Al Young title

Archive for January, 2012

Santa Clara County poet laureate Sally Ashton’s ‘A Favorite Poem’ link

Monday, January 30th, 2012


Visit Santa Clara County poet laureate Sally Ashton’s blogspot

* Sally Ashton’s three-voice poem, Stateside, at 99 POEMS FOR THE 99 PERCENT, a blog featuring 99 poems that address the social, political, economic, aesthetic, and cultural realities of the 99 percent

Read “In your body all bodies lie,” the Kenneth Patchen prose-poem that continues to inspire Al Young

Courtesy photo

Jazz & poetry partners Booker Ervin (1930-1970), saxophonist with the Charles Mingus Quintet, and poet Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)


GIOVANNI SINGLETON reads from ASCENSION Sunday, February 12, 2012 at Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

Friday, January 27th, 2012

giovanni singleton & ascension

giovanni singleton

at Book Passage
Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 2pm
51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera,CA 94925

Al Young introduces

giovanni singleton will read from ASCENSION, her book just out from Counterpath Press.

“These poems,” she says, “press against our deepest held questions: What is an ‘I’? Where are my ‘borders’? What or how am I ‘with’? From whom—from what—do we hide?”

Zen practitioner and author Norman Fischer writes: “This little book of few words is immense in its silences, depths of ambiguity, range of feeling—dark, light, umber, copper, sienna—full of strange inward jottings (graphically adventurous) that echo and dance in a reader’s mind. ASCENSION’s quiet absences are fully, passionately, present—you can almost hear the music the title suggests, and the loss and wonder that goes with it.”

giovanni singleton — poet, teacher, and founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts, a journal dedicated to the work of artists and writers of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces — received an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from The New College of California. A recipient of a New Langton Bay Area Award Show for Literature, she frequently presents on writing, editing, and graphic design at schools and conferences, including the American Literature Association and Spelman College. She has been a fellow at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Cave Canem, and the Napa Valley Writers Conference. Her work has appeared on the building of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and in Zen Monster, VOLT, Callaloo, Poet Lore, Angles of Ascent, a Norton anthology, What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, & Stories for Children, and I’ll Drown My Book: A Collection of Conceptual Writing. singleton has taught at Saint Mary’s College (Moraga, CA), Naropa University, and in museums and schools throughout the San Francisco Bay area.

John & Alice Coltrane | Courtesy Photo

For further information, contact: Book Passage Marin | 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925 | 415.927.0960 Store Hours: MON-SUN 9-9pm


Transitions: BOB BROOKMEYER (1921-2011) | JOHNNY OTIS (1921-2012) | ETTA JAMES (1938-2012)

Saturday, January 21st, 2012


© David Gross |

BOB BROOKMEYER: Trombonist, valve trombonist, bandleader, composer and arranger (1921-2011)

Bob Brookmeyer & Friends (Gary Burton, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones) perform Hoagie Carmichael’s deathless “Skylark” in 1964

Charles Paul  Harris/Getty Images

JOHNNY OTIS: Drummer, vibist, pianist, bandleader, composer, arranger, singer, talent scout, producer, broadcaster, organic farmer, painter, preacher (1921-2012)

The 1989 NPR|Fresh Air Interview

Johnny Otis, R&B’s renaissance man, dies at 90 | Hiram Lee | World Socialist Website | 23 January 2012

Official Johnny Otis website

Courtesy Soul_Portrait

ETTA JAMES: Singer, songwriter, bandleader, storyteller (1938-2012)

The 1994 NPR|Fresh Air interview

“Sing like your life depends on it”: Etta James—1938-2012 | Paul Bond | 26 January 2012 | World Socialist Web Site

Beyoncé remembers Etta James

© AP Photo | Ringo H.W. Chiu

Family, friends gather for Etta James’ funeral

Saturday, January 28, 2012  | AP

© NY Times

Etta James: “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” (1962)


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INDIGO MOOR, WANDA PHIPPS & AL YOUNG at Marin Poetry Center, Thursday, January 19, 2012, 7:30-9pm

Saturday, January 14th, 2012


***** clickable

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Marin Poetry Center

MARIN POETRY CENTER presents Indigo Moor, Wanda Phipps, and Al Young. Three nationally acclaimed black poets will read in honor of Martin Luther King for the Marin Poetry Center on Thursday, January 19, from 7:30-9:00 pm.

Doors open at 7:00 pm as part of MPC’s Third Thursday Series at the Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission & E Streets, San Rafael, CA. Admission is $5 for general public and $3 for members. Book sales and signing afterwards. Refreshments will be served.

