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Archive for December, 2012


Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

“Let’s start a Unity Poetry Wall for the children, teachers, families and all from Newtown, Conn. Just add it on here. Here’s my contribution. Many kind thank yous.”
— Juan Felipe Herrera
(at California Poets in the Schools’ Facebook page)

<< Letter to Adam Lanza from a Zen Monk >> | December 23, 2012


Courtesy of UCRiverside Today | December 17, 2012

California Poet Laureate Launches Poem for Newtown, Connecticut

Unity Poetry Wall project by UC Riverside’s Juan Felipe Herrera invites Americans to express their thoughts about the December 14 mass shooting

By on December 17, 2012

Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — As Americans grapple with the horrific deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera has created a nationwide unity poem project to help express what the country is feeling.

“Let’s put our efforts into ending violence wherever it may rise,” Herrera, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, wrote on his Facebook page, where contributions to the Unity Poetry Wall for Newton, Connecticut, reside.

The California Poet Laureate’s poem, “Little Ones We Carry You,” launches the project. By the morning of Monday, Dec. 17, nearly two dozen individuals had contributed their thoughts as well, some in Spanish, most in English. A selection of these verses follow Herrera’s.

Little Ones We Carry You

Little ones we carry you with our hearts today and tomorrow
Many tomorrows – we will be there with you
Whether we have flowers or poems or prayers
With our hands our bodies somehow
We will touch the earth for you and the rain and the green winds
We will sing for you and your teachers who covered you
And your principal who protected you and your mothers
Fathers sisters brothers all who are one now
We will become them we will become you somehow
As we grow we will grow for you and embrace each other
The songs from your sky hearts will be the songs from our city

Songs lighting your hands will be the songs lifting our hands
Somehow we contain you somehow you are here inside
Go up to the skies touching the infinite now
Little ones we carry you with our hearts today and tomorrow
This is our song
We will end the fire
Let us sing together

(For the children who perished at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings, and their teachers, staff, principal and the communities of Newtown, Conn. – 12/14/12)

–Juan Felipe Herrera
California Poet Laureate


Little ones I carry you (in tears) when I hug my little girl extra tight

Erica Kohl-Arenas


Family and friends of the Little Ones, we embrace you from across the miles, hold your song of mourning in our hearts, grasp your hand and pray beside you in whatever way you pray.

Liz González


Let us sing together
Our lives will play for u
We will work for u
We will work for the emerging we
That wants to break free
We remember you
as we work to heal
the pain of the world
the pain of past generations
and we begin anew, now
in this moment
this precious moment
this miraculous moment
of infinite possibility

Everardo Pedraza


Death blew into Sandy Hook like the wild winds of a tornado
Innocent kids taken away to early
Innocent kids given wings to sing along with the rest of the angels
Newton, Connecticut didn’t lose twenty kids
It gained twenty angels

Rolando Ortiz


Rayos de luz,
rayos del sol –
semillas fallecidas
semillas agradecidas.
Las memorias se convertirán en abundancias de amor.

(Translation: Rays of light, rays of the Sun — seed grateful dead seeds. The memories become abundances of love.)

Olivia González


A shower of stars this night
glints a thinly-veiled peace.
We look to the heavens,
a blanket of pinpoint fires,
some zinging across the sky
some lit like song.
These are the beauties
we might have known.

Dini Karasik,
for those we lost on December 14, 2012


Little ones,
There are no answers
No reasons
No explanations for the senseless act of one madman
Today, there is only sorrow
and pain
and tears
and darkness

Allisson Ramírez


Criss-cross applesauce,
a kindergarten story;
for Yeats this meant the phase
of childhood where impulse reigns,
before fate intervenes
with the knowledge of death.

Carol Dorf

 _______   _______   _______

Archived under: Arts/Culture, , , , , , , ,


A Guide to Mass Shootings in America

(Mother Jones | December 15, 2012)



Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Download the audio MP3

  Hear Al Young’s “What December Remembers,” his last poem of 2012 for KQED’s The California Report, plus some end-of-year reflections with show host Scott Shafer.


Courtesy images


St. Anthony’s Dining Hall | Glide Memorial Church, San Francisco

How good it feels always to feed and feed
not really the poor, but actual people, table
by table, more than just one mouth at a time;
next-generation descendents and ancestors,
one by one, one on one, one to one. What fun
to deify and defy, to feed yourself, to last.

Body Shop El Águila, San Ysidro, with its big sign in English: “MAY WE HAVE THE NEXT DENTS?”

Yes, like in Stormy Monday Blues, the eagle flew
on Friday, and Saturday he went out to play
– except this year’s Christmas fell on a Tuesday.
He needed him a hard-work weekend long enough
to knock out a foundry full of fender-benders.
To make ends meet, to lavish, to water his wayward,
can’t-speak-Spanish daughters with digital gifts;
to rescue their brother, to win back their mother,
he needed back-busting blessings to lose those blues.
¿La vida loca?  Yes, life was still whatever it was,
his sweet and cruel Christmases the craziest.

