Thursday, January 05, 2006

status report, Art 21, Waverley readings

I've been sandblasted by the "holidays", with not much leisure! Writing continues, but what critical thinking still is possible has been directed towards the SF book award I'm helping to judge.

Still... poetry! I've found some wonderful poets to translate, including Olga Acevedo, Marí Luisa Milanés, and María Antoneta La-Quesne. I came across a really inspiring book by Catherine Davies,A Place in the Sun? Women Writers in Twentieth-Century Cuba, and ordered it for mulling-over outside of the library halls. Here it is on my kitchen table, thanks to online used-book ordering! I'm totally drooling to read the whole thing instead of just a few chapters - and want to nerve myself to write to Davies.

It's hard to do that! But it helps so much. I want to be like all the women who have helped me immensely, writing me long detailed emails and directing my attention... who will never be paid for it. One thing I can do is to resolve to pass it on, and try to behave that way myself to others - to be helpful and respectful, and never obstructionist, competitive, or dismissive. (Because I've run into that attitude too, of course!) Also, I want to make my work the best it can be...

But onwards! Tomorrow, Friday at 7pm, is the Waverly Writers open mike at Friends Meeting House, Colorado, Palo Alto. It's usually 25-30+ poets, each reading one poem, to a group of perhaps 50 people. It's a good slice of poetry in the peninsula, but I would say it leans heavily towards the white page-poet... I have yet to untangle who is in whose factions or has been in the same workshop for decades or who shared a poetry mentor 15 years ago, etc. All of which is interesting politics that seethes below the surface. I take notes on the poetry, and have great interest in following the poets' development over the last few years. And don't let my comment on "politics" scare you, because it's a warm and welcoming group, very accepting of personal difference and of varying poetic styles.

Next Friday, Jan. 13th, is the reading at the Art21 gallery in Palo Alto. Its crowd intersects with Waverley's but is not identical. This reading tends to be 30-ish people; the gallery is spacious and pleasant; there's often jazz musicians who participate; they're a fun, friendly crowd who buy books and bring wine and cheese to share (both of those things, the book-buying and the food, make one feel so loved! Not to be sneezed at!) I like to read translations there. Well, this month I'm the MC and organizer. Our featured poet is Serene, who I met at the Nomad Cafe in Oakland; I liked her rapid-reading approach and the books she quoted (I mean, who reads the feminist poet Alta, these days! I do! Me, me! and her too, huzzah!) I felt that her poetry would appeal to the peninsula poets and might shake them up a little bit. I also asked a few others... but it's hard to compete with events on Friday nights in SF. So I think Serene will be the sole featured poet and then a break, then a lively open mike, and I look forward to doing fun introductions for everyone.

At both readings, there's always some people from the Poetry Center San José, some from the Saturday Poets, and some from the Not Yet Dead crowd. Sometimes people come from over the hill, from Santa Cruz, including Len Anderson, whose brilliant parody of "Howl" -- "Beep", a history of Silicon Valley and personal computing, I gave to many people for Christmas this year -- and we also get a spattering of people from Stanford, though I'm always surprised who doesn't come... *cough*Stegnerfellows*cough*. Heh! More fool them, because they could sell their books, promote their work, and be in touch with the local poets, their natural base... and as I said, the friendliest people in the world...

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3 comments:

Jo said...

What are "white page poets?"

Liz said...

Well, that was awkwardly phrased! I guess they might be poets who fetishize the whiteness of the page, like Mallarme! Or else, like Mallomars?

I only meant that most everybody there is white, which isn't true of poetry readings elsewhere around here... no criticism intended, but some people might like to know what territory they're going into.

By page-poet I mean that they tend to be more about writing and a particular poetic tradition - rather than "spoken word" or slam poetry.

Jo said...

Oh! I was imagining that it had something to do with how much white space they left on the page. Poets who would only utter one word per line, or something. Flower! Table! Mom! Dead! Etc.