Al Young title

Archive for October, 2009


Tuesday, October 20th, 2009


Who are you that you prompt such ready poetry,
your hands at my back in a hug already famous?
Kiss the butter from my lips, October. Toast us.

— Al Young,

“Like Butter”

from Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons

(Poems 2001-2006)


IMG_0645 © Kent & Cindy Crockett



Photo-collage ©



The samba chorus line for Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños del Son (salsa, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban) jump-kicks Sunday into action on the Latin Stage at the Art & Soul Festival in Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland 2009. | Photo: Al Young

Luciano, Al, Valeria, Walter @ Art & Soul 2 CIMG0023

A vacationing Luciano Federighi — eminent scholar of African American culture and longtime translator of Al Young’s books in Italy — enjoys a Blues Stage afternoon at Oakland’s Art & Soul with Al. Seated directly behind them: Valeria Federighi, Luciano and Rita’s songster-architect daughter, and her boyfriend Walter Patella.  | © Rita Federighi



Another POV  |  Photo: PC Mack


© Walter Patella

Valeria Federighi, Al Young, Rita Federighi, Luciano Federighi at the entrance to the Cathedral of Christ the Light by Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

view from orcas room

The portion of Puget Sound that Al faced when he stepped out onto his deck at Cascade Harbor Inn on Orcas Island off the coast of Seattle. | Al Young


(L-R) Jody Gladding, Matthew Goodman, Ellen Lesser, Deb Lund,
Al Young, Barbara Lewis, Diane Lefer, Rik Nelson, Nance Van Winckel, Brian Lewis — and way in the background at piano onstage:
Ron Myers
________________________________ thanks the savvy, practiced waitress who herded the Orcas Island Writers Festival faculty and staff into position to capture this mellow after-dinner moment at the popular Ecotopian Restaurant & Theater.


© Susan Slapin


To demonstrate the call-and-response dynamic of African American cultural tradition, Al Young preaches James Weldon Johnson‘s sermon-poem, The Creation, urging the audience to respond aloud to the sounded text. This was a way of getting readers of Zora Neale Hurston‘s celebrated novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, to experience one of countless ways in which the oral and the aural intertwine, which is where community begins.



© Susan Slapin

As seductive a flautist as he is a pianist, clarinetist and saxophonist, Martin Lund beguiles a foot-tapping Al and the Saturday night Orcas Island Writers Festival audience. After meeting for the first time and 15 minutes of rehearsal, the two artists delivered a stirring 90-minute show of poetry, jazz and song.


P1100034 © Susan Slapin

Floating on the charged sea-clouds of Martin Lund’s piano, Al, adrift in song, reminds the hushed crowd and himself that the moment alone exists, and that there can be no such place as “away.” To Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein’s “All the Things You Are” he and Martin storm heaven.


© Craig Strang

“How lucky can I be to have this beautiful man as my friend!” poet-anthologist Persis Karim writes in her Facebook album, Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn. Her husband Craig captured this shot in the post-equinox light of a September morning in their Berkeley backyard. Al was Persis’ teacher in Community Studies in the 1980s at UC Santa Cruz. Both writers have become passionate tomato gardeners.
[Persis Karim at]

P1010005 © Al Young

Bananas, tomatoes: unbeatable beauty

P1100200© Susan Slapin

“A note from Madroña Land … ” (Orcas Island, WA |  October 2009)

P10100311-300x225 © Sally Walker

Al Young with poet and kora player Kurt Lamkin in performance at Ashley Hall (Charleston, SC), where they were featured October 5 in the 100-year-old girl preparatory school’s Guest Writers Program.


Poet and world traveler Kurt Lamkin, playing the 21-string West African kora, holds a student and faculty audience rapt as he recites and sings his poetry in Recital Hall at Charleston’s stately Ashley Hall.   |   Al Young


©  Barbara Allega

Al Young with Nick Bozanic, poet and Dean of Faculty, on a rainy Monday morning at Ashley Hall, South Carolina’s only all-girl college preparatory school, now celebrating its 100th anniversary.

P1010026-500x369 Al Young

Backed by the compelling shrine of an office bulletin board, poet Nick Bozanic, Ashley Hall’s Dean of Faculty, reflects on his wife and sons and his student days and teaching life in Europe and Hawai’i.

