|Photo/Art by Mel Allen|
Bei Dao (pseudonym of Zhao Zhenkai),one of China’s foremost poets of the "misty school," was born in 1949 in Beijing.
During the Cultural Revolution, Bei joined the Red Guard movement, like many other middle-class youth, however, he soon became disillusioned with Chinese society and was later sent to the countryside, where he became a construction worker. Living in total isolation in the mountains outside Beijing increased his youthful melancholy and prompted him and many of his contemporaries to explore a more spiritual approach to life.
Searching for a fresh poetics, many of China’s new writers of the Seventies experimented with "free verse" in a hermetic, semi-private language characterized by oblique, oneiric imagery and elliptical syntax. That linguistic style, in which subject, tense, and number are elusive and transitions are unclear, came to be called "menglong shi," or "misty poetry."
By 1974, Bei Dao had finished the first draft of his novella Waves and begun a sequence of poems. Those poems were to become a guiding beacon for the youth of the April Fifth Democracy Movement of 1976, in which thousands peacefully demonstrated in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Bei Dao’s poetry won instant recognition and a faithful following, especially among young readers.
In December 1978, Bei Dao and Mang Ke published the first issue of China’s first unofficial literary journal, Jintian [Today], which survived until Beijing officials shut it down in 1980.
Widely treasured by those who participated in China’s democracy movement, Bei Dao’s poetry is marked by the effort to reveal the nature of the self, to identify both public and private wounds, to trust in instinctive perceptions, and to reach out to other afflicted souls. It depicts the intimacy of passion, love, and friendship in a society where trust can literally be a matter of life and death.
He was forced into exile following the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. He, along with other exiled writers and artists, has found a voice in a renewed version of Jintian, which was re-launched in Stockholm in 1990. "Ironically, it is…this…position of an exile that has given Bei Dao new insights… His experience has translated into three volumes of poetry, each of which has earned more critical acclaim than the one before."
(c)1999, Stanford University
(Edited version, for complete bio click on link below)
Stanford University Bio/Interview
University of Arizona Interview
The Journal of the International Institute Interview
Quiet And Tremble
The Boat with a Red Sail
(Translated by the author with the assistance of
Chen Yan Bing and Diana Jaio)
you are drawing yourself
being born--light's rising
turning the paper-night
madness that you released
is quiet cast by truth
pride shines as if internal wounds
darken all the words
in secret trembling
those angels in uniforms
of a private school
become fish, querying sea
a wind reads ruts
saluting the blue silk beyond
© Bei Dao
(The Meng Long Shi Series)
(Translated by Gordon T. Osing
and De-An Wu Swihart)
If the ruins of the walls are all about,
how shall I insist
the only road is the one we're on?
Are you fooled into believing
the streetlights that fill the eyes
come out nightly like stars?
I won't deceive you anymore,
won't let your heart, like a trembling maple leaf,
be written all over with lies about Spring.
I can't comfort you anymore
because, after heaven and earth,
only time witnesses to our existence.
On the beach, where sands are pulverized darkness,
when the spray runs off our eye-lashes,
we see the sea behind it is boundless.
Still, however I want to say,
wait for the boat with a red sail, that brings the wind.
© Bei Dao
Viola Weinberg was born in Ashland, Oregon, and has lived
for many years in
She is author of three books of poetry, the most recent being The Sum Complexities of the Humble Field on Pennywhistle Press, Santa Fe. Her poetry has appeared extensively in journals, newspapers, magazines, and anthologies, including Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend and Ladies, Start Your Engines (both Faber & Faber, Boston & London.)
As a radio journalist, Weinberg worked for the legendary KZAP FM in Sacramento, KTIM FM in San Rafael, KCBS AM, and KALW FM and KQED FM in San Francisco. She was the founding Director of the International Fund for Photography, which hosts the Leica Award for Excellence. For several years, she worked with KVIE TV as a coordinating producer and researcher. In 1978, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the California Commission on the Status of Women.
In 1996, Viola Weinberg was awarded the Mayors Award, the highest recognition given artists in our region. Last year, she was runner up for the Thomas Wolfe Award for Fiction. This year, she has been named as one of two Poets Laureate of Sacramento city and county.
