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Archive for April, 2011

TRIBUTE TO JAZZ LEGEND BILLY HIGGINS | Pan African Film Festival/KPFK, May 1, 2011, Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood, CA

Friday, April 29th, 2011


Sunday. May 1, 2011
7 pm
Catalina Bar & Grill
6725 West Sunset Boulevard
(one block east of Highland Avenue)

Hollywood, CA 90028
$75 general admission

Courtesy Leimert Park/World Stage

“Billy Higgins [1936-2001] was one of the greatest jazz drummers!”
— Squidoo

Experience Billy Higgins from a performance of John Coltrane’s “Naima” at the 1976 Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy. This portion features Cedar Walton, piano; George Coleman, tenor sax; Sam Jones, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.

Click here to get the full skinny on this exciting event directly from Pan African Film Festival. Tell them Al Young used to go out of his way to catch the great drummer live just to kick back and bask in the full spectrum of Billy Higgins’ ever-blazing, blues-busting smile.

• The Billy Higgins biography, discography and filmography at


NEW POETRY FROM SIXTEEN RIVERS PRESS | Jeanne Wagner and Christina Hutchins

Sunday, April 24th, 2011


Order from Small Press Distribution

Summer Interior
| Edward Hopper

Sixteen Rivers Press
P.O.  Box 640633
San Francisco, CA 94164-0063

“At once analytic and passionate, In the Body of Our Lives draws us, with acute emotional precision, into the physical and the tangible in a world increasingly obsessed with the virtual. Jeanne Wagner explores with great skill and feeling the dichotomy of mind/body dualism. ‘No one can touch the dark fruit / of your interior,’ she writes, addressing the body, in ‘A Dialogue with the Body.’ ‘Impression: Sunrise,’ based on the Claude Monet painting of the same name, shares in the bodily trope, the sun in this poem becoming ‘a perfect circle of retinal fire, / / kindling the sky, bleeding into / the water like a round heart.’ This collection is a stunningly beautiful and seamlessly nuanced account of what it means to live in our own bodies as well as in the body of our lives.”
— Carol Frith

In the Body of Our Lives | Poems by Jeanne Wagner


Order from Small Press Distribution

Sixteen Rivers Press
P.O.  Box 640633
San Francisco, CA 94164-0063

“Christina Hutchins’s The Stranger Dissolves is an exquisite debut volume. This superb collection is elegant, impassioned, and consistently wise in its reckonings. Few poets so carefully embody the mind’s oscillations during reflection, and the beauty of Christina Hutchins’s poems is simply beyond measure. More than any first collection I know, The Stranger Dissolves melds both mind (intelligence and thought) and heart with a startling complexity, intricacy, and intimacy. This is a volume to keep at one’s bedside.”
—David St. John

The Stranger Dissolves | Poems by Christina Hutchins


POETRY JAZZ SIZZLER AT THE JAZZSCHOOL, Berkeley, April 23, 2011, 8pm

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


2087 Addison St. Berkeley CA 94704 510.845.5373


Saturday, April 23rd at 8:00PM

Tickets $18


Raymond Nat Turner and Zigi Lowenberg-vocals, Tammy Hall-piano, Ron Belcher-bass, Rob Rhodes-drums, Peter Yellin-saxophone

“An ensemble that earns its exclamation point with dynamic performances that capture the soul, humor and off-the-cuff inventiveness of a cascading saxophone solo.” —Andrew Gilbert

© Scott Braley

Al Young
California’s former poet laureate
& Dan Robbins
bassist extraordinaire

“Like jazz, Al Young is an original American voice.”
Muriel Johnson

To celebrate and remember April: National Poetry Month,

National Jazz Education Month & National Library Week

© Lea Suzuki | SF Chronicle

Kris Welch chats with Al Young about this event on Living Room, her Friday news & info show at KPFA-FM | 22 April 2011, Earth Day



Friday, April 8th, 2011

Visit the Albany Library blog

Poetry at the Albany Library
featuring James Ragan
2nd Tuesdays | Featured Poet and Open Mic
7 to 9pm

Produced by Catherine Taylor for Alameda County Library, Albany CA
Best place to hear and read good poetry.
— East Bay Express


Watch Distinguished Visiting Professor James Ragan address a University of Oklahoma audience with whom he shares poetry

Listen to James Ragan recite by heart “The Tent People of Beverly Hills”

James Ragan in conversation with Michael Krasny, host of KQED Forum

Courtesy photo

James Ragan

James Ragan’s expansive world view is evident in his many roles–poet, translator, playwright, screenwriter, teacher, and cultural ambassador. For 25 years he served as Director of the Professional Writing Program at USC.

