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Archive for November, 2013

LIVING IN THE DEEP WEST: In Memory of Wanda Coleman (1946-2013)

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


Wanda Coleman (1946-2013) in memoriam



 In memory of Wanda Coleman (1946-2013)

SoCal and what you called the Deep West keel

over without you and your defiant signifying.

You skipped right over absinthe, opium, mescaline,

LSD, heroin, orgy and weed to reach the Zone.

You wrote Days of Our Lives, you won an Emmy,

you slid into the Zone on slippery bars of soap

opera, all choruses, no breaks, just one long jes-grew

coda 20 volumes long. In code and flat-out truth,

you logged L.A. behavior hot to cold. In erosong

you sexified her landscape’s dips and swells, her

heavens, her hells. Anything but quiet or quaint,

your pictures in wall-painted language (sliced

between canyons and summits and ridges) stick

to the ribs and to the heart half-free or caged.

Concrete streets and freeways couldn’t always go

the distance or reach the intimacy you loved.

What was a Watts-born woman to do but learn

to boogaloo? Or sail the desert? Or walk the sea?

— Al Young
26 November 2013

© Al Young


the nation logo

E. Ethelbert Miller: ‘Remembering Wanda Coleman’ | The Nation, November 25, 2013




Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


winter sky

AWP Seattle 2014
(Association of Writers and Writing Programs)

Flying Home AWP Seattle 2014 

Al & Cassandra SeaTac 2014

Winging it home to San Francisco, Al Young responds to poet Cassandra Dallett‘s magnetic stare at Seattle-Tacoma Airport’s Virgin America concourse. Both writers attended AWP (Associated Writing Programs) Seattle. [1 March 2014]

CC Folk Late Nite Daily Grill Sheraton AWP Seattle 2014 Daily Grill

[L-R] Al Young, Toi Derricotte, Sarah Micklem, Cornelius Eady, and Allison Meyers linger late at Sheraton’s Daily Grill of a chilled Friday night | AWP Seattle 2014

AWP Al & Erin by Jenny
Photo: Jenny Goldsmith

Al Young and MFA in Writing grad Erin Ginder-Shaw reunite at California College of the Arts’ Friday night gathering at Seattle AWP.

AY w: Colleen &
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Al Young, Colleen J. McElroy, Amanda Johnston at AWP Seattle, about to convene for a Friday noon panel was devoted to celebrating McElroy’s achievements as a writer, teacher and the innovative editor of Seattle Review.

F186 A Tribute to and Celebration of Colleen J. McElroy

Room 612, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Friday, February 28, 2014
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Colleen J. McElroy is a speech pathologist, poet, memoirist, playwright, editor, mentor, professor, and globetrotter extraordinaire. For more than thirty years, she taught at the University of Washington and served as the editor-in-chief of the Seattle Review from 1995 – 2006. The panelists, former colleagues, students, and friends, celebrated her legacy, mentorship, and contributions to the world of literature. Following a series of tributes, Professor McElroy shared some of her work.
Outisde Room 608 AWP_2
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[L-R] Marisis Nelson, Madeleine Grieves, Remica L. Bingham, Colleen J. McElroy, Al Young, Frances Hughes, Laurie Connor, Adrian Matejka



 Alive with memories of 1982, when he guest-taught at the University of Washington and with his family lived in Seattle, Al Young pays yet another nostalgic visit to the popular Pike Place Market.

David & Erin SFO 26Feb2014
Al Young

David Morini (Manager of California College of the Arts‘ MFA in Writing and MFA in Comics Programs) jokes with recent grad Erin Ginder-Shaw about the lateness of our Virgin American flight from SFO to AWP Seattle — and other stuff.



LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka in memoriam

Catherine 1
Al Young

Ben Batu and Albany Library’s Second Tuesdays poetry series producer Catherine Taylor at the February UC Berkeley memorial for Amiri Baraka.



Wanda L.A. Times Al Young

‘A Weekend of Tributes’ to poet Wanda Coleman


AY Valona Deli 12Jan14 Photos: Maria Rosales

Connie Post Al Young Valona Deli 12Jan14

Connie Post, Livermore’s poet laureate emerita and author of Floodwater, hosts featured readerAl Young at the Second Sunday Readings Series she produces at the popular Valona Deli in Crockett, CA, where trumpet legend Chet Baker used to sometimes hang and play. Co-owner Terry Henry, a delectable pianist, leads a sparkling jazz trio that boasts bassist Steve Webber and drummer and jazz-thriller novelist Bill Moody. | magnifying_glass_icon

 Xmas Wreath

prez xmas 2013  Maria Syndicus

Prez Tree 2013

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Al & Marc by Carl French Hotel  Carl Martineau

Al Young and songster Marc Silber in full Winter Solstice mode at Berkeley’s French Hotel Café | December 2013

 Click on image below to view in context
Michael Young @ City Lights Dec 2013
© City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

Michael Young poses for the Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem-inscribed T-shirt that reads: “We were born / under the mulberry trees / from which drop / the mynah birds / of madness.”


NCNC | North Carolina November Coyote photographed by Vivian Torrence

Coyote November 2 VT

Coyote November 1 VT
38px-Speaker_Icon.svgListen to Vivian Torrence and Nobel Chemist Roald Hoffman talk with Ann Strainchamps of To the Best of Our Knowledge about their Chemistry Imagined: Connecting Art & Science project at the September 2013 Wisconsin Science Festival
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Sculpted Carrot Oct 2013 Al Young 
ming's davidson nc

Sculpted carrot carried all the way home to Berkeley from Ming’s Bistro in Davidson, NC.  | October 2013


PETE ENGELHART: Musician & Metal Percussion Craftsman

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Blue Pete's Grafitti

Blue @ Pete's

Pete Englehart at Work

 Pete at work

Al & Pete late 2013

Al and pianist and metal percussion instrument maker Pete Engelhart, friends since 1962.


2013 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Awards

Sunday, November 24th, 2013


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The 2013 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles 23rd Annual Literary Book Awards

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The 23rd annual PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 7, 2013, at the Oakland Public Library, Rockridge Branch, 5366 College Avenue from 2 to 5 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception and book signings.

Called by The New York Times, “The Blue Collar PEN,” since 1989 PEN Oakland has recognized authors for outstanding literary achievement. Without a single dime from corporations or a board dominated by mainstream publishers, writers are recognized by their fellow writers.

The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions.

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PENOakland Poster 2013_2

The 2013 PEN Oakland Literary Award Winners
Andrew Lam, Birds of Paradise Lost: Thirteen Stories of the Vietnamese Diaspora (fiction), Red Hen Press
Luis J. Rodriguez (author), Denise M. Sandoval (editor), Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams:  How the Arts Are Transforming a