Al Young title

Archive for April, 2010


Sunday, April 18th, 2010
ladder into the skyj0433152 Button-Play-32x32
bob-hass © Steve Rhodes | Creative Commons

Robert Hass: U.S. Poet Laureate Emeritus

spkr-icon Poem for My Younger Brother
Listen to Robert Hass read his moving elegy, broadcast April 15th in interview with Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air

thich nhat hanh Button-Play-32x32 Poems of the right hand’

Thich Nhat Hanh: Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and peace activist. His life-long efforts to generate peace and reconciliation moved Martin Luther King, Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.



TS Eliotspkr-icon Listen

April is the cruellest month …”
T.S. Eliot

ay-with-glasses-2007 Photo: Jean Weisinger

“April is the coolest month.”
Al Young



View video clips
2010 California POETRY OUT LOUD finals
~ California Arts Council posts students’ performances (via Senate TV) at YouTube


Video clips of the 27 competitors in the California Poetry Out Loud state finals are available to view on YouTube. Browse through the list of students below (organized by rounds and in the order of their recitation on March 15) by clicking on their name for the video, or on the poem for the text from the Poetry Out Loud website. The contest was viewed by a capacity crowd in the state Senate chamber and gallery, and by thousands statewide through a Cal Channel broadcast. (See archived webcast from Cal Channel of entire competition. PART 1 and PART 2.)



Hissa Photo © AP

Hissa Hilal recites one of her poems

Arab Idol: Veiled Woman Rises In TV Poetry Contest ~ NPR

Female poet uses ‘Arabic Idol’ to attack Muslim clerics
~ UK Telegraph

Poetry & Literature ~ Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority



Is the rose a red love poem?

rose Button-Play-32x32


a ghazal unpacked
(poetry freed from its paper-cage)

present-birthday-cake spkr8

‘April poet birthday-babies put the verve in the verse this cruellest month’
— Jannie Dresser (SF


al-young-kim-addonizio-2007 Photos © Jean Weisinger

Poets Al Young and Kim Addonizio

spkr-icon Hear Al Young deliver at

  • Poet By Starlite ~ an online interview with Kim Addonizio at Fringe Magazine

  • LuciferAtTheStarlite

    LUCIFER AT THE STARLITE: Poems | Kim Addonizio (W.W. Norton)


    sketch mimi gross Sketch © Mimi Gross

    Charles Bernstein: Against National Poetry Month As Such


    Just posted at Penn/Sound

    SA182 Courtesy photo

    Wallace Stevens

    spkr-icon Wallace Stevens reading at Harvard, 1952; introduced by Richard Wilbur ~ The Penn/SoundWoodberry Poetry Room Wallace Stevens Audio Project



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    Friday, April 16th, 2010


    Lorna Dee Courtesy Lorna Dee Cervantes

    Three Poems for the Terremoto



    Double your leisure
    Double your death
    Double the bodies
    That died in the berths

    Double the trouble
    Of toil and rumble

    Double the slaves
    The meek and the humble

    All the world’s a death
    Waiting to happen
    All this death’s a life
    Hoping to remain

    All of life asleep
    In the supper
    All of death alive
    In the slumber

    We walk through the shadow
    Of the Valley of Oz
    We are all behind the curtain
    We are all because

    Double your pleasure
    Double your fun
    Forget the bodies
    In the body of one

    All the world’s a taste,
    A refreshment; a waste
    When Liberty’s left alone
    In a mirrored case

    — Lorna Dee Cervantes


    3 million stories fall
    an apocalypse away
    the concrete structures fail
    the palaces, the guard houses
    the poverty pockets buckle
    and strap
    3 million stories
    fall silent and silence the tongues
    of those who stay — 3 million voices
    rise singing in a dusty song of survival
    a hymn to the Orishas, a single
    story in a last breath — the people still
    their hearts — the people open closed
    hearts — the people need to speak
    their stories, their ragged endings
    the wings of will arise

    — Lorna Dee Cervantes


    “The greatest earthquake is poverty.”
    — Miguel Robles, survivor of the Mexico City earthquake

