Beyond Words: Jazz and Poetry Performance

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The audience at our show couldn’t have been warmer–thank you to everyone who came out to hear our fusion of jazz and poetry: Creating the third voice.

Here’s a video taste of the evening:

FEATURING
Bonnie Kwong, poet
Candy Shue, poet
DeWayne Dickerson, poet
Amos White, poet

Music: Dillon Vado (Music Director) and his Jazz Trio
Dillon Vado – Vibes and Drums
Greg Sankovitch – Piano
Tyler Harlow – Bass

Beyond Words – An Evening of Jazz & Poetry
Friday, September 2 at 8pm.
Doors open: 7:30pm

at The California Jazz Conservancy
2087 Addison St., Berkeley
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/hg9cp5Kq47D2

Bay Area impresario and haiku poet Amos White and CJC’s Dillon Vado present an evening that promises to stretch the imagination in musical expression.

E ATM E: New Writing and Photography at 92nd Street Y

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I’m glad to be part of the 92nd Street Y’s original text and photography exhibit, #wordswelivein! You can see my poem and pic, “EAT ME: A Metamorphosis” on their website, and also check out new photos by writers such as Claudia Rankine <3, Eduardo Corral (!), and Timothy Donnelly :-) on Twitter and Instagram.

Many thanks to Ava Lehrer for the invitation, and curating a kickass exhibit!

Virtual Poetry Harmonics

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I recently had the great good fortune to collaborate on a musical poem with a terrific composer and friend, Jerry Gerber. Jerry has written nine symphonies (that I know of!) for electronic orchestras and it was fascinating to be a part of his process, up close and personal.

Jerry asked if he could score my poem, “Lucid: Dream For,” which originally appeared in Works & Days Quarterly #9. It took me about a nanosecond to say yes and we were off to the races. I sent Jerry a recording of me reading the poem, then he set about composing music for it. He would send me bits to listen to and when it was finished, I came to his studio to listen to the entire piece. We went over the score section by section, discussing what the music and poetry were doing, both individually and together, with Jerry working his mixing board like technical wizard. It was an instrument filled with every sound you could imagine and many you couldn’t, from gongs and trills, to strings, horns, and woodwinds. I was amazed by his mastery of the musical elements, from the percussive beat that pulsed under my words to the dreamy melodic phrases and subtle use of silence that gave new creative life to my poetry.

I love working with artists in all kinds of media, whether it is contemporary classical music, drawings, dance or jazz. A poem can express the ineffable in life, but when combined with another art form, a kind of alchemy occurs, turning each piece into something new, something that wouldn’t have existed without the other. I must admit that I was a little claustrophobic in the recording booth, but it was such an amazing experience, and I feel lucky I could add my voice to Jerry’s music!

Click here to hear samples “Lucid: Dream For” and Jerry’s Symphony, Virtual Harmonics*. I hope you enjoy it!

*Available in download and CD.
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Get Lit by The El Nino of Love!

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Get Lit Reading
Tuesday, Jan. 19th:
7pm-9pm
Ale Industries: 3096 E. 10th Street, Oakland

Featuring: Candy Shue, Sarah Carpenter, Keeley Ann Finn, Julia Park Tracey, G. Macias Guzman, Nancy Davenport, Jeff Chon, Rajshree Lehka, Garrett Murphy, Hollie Hardy, Tomas Moniz, Fernando Meisenhalter, Kristen Caven, Norma Smith, Leora Fridman

The emcee for the night will be the wonderful Annelyse Gelman.
Music by the ever-so-talented Lake Lady!

Beer made by Ale Industries on site and coffee by our good friends next door, Red Bay Coffee.

Vouched Books will also be joining us! From their website: “Whether we’re reviewing work on our website, hosting a reading, or selling small press books at one of our guerrilla bookstores, the heart of Vouched Books is this: we love small press literature.”

Quiet Lightning at Viracocha on November 5th

 

I have the good fortune to read at Quiet Lightning:

Monday, November 5th
Viracocha • 998 Valencia @ 21st
7pm doors, show at 7:30
$5

Please come and join the fun!

The show was curated by Chris Cole and Evan Karp and this month’s artist is Kirsten Harkonen.

Maps and Poetry at Powell's City of Books

On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I made a visit–or should I say a “pilgrimage”–to Powell’s City of Books on West Burnside Street.  Powell’s is a shrine to many and it certainly is to me, since I’d first started going there as a sales rep for a large publisher, many years ago.  I would spend long rainy days discussing books with the buyers of the various departments and taking inventory off of color coded index cards that used hashmarks to tally the number of copies a particular title sold.  (This makes me think of the story of a software engineer who learned how to write computer programs by keying in punchcards to physically run the code through the machine.)

This was back before the Pearl District had become the chic home of Whole Foods, Sur la Table and Anthropolgie. In those days, the bookstore’s location was fairly low rent, sitting on the edge of a warren of auto repair shops and warehouses.  I would squeeze my sales rep rental car (usually a nondescript silver mid-size number) into the precarious garage that had such a steep and narrow driveway there was a sign on the wall that warned you to honk in case another car was on its way down the same ramp.  Even then, Powell’s was already big enough to need a map for its customers, a charming hand-drawn guide that readers could use to navigate their way to their favorite books. Like a nostalgic alum visiting her old college campus, I was happy to discover that the newer, bigger Powell’s still offered paper maps but that they also had a smartphone app that would lead patrons directly to the shelf of any title they had in stock.