P1010041-225x300 PC Mack          P1010038-300x225

Captive in flight, Al makes the most of a storm-plagued journey from Charleston to Jackson, Mississippi.



© Al Young

The Fairview Inn, where Al Young will stay and join fellow novelists Clyde Edgerton and Alice Elliott Dark for two days of panels, talks and readings for Mississippi high school students bussed statewide to the Millsaps College campus for the ongoing Eudora Welty Centennial Celebration.


P1010065 Al Young

Alexandra Franklin, a Jackson Prep junior — 2009 winner of the national gold key and American Voices Award as well as the Scholastic Art and Writing Award — reads her short short story, “The Rites of Spring” to kindred high schoolers and other visitors to Millsaps College.



Al Young

P1010128 Al Young

Millsaps honors graduate Katie Hamm, who currently manages the Visitors Center for Eudora Welty House.



Al Young took this flashless shot of Eudora Welty reading “Why I Live at the P.O.,” her celebrated short story, during a screening of the rarely viewed 1975 PBS documentary at the Ford Academic Complex Recital Hall at Millsaps College, Jackson, MS



Al Young

Mike Craver and Clyde Edgerton in their brilliant two-man performance of The Bible Salesman, Edgerton’s latest novel whose naive title character hires himself out to an itinerant car thief.


(L-R) Novelist Clyde Edgerton, Welty biographer Suzanne Marrs, Al Young, filmmaker and Welty Foundation head Jeanne Luckett, and novelist Alice Elliott Dark (Jackson, MS, October 2009)   © C.B. Carroll


Michael & guitarist Johnny Echols by Kara Wright © Kara Wright

Michael Young with Johnny Echols at Spaceland, L.A., November 2009. “There was a Love reunion show with original guitarist Johnny Echols,” Michael writes, “and the later incarnation of the band that Arthur Lee toured with before he passed. They were smokin’!” Photographer Kara Wright adds: “What a memorable night.”



Thursday, October 15th, 2009



On another October day when heat raged
in San Francisco and home-eating fires
attacked Southern California, you, in love again,
stepped out into the glory of another afternoon.

Clutched in the utterly solar caress
of this endless embrace, you saw yourself.
In everyone you greeted or benignly ignored
you saw the same unending birth of light
die on daylight savings time. You saw
the steps you’d have to take to move
from momentariness back into eternity.

You wandered into this dwindling October,
where you’ve dwelled for ages. Eternity
and maternity share more than earth-
churning cycles; both turn on the moment
just ended. Each spins on the moment just begun.

Never out of step, advancing Pied Piper style,
her slowing march on winter made a rat out of you.
Almost over now, October spread herself
across the landscape, cocksure of getting over.

As warming to the eye as to your touch, October,
moreover, no stranger to the flash and shimmer
of gold and burnt sienna, red and sunburst
green, October reminded. “Time may have
a stop,” she said, “but life does not. Life goes.”
And at her gung-ho go-away party, you hoisted
your glass: “To moist October, quencher of flame.”

© 2006 by Al Young
from Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006


Lisa Kwong: TWO POEMS

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009



Boys ask for dates,
but only because they want to mock you.
The fake suitor approaches,
grin dripping with malice,
behind him, his posse
ready to snicker.
They want you to say yes,
see your pudgy face
swallow your brief smile,
then flood with tears
as they oink at you
and hit you on the head
with pencils.

When you’re with friends,
you can never say aloud
“I need to lose weight”
without them being silent, awkward
like the squirrel contemplating
how to leap across a river
without drowning.
Or someone will say
“Oh you’re not that big.”
The girl half your size
can say she’s fat, and she will be
showered with consolation
and complimented on how she is pretty
just the way she is.

Your family constantly laments
losing the pixie version of you,
“What happened? You used to be so cute!”
Aunts ask your weight
and pinch your jiggly arm
as if it were a slab of meat
ready for slicing.
Your parents tell you
that you could be so beautiful
if you’d only lose that second chin
and big bellybutton,
not knowing they’ve made you
feel ugly as a skunk.
But even after all this fuss,
they still fill up your dinner plate
and give you an extra chicken leg.