    The typical American man
    doesn’t care about Haiti.
    The typical American man
    doesn’t care if Jericho
    falls down on Chile.
    The typical American paycheck
    doesn’t allow for donations
    of the heart, doesn’t count the fallen
    or the blood drops of crushed
    children or the buzz of the saw
    on limbs or the long long wait.
    The typical American fellow
    wouldn’t give water
    to a mother and babe. The babe
    on the arm of the typical American
    male is a sight to behold, to hold,
    but might not stop to care.
    The usual type in America
    texts ten dollars to fill a page
    and the paychecks of the admin
    while snorting up the rest.
    The typical American man will not
    be found alone in a jungle digging
    out the dead and living dead.
    He will not be found hauling
    rails to drive the washed-out chasms.
    He will not be discovered
    with food, with water, with
    water, with water, with water
    so that a whole pueblo survives.
    The normal man will not stand
    and hold the shunt, the stent,
    the IV to a new way of life.
    Another world is possible.
    When the rubble is cleaned
    and the clearing of the dead
    hearts and minds begins.
    The typical American man
    doesn’t know we are
    all American.

    — Lorna Dee Cervantes

    Copyright © 2010 Lorna Dee Cervantes
    (Posted with the poet’s permission)



    Thursday, April 15th, 2010


    Solar Panel Array Courtesy

    If you’ve heard popular radio talk-show hosts Ray Taliaferro or Thom Hartmann take calls from a concerned citizen who calls himself “Harvey in Berkeley,” it may delight you to know that, for savvy info on energy alternatives, this is definitely the go-to guy.

    lilsun Courtesy

    Harvey Sherback to

    April 14, 2010

    Hi, Al —

    Thanks for your many good works. Your strong environmental stand is very much appreciated. Let me know if you have any further suggestions. Thanks, Al, you’re a great guy. It’s my pleasure to know you.



    Why aren’t more Federal Buildings covered with solar panels? The Federal Government owns approximately 500,000 buildings, including the White House. A half million buildings; that’s a lot of rooftop space. Because our Government is the country’s single largest energy consumer, using 1.6% of all the power generated in our nation, I recommend a “Solar Federal Buildings Program.” The Program will cover as many of these rooftops as possible with solar-electric roof panels substrates, roof-shingles and tiles.

    Photovoltaic panels have no moving parts, make no noise, and create no emissions or chemical reactions. In addition, solar panels require virtually no maintenance and are guaranteed on average for 25 years. A Solar Federal Buildings Program will create a massive supply of electricity — especially during peak hours — for many decades.

    Six essential reasons to adopt a Solar Federal Buildings Program:

    (1) Secure Energy Supply for Federal Operations:  In 2008, the U.S. government spent $24.5 billion on fuel and electricity. A federally-owned solar-electric infrastructure would cut that bill considerably while reducing our dependence on foreign sourced fuels. This program will help protect the power supply to federal operations during brownouts, blackouts and power interruptions. More importantly, because government owned buildings will be supplying a significant portion of their own power needs during normal operating hours, the Federal Government will place a lower burden on local energy systems, especially during times of peak demand.

    (2) Stimulate Green Jobs and Industries: A Solar Federal Buildings Program will stimulate the growth of America’smphotovoltaic industries as well as create opportunitiesmfor installer-contractors in every locality. Additionally, the manufacture of parts needed to install photovoltaic equipment such as batteries, installation brackets, wiring, inverters, terminals and connectors will stimulate the creation of many thousands of additional green jobs. This program will also help to accelerate the domestic manufacture of electric vehicles.

    (3) Promote American Made Plug-In Vehicles: A federally-owned nationwide solar-electric infrastructure could supply much of the electricity needed to power the Government’s new fleet of American made plug-in electric cars, vans, trucks and buses. The savings in fuel costs will help to reduce the payback time on both the Government’s photovoltaic installations and their fleet of electric vehicles.

    (4) Save Our Fresh Water Resources: Nuclear as well as coal, oil and gas-fired hydro-electric power plants all use enormous amounts of our nation’s fresh water resources. A 2000 study found that power plants were the second largest user of our fresh water resources withdrawing 136 billion gallons a day. Only agriculture uses more water on a daily basis. In contrast, photovoltaics use no water in the generation of clean,  renewable electricity! Under Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama in October 2009, government agencies must implement a host of changes including a 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020.