Ragan has published seven books of poetry: In the Talking Hours, Womb-Weary, The Hunger Wall, Lusions, Shouldering the World, and, as co-editor, Yevgeny Yevtushenko: Collected Poetry 1952-1990. His most recent collection is Too Long A Solitude (University of Oklahoma Press, 2009). His poetry has been translated into ten languages.

James Ragan’s literary honors include three Fulbright professorships (Yugoslavia, China, and the Czech Republic), honorary doctorates from the American College of Greece and American International University in London, the Emerson Poetry Prize, a Poetry Society of America Gertrude Claytor Award, and the Swan Foundation Humanitarian Award.

Ragan’s first book, In the Talking Hours (2004), was initially banned in Czechoslovakia, the homeland of his parents and eldest siblings, and of Ragan’s first language–the melodic Slovak dialect whose influence, along with Ragan’s riveting delivery, contributes to the visceral pleasure of hearing his poems read aloud.

Since 1993, Ragan has returned each summer to his familial roots in the Czech Republic (initially through an invitation from Vaclav Havel) to teach as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Charles University in Prague. Ragan has read for numerous heads of state and the United Nations, and, through the U.S. World Affairs Council, has read and lectured in Tunisia, Jordan, China, India, and Tibet. With Robert Bly and Bob Dylan, Ragan was asked to perform at the First International Poetry Festival in Moscow, in 1985. Since that time he has read for audiences throughout Europe and Asia.

Ragan’s plays have been staged internationally, and he has both written and worked in production on films that include The Longest Yard, The Deer Hunter, and, in 2009, The Last Story of the Century (based on the siege of Sarajevo) and The Shoe. As a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Film (most recently at the University of Oklahoma and at Academia Internacional de Cinema, São Paulo), Ragan draws lessons for filmmaking from poetry’s crisp pace and its efficient delivery of image and metaphor.

Ragan’s poetry is praised as “distinctive . . . arresting” (Richard Wilbur); “fine-grained and witty [with] a remarkable range of history and geography, thematic variety and tonal dexterity”(C.K. Williams); and “lyrical and authoritative” (Josephine Miles). Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Taylor says, “James Ragan is a snake charmer whose words work real magic.” The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko calls Ragan’s poems “a testament to universal brotherhood, a celebration.”


During a workshop visit to Oral Roberts University, James Ragan goes over a fine point with student Lisa Daniels.


Albany Library 1247 Marin Avenue 510.526.3720

Partially funded by Friends of the Albany Library. Wheelchair accessible. ASL interpreter provided with 7 working days
notice (510-526-3720 or TTY 510-663-0660). Produced by Alameda County Library, Albany 4/11

Partially funded by Friends of the Albany Library. Wheelchair accessible. ASL interpreter provided with 7 working days
notice (510-526-3720 or TTY 510-663-0660). Produced by Alameda County Library, Albany 4/11



Monday, April 4th, 2011
The Billy Taylor Trio

for Nana

What’s most fantastical almost always goes

unrecorded and unsorted. Take spring.

Take today. Take dancing dreamlike; coffee

your night, creameries your dream factories.

Take walking as a dream, the dearest, sincerest

means of conveyance: a dance. Take leave

of the notion that this nation’s or any other’s earth

can still be the same earth our ancestors walked.

Chemistry strains to connect our hemispheres.

The right and left sidelines our brain forms

in the rain this new world braves—acid jazz.

The timeless taste her tongue leaves in your mouth,

stirred with unmeasured sugars, greens the day

the way sweet sunlight oxygenates, ignites

all nights, all daytimes, and you—this jumps.

Sheer voltage leaps, but nothing keeps or stays.

Sequence your afternoon as dance. Drink spring.

Holding her hard against you, picture the screenplay.

Take time to remember to get her spells together.

Up jumps the goddess gratified, and up jumped spring.

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

© 2006 by Al Young

Spring Awakening |© John Fleshman



Gini Savage’s Shape-Shifter | © Al Young

Bluebirds Bathing | © Vivian Torrence