© 2009 by Lisa Kwong





Camera flashes,
artificial stars gone like
fame’s lusty glory.

Rumors, ripped magic
carpets, crowd the air, their threads
twisting and turning.

Lonely man takes night
walks, hopes for conversation,
goes home empty-souled.

Gossip, words with black
wings flying across blue skies,
sears friendship’s clasped hands.

Slave to fame can’t see
ghosts creeping in the hallways
of his lonely heart.

Lies, fishnets of hurt,
flood life until the truth is
shipwrecked, buried, forgotten.

A cracked mirror, fame
shows him the scum, flashes love,
then takes it away.

© 2009 by Lisa Kwong


Lisa Kwong received a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Her poems have appeared in Ishmael Reed’s Konch,, Floyd County Moonshine, and The Sleuth, a magazine dedicated to all things Nancy Drew. As a poetry ambassador, she has organized
National Poetry Month
readings since 2004.
A student of classical clarinet, Lisa Kwong
currently lives, works, and writes in the New River Valley of Virginia.



Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


Lara-Stone-by-Hedi-Slimane © Hedi Slimane


Lara Stone

© Steven Klein

20091013_threeup_560x375 © Steven Klein | Vogue

In a photo-shoot styled by editor Carine Roitfeld, Steven Klein has captured Dutch supermodel Lara Stone in several poses — all in oldtime Hollywood blackface — for the current (October) Supermodel Issue of French Vogue.

Check out the hubbub and buzz at The Cut, at, and at Hip Hop Blips


seabrook Courtesy photo

Al Jolson: Early 20th century minstrel of stage and screen


Harry-Connick-Jr-about-to-001 Harry Connick, Jr.

© Robert Pitts / Empics Entertainment

Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed
by Australia’s blackface Jackson 5
— U.K. Guardian


images © YouTube

“Hey Hey It’s Saturday!”
Video clip of Australia’s Jackson Jive


whoopi_goldberg ©

Whoopi Goldberg and ABC-TV’s The View take on
the Jackson Jive


MERCEDES SOSA (9 July 1935-4 October 2009)

Saturday, October 10th, 2009


Go to the WSWS original

Links laid in at


Photo ©

Mercedes Sosa, 1935-2009

By D. Lencho

|World Socialist Web Site|

10 October 2009

Latin American music lost one of its greatest exponents with the death of Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa last Sunday. The singer’s career, which spanned over five decades, came to fruition during one of the most critical periods in the continent’s history.

Born on July 9, 1935 in the town of San Miguel de Tucumán of French and Quechuan parents, Haydée Mercedes Sosa sang from an early age, winning first place at a contest sponsored by a local radio station at the age of 15. The prize was a two-month contract with the station, and was to mark the beginning of her professional career.

Though Sosa began as a singer of popular material, by the early 1960s, she and her first husband Manuel Oscar Matus became attracted to the nueva canción movement. The rich and varied field of Latin American folk music had earlier been explored by such pivotal artists as fellow Argentinean Atahualpa Yupanqui and the Chilean Violeta Parra. (One of Sosa’s best-loved interpretations, “Gracias a la Vida,” was written by Parra.) Nueva canción—also variously known as nuevo canto and nueva trova—extended these explorations.

One characteristic of the Latin American folk music movement of the 1960s that distinguished it from its equivalent in the US was its greater use of Amerindian—especially Andean—styles and musical instruments like the charango (a double-coursed five-string instrument traditionally made from an armadillo shell), the pan pipe zampoña, the notched flute quena and percussion instruments like the palo de lluvia (rain stick), uñas (goat toes sewed onto a cloth or leather loop) and bombó (a bass drum that could either be carried or played while seated). The European nylon stringed guitar, however, has always been a prominent component.

Over time, nueva canción would embrace influences from other sources, like urban black Peruvian music, North American folk, rock, jazz, Caribbean, African and even classical influences.

Young musicians absorbed and transformed these influences, eventually adding their own original melodies and lyrics. Sosa’s robust and expressive voice was well-suited to the instrumentation and styles, and she quickly became known as a prime interpreter of nueva canción.

Nueva canción’s influence has been incalculable, and it can still be heard, not only in Latin America, but in the US and Europe as well.