Open Wide

Constantly tearing a new beginning must sound exhausting to some, but is the only way I know how to live.  I hurtle onward, chanting Quid video, Quid video, Quid video, parting light with newfound eyes.  Or eyes struggling to be born.  And is this true?  Because I also ritualize my days, Sleep Eat Shit, Sleep Eat Shit, Sleep Eat Wash Clothe Gather Place Sleep.  My body does, an act of body slowly, slowly wearing down.  So much for new beginnings, for nascent eyes.  Or maybe that’s just mind resisting body.  Or maybe it’s just August once again.

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ANNOUNCE  ::  I’ve been editing, designing, and laying out two collections of poetry by Joie Cook for Zeitgeist Press, which will be finished and released quite soon.  As you may know, Joie passed away in February, and is sorely missed by friends and the SF poetry community alike.  This spring, Bruce Isaacson of Zeitgeist approached me about editing a book from the work in Joie’s ten chapbooks, most of which are out of print and many of which are increasingly hard to find.  Since these comprised over half of her published work (much of the rest can be found in Habitat by Beatitude Press), I was more than happy to take on the project.  I put together a “best of” selection from the chaps, but enjoyed reading them through so much that I suggested another option to Bruce, that we put together a full reprint of the collected chapbooks.  We went back and forth on which would be best, and finally decided to design and release both of them.  So coming soon from Zeitgeist Press:  She Is Fighting Love: Selections from the Chapbooks of Joie Cook, AND Joie in Chaps: The Collected Chapbooks of Joie Cook.  Revv your radar now!  I’ll post more (or update this one) as things progress.

ANNOUNCE  ::  I’ll be reading with a group of veteran sparrers at the upcoming 5th Anniverary Bash for Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts, the extravagant and heady series of readings begun by Daniel Yaryan in 2008.  This goes down on August 23, five years to the very day since the first wild Spar in the basement of Li Po, ancient Chinese tavern and fabled beat hangout of Chinatown.  Since then there have been 50, count ’em, 50 Spars to date from San Francisco to L.A., with the Anniversary Bash being the 51st.  It’s at a super-secret location, a poeti-mystical speakeasy of sorts, and if that sounds like a blast, check on my Events page for how to learn the addy and the password.  Spar on, wordspirits!

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Half-asleep is the the time for driftwood to pile up into the shape of gazelle and take off sprinting to raptures of veldt in the sea salt mind.  What kind of creatures we are will determine what kind of houses we build, and if days are fraught with sucking the tit then the walls may have cloud-shaped holes.  Good for much if not for keeping warm, but if the gaze is ever inward, what good are windows and how high are skies?  They say that sex is a god-struck boon, and those who berate it are surely buffoons, but I must wonder if a constant eye tubeward allows for barn raisings and ventures of the greater whole.  Yet much of it is simply predilection, and as always some stand stamping in a clump, while others dart as lone gazelles toward the edges of the plain.

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REFLECT  ::  Had a great time recently doing a photo shoot with Oakland cameramaster Robert Fischer.  Normally I’m not much for having my pichur taken, and I don’t think I’m a very good subject, but Bob has a way of letting you just do your thing and capturing you in the act.  We did two sessions, actually, one at my apartment where he captured me sitting silently in chairs staring into space (I guess that’s what I mostly do there), then a few weeks later had me over to his studio to shoot me reading poems and such (see the sample below).  And not because he thinks I’m pretty – this is part of a portrait project he’s amidst called “Listen Very Closely” in which he’s capturing the visages and veritas of a slew of Bay Area poets.  It’s planned as a book to be released in 2014, so keep an eye open, as they say.  Oh, and he’s looking for more poets to shoot, so if you’d like to get involved, send me a note and I’ll put you in touch.

REFLECT  ::  Brief but wonderful visit this month with Toni Oliviero, recently retired Professor of Humanities and Media Studies and long-time Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  Toni and I became friends whilst I was working under her there as Director of Writing Across the Curriculum for a few years in the mid-00’s, and have remained so ever since.  She was enjoying a quick getaway to San Francisco’s East Bay, where I happen to reside and one of her fave vacation spots, so we had a chance for a marvelous catching up over vittles and tea.  Toni announced that she and her partner Itala were in fact retiring together, and would be settling into, reveling, and otherwise exhulting in said retiration in a small mountain town in central Mexico.  After decades in the heart of New York City, I can only imagine what heaven that would be.  And perhaps a future destination for my own itinerary….  Congratulations, Toni and Itala!  Now get to that exhulting.

REFLECT  ::  Finally, superfun reading in July at Sunset Poetry by the Bay, the series organized by poet-on-fire Martin Hickel over Sausalito-way.  Read with Julia Vinograd, Cassandra Dallett, and Marin’s own Calvin Ahlgren for a high-energy, inspirational hour and then some.  I’ve been to so many amazing readings lately that it’s become point-blank obvious we’re living in a poetic golden age – at least for a moment.  Now we just have to get the academics to notice that, if they can gander past their concepts and their phonemes.  I debuted my first full set of words to Hauschka, three pieces so far, and was pleased to find folks levitating by the end.  Now that’s what I call listening.

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Out of body and out of mind, lifting through the top of the skull we sacrifice ourselves for a bit of real.  Without laughter we’re doomed, simple as that, cut off from the amber sky.  Sharp scent of breeze and we cry to the world Haloo and Halaa and I’m coming home as we step up the hill to the grandest view.  Kindred with mules we bray and conform till the right straw tickles the tender craw, then a burst of guffaw and we’re out of the plan, off the charts and into the sand and kicking up heels and voila!, we’re a brand new man.

For a moment,
Richard

 

photo by Robert Fischer

photo by Robert Fischer

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