Bonfire in a Blizzard
The Seductive Scent of Paris
When I write, it’s like a bonfire in a blizzard—
A red highway undulating in the desert
With my ancestors stuck, mouth down in the asphalt
And dual exhaust pipes rumbling in the wind
And everything jerky and out of phase
Like at the movies when the projector jumps
Fast and nervous, almost out of the frame
And everything looks dead and pretty soon
You are talking to the dead with their black eyes
And pretty soon the dead are answering you
And suddenly, you look like the dead yourself
And you put your little black hat on and say
I’m a writer!
The blizzard in you lifts off like a rocket
And the stars blur and you are thrown up
Into the next dimension at the speed of sound
By the sound of flight, like a baseball in flight
Flight through the dark, coming down hard and cold
You draw back your bat and wham! Home run!
And every blow you ever felt is released and
Your whole life flashes before you in one second
And every good thing you did looks good
And every bad thing you did is small and
All the dark poems you never finished finally go out
A particular run that burns black holes
In the journal where every stolen word resides
Wake up, Honey, Wake Up!
Writing is bleeding, blood draining from the hand
Ink seeping into the vein with capillary succulence
A small, illusional fire called passion, intensity,
Gravity will make your hands flap over your heart
Drawn magnetically by the force of every stinking word
© 1999 Viola Weinberg
Is rarely sensed in this valley town
With its bumper-hugging dusty pick ups and
Dolled up blondes with pink nails
And its boys with caps on backward—
Living under the tent of their sagging pants.
But this morning, I waken to the smells
Of coffee in small cups at a certain temperature—
Trees whirring in the butter knife wind
A scent of mustard and chestnut leaves, autumn
Autumn in Paris, the end of tomato season here
The thought made me walk slowly
As if I were on my youthful way
To Victor Hugo’s apartment
This time with enough francs to climb the stair
Again, alone, as I always imagine myself
Alone among the poets and the planets, alone
Some how I have forgotten how lost I was
In that place, how mixed-up and angry and tired
A hick on the boulevard, forlorn and lonesome—
Shining and earnest with her quill dipped in ink
Brushing her hair in public to entice the Arab boys
What takes me there, so far from the field hands
And double axles and dirt bards of home?
Look, look at the size of my head!
Who do I think I am to be reveling in Paris?
I retreat to the bright corner of my suburban hermitage
I bring out the fountain pen and green ink
To write in the small embossed leather book
Of the same color I keep expressly for this—
And in this simple movement, I find my way
Back to the only address I have ever really known.
© 1999 Viola Weinberg
Dennis' reputation as an outstanding poet is International. Over his distinguished career, he has seen
hundreds of his poems published in magazines and anthologies. His list of awards and recognitions
include the di Castignola Award, the Shelley Memorial Award and the Pushcart Prize.
He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1978-79 and has been been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow three times. He has had six volumes of poetry published, including his most recent collection, About Night: Selected and New Poems.
Dennis has taught English at California State University, Sacramento for over thirty years. He was awarded the Mayor and Chair's Literary Fellowship in 1996.
Also, in February 2000, Dennis was appointed by the Sacramento City Council and Board of Supervisors as one of two Poets Laureate for Sacramento County.
The Truth Squad
Roped against the bridge-pier so that
his tired legs can scissor down
more compressor-hose, Chicago’s last
sand-blaster kicks from one grafittied
meaning to another, his free hand kneading
over his face a rubbery other face
& glassed eyeholes as the compressor
overhead accelerates into rapturous bursts.
It’s the same sexual noise he sucks
through the gritty mouthpiece, panting
as he works. Gang tags, laments & manifestos
crackle away under his pistol’s hissed-out
spellings. I read what he denies
from the next bridge over. Behind me,
all Dearborn Street is stalled paraphrasing
where its cars want to go. My own car’s
sideways across both lanes, your plea squawking
on the cell-phone. I’ve flipped
open the trunk for the spray-cans;
two cars back, another commando is beginning
to letter a Honda’s windshield.
Determined others rappel down the Wrigley
Building’s white sides.
At least one of us will write your secret.
© Dennis Schmitz
Straw into gold-- what’s technology’s
dwarf-name that our princess sent
out so many courtiers to recover?
The anthropologists brought back Ishi,
who took a whole day
to manipulate tule roots into a simple basket,
the too-short discards loose
against one lab wall ... & the same dwarf
in my laid-off neighbor told him to divide
his Volvo into six jobs he must do
before the aerospace industry would proper.
