Monday, November 30, 2009

I Left My Heart In...

Fourteen Hills 16.1 Release Party

Wednesday, Dec 16 7:00p
at San Francisco Motorcycle Club, San Francisco, CA

Join us for the Fall 2009 release of Fourteen Hills, San Francisco State University's International Literary Magazine.

Readings by: Stephen Elliott, Katie Cappello, Rhea DeRose-Weiss, Rae Freudenberger, Austin LaGrone, Gregory Mahrer, Gabrielle Meyers, Marcus Pactor, Sarah Cohen Powell, Marc Stone

Fabulous Raffle Prizes by: Periscope Cellars Winery, Mercury Cafe, Under One Roof, Four Star Video, 222 Hyde, Jewish Theatre SF, Half Price Books, Omnibucket, Dark Garden and many many more!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Workshop: I'm Making a List...

We're all making lists this time of year: lists of what we're thankful for, what we want for the holidays, what we'll do different in the next year. Then there are the little remembered everyday lists, which can be just as important. The grocery list for Thanksgiving dinner. The list of to-do's before the family arrives to visit. The invite list for a New Year's party. The list of stores to hit pre-sunrise on Black Friday. The list...yes, I said it...goes on and on.

Which makes me think of list poems. Whitman was a master of these, with his "Out of the cradle endlessly rocking, Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,/Out of the ninth-month midnight," etc. Other contemporary poets who have tackled the list poem include C.D. Wright, Jorie Graham, and Lynn Emmanuel.

But what makes a list poem a poem, and not simply a list? Metaphorical leaps in logic and imagistic language are musts, as well as attention to the musicality of the line. Try this: begin each line the same way. You can use Whitman's "Out of..." or another broad phrase (into... if you... what I mean is...). Then complete the line. Over and over. As many times, and in as many different ways as you can. You can also try describing something using this list technique (The city like... The desert is... My wife with...).

Don't worry in the initial drafting about perfection. The key to a good list poem is the cutting and revising afterwards. Then, and only then, after you have something to work with, can you make a poem out of a list. But whatever you do, don't write a poem starting with "I'm thankful for..." Save that for the dinner table or holiday card.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Movie Monday: Bloody, Indeed

Now, I know you are all avid followers of the blog authored by Nigel Sheinwald, the British Ambassador to the U.S. But for those of you who happened to miss it, I would like to direct you to his recent post on the strange case of British actors playing vampires in American film. The list includes favorites such as Stephen Moyer from True Blood and Gary Oldman as uber-vamp Dracula. Of course, the esteemed ambassador missed a few, including Stuart Townsend as an admittedly forgettable Lestat in Queen of the Damned. Any other blood-sucking Brits you can think of?

Rather than delve too deeply into the psychology at work behind this trend, the ambassador chooses to cheer the inspiration of British talent on American art. But really, you gotta wonder why this is. The boyfriend suggests that, because Great Britian is older than the U.S.A., and because vampires are, usually, much older than humans, the two are a perfect match.

Then, there is the morphing of the vampire legend. Vamps are no longer alien-like creatures, or strangely dressed immigrants from Central Europe. They are now (thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer) sexy, desireable, loveable even. And a British accent complements the smooth sensuality of this new type of vampire much better than, say, a Brooklyn accent. Which reminds me, has anyone else seen A Vampire in Brooklyn, in which Eddie Murphy gives us his version of a Carribean vampire? Hey, the Carribean was once part of the British Empire, right? Well, there you go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Friday, I'm in Love

With:

wtf pwm

scarves and tights

this bike on a chain

bootie slippers

glee

chili and cornbread

Roseanne and Bruce

birthday pie

big hair

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Not-Really-Review: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Swinging the green blanket around her shoulders, she pulled her dog into her lap and bowed her head beneath a fold, hiding from the adverse elements: the fog, the wickedly wet cold that somehow passed through the heaviest of fabrics to chill her skin. She knew the crows outside (or were they Crows?) would continue their incessant cawing, but here she was safe, in her own little self-induced hermitage. She would outlive this winter yet.


The Not-Really Book Club meets monthly in Sacramento.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Saga of the Fridge

Our fridge has been broken for a year. For a while it didn't matter, because we were traveling. Then we lived out of a dorm fridge for a while. You remember those, right? The slots for beer cans, sometimes a tiny "freezer" compartment for a singe ice tray or airplane-sized bottle of booze. I am still surprised at what we were able to pack in there: hot dogs, greens, eggs, lunch meat, even the occasional beer or two. But, of course, that broke too.