    (5) Reduce Operating and Maintenance Costs:  Many rooftop solar-electric installations actually act to insulate the building below. For example, the FedEx Corporation installed a photovoltaic system at its Oakland International Airport hub and found that the solar panels helped to reduce their heating and cooling costs. In addition, large photovoltaic installations can shade and protect a rooftop from damaging ultra-violet radiation, slowing the need for rooftop maintenance or replacement.

    (6) Reduce Emissions and Slowing Climate Destabilization: Our nation is the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gases. A Solar Federal Buildings Program will dramatically reduce the government’s consumption of fossil fuels, and thus, the production of greenhouse gases. On June 17, 2009, The Obama Administration released a new report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, which says that it is important to act now, rather than later, to minimize the impacts of climate destabilization. I recommend that the Federal Government fund a study to evaluate the merits of a Solar Federal Buildings Program. By expanding solar energy production at such a comprehensive level, we will grow economically, gain technologically, and preserve our precious natural resources.

    Harvey Sherback
    Berkeley, California

    PS:  You can help the Solar Federal Buildings Program see the light of day by forwarding this letter to one or more of the individuals listed below. Please feel free to add your own comments.

    Environment and Public Works Committee
    U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer – Chair

    Energy and Natural Resources Committee
    U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman – Chair

    Green Jobs and the Economy Subcommittee
    U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders – Chair

    United States White House
    Office of the Federal Environmental Executive
    Michelle Moore
    Federal Environmental Executive


    sunlight reflecting off the Irish Sea at Blackpool



    home_photo1 Go Solar California

    Visit the Go Solar California website brought to you by California’s Public Utilities Commission and Energy Commission. This site provides consumers a “one-stop shop” for information on rebates, tax credits, and incentives for solar energy systems in California.



    Tuesday, April 13th, 2010


    late leisure

    ” … Her slow production (six books in 50 years), dislike of poetry readings (‘It seems to me that it’s all for the person and not the poetry’), and unfashionable fidelity to narrative and clarity haven’t helped matters.”
    Christian Wiman,
    Editor, Poetry


    The Blackbird interview | Eleanor Ross Taylor

    eleanor ross taylor Photo © Susan Williams

    For Immediate Release
    April 13, 2010

    Eleanor Ross Taylor Awarded 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

    Award recognizes lifetime accomplishment with $100,000 prize

    CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce that poet Eleanor Ross Taylor has won the 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

    Presented annually to a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets. At $100,000, it is also one of the nation’s largest literary prizes. Established in 1986, the prize is sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. Over the last 25 years, the Lilly Prize has awarded more than $1,800,000. The prize will be presented at the Pegasus Awards ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago on Tuesday, May 18.

    In making the announcement, Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, cited the strong reserve in Taylor’s poems and praised their “sober and clear-eyed serenity” and authority.

    “We live in a time when poetic styles seem to become more antic and frantic by the day, and Taylor’s voice has been muted from the start. Muted, not quiet,” said Wiman. “You can’t read these poems without feeling the pent-up energy in them, the focused, even frustrated compression, and then the occasional clear lyric fury. And yet you can’t read them without feeling, as well, a bracing sense of spiritual largesse and some great inner liberty.”

    A portfolio of 10 of Taylor’s poems will be featured in the May issue of Poetry. In introducing the selection, Wiman writes:

    “The winner of this year’s Ruth Lilly Prize is Eleanor Ross Taylor. I suspect the name will be unfamiliar to a number of our readers, the work to even more. Until the excellent selected poems, Captive Voices, was published by LSU Press last year, virtually all of Taylor’s work was out of print. Her slow production (six books in 50 years), dislike of poetry readings (“It seems to me that it’s all for the person and not the poetry”), and unfashionable fidelity to narrative and clarity haven’t helped matters. And yet, as is so often the case, what’s been bad for the career has been good for the poems. With their intricately odd designs and careful, off-kilter music, their vital characters and volatile silences, the poems have a hard-won, homemade fatedness to them. You can feel their future.”

    The awards ceremony will also celebrate the life of the Poetry Foundation’s late benefactor, Ruth Lilly, who died in December at age 94, with readings by Catherine Bowman, Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University, and 2001 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow Ilya Kaminsky. In addition, Eleanor Ross Taylor’s editors Jean Valentine and Dave Smith—also poets and friends of hers—will be featured as part of the event.