The dwarf must’ve lost the servo-drive--
for a whole June, the loose parts,
entrails of the Volvo’s electric window-lifts,
one gismo of lubricant-shiny gears
& glossy plastic like a tiara,
glittered in his yard’s yellowing grass.
If the neighbors I won’t name hadn’t kept
the baby they shouldn’t have tried to make,
I’d name the clinic that would’ve churned
it into ectoplasm by the title of this poem.
My neighbor’s face got redder
behind the wedged-shut glass
each time he drove the wife through
false labor. “Ishi” is ironic--
why did the whites name him “man”
in a language he didn’t know,
all of his tribe posthumous in the poor basket
he’d made, the “last California
wild Indian”-- the last speaker of his own
language, the curses of which he must’ve mumbled
into the cot mattress, above him in the lab night
bows, arrows, & many, many baskets he’d tried
for the tribe’s sake to make true ...
& who’ll ever know-- what if he had been Klutz,
the tribe’s worst weaver,
now dwarfed by what he had to do?
Whose riddle, whose child, whose gift?
© Dennis Schmitz
Rama Chambers is a poet and performance artist whose work has been
featured in several anthological works and literary publications that
include: Sacramento Voices, Origins and Politics and Poetry Now.
As a member of ZICA Creative Arts and Literary Guild, she has read her work in a wide range of creative spaces in the Sacramento area including The State Capitol, Art and Soul of Black Folklore Festival, Poets on the Patio, Poetry Unplugged and Poets On A Saturday Afternoon.
Four literary anthologies edited by Ms. Chambers were selected for inclusion in the Area Authors Room of the Sacramento Public Library.
In addition, Ms. Chambers has been a member of the cast in theatrical production at Chautauqua Playhouse, Sacramento Repertory Theatre and, The California Original Theater Company.
After the lights have dimmed,
Wind brushed leaves
Scatter into sedate drifts
Against rustic brick and ivy
To become literary murals
For poets to ponder
Near Campus Commons.
When the leaves of Cocteau
Become frayed at the edges
Like rare books reserved
In library vaults,
I press forward
To the sip of mint and scones,
Until I turn the last page
Curtain the lights
Passage to dreams.
© Rama Chambers
John has 25 years writing, publishing, teaching and editing experience.
He received his M.A. in American Literature from the City University of New York and has lectured in English language and literature at Brooklyn College, College of San Mateo, University of Malaya and College of the Redwoods.
He has worked for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency and American Book Company, been published by Esquire Magazine and Ace Books, and edited or ghostwritten dozens of books. He has published a magazine for letter writers, edited a newsletter for self-publishers, and currently writes a column for a Mendocino County newspaper, The Outlook.
He co-founded the Mendocino Festival of Books and conducted workshops in self-publishing for MSPA, Writers Connection, Festival of Books and the San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival. He is senior editor with Cypress House and Q.E.D. Press in Fort Bragg.
For fiction and non-fiction writers as well as poets, this workshop will explore whether you should consider self-publishing, its benefits and drawbacks, what it costs, where to cut corners and how to expand sales opportunities.
Self-publishing is not for everyone, but if you are willing to self-promote and have a good business sense as well as writing talent, you can make money and establish a reputation that may open doors to mainstream publishing houses.
Carol Frith is co-editor of the poetry journal, Ekphrasis.
Her poetry has appeared in Blue Unicorn, The Formalist, Poetry New York, Perihelion, Karamu, Baltimore Review, Slant, Cold Mountain Review, Owen Wister Review, Fox Cry, Iris, Sheila-na-gig, Sonoma Mandala, Comstock Review, Architrave, Plainsongs, Potpourri, River Oak Review, Kimera, Maryland Poetry Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, California Quarterly, Brownstone Review, Sulphur River Literary Review, Half Tones to Jubilee, Interim, The Lyric, Phoebe (NY), and others.
She has work scheduled to appear in Negative Capability, Cumberland Poetry Review, Spillway, Chariton Review, The Macguffin, & Faultline.
A finalist in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award sponsored by The Formalist in 1997, 1998 & 1999, Carol was awarded first place in the Blue Unicorn Open Competition, 1997, and third place in 1999. She was awarded third place in the 1999 Eve of St. Agnes Competition, Negative Capability, received an Honorable Mention in the 1999 Rainier Maria Rilke Competition, and was a semi-finalist in the 1999 Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition and in the 1999 Comstock Review Contest. She received an Honorable Mention in the 1999 New Millennium Contest, was a recipient of the Poets Hall of Fame Award for the 1999 Sacramento International Poetry Festival and was awarded second place in the Friends of the Library Contest, 2000.
