Al Young title

Archive for August, 2011

GENE McDANIELS (1935-2011), Soul Singer and Songwriter ~ In Memoriam

Monday, August 29th, 2011

__________________________________________________________    Listen

Gene McDaniels, soul singer and songwriter, dead at 76

Hiram Lee
30 August 2011
Text ©

Singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels died July 29 at the age of 76. McDaniels is perhaps best-known for having composed the protest song “Compared to What,” made famous by jazz musicians Les McCann and Eddie Harris, and the R&B standard “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” recorded by numerous performers, most notably Roberta Flack. He was a talented composer and an even more impressive singer.

McDaniels was born February 12, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska where his family relocated in the 1940s. Like so many of the soul singers who would go on to make names for themselves in the 1960s, McDaniels got his start singing in church. His father was a preacher and the young McDaniels was a regular in the choir from an early age. Inspired by popular gospel singing groups such as the Soul Stirrers, McDaniels would form his own gospel quartet, The Sultans, at a young age …

To read Hiram Lee’s complete tribute and obituary, go to the original


ACROSS THE LINE / AL OTRO LADO: The Poetry of Baja California, Edited by Harry Polkinhorn & Mark Weiss

Monday, August 29th, 2011


Read 17 poem selections at Jacket #21

“It was at Half Price Books, Berkeley, that I happened upon a used copy of this rich, seductive collection. A long-ago Spanish major, I go on losing and finding myself in its double-bladed, doubly-minted pages. Now I’d like to point other border-crossers in its direction. ‘Baja Californians remain orphans of sorts,’ co-editor Harry Polkinhorn reminds us in his foreword, ‘caught between and on the edge of the two power centers that determine their fates and that tend to render them invisible. Our goal when we began this anthology was to make them visible.’ And, indeed, they do make these 53 poets visible and audible as well.” — Al Young

Click to order

Cover: Tía Juana, graphite and charcoal on board, by Hugo Crosthwaite (Rosarito, Baja California)

Across the Line / Al otro lado: The Poetry of Baja California
Edited by Harry Polkinhorn & Mark Weiss

© 2002 Junction Press
Junction Press
San Diego

383 pages


ISBN: 1-881523-13-6

“If you can’t make it across the border, Across the Line/Al otro lado is the next best thing to a trip to Mexico’s Baja California. The astonishing range of fifty-three poetic voices, traditional native chants and popular corridos, which are generously presented in bilingual format, is rooted in a time and place that is both timeless and in constant flux. The poems are by turns full of yearning, lyric, exultant, pungent, mournful, fast-paced as the streets of Tijuana or slow as a cactus growing beyond the dunes. Baja Californians are a population on the move, alive to change, living on the edge, and the poetry in this lovingly-translated anthology conveys the feel of gritty towns and cities, burning deserts, lonely mountains, a huge sky still crowded with stars, the wind blowing in off the Pacific or the Sea of Cortes, the nearness of gray whales and pelicans, the uncertainties of isolation, the jittery rhythms of urban life, the United States forever looming on the other side of the border. And I am happy to say that these poets value the beauty and importance of Baja California’s unique and fragile ecosystems; in Baja California moonlight still matters.”
— Homero Aridjis



a Roberto Castillo Udiarte

Esta ciudad nos duele como una espina en la garganta,
como el hombre que pasa con el miedo dibujado en el rostro.
Nos duele como el amor y sus ejércitos,
como los ángeles irremediablemente perdidos.
Es la mujer que nos desnuda frente al mar,
la lluvia de marzo y las dos tormentas del verano,
el golpe que nos hace abrir los ojos; el beso que nos cierra los labios.
Es el monumento de la infamia y del rencor,
el perro que nos asustaba cuando volvíamos del colegio,
el mismo que a veces vemos en la mirada del hombre más próximo.
Esta ciudad se levanta sobre el sudor y los sueños de nuestros padres,
sobre el cuerpo violado de la muchacha y la mano siempre dispuesta
xxxxxxxxdel asesino.
Crece como el odio, como el polvo y la rabia,
como un mar encabronado que se te escapa de las manos.
Es la mujer que pasó sin verte, la que no te recurda,
esa que constantemente disfrazas, pero a quien siempre le escribes tus versos.

— José Javier Villarreal



for Roberto Castillo Udiarte

This city wounds like a fishbone stuck in our throats,
like the man passing by with fear written all over his face.
She wounds us like love and its armies,
like hopelessly lost angels.
She’s the woman who strips us naked at the shore,
the rains of March and Summer’s two storms,
the slap forcing our eyes open; the kiss that closes our lips.
She’s infamy and rancor’s monument,
the dog that frightened us on the way home from school,
the one we sometimes see in the stare of the man beside us.
This town is built upon the sweat and dreams of our parents,
over a girl’s raped body and the murderer’s always ready hand.
She grows like hate, like dust and rage,
like an angry sea that slips through your fingers.
She’d the woman who walked right by without seeing you, who doesn’t
xxxxxxxxxremember you,
the woman you always disguise, for whom you write your verses.

