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Archive for September, 2008

DESERT ISLAND JAZZ with Alisa Clancy | Al Young on KCSM 91.1 FM, The Jazz Station, 26 September 2008

Saturday, September 27th, 2008




Al Young’s life journey has already been a full one, from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where he was born, to Detroit, where he was raised, to the Bay Area, where he’s been resident for—can it be?—over four decades. Though geographically he’s traveled even more widely—to Europe, India and Australia, for example—his works have traveled further still, having been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and half a dozen or more European languages. Back when writing didn’t pay the bills, he was variously a folk singer, lab assistant, disc jockey, medical photographer, clerk-typist and employment counselor: this jack-of-all-trades has mastered quite a few.

In the early ’70s Al was the Edward B. Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University. His awards, appointments and honors are too numerous to mention, including Guggenheim, Fulbright NEA Fellowship, and two American Book Awards; and his books include novels, collections of poetry, essays, memoirs and anthologies.

In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Al Young first Poet Laureate of California.


Al and Alisa Clancy at KCSM-FM broadcast studios   |   Michael Burman

 KCSM-FM Desert Island Jazz link for this program with Alisa Clancy



Thursday, September 25th, 2008

As time encircles and recycles itself,
mirror likenesses thicken and fog up.
If you have trouble finding yourself,
start looking elsewhere. The sky —
not only is it not the limit, it opens
and dares you to look up who you are.
Mountains and mountains and mountains
— they’re you. Great Lakes you take
to be out there someplace look like you,
splash and churn and shine like you.
The world beyond washed flesh is you.
Light dries your eyes; one blink can melt
illusion, dissolve the frame that says:
“I look at you and see no evidence of me.”

Al Young

Copyright © 2008 by Al Young





Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Go to the original

New Documentary on Pinochet’s Dictatorship: Some Wounds Should Not Heal

By Debra Watson
25 September 2008


General Pinochet (1915-2006) and his alleged human rights advisor

The Judge and the General tells the story of recent efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of horrific acts of political repression committed three decades ago under Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet. In their documentary, co-directors Elizabeth Farnsworth, a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) correspondent, and Patricio Lanfranco weave together historical film footage and poignant and informative interviews with individuals victimized by the regime and those who have fought for justice for the victims.

Both filmmakers were in Chile in the early 1970s. The military coup against democratically elected president Salvador Allende occurred on September 11, 1973, and began with the shelling of the presidential palace in Santiago by the military plotters. Allende, the long-time leader of the Socialist Party, was killed.

The film has been shown at various film festivals in the US and in Latin America and aired on PBS’s “POV” in August.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, thousands of individuals were killed or disappeared in an unprecedented campaign of criminal terror by the Chilean army and police. The country’s intelligence service, DINA, formed under the dictatorship with the assistance of the American CIA, directed a massive campaign of arrest, torture and murder against opponents of the military regime.



Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Listening to our Winter Soldiers

May we speak clearly here may we talk
about poising ourselves on the border
between Kuwait and Iraq with the voice
of President Bush screaming into our ear
that Saddam Hussein and his evasive weapons
of mass destruction send us house to house
in search of any insurgency that will lead us
to the man of the house get him out of bed
and sometimes we catch them exposed
in their night garments which was embarrassing
even though eight out of ten times families
this is all they were families not insurgents
so a lot of these raids were not productive
we were going in there disrupting their lives
shoot everybody an old man a few children
and a woman we do not know who the enemy is
but they do know who we are so if the US hadn’t
been there my daughter would still be alive then
the majority of US soldiers do not fit in we do
not fit in most of us are not Muslim we are told to give
these people democracy and the bottom line most
US soldiers aren’t seen as peace-keepers but as invaders
animosity growing the solution to remove us and
ourselves from Iraq so now the message to Congress
you can stand with Bush or you can stand with the American
people deploy improvised explosive devices security
element casualty development point look for weapons
look for literature in every closet you’re looking for
even though you can’t read Arabic bang a sledge hammer
in a wall to make it sound like an explosive soften
them up for interrogation the majority of prisoners
in the wrong place at the wrong time sometimes
they got turned in because of family feuds thinking
we’ll put an end to war the way Buffy Sainte-Marie’s
“Universal  Soldier” of your green Chapala days
the  world flaring up in flames hate-ignorance ignites
new energy splashing into our world where you kill
the mother by shooting drive-by into a moving car
by shocking three surviving daughters fatherless

Al Young

Copyright © 2007 and 2008 by Al Young





Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Here in September already you feed
on lean November light, world at your feet,
the summer of your needy slowing shows.

So where if anywhere does autumn fit?
What do we harvest now that time is short?
How can mute light affect the ways we think?

The light and the dark: fall, a falling, equinox.
In San Francisco light the subtlety of change:
about a two-week shift from one to the other.

Some people will get sick during this time,
people often die at dawn or at dusk: transition –
a good time to reflect, reorganize or focus

on sadness (seasonal affective disorder) looking
backward or forward toward winter and hibernation,
where what you see going on sometimes

you really don’t want to look at or feel.
Full fall. How do you work with this? West and
the setting sun. Tune in what’s going on

in nature. Eat seasonally. Farmer’s market.
Not too much fruit anymore, but peppers, beets,
carrots, root veggies. What’s growing, what’s ripe?

Fruit ripens to root: the clue to what will grow
back into the body as plant; herbal, tonics,
digestive, muscular-skeletal, liver, immunity.

Light freezes dark, soft tendrils harden, a mattress
of sky turns, leaves smother the dew that piles
upon your planted summer loves. You bless daylight.

Al Young

 Copyright © 2007 and 2008 by Al Young



Rhae Lynn Barnes, Editor

Click on image or click right here to study up on Berkeley Poetry Review, where Al Young’s “May We Speak Clearly Here” and “You See How Seasons Twist Those Caught in Them” recently appeared.