Al Young title

Archive for October, 2010

AL YOUNG READS AT BEYOND BAROQUE (Venice, CA) October 16, 2010, Saturday at 7 pm

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010


Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center
681 Venice Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
Fax 310.827.7432


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Photos © Malcolm Margolin

California poet laureate emeritus Al Young and poet Suzanne Lummis smile for the camera following their Sunday afternoon interview at Heyday (formerly Heyday Books), whose founder and CEO Malcolm Margolin got the shots.

Al Young—On Absolutely Everything

Suzanne Lummis talks to California’s Poet Laureate Emeritus

Five poems by Al Young

Poets, lovers of poetry, if right about now you’re in the mood for a poet whose writings express a kinship with music—not only jazz, not only Miles Davis, Benny Carter and Billie Holiday, but mariachi and marimba, and Mozart— and who, furthermore, can move smoothly from sonorous recital into song, then take note: Al Young will be reading at Beyond Baroque, Saturday, October 16, 2010, 7:00.

If, on the other hand, you favor a sort of pan-prismatic poetry that sweeps across history touching on events political and personal, imagined and autobiographical, and that rises from the environs, the landscapes, of various regions, Mississippi to Detroit, Italy to Yugoslavia, San Francisco to L.A.—you’re in luck. Al Young will be reading at Beyond Baroque, October 16, 2010, 7:00.
But now it is late August and I’m talking to Al—at a round walnut table, in the handsome new domicile of Heyday Books, University Avenue, the Bay Area, Northern California, the West.

I drove up from L.A., but Al Young traveled much farther, from Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, near Biloxi, where he was born in ’39, and from there to Detroit, where he did some more growing up and graduated from the U. of Michigan, and then, in ’61, to our current whereabouts, Berkeley.

To read Suzanne Lummis’ interview with Al Young in its entirety, go to the original at


Note: There is a special admission price of $10.00, $5.00 for members for Al Young’s reading. People who buy tickets for Mr. Young’s reading may use them to attend the Molly Bendall and Laynie Browne reading at 8:30 PM. If not attending Al Young’s reading, separate admission applies.

October 16, Saturday 7 PM

© Joseph Robinson

AL YOUNG is a poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter and former Poet Laureate of California. Muriel Johnson, Director of the California Arts Council, declared: “Like jazz, Al Young is an original American voice.” Young’s many books include novels, collections of poetry, essays and memoirs. His work has appeared in literary journals and magazines including Paris Review, Ploughshares, Essence, The New York Times and anthologies, including the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and the Oxford Anthology of African American Literature. Visit for more details.

October 16, Saturday 8:30 PM

MOLLY BENDALL is the author of four collections of poetry: After Estrangement, Dark Summer, Ariadne’s Island and most recently, Under the Quick from Parlor Press.  With the poet Gail Wronsky, she co-authored Bling & Fringe.   Her poems have appeared in the anthologies:  American Hybrid: The Norton Anthology of the New PoemAmerican Poetry: The Next Generation, and The Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative Poetry. She teaches at the University of Southern California.

LAYNIE BROWNE is the author of nine collections of poetry and one novel. Her most recent publications include: The Desires of Letters, The Scented Fox, and Daily Sonnets. Her honors include: the National Poetry Series Award of the Contemporary Poetry Series Award and two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Poetry. She is one of the directors of the POG Reading Series, Tucson Arizona. She has taught creative writing at the University of Washington, Bothell, at Mills College in Oakland and at the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona, where she is  currently developing a poetry-in-the-schools program.

October 17, Sunday 4 PM

Reading and Reception for winners and runners-up of the 1st annual Beyond Baroque Poetry Prize. Hosted by Tony Barnstone with special guest Al Young.

Preview the winning entries

© Emily Winters
Photo: Kristin Wiberg

Al Young and Tony Barnstone at the May 2009 Whittier College graduation commencement ceremony.



