I’m grateful to have a Fellowship to attend and I was going to work with Kahn and Selesnick on an installation piece, but the workshop was canceled and now I am going to concentrate on writing personal essays with Ariel Levy instead.

For some reason I have been writing more memoirish pieces recently, one of which is going to be published by the Writing Without Walls Reading Series on August 29th. Jeff Von Ward asked for a story on second chances and I wrote about having to drive my daughter across town to the pediatrician’s office in a panic when she almost died from an allergic reaction when she was 14 months old. She’s 12 years old now, but the immediacy of the memory grabbed me and I couldn’t stop writing until I finished the essay.

So I’m taking the cancellation of one class and switch to another as a sign that this is what I’m supposed to be writing. I have some material about my trip to China with my father last year and the stories he told about his father, who was an extra in “The Good Earth” when it was filmed in Hollywood, as well as an opium dealer.

I’m a little scared, but it will be good to delve in to all those notes and maybe take a walk on the beach. This will be my first trip to Provincetown–and it’s during Carnival! If anyone has suggestions on what to do and places to eat, I’d love to hear them. Best wishes to all–wherever your lives are taking you.

Eco-Poetics: Naropa’s Summer Writing Program

My book haul from Naropa!

My book haul from Naropa!

The Naropa Summer Writing Program was good for my writing and for my soul–I met many wonderful poets, including Kristin Prevallet, Rae Graber, Georgia Van Gunten, Eric Siegel, CA Conrad, Anne Waldman, and Rae Armantrout.

The week’s theme was Symbiosis: Hellfire, Drought, and Brimstone: A New Eco-Poetics and I want to share some of the highlights from the workshops, panel discussions, and readings:

–“Do the words you write belong to you? Or are you tapping into a larger field of language?” Kristin Prevallet on the influence of William James and stream-of-consciousness on poetry.

–“Memory is not archeology.” Kristin Prevallet

–Poetry as a prophetic tradition–language as music. Paraphrased description of Jerome Rothenberg’s anthology, Shaking the Pumpkin.

–“The way you treat the land is the way you treat yourself.” Orlando White

–The Idle No More movement posits that the land is alive, not a metaphor. Sound is a Being.

–“Ecopoetics is about the environment of the mind as well as the physical environment.” CA Conrad

–“Always treat language like a dangerous toy.” Anselm Hollo

–“Mitochondria make energy for the cells, but have different DNA than the cells–like visiting poets.” Jack Collom

If anyone has Naropa stories to share, I’d love to hear them! I’m already plotting to go next summer. . .

Countdown to The Beast!

971444_656648399327_1617458299_nI’m honored to be curating a reading for Beast Crawl, Oakland’s pre-eminent night of literary mayhem! On July 6th, from 5pm-6pm at the awesome Johansson Projects Gallery, Kundiman West and Manifest will join forces to create one mighty reading encompassing Comics! I Ching! Sex! Magic! Cats! and a whole lot more.

Rocking your world will be poets MG Roberts, Yume Kim, Margaret Rhee, Jose Vadi, Rex Leonowicz, Mia Malhotra, and yours truly.

Click on this link for the official deets: Join us and bring your friends!

Kundiman West and Manifest: Join Forces994145_10151699430873846_1423262310_n

Meet Me and Nick Cave’s Soundsuits at EOAGH Journal

My poem, “Meet Me at the Center of the Earth” is up at EOAGH Journal of the Arts, a great online site that concerns itself with reading “as a process, the productive chaos of investigative poetic work.” There are some cool poems by Steve Benson, and Christine Kanownik.

As an experiment, I am embedding a pdf of my poem here because it has a rather sinuous shape and odd line breaks.

Whew, it worked. And because I love them so much, here’s a photo of some of Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, which inspired my poem. It would be amazing to see them in motion, no?

nickcave-soundsuit-1