Get directions

Indigo Moor is a playwright, poet, and author. His second book of poetry, Through the Stonecutter’s Window, won Northwestern University Press’s Cave Canem prize. Moor won the 2005 Vesle Fenstermaker Prize for Emerging Writers and a 2008 Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. Moor is a graduate member of the Artist’s Residency Institute for Teaching Artists, and his collaborative efforts include the Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Festival, the Livermore Ekphrastic Project, and the Davis Jazz Arts Festival. Website:

Wanda Phipps is a writer/performer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her publications and recordings include Field of Wanting: Poems of Desire, Wake-Up Calls: 66 Morning Poems, and the CD-Rom Zither Mood. Her poetry has been translated into Ukrainian, Hungarian, Arabic, Galician and Bangla. She has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Theater Translation Fund, and others. As a founding member of Yara Arts Group she has collaborated on numerous theatrical productions presented in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Siberia, and at La MaMa, E.T.C. in NYC. She curated several reading series at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church and has written about the arts for Time Out New York, Paper Magazine, and Her website:

Former California poet laureate Al Young’s many books include poetry (Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry; Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006; The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000; Heaven: Collected Poems 1956-1990); fiction (Seduction By Light, Sitting Pretty, Who Is Angelina?); and musical memoirs (Mingus Mingus: Two Memoirs, Drowning in the Sea of Love, Kinds of Blue, Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, Bodies & Soul). From 2005 through 2008 he served as poet laureate of California. Other honors include NEA, Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships, the 2009 PEN/Oakland Award, and the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Prize. Al Young is currently the Visiting Writer at California College of the Arts, San Francisco. His website:

This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant from The James Irvine Foundation


MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Marin Poetry Center

MARIN POETRY CENTER presents Indigo Moor, Wanda Phipps, and Al Young. Three nationally acclaimed black poets will read in honor of Martin Luther King for the Marin Poetry Center in San Rafael, CA on Thursday, January 19, from 7:30-9pm.

Click here for further information and driving directions

An op-ed from Michael Nagler
and the Metta Center for Nonviolence


Las Vegas’ Musicians for Peace play tribute to MLK at REVERBNATION

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Francis Miller / Life

Happy Birthday to You

Stevie © Liam Yeates

________________________________________________ Biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael Ochs | Time | Getty Images

Born in Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr. moved to Montgomery, AL, with his new wife Coretta in 1955 after King accepted a position as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. King met Coretta while he was studying for his Ph.D. at Boston University and they were married in June 1953. Yolanda, their first child, above, was born in November 1955.

© Gene Herrick/AP

Coretta Scott King welcomes her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he leaves a courtroom in Montgomery, Ala., on March 22, 1956

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Photo circa 1964 – Herman Hiller, New York World-Telegram & Sun – Released into the public domain by the original copyright owner

President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the White House, March 1966

(Photo: Yoichi Okamoto/Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum)


Audiobook available

Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

This post features a KPFA Pacifica audio and transcript of the full, lesser known sermon delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, April 30, 1967
The text and audio of “Beyond Vietnam,” the widely circulated sermon of April 4, 1967 (delivered at Riverside Church, NYC), may be viewed here at a link to Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr.Papers Project

The sermon which I am preaching this morning in a sense is not the usual kind of sermon, but it is a sermon and an important subject, nevertheless, because the issue that I will be discussing today is one of the most controversial issues confronting our nation. I’m using as a subject from which to preach, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.”

Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. “Ye shall know the truth,” says Jesus, “and the truth shall set you free.” Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing, as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we’re always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony. But we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for in all our history there has never been such a monumental dissent during a war, by the American people.

Polls reveal that almost fifteen million Americans explicitly oppose the war in Vietnam. Additional millions cannot bring themselves around to support it. And even those millions who do support the war [are] half-hearted, confused, and doubt-ridden. This reveals that millions have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism, to the high grounds of firm dissent, based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Now, of course, one of the difficulties in speaking out today grows the fact that there are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty. It’s a dark day in our nation when high-level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent. But something is happening, and people are not going to be silenced. The truth must be told, and I say that those who are seeking to make it appear that anyone who opposes the war in Vietnam is a fool or a traitor or an enemy of our soldiers is a person that has taken a stand against the best in our tradition.

Yes, we must stand, and we must speak. [tape skip]…have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam. Many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. And so this morning, I speak to you on this issue, because I am determined to take the Gospel seriously. And I come this morning to my pulpit to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.

This sermon is not addressed to Hanoi, or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Nor is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in a successful resolution of the problem. This morning, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans, who bear the greatest responsibility, and entered a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

Now, since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is…a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed that there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, and new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam. And I watched the program broken as if it was some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money, like some demonic, destructive suction tube. And you may not know it, my friends, but it is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and attack it as such. (more…)