BLACK NATURE: Poetry at the Albany (CA) Library | Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11th, 2010


Camille T. Dungy

© Ray Black

with guest poets Al Young
Cynthia Parker-Ohene


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Second Tuesday of the Month Poetry Series
7-9 pm

Featured poets followed by open mic reading

BLACK NATURE: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

(University of Georgia Press)

Edited by Camille T. Dungy

© Ray Black

Featured reader Camille T. Dungy

© Eddy Encinas

Contributing guest poet Al Young

Camille T. Dungy, the editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, calls her book a first of its kind. The nearly 200 poems in the anthology reach back to the mid-1700s, but Dungy says people rarely think of black poets as writing in a genre that brings to mind having the leisure — and time — to contemplate a field of flowers.

“The way that the tradition of nature poetry has taken off in America in particular is often about a pastoral landscape, a very idealized rural landscape, or a wilderness landscape in which people are involved,” Dungy tells NPR’s Renee Montagne. “And black people have been typically working in the land, and that’s not part of the idyllic version of things. And then also the majority of African Americans have tended to live in urban landscapes, and so there’s a very different view, quite often, of the natural world.”  — NPR

Listen to Camille T. Dungy’s conversation with Renee Montagne of NPR’s Morning Edition

Free to the public

Produced by Catherine Taylor

Albany Library
1247 Marin Ave
Albany, CA 94706-2043

Christina Hutchins, Albany’s first poet laureate, performs
“After Sappho”


Photo: Camille T. Dungy

Grand Uncle Al holding four-month-old Callie, daughter of Camille Dungy and Ray Black, at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, Berkeley, October 2, 2010 | See this photo magnified at


DOUG EDWARDS: Jazz Activist and Broadcaster | January 9, 1930 – September 19, 2010 | In Memoriam

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010


Read Sam Edwards’ obituary at the Berkeley Daily Planet, September 20, 2010: Radio Station KPFA’s Jazz Show Personality The Doug of Edwards Dies at 80

Listen to Doug Edwards’ theme track: “Blues for Roberta,” by vibist Milt Jackson with bassist Ray Brown, the song’s composer.

Photo Gallery | Courtesy of

Photo courtesy KPFA
“The Doug of Edwards” he lightly dubbed himself.

© Bruni

The Art of Improvisation: Doug Edwards
a profile by Bob Hershon

© Bob Hershon

Radio on a public station is something of a dead-end job. The airwaves are full of DJs who talk about public or college stations as a stopping off point, a charming little rest stop on the road to success. Few of those who have carved, or are carving, a career out of radio have music as their raison d’étre. Perhaps no one I know has committed more time, money, and energy to chronicling the Jazz scene in the Bay Area and beyond as Doug Edwards.

One of Doug’s special talents is his ability to improvise with whatever people, materials, funds (or lack of) he happens to have. Although his entrance into radio was wholly unplanned, he has followed the solid rhythms of a big hear in making a most unique and valuable contribution.

What else but a love of the music could motivate this man to endure a decade of dragging his mixing board, mikes, stands, and cables into out-of-the-way clubs and school auditoriums, recording hitherto unrecorded musicians, and editing it for his Saturday night broadcast on KPFA? What else would motivate him to devote a lifetime to something that would provide so little financial reward?

“Payback monetarily was not what I was after, although God knows it would have been nice,” Doug explained. “It was the ability to transmit or reflect what you’re feeling, your excitement, the magic of the music, your commitment to your love. To deal with the musicians on a level which would find me leaving an interview with someone I respect like Ed Kelly, John Handy, or Branford Marsalis high as a kite because we shared something real, emotionally and intellectually. It’s as close to being part of the music as I could hope to be with that caliber of musician. I guess when it’s good, it’s some sort of art.”
One of the things that sets Doug Edwards apart as a programmer and as a human being is an abiding commitment to the community in which he resides. Doug is a fixture not only in the clubs, but also in the lives of the players. He will pursue a chance to do a live recording with resident artists such as Denise Perrier or Faye Carol (whom he was the first to record) with the same energy as he would with Max Roach.

“From the first appearance on his show he made me feel like family–like it was personal, not professional,” Faye said. “As a result, his audience learns something about you and your art. They develop a feeling for you. I know because they come up and talk to me about it. With the commercial stations it’s a matter of programming. It’s cut and dried. Doug takes the time they don’t or can’t to know your work. Often if you don’t have a record, he will record you. And because his tastes are refined, his audiences pay attention to you. It’s not just the idle exercise so many media appearances are.”