Virgin Night Witch
The Stutter of True Rain
Pity the virgin night witch
She is vegetable in her lusts.
Her hair is ivy
and her hands are fern.
She never sleeps.
She blooms at dusk
and fruits in the dark.
Follow her into an unconditional
The unblemished harlot
in the garden,
she will garland you with lilies
and lead you into secret
She is genital chaos.
Her touch will root
your passions to the earth
where you will grow
six thousand years,
striving in the solitary
© Carol Frith
in our long bodies,
we are like orchids
tattooed with mildew
and slippery in the dark.
We vocalize, rocking
in our skins.
The air crackles
with brash static,
a ragged carillon
leaching through flesh,
stain the sheets
with tannin, and we
roll through the wet
warm mold of our dreams.
When the rain is over
we will surface, blowing
bubbles like a deathsong.
© Carol Frith
A graduate of San Francisco State University (where he also did his
postgraduate work); Laverne co-edits the poetry journal Ekphrasis. He
regular monthly poetry columnist in a regional magazine and co-author
Practical Poetry-A Guide for Poets.
His chapbook, In a Fast Food Place, was released from Talent House Press in December 1999.
He was also a recipient of the Poets Hall of Fame Award for the 1999 Sacramento International Poetry Festival.
In 2000, he won the Nostalgia Poetry Award and was a finalist in the Atlanta Review 2000 International Poetry Competition.
Laverne's poetry has been accepted or appeared in many publications, including Poetry New York, The Christian Science Monitor, The Montserrat Review, California Quarterly, The Dalhousie Review, Perihelion, Potpourri, Architrave, Maryland Poetry Review, Poetpourri, Sonoma Mandala, Lucid Stone, Phase & Cycle, River King Poetry Supplement, Small Pond, Iota, Green's Magazine, Daybreak, New Laurel Review, Kimera and The Acorn.
Around The Magnolia Tree
Morning Light Over Endert's Beach
this June, there is a battlefield;
leaf-bodies lie in random scatter
in various states of disrepair
the whites of their flesh, even
their marrow, on full display
so many of their comrades, still hanging
from the tree, still bearing the
full dread of summer, no longer
wishing for a relieving breeze
these are the browned ones,
already filled with too much exposure
the war, as usual, has been unkind
taking no responsibility, few prisoners
© Laverne Frith
(near Crescent City, Del Norte County)
-- after a photograph
Before the horizon releases the sun,
early light glows in the inland streams,
a blue meander through the flats
and all about the small rock island,
half buried in green moss.
Beyond, it is brighter still
and out to sea.
Between island and shore, there are
footprints and other ways
the days are forced to remember.
© Laverne Frith
Phil Goldvarg is a poet and artist in Sacramento, CA.
He's a member of the Zapatista Solidarity Coalition, Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol and Z-rail poets.
He's been published in Ventanan Abierta-Revista Latina, Drum Voices Review, Voz de Zapatistas, Rice & Beans etc.
He has been featured in many poetry readings, read poetry in the schools and worked with students and teachers in a search for the magic of poetry.
Drums For Peltier
The Ugly American -
drums for Peltier,
hands slap the skin,
over old skin,
the drumming of feet
on mother earth,
she drums back in contentment,
deep voice of love,
drumming for Peltier
across the night,
sunrise and sunset,
drumming ocean waves of hope,
crashing the rocks of injustice,
put them hands on the skin,
new skin over old skin,
seven generation skin,
we go on beating,
we are the skin
drum echoes dance Paha Sapa,
repair the circles,
all relation drums,
hand in hand,
arm in arm,
wall of voice
calling for freedom,
handing him the drum,
the skin of our soul,
beating the drum
for us and Peltier.
© Phil Goldvarg
you want to get out of the directives
you want your own Isla,
we got it,
like when we sailed into Manila,
took over la agua, la tierra
how you like my spanish,
used the dictionary,
that's all I need to know".