— José Javier Villarreal
(translated by Scott Bennett)


Jack Foley’s VISIONS & AFFILIATIONS: A California Time Line | Poets & Poetry 1940-2005

Saturday, August 20th, 2011



British poet Geraldine Green reads with
Jack & Adelle Foley
Saturday, September 10  at 7 p.m.

Laurel Bookstore
4100 MacArthur Blvd
(between 39th Ave & Maybelle Ave)
Oakland, CA 94619   MAP & DIRECTIONS

© Matthew Sumner/SF Chronicle

Jack Foley, 71, took a decade to write his 1,300-page book, Visions & Affiliations, covering 65 years of California poets and poetry.
Read Evan Karp’s Datebook article in the San Francisco Chronicle (“A Rich Chapter in Bay Area Poetry Scene,” August 20, 2011)

Jack Foley in conversation with Nina Serrano at Pacifica Radio July 2011
Jack Foley and Cesar Love read at San Francisco Open Mic Poetry Podcasts July 2011


Mary Ann Sullivan’s review in The Tower Journal

Digital poet and editor Mary Ann Sullivan’s “The First Poem of Summer”

Charles Baudelaire’s “Invitation” (translated and read by Jack Foley; produced, directed and shot by Mary Ann Sullivan)


Out from Pantograph Press
Now available at Amazon

© Matthew Sumner

Cover Painting: Mark Roland | Design: Stuart Bradford

Jack Foley’s


A California Literary Time Line: Poets & Poetry

“The twentieth century in all its confused and troubled eloquence”

Volume 1 1940-1980 575 pages $50 U.S.
ISBN 978-1-61364-067-8
Volume 2 1980-2005 711 pages $50 U.S.
ISBN 978-1-61364-068-5

“From about 1930 on, a conspiracy of bad poetry has been as carefully organized as the Communist Party, and today controls most channels of publication except the littlest of the little magazines … We disaffiliate.”
Kenneth Rexroth

“Jack Foley is doing great things in articulating the poetic consciousness of San Francisco.”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“I’m just sitting here overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the achievement of the two-volume Visions & Affiliations …This is an extraordinary piece of work. There should be a major, major review of this. Congratulations. What an achievement.”
Kevin Starr, Historian and California State Librarian Emeritus

“This is absolutely stunning, overwhelming … so much so that I hardly know where to begin or how to end … probably never. I expect that I’ll continue to pore through this for years to come.”
Jerome Rothenberg

“The books are overwhelming! What a great time line and fabulous encyclopedia. I really am learning so much. A great read and great information. I don’t know how you did it. Your enthusiasm and first-hand knowledge show on every page.”
Marjorie Perloff

“Visions and Affiliations is a landmark in literary studies. It is Jack Foley’s own life as a poet that makes this project stand out. In the two volumes of Visions and Affiliations, he digs deep, illuminating little known facts about such poets as Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Charles Bukowski, while, at the same time, giving us ‘hidden histories’ from across California. An innovative voice in American poetry, Foley now emerges as an innovator as to how we respond to our literary heritage. This book is essential reading for poets, readers of poetry and anyone interested in our cultural legacy.”
Neeli Cherkovski

“This brilliant, idiosyncratic, omnivorous study is simply the best book ever written on West Coast poetry.”
Dana Gioia, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A lasting contribution. With its deep and caring perspective, Jack Foley’s two-volume opus projects a passionate message about the poetry of our state.”
Al Young, California Poet Laureate (2005-2008)


VISIONS & AFFILIATIONS: A California Time Line — Poets & Poetry 1940-2005 is a chronoencyclopedia of a scene that stretches over sixty-five years. People, ideas, and stories appear, disappear, and reappear as the second half of the century moves forward. Poetry is a major element in this kaleidoscopic California scene. It is argued about, dismissed, renewed, denounced in theory, asserted as divine, criticized as pornographic. Poetry is as Western as the Sierra foothills, and the questions raised here go to its very heart. Beginning with the publication of Kenneth Rexroth’s first book, this all-encompassing history-as-collage plunges us forward into the 21st century. “California authors keep generating massive anthologies in an attempt to tame the chaos of California, to pretend it isn’t there. Yet there it is–staring them in the face like a great bear, alive, hungry and more than a little dangerous.”


Berkeley Book Launch:
Thursday July 14 (Bastille Day)

There will be a book launch reading for Jack Foley’s Visions & Affiliations at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, at 7: 30 on Bastille Day (Thursday, July 14). Adelle and Jack Foley will host. Guests will include poet/publisher Ivan Argüelles, Mary-Marcia Casoly, Lucille Lang Day, Katherine Hastings, Andrew Joron, Michael McClure and Al Young. There will also be a musical saw played by Diana McCulloch.