Armed with paper and electronic navigational tools, I easily found my way to the Poetry section (Blue Room, aisles 211-212) and quickly gathered an assortment of titles: Wonderful Investigations by Dan Beachy-Quick, Transformations by Anne Sexton, Of Gods & Strangers by Tina Chang, and Andrew Schelling’s Wild Form & Savage Grammar. A shiver of delight and fear ran though me simultaneously–a mere 15 minutes into my first foray had yielded treasures already–and I had not even made it to the Mythology Section (Red Room, aisles 875-877) or the Fiction Section (the entire Blue & Gold Room) yet!

With a sigh of pleasure I hugged my books to my heart and consulted the map once more. I needed to know where the World Cup Cafe (Coffee Room, southwest corner–also the Audio Section, aisles 401-405, and Humor Section, aisles 407-412) was as I knew I would need a hit of Bookworm Blend and a bite to eat in due time. Then, with the promise of poetry coursing through my body, I was ready to trek deeper into the stacks of Powell’s, my own little slice of nirvana. Little did I know I would be spending five hours there that day alone, and heaps more time over the course of the next few days (14 hours in four days), so the maps and the coffee would come in handy many times over!

A Noun Sing E·ratio 15 · 2012

I’m happy to have two poems, “Beach Tantra” and “not by wrist“, in the current issue of Eratio!

a noun sing e·ratio 15 · 2012

with poetry by:
Morgan Harlow, Candy Shue, Jan Lauwereyns, Doris Neidl, Tim Trace
Peterson, Jen Besemer, Sheila Squillante, Lisa McCool-Grime, Natalie
Watson, Julie Wood, Kristina Marie Darling, Felicia Shenker, Scott
Bentley, J. Crouse, Bob Heman, James Davies, Dylan Harris, Michael
Sikkema, Kent Leatham, Parker Tettleton, Bobbi Lurie, Lauren Marie
Cappello, Erin Heath, Wynne Huddleston, Jane Olivier, Elise, Nathan
Thompson, Tim Wright, Tim VanDyke, Iain Britton, Ian Hatcher, C. Brannon
Watts, Seth Tyler Copeland, Rich Murphy, J. D. Nelson, Howie Good, Monty
Reid, Dave Shortt, Billy Cancel, John Clinton, Thomas Fink, Larry Ziman,
Valery Oisteanu, Michael Crane, Jon Cone, Mark Cunningham, Rick Marlatt,
Nikolai Duffy, Alessandro Cusimano, Jacob Russell, Corey Wakeling, Stephen
Nelson, Steve Gilmartin, James Valvis, Greg Cohen, Derek Henderson, Travis
Cebula, Sean Howard, Walter Ruhlmann and Márton Koppány

and featuring

The Mallarmé Project, an examination of a yearlong series of art and
writing in Seattle by Joseph F. Keppler
and
The Susan Bee Interview

E·ratio is edited by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino with contributing
editors Joseph F. Keppler and Lauren Marie Cappello

E·ratio is reading for issue 16, the fall 2012 issue, so send in your poems!

A Night of Levels and Quadrants with the 'Lectric Collective

The ‘Lectric Collective reading, held on Dec. 9th at the Krowswork Gallery in Oakland was a mind and art expanding experience. Thanks to Sarah, Kelsa and Jill and Jasmine for putting together a great evening of art and poetry.

The theme of the night–accidental recordings and the framing of experience through the art of juxtaposition–made me think about the many tricks I play on myself, all the constraints I put on the writing of the poem in order to court the muse of chance. How do all these little accidents, mistakes, missteps, subconscious encounters, and forays into the unknown end up creating a poem–or a person, or a movement, for that matter?

I went back to the work of the philosopher Ken Wilber and found this diagram (projected onscreen during the reading) that depicts his theory of “All Quadrants, All Levels.” In it, he posits a description of the architecture of the cosmos that includes the interior experience of the individual (perceptions), the objective behavior of said individual (what can be seen and observed), the interior experience of the collective (culture), and the structures that the collective create in order to reflect the culture (society).

Using this rubric, any poem I write is mappable–and in fact, the poem itself can be seen as a map indicating where I am in my life at the very moment that I write it. The poem comes into being in the same way that my self emerges into a moment.

The idea of writing through the various layers of individual and collective experience reminded me of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge‘s poetic statement from the anthology, Lyric Postmodernisms (edited by by the late Reginald Shepherd):

“That particular conjunction of events which includes the history of your body, your experience, and your art vertically, and the time and circumstances you are in horizontally, seeks an expression that is inevitably unique, or new.”

“I have an intuition of a new form, as a new expertise in the topology of expression, emotion, and culture.”

To allow a poem to inhabit a space that is personal, historical, cultural and social seems like another way of explicating imagistically Wilber’s sense of levels and quadrants. For instance, in these lines from her poem, “Tan Tien,” Bersenbrugge approaches the notion of the body as a physical entity, but also one that exists in relation to other people as a link between the natural and manmade structures of the world:

If being by yourself separates from your symmetry, which is
the axis of your spine in the concrete sense, but becomes a suspension
in your spine like a layer of sand under the paving stones of a courtyard
or on a plain, you have to humbly seek out a person who can listen to you,
on a street crowded with bicycles at night, their bells ringing.