    “Poetry has had no greater friend than Ruth Lilly,” said Poetry Foundation president John Barr. “On this occasion, the 25th anniversary of the awarding of the prize bearing her name, we honor a life of extraordinary generosity and dedication to the art form.”

    In 1985, Lilly endowed the Ruth Lilly Professorship in Poetry at Indiana University. In 1989 she created Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships of $15,000 each, awarded annually by the Poetry Foundation to undergraduate or graduate students selected through a national competition. In 2008, the Foundation increased the number of Lilly Fellowships awarded each year from two to five.

    In 2002 Lilly’s lifetime engagement with poetry culminated in a magnificent bequest that will enable the Poetry Foundation to promote, in perpetuity, a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.

    Eleanor Ross Taylor has published six collections of poetry: Wilderness of Ladies (1960), Welcome Eumenides (1972), New and Selected Poems (1983), Days Going/Days Coming Back (1991), Late Leisure (1999), and Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems (2009).

    A mother of two grown children and a grandmother, Taylor now resides in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has received the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize (1997–98), a fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1998), the Library of Virginia’s Literary Award for Poetry (2000), and the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern Poetry (2001). She was elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 2009.

    Previous recipients of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize are Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, Anthony Hecht, Mona Van Duyn, Hayden Carruth, David Wagoner, John Ashbery, Charles Wright, Donald Hall, A.R. Ammons, Gerald Stern, William Matthews, W.S. Merwin, Maxine Kumin, Carl Dennis, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lisel Mueller, Linda Pastan, Kay Ryan, C.K. Williams, Richard Wilbur, Lucille Clifton, Gary Snyder, and Fanny Howe.

    About the Pegasus Awards: The Poetry Foundation has established a family of prizes with an emphasis on new awards to under-recognized poets and types of poetry. Inaugurated in 2004, the Pegasus Awards are announced annually in the spring. The Poetry Foundation believes that targeted prizes can help redress underappreciated accomplishments, diversify the kinds of poetry being written, and widen the audience for the art form. With this in mind, it may create additional prizes in the years ahead.

    About the Poetry Foundation: The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit

    Follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook at or on Twitter @PoetryFound.

    POETRY FOUNDATION | 444 North Michigan Avenue | Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.787.7070 Media Contact: Anne Halsey (312) 799.8016;



    No, soul doesn’t leave the body.

    My body is leaving my soul.
    Tired of turning fried chicken and
    coffee to muscle and excrement,
    tired of secreting tears, wiping them,
    tired of opening eyes on another day,
    tired especially of that fleshy heart,
    pumping, pumping. More,
    that brain spinning nightmares.
    Body prepares:
    disconnect, unplug, erase.

    But here, I think, a smallish altercation
    Soul seems to shake its fist.
    Wants brain? Claims dreams and nightmares?
    Maintains a codicil bequeathes it shares?

    There’ll be a fight. A deadly struggle.
    We know, of course, who’ll win. . . .

    But who’s this, watching?

    — Eleanor Ross Taylor

    © Eleanor Ross Taylor



    Friday, April 9th, 2010


    © AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

    Los Angeles poet-actor and arts activist S.A. Griffin

    For this poet, bombing at a reading won’t be bad

    By JOHN ROGERS | Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES – Poetry readings have always been a blast for S.A. Griffin, but the tour that the venerable Los Angeles poet plans this spring may be his most explosive.

    This time the author of such collections as Unborn Again and One Long Naked Dance will be packing his poems inside of a Cold War-era bomb and taking them on the road. The idea is to create the constructive from the destructive.

    “I’m taking one of the most iconic images of destruction of the 20th century and turning it into something positive,” says the strapping Griffin, who at 6-foot-3 is nonetheless dwarfed by the gun-metal gray performance-art companion that rises more than 7 feet tall when tilted on end. He found the dummy bomb, which contains no explosives, on the Internet and bought it for $100.

    His plan: Bring the bomb to a city near you, dropping rhymes and free verse by the hundreds on audiences everywhere from Atlanta to Montana and points in between. His aim is to get people to wake up to poetry …

    Read this widely syndicated article in its entirety as it appeared online at China Daily (March 4, 2010)