Photo: Adelle Foley

jake berry’s cat
contemplates the real
history of calif
ornia poetry oh
jake berry’s cat
looks it over oh
gives it a gander
is it his saucer of milk
or not?
jake berry’s cat
knows a lot
living as he does
familiarly w/ jake
gives it a look
gives it a gander
whoa—is that there—
in Florence, Alabama
on a day that resembles
this day in calif
jake berry’s cat
contemplates the real
history of calif poetry
mrkgnao! *

click for luck


* J. Joyce‘s spelling of “meow”


2011 Bad Writing Prize Goes to Prof. Suzanne Fondrie; University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011


Prof. Sue Fondrie wins 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

© Associated Press
Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:30am PDT

SAN JOSÉ, Calif. (AP) — A sentence in which tiny birds and the English language are both slaughtered took top honors Monday in an annual bad writing contest.

Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, Wis., won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for her sentence comparing forgotten memories to dead sparrows, said San José State University Prof. Scott Rice. The contestant asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.

Fondrie wrote: “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

The University of Wisconsin professor’s 26-word sentence is the shortest grand prize winner in the contest’s 29-year history, Rice said.

Contest judges liked that Fondrie’s entry reminded them of the 1960s hit song “The Windmills of Your Mind,” which Rice described as an image that “made no more sense then than it does now.”

The contest is named after British author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins with the oft-quoted opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

© United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Lord Edward George Bulwer-Lytton | MFA in Creative Writing candidate Snoopy

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
—  Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

The contest solicits entries in a variety of categories. John Doble of New York won in the historical fiction category:

“Napoleon’s ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub.”

To take the prize for best purple prose, Mike Pedersen of North Berwick, Maine, relied on a thesaurus’-worth of synonyms:

“As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.”

Related: Vampire author Charlaine Harris talks about her job


Delve into the Bulwer-Lytton Awards (including Dishonorable Mentions) at Facebook


PHILIP LEVINE, Newest U.S. Poet Laureate

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011


Read & listen to Philip Levine@The Internet Poetry Archive


Profile of Philip Levine, poet laureate

By Jessica Goldstein
The Washington Post
Tuesday, August 9, 7:43 PM

Philip Levine was not expecting to be the new poet laureate of the United States. “It just wasn’t something I thought I’d get,” he said, sounding a little amused by the whole thing.

Levine, who has written 20 collections of poems, has already won just about every major writing award: a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for “The Simple Truth,” a National Book Award in 1980 for “Ashes: Poems New and Old” and in 1991 for “What Work Is,” the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Frank O’Hara Prize, two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships … the list goes on.

To read Jessica Goldstein’s piece in its entirety, click here.

Charles McGrath’s “Voice of the Workingman to Be Poet Laureate” (August 9, 2011), New York Times



We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is–if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don’t know what work is.

— Philip Levine

© Philip Levine
— from
What Work Is (published by Alfred A. Knopf)


I love Philip Levine and his great, inspiring work. A fellow Detroiter, he is ten years my senior, and often on my mind. Our paths as poets keep crossing. We both wound up in the Golden State. When I first came upon They Feed They Lion, which continues to be one of my all-time favorite Philip Levine collections, I imagined that he must have overheard a bunch of school kids responding to an animal-feeding session at some zoo. “Ooo,” I pictured one little girl or boy yelling, “they feed they lion!” I told this to Philip in Seattle, where we were holding forth on a Bumbershoot Festival panel with poet-novelist Marge Piercy, all three of us Detroiters. “Close,” Philip allowed. “But it didn’t happen quite that way.” He then told the story of how a co-worker’s remark in an auto grease shop had spilled over into a dream that flushed out the poem. How can anyone not love the people-friendly, humanity-championing poetry of Philip Levine?
— Al Young,
California’s ex-poet laureate

They Feed They Lion: A taste of back-story

“In 1953 I was working in a Detroit grease shop with a tall, slender black man with a wonderful wit and disposition. His name was Lemon Still Jr., and he was a delight to work with. One day we were dividing used crosses that are the heart of a universal joint, which is a component of a transmission and not an enormous reefer. One pile was junk, the other pile was made up of those which could be refinished and sold as new. Before we stuffed the hopeless ones into a burlap sack, Lemon held the bag before me and pointed at the white lettering which read, ‘Detroit Municipal Zoo,’ and he uttered a single memorable sentence, ‘They feed they lion they meal in they sacks.’ I was stunned by the sentence itself as well as Lemon’s ability to simplify English grammar by reducing all third-person pronouns to the one ‘they.’ I don’t know how many years passed before I forgot that moment, but in the late 1960s it came back to me via an unforgettable dream.”
–Philip Levine

The whole back-story


Philip Levine reads Belle Isle, 1949