The Poet at Three

The poet at three crunching on a candy cane,
sucking on an orange. Sandy Claws knocking
back a cold Co-Cola, all sly, all wise, all smiley
and winky, all White Christmas dreamy, messing
with the kid: a snowy red picture that sticks.
All the way from Mississippi’s Gulf Coast
the poet will clear Cal’s glossy golf courses
(Pebble Beach, Hidden Valley, Pelican Hill,
Old Brockway, Coyote Moon, Incline Village)
to land and hang with joy. To and from worlds
he’ll get to know, the poet will take heart and give.

© 2012 Al Young


RAVI SHANKAR (April 7, 1920 – December 11, 2012) | In Memoriam

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012


© The Ravi Shankar Foundation

Ravi Shankar, popularizer of classical Indian music in the West, dies in San Diego at 92

Ravi Shankar (Bengali), born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury
(April 7, 1920-December 11, 2012)

click image

Ravi Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967

“How does one put the spiritual significance of music on paper? Music transcends all languages and barriers and is the most beautiful communicative skill one can have. Music makes us all experience different emotions or the Navarasa as we call it. Different types of music, whether it is vocal or instrumental, Eastern or Western, Classical or Pop or folk from any part of the world can all be spiritual if it has the power to stir the soul of a person and transcend time for the moment. It makes one get goose-bumps in the body and mind and equates the highest mental orgasm and the release of grateful tears!”
Ravi Shankar, 2009

NEW DELHI – Sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar has died near his home in southern California, his family said on Tuesday. He was 92.

Click here for story at Reuters India


© Reuters India

Pandit Ravi Shankar performing with his daughter Anoushka Shankar in Kolkata (Calcutta), February 7, 2009

  Ravi & Anoushka Shankar – Raga Anandi Kalyan


Legendary sitarist, composer Ravi Shankar dead at 92 | Reuters India | 12 December 2012

Sitar legend Ravi Shankar, father of Norah Jones, dies at 92 | By Ben Brumfield, CNN | December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar, acclaimed Indian musician, dies at 92 | By Kapila Fernando and K. Ratnayake and Peter Symonds, World Socialist Website | 20 December  2012

Norah Jones

EASY | Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones (composers)
from the Breathing Underwater album with Karsh Kale.

“I am so proud of both my daughters, Norah and Anoushka, who are doing so well! Norah had a fantastic tour here in the States and is now in Europe. Anoushka just performed for a capacity crowd of 14,000 people at Stern Grove [San Francisco], and is also in Europe. Shubho’s children; my grandson Som, and granddaughter Kavi are also doing very well, and I have just had a great-grandson, Prem. What else can I ask for? I have a beautiful centre in New Delhi and hope and pray people will support it for posterity.”


clickable images

Courtesy John and Alice Coltrane  ( | Ravi Coltrane

John Coltrane’s liner notes and poetry for the 1964 Impulse album
A Love Supreme

Ravi Shankar’s reminiscences about John Coltrane, 2001

What a blessed musician he was – John Coltrane! Like some great creative musicians of different forms and eras he gave so much –like a magic pot being filled with his golden music spilling over and feeding his ecstatic admirers. Maybe that is why his mortal body couldn’t take it anymore – and he died so early, leaving his adoring listeners who miss him so much!

I first met him in New York around ’64. My dear friend Richard Bock  of World Pacific [Records] brought us together. We had a few sessions in my hotel room where I was staying and  I had also gone to hear him once where he was performing. I was very impressed meeting him because from my early years I had met or seen performing many of the legendary jazz greats – and formed the opinion that most of them were very unsophisticated and earthy individuals, being addicted to alcohol, or drugs or both. But John seemed so different. He had sophistication, dignity and at the same time such humility! Dick Bock had already told me that John had given up eating meat, had become a vegetarian, and was reading books on Sri Ramakrishna and also doing yoga.

He had heard me perform and had most of my LP records that were available and was told by Dick Bock that he was a great admirer of mine and Indian Classical Music! In our sessions he asked me many questions about the basis of our music: the way we learnt from the beginning, how much was written down, how much was memorized, how much was fixed, how and when we started improvising, etc. He did not have his instrument with him, but I had my sitar and he was taking notes from my answers. There came the question of the drone, which is an essential part of our music. I explained that a continuous drone is maintained by the 4 or 5 stringed background drone instrument ‘tanpura’, which registers mainly the tonic and its fourth or fifth note to establish the ‘raga’ (or melody form) that the artist is performing. He said that he had been experimenting  with the drone effect in some of his compositions after hearing me play, and said that the effect was also very calming and soothing. I had heard, just before meeting him, some cassettes of his latest compositions and I said, “John, if you don’t mind I will ask you a question. I just heard some recordings of your new compositions and I was very intrigued” … He looked perplexed. I continued, “ I was so impressed and found it amazing and touching as well, but in places I felt you were crying out through your instrument and it was like a shriek of a tormented soul.

“I have heard the same from many other great jazz performers which is quite understandable because of their pain and the hurt of generations comes out in their music. But seeing and knowing you I thought that the interest and love of our tradition and music has helped you to overcome this…” I will never forget the expression on his face, and the words which he said with such a deep feeling which brought tears to my eyes. He said, “Ravi, that is exactly what I want to know and learn from you… how you find so much peace in your music and give it to your listeners.”