Entonces Estados Unidos,
the directives are eating
our Isla Nena,
pero, we still got it,
la tierra con deep wounds
that bleed into
las almas de nosotros,
we are lovers,
no matter what the face looks like,
que hermosa mi Isla,
you look for excuse to bomb and burn,
tu eres Columbus en mascara,
Taino flesheater con sonrisa malo,
you place sickness in the lungs
of our ninos,
feed them death before birth,
y las madres con lagrimas
y leche kissed
by corporate munition makers,
profit at any price,
war game testing at any price,
1492 otra vez,
pero, we will not disappear,
we will not lay en su cama sucio,
somos juntos en la lucha,
your directives are paper,
somos sangre fuerte,
grito de generations,
we direct this palabra to you,
it is sharp and unbending,
we will not move
from La Isla Vieques.
© Phil Goldvarg
was born and raised in Sacramento.
He attended Pitzer College in Claremont California, graduated and then moved to Zimbabwe where he worked, lived, and wrote for the past three years.
He has been published in "Drumming Between Us."
His poems center on the theme of truth: its telling, revealing, and living, through love and unavoidable suffering.
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky has published her poems widely, including in
Daughter's, Paterson Literary Review, Shiela Na Gig, Crab Creek
in the anthology Essential Love.
Her poetry collection, "red clay is talking" came out from Scarlet Tanager Books last year.
In her day job she is a Jungian analyst with a practice in Berkeley.
in the junction
From "red clay is talking"
and the fall
things come to a sudden
in the middle
shrieks--the conductor is
shouting: "princeton junction!"
my mother is sitting on the suitcases
as though she's just gotten off
behind us a city world
before us--bright meadows
my mother will be laughing
among the women
i've not yet crossed
the swinging bridge
become a wild horse
kicked up a glory
of red and yellow fallen leaves--
nor have i found the secret lap
of the oak tree
the long slow language of the afternoon
sun tangled in the green
and something hovering
beyond my tongue
© Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
From "red clay is talking"
when your soul finally
caught up with you
opened all the doors and windows
which had been everything
your people your sky
your house your earth
there were children in it
maybe a cave
where an old woman waits for you
how do you know you're not
the dark dank smell
the niche carved
for a god
the light of the candle throwing huge
maybe she was never
in your dream
maybe she's been sitting here
waiting for the moment
when the world you are in
© Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
Tim McKee is a Sacramento poet and author of "No More
Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa,"
which was chosen as an Honor Book for the 1999 Jane
Addams Book Award.
He went to Princeton and has a masters degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, has worked as a high school teacher in South Africa, a journalist and also a grant writer.
In addition he has just finished recording his first full-length spoken word CD, "Letter from an Alien", with Sacramento musician Rusty Miller.
I spend my days in fields of sage,
Gathering stems and bouquets
For the poems I will write
When my basket is full,
When the sun has slid back behind earth's eyelids
And the night descends
With the blackness
That lights my soul
And moves my pen.
Wildcrafting in this field of madness
I scan for daisies and lavender sunbeams:
The smiles of children twirling on carnival ferris wheels,
The airport embraces of fathers and sons,
The glow of puddles after nights of rain,
The guitarist sitting on an overturned soapbox,
Winter's shouts mere notes floating on Spring's breeze.
How I wish that was all I see.
But the weeds grow tall here
In this land of slanted sunshine,
They sprout out of plastic and concrete
And spread their dark fruits
As if fire on gasoline.
Wildcrafting I find
Women turning away to hide bruised cheekbones,
Children dragging tears behind them like anchors,
Soiled mattresses and 8 a.m. alcoholic sways,
Sneers etched on the faces of angels,
Weeds that in seconds
Can strangle the fragile blossoms
I have gathered
In the straw basket
That is my poet's heart.
I have no choice but to throw these nettles in,
To sing their songs because so few will.
And so my poems are broken-
But alas, so are we.
© Tim McKee
I've been working here for four years,
She says as she rings up
At small town America 7-11;
Do you know that necklace
Comes from my country,
The one I remember by the Amharic words
My grandmother used to whisper
While I bounced on her knee?
The one of burning maize
And early morning cow milkings
When I learned how much better
Makes anything taste?
I don't know these anymore.
I only know cash register
And time clock horizons,
I only know selling cigarettes
Is the best way to see George Washington
And to watch for masturbating men
By the magazine rack.
I only know
Africa from famine
Screamed on the television
As I lay down to sleep
After nine hour shifts.