When we lost the mini fridge and still hadn't gotten the big one repaired, we learned to subsist on very little...and we got really good at making omelets. Now I don't know what to put in the new, albeit much smaller, fridge we recently purchased. Ketchup, tortillas, and fruit all found new places on pantry shelves, in baskets, or in drawers. Even our cheese was fine in the chest freezer outside. What do we really need all that space for?

Mark Menjivar, a photographer, is investigating the answer to that question. I found his work through Kris Sanford, an ASU alum and former Visual/Text coordinator. Menjivar's photographs record the contents of a person's fridge...from the glory of leftovers in styrofoam containers to the contents of the crisper drawer, however rotten. Included with each photo is a short bio of the person, sometimes even an explanation for the contents. It's a fascinating look into the eating habits of America. And while I figure out what to put in my fridge, I'll be enjoying Menjivar's work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poets in Need

Do you love Copper Canyon Press as much as I do? Are you thrilled by the political and aesthetic power of Poets Against the War? Then, maybe you will find it in your heart to help out Sam Hamill and Gray Foster. According to this letter from Marilyn Hacker and Alfred Corn, Sam and Gray are, like many, financially crippled by the health care system. While sending them money might not be viable, why not use this as impetus to contact your local legislator about the health system? When health care issues start to affect even our art, things have got to change.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Indie Bookstore Number 4

What: Jo Ann Carroll's Old Lahaina Book Emporium

Where: 834 Front Street, Lahaina, HI

What I found:
1. W.S. Merwin's The Folding Cliffs: A Narrative
2. A section called "Beats and Offbeats"
3. More first editions and signed copies than you can shake a stick at

Why you should go: You're on the beach...you've finished your trashy airplane book...you're looking for something else to read...something substantial...something funky or classy or rare. Oh, and you're feeling a bit sunburned as well. Come out of the heat, and get lost in the stacks.

Want more? Visit the website for a taste of what's on the shelves.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Workshop: 350

Did you know about 350? If you're an NPR junkie like me, you may have heard about this environmental organization which brought crowds from all over the world together on October 24th in support of cutting carbon emissions. The organization takes its name from Bill McKibben's groundbreaking book on climate change. Why 350? Find out here.

In support of the group's efforts, 350 Poems invited 350 poets to write pieces on global warming and environmental issues. Each piece could only be three and a half lines long. The resulting pieces are sometimes eerie, sometimes funny, sometimes moving. The project is a fascinating, eglatarian mix of well-known and lesser-known poets, high and low language, metaphor and overt naming. In short, just what you could hope for from a group of environmentally conscious poets.

While the day of advocacy has passed, I think this form lends itself well to the subject of environment and climate change. It leaves little room for didactic statement, forcing instead a distillation of emotion, imagery, and call-to-action in a neat little package. So I'm calling on you to write your own short, soul-punching pieces. Try to stick to the three and a half line limit, and see what happens.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poetry Flash Fabulous

Up until recently, I was regularly posting monthly calendars for Sacramento-area literary events. These postings took up so much time, and so few people were clicking on the Adsense links (hint, hint), that it seemed like a mismanagement of my time. Plus (and here's the big secret), I was getting most of my information from Poetry Flash anyway.

Poetry Flash is a great resource for California and other Western writers. Providing information on submission calls, awards, book reviews, news items, and, yes, that fabulous literary event calendar, Poetry Flash is one-stop shopping for us word-slinging cowboys and girls. They even host a reading series, jam-packed with plenty of contemporary literary superstars.

Please visit their site for more information on upcoming events in November and December. And if you are struggling about what to get the writer in your life for the holidays, consider a donation or a subscription. The crew at Poetry Flash will thank you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bad Movie of the Month


Also known as Homo Erectus, this movie takes you back to that miraculous prehistoric time when cavemen somehow knew English. Complete with stone-age glasses, Ishbo (Adam Rifkin) is the classic nerd, cast out by his father, Mookoo (the late David Carradine), for inventing pants. He longs for the love of a good woman, in particular the stunning specimen Fardat (Ali Larter). Can Ishbo find a place to call home, and a girl he doesn’t have to club?



Some material courtesy of Gracenote, Inc.