 This was in our last meeting – we embraced and parted with such love. We also fixed a future date in the summer of 1967 when he would keep himself free to come to LA for six weeks and take lessons from me. This alas was never to be.

Copyright © 2009 | Please note that all articles written by Ravi Shankar are the property of the Ravi Shankar Foundation


Late-breaking page-in-progress


Poet-novelists Opal Palmer Adisa & devorah major read at Albany Library Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 7-9pm

Saturday, December 8th, 2012


Poetry at the Albany Library

“Best place to hear and read good poetry.”
— East Bay Express

Poetry at the Albany Library
2nd Tuesday of every month
1247 Marin Avenue
Albany, CA 94706
Map & Directions


Reading followed by open mic

Tuesday December 11, 2012
7 to 9pm

Opal Palmer Adisa
devorah major

Opal Palmer Adisa  |  Photo: Jim Dennis

devorah major

Opal Palmer Adisa and devorah major are poets and artists of unusual breadth who write in multiple genres. They are
also longtime friends, colleagues, and creative partners. As the two-women collective Daughters of Yam, they have
performed worldwide, in the African griot tradition of story telling. They have coauthored two poetry collections (Traveling
Women and Amour Verdinia) and have recorded two poetry/jazz CDs (The Tongue is a Drum and Fierce/Love).

This Tuesday, December 11, Opal Palmer Adisa and Devorah Major will read new and favorite poetry and prose at Albany.

Opal Palmer Adisa‘s latest publications include the novel Painting Away Regrets; the poetry collections What a Woman Is and I Name Me Name; and the anthology Caribbean Erotica: Poetry, Prose, and Essays. Adisa is also editor of The Caribbean Writer, a journal of poetry and prose in French and English. Her photography, most recently photos from her visits to Haiti, has been collected and displayed in San Francisco exhibitions.

i would do it again
work my way
through the hatred
cover my skin
with promise’s voice
squeeze through the
fear until i find
a breath in which
to seed one dream
~ from “Peeling Off the Skin: Nat Turner”
(Name Me Name, Peeple Tree Press)

A full professor of literature at CCA and an instructor at University of the Virgin Islands, Adisa has published short stories, essays, and articles in hundreds of journals and anthologies and earned praise for her books for children and young adults. Born in Jamaica, her writing is rooted in Caribbean landscapes and inspired by the rhythms and expressiveness of Jamaican speech. Alice Walker describes Adisa’s work as “solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love.”

devorah major was San Francisco’s Poet Laureate from 2002 through 2006. Her many publications include the novels An Open Weave, Brown Glass Windows, and Ice Journeys; the poetry collections street smarts, where river meets ocean, and with more than tongue; two historical books for young adults; and poems, essays, and short stories appearing in many periodicals and anthologies. With composer Guillermo Galindo, major created Trade Routes, a symphony with spoken word and chorus that premiered with the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Her honors include the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award, a First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, a California Arts Council Writing Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize. major is currently performing Black Classic: African American Voices from 19th Century San Francisco, a jazz and poetry work about African Americans who lived and thrived in San Francisco between 1845 and 1900. Her new poetry book, rising tides, breaking waves, will be released this winter in Europe.

does the ocean plan her lessons
stillness without quiet
light inside darkness
how she nurtures life
and how she ends it
without pity or remorse
~ from “Tempest”


Produced by Catherine Taylor
for Alameda County Library, Albany

  Al Young 
Library Branch Manager: Ronnie Davis
Circulation Supervisor: Paula Greer
Librarian: Vivian Jaquette
Librarian: Suzi Sargent
Librarian: Dan Hess

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 12/12
Albany Library 1247 Marin Avenue 510-526-3720


DAVID WARREN BRUBECK (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) | In Memoriam

Thursday, December 6th, 2012


“There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks, and there’s the way I like to play, which is dangerously where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before.”
–Dave Brubeck


  Celebrating the Life of Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck. In a 1999 interview with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, Dave Brubeck talked about his decades in the music industry and his first love: rodeo roping.


© Sony Classics


© Associated Press

His Music Gave Jazz New Pop | Ben Ratcliff  | New York Times, December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck, jazz giant, dies at 91 | Sam Whiting | SFGate, December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck: Beyond ‘Take Five’ | Patrick Jarenwattananon | A Blog Supreme. NPR, December 6, 2012

Jazz Musician Dave Brubeck dies at 91 | Hiram Lee | World Socialist Web Site, December 10, 2012


Dave Brubeck at the 2009 Detroit Jazz Festival


Courtesy photo

Joe Morello, drums | Paul Desmond, alto saxophone
| Eugene Wright, bass

The classic 1959-1967 Dave Brubeck Quartet


Posting soon: Al Young’s brief print interview with Dave Brubeck on the Monterey Jazz Festival


Paul Desmond

“At the time, I thought it was kind of a throwaway. I was ready to trade in the entire rights of ‘Take Five’ for a used Ronson electric razor.”Paul Desmond