I only know my brown skin
And what I know you must see in my eyes.
May more customers
Bring me pieces of the old world
So that I may remember
I used to hear
© Tim McKee
Joshua McKinney is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Permutations of the
Gallery (winner of the 1996 Pavement Saw Chapbook Contest) and Saunter (Primitive
His work has appeared widely in magazines such as American Letters & Commentary, Boulevard, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, International Quarterly, Poetry International, and many others.
He was born on an Iowa farm and grew up in the mountains and high desert of northern California where he worked seasonally as a fire fighter for the United States Forest Service. He has also lived in Japan where he earned a black belt in kendo and taught English as a Second Language.
He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Denver. Currently, he teaches at California State University - Sacramento.
A Theory of Consequence
Blossoms and leaves can’t staunch the light
that left the straightened gardens bent. Nor can sight
unhinge itself from the dark stain spread beneath
the trees. What’s ample now is long in the teeth
soon enough the classics say. They name death night
and tuck it in. The bare limbs break; a man turns right
at a fork in the road. He meets his father and fights
to pass into the city. As if his keenest eyes bequeath
blossoms and leaves
to a familiar world. We know the tale, the blight
that lay like frost upon the land. And it might
be enough for us, if this irony, belief,
were brilliant fruit instead of bread, if grief
were not a mighty empire, which at its height
blossoms and leaves.
© Joshua McKinney
There is a theory that the material world
reasserts itself near the end. Hence, to learn
to pay attention is a virtue. Bored,
waiting for my interest to return,
I spent the afternoon aloft on the high-
tiered hay, watching a pair of barn owls stare
down from the rafters. Near dark, when the sky
seemed to descend and I was suddenly aware
of the frogs trilling in the irrigation ditch,
one bird rose, beat its wings and flew away.
Then all was still. I could not say which
stayed behind, female or male. But one stayed.
Then I climbed down and passed beneath the one,
and knew fear and was glad again. Though you were gone.
© Joshua McKinney
Jose Montoya is one of the Chicano movement's most respected artists
Born in New Mexico and growing up in Central California, he witnessed the struggles of migrant farm workers firsthand. He inevitably joined in the labor organizing efforts with César Chávez and the United Farm Workers movement. The UFW strife was the beginning of Montoya's steadfast commitment to the artist as provocateur and his unwavering dedication to artistic activism.
In 1970, Montoya co-founded a cultural collective known as The Royal Chicano Air Force, who use art as a tool to teach Chicano history to young people.
Best known for his highly acclaimed poem, "El Louie," Montoya influenced several generations of poets by incorporating Spanish, English and barrio slang in his poetry.
Montoya is the author of three collections of poetry, including the highly acclaimed In Formation: 20 Years of Joda, and is featured in more than 40 anthologies and a recipient of the Poets Hall of Fame Award for the 1999 Sacramento International Poetry Festival.
He is currently working on a new book of poetry and short stories.
Montoya is also a well-established musician and artist. A mural by Montoya and the RCAF can be seen in San Diego's Chicano Park.
The Bar Drawings
I find myself fending off the temptation to
Write algo about my bar drawings-it be easy, ese,
Too easy, ese, an' ah se, pa que, ese? And
I tells me, they "write" themselves whatever
Needs to be writ-the bar is the bar-well, not
Quite that easy, ese. Each type of bar being
Unique writes itself uniquely, 's wot I'm saying,
Ese-and even that ain't so extraordinary.
But my bars are by the simple virtue of how I
Came to drinking, very special. My joints are those
Four-corner country bars and grills where the growers
Drink at one end of the bar and the campesinos are
A nuisance but it's peak harvest so they're allowed to
To be rowdy at the Back end of the bar.
And I enjoy the honky-tonky dance bars out in
The boonies where red necked cowboys resent wigged
Blond bombers two-stepping with skinny Tejanos, these,
Y los congales del varrio, dives, where my type of
Freaks frequent, er, hang out. Y ni pa' que have it any
Other way, buey!
But, understand, now, that that doesn't mean I
Won't to go to a nice club-be it a lounge lizard at the
Hi Ritz or even the Hyatt if there's no boycott, and
Have me my shot of Cuervo gold and Bud chaser-and
Even, si senor,- even do a drawing or two there as
Well. Indeed, in these barras jaitonas, I might even
Order a Manhattan up, or a shot of Johnny Walker
Red Label water-back the way my 'ol pal Alegria
Taught me "bout serious drinking in New York and
Puerto Rico on a reading jira back in '79.
But, no...las cantinas del varrio and skid-row bars,
They're my best bet. There the drawings write themselves.
© Jose Montoya 1999
When I was
All the un-domed
Charming towns like
Kingsburg and Sanger -
I was lazy
From a family
Of clean pickers
The pride of
Any Fijikawa or
Saroyanesque Krikor -
Five hundred trays
And the day barely
Two thirds along
But everyone said I was
I knew. Bout how I knew!
Why I was easy
On the clusters -
I was too quick to
Sadden at the sight
Of the green, iridescent worm
Scorching itself in the
Hot, planed-for-trays, sand.
And knowing I had something
To do with its death
And rather than
I remained lazy
Sitting under the vines
Imagining what my reactions
Would be to some similar
Intolerable le panic!
Upon my head
Stabs of color
On the roof
Of my skull - and
A child-young urge
Upon the burning sand,
I remained lazy.
And the family
Didn't make as much
Money That summer
In the valley of the San Joaquin.
But the worms, the wasps, and the
Black widow spiders - for a short
Time, at least - frolicked
Cooly in that green-leaf world
Beneath the sun.
© Jose Montoya 1969
Judith Tannenbaum serves as Training Coordinator for the
Writers Corps program in San Francisco. For over 25 years she has
poetry to prisoners, public school youth at all grade levels,
continuation high school students, and gifted teenagers in a summer
program at UC Berkeley.
She has written extensively on issues of community art and cultural democracy and is the author of Teeth, Wiggly as Earthquakes: Writing Poetry in the Primary Grades, one book, four chapbooks, and a portfolio of her poems.
She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Time It Takes
In Autumn Light
Her hands cup the white bowl
Porcelain filled with petals
Rose scent and lavender color
She gives the time it takes to watch
Those petals purple the water they float in
Blue, indigo, violet
The word “unfolding”
Which the world does
When you add time
The breeze lifts the curtain behind her
Sun falls through that gauze, casts
Leaf shapes on the wood floor
The smell of redwood, the smell of pine
Her shoulder warmed by the sun
That warmth also steeping
Through flesh and freckles, bone and below
Now her belly is warm
And her thigh covered with shadows
The bowl still in her hands
Mid-summer, late afternoon
The sun disappearing
Blue, indigo, violet
And then the black dark of night.
© Judith Tannenbaum
In autumn light
one madrone in a field.
A girl sits in the V,
the two arms of this tree.
What was, what is, what might be
all now. Late September.
A girl in shorts and a shirt
in this tree in a field
with light falling low,
more auburn than gold.
© Judith Tannenbaum
Angelo Williams, writer, poet, musician
and community activist.
A native of Los Angeles, Mr. Williams is an honors graduate of Crenshaw High School as well as the University of California at Davis where he earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology (Law and Society) and African and African American Studies.
He is a well read and traveled scholar with attendance at the University of Ghana in West Africa, the University of Michigan and in Port au Prince, Haiti as a visiting student scholar.
He has won research and work scholarships including two terms as a University of California Minorities in Undergraduate Research in Letters and Science Scholar, a National Undergraduate Research Scholar (Kalamazoo, Michigan) KCRA's (Ch. 3) Minority Media Scholarship and The Sacramento Bee's Journalism and Media Scholarship.
In addition he has also worked as a top 40 radio public affairs talk show host (1035FM Sacramento), for SmithLine Public Relations, and as a reporter, staff writer and intern for The Source Magazine, The Sacramento Observer, The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Sacramento News and Review, the University of California Newspapers, and also worked as a foreign correspondent for Le Journal Libete (Haiti) and Horizon Magazine (West Africa).
"In the Tradition"
Exploring the nexus between words and sounds through jazz and poetry.
Workshop participants will learn about syncopation and rhythm, their relations to words and the art of rhyming.
The process of mimicry and improvisation will be discussed and a selected history of jazz and poetry will be presented.
Bring your favorite poems, paper and pens to explore your personal voice, sound and poetic rhythm.
Specific instruction will be given on the history of words and sounds (poetry and jazz), tapping into your personal poetic sound and its meaning, as well as audio visual examples of blending poetry and music by poet Amiri Baraka.