brief reviews of my reading in San Francisco
1. geary st. series at café melroy
This is a great series in a café that's closed when the readings are given. In the tenderloin, it is next to a cute bar which has cheap sangria, across the street from a decent deli / wine store (if you want some snacks for the reading) and down from a great fish n' chips place. It is also across from a Goodwill that had some un-picked-over Los Angeles pottery items from the 50s and 60s before I got to it.
I was really excited to read with Denise Newman and Laynie Browne. I read poems from my book from back to front, so I could start with the female SF artists like Jay DeFeo, move through the e (transcendental number / floating point / benediction) poem, and finish up with the last bit of the poem I wrote for PDA w/ wireless (which I would love to beam & read in San Jose someday).
Denise read fantastic home/architecture poems. I didn't know her, although she looked very familiar to me, and perhaps we had been at something at the same time at some point. I hadn't known that her husband was an architect -- she wrote these poems in response to some of his questioning about her ideas about oh, the process of living, openness and privacy, natural / made landscape, at least what I got out of it. There was also some "pacific rim" aura.
Anyhoo, she was saying that her husband was from LA, and that architecture was so much better here. While they tear everything down after a short while, the architect is king. While in SF there's more code, zoning, dealing with historic modes, scales, and use of space. This reminded me of the way that in LA, the writer was supposed to be king in tv (before reality tv), but a peon in the movies, since a movie is big budget and collaborative, but there's so much pressure in tv, it is all (deadline) writing. In other words, in some places in LA, various flats and neighborhoods, all there is is architecture, built environment, or blank slate. In some portions of the industry, all there is is writing, as there's no acting or direction. And now there's no writing!
OK, back to the reading. Laynie Browne read new work, part from her novel which is really like poetry IMO, and etc. She introduced some new poems which her children were very much a part of as a concentration on permeability, which I thought was very interesting, because I haven't thought about that that much in that way. Thinking forward to the next little review here, in a way, that permeability, so much more Laynie Browne, I think, than the idea of collaboration, so much more informed by motherhood, openness, still does share something with the idea of sourced poetry and writing with constraints or writing as editing or reading -- writing as a response to what is experienced in the present, no matter the source -- in a life lived with children, there they are, there are their questions, their process of language acquisition, their developing personalities -- in a life lived with books, there they are!
When I got back I shared via e with my friend Therese Bachand that Denise Laynie and I were talking about play dates -- they set one up -- I was saying how different the SF play date is from the LA industry play date -- so competitive here, so much who your parents write for, as far as the play dates I was in on when I lived (seven years, up to six months ago) in Park La Brea in a townhouse that backed onto the same courtyard as the townhouse Ron's writing partner David Kidd (we went to school together) and his wife (an actress -- Wendy Lawless -- well known for roles in Heidi Chronicles and All in the Timing in New York), and hence all their hosted play dates.
Therese said, "They have a community there. Of course Berkeley is different from LA." She's so sensible.
It was great to meet or see again in the audience Andrew Joron (who I read with at Andrew Maxwell's series when it was still downtown at The Lab, when I got to warm up for Barbara Guest -- one of the poems I read is online at The East Village -- the one where I make a newspaper Christmas tree -- http://www.theeastvillage.com/tla/daly/p1.htm), Wendy Kramer who read at the UCLA Hammer for me, Joe Lease, Rusty Morrison (bought a book!), and one of my oldest friends in the world, Jay Cross, with his wife Paige who I hadn't met, who works at Head Start HQ in SF.
OK, this is getting really much longer and time-consuming than expected.
My blog has been sussed out by Jordan Davis, Nada Gordon, and Kent Johnson, so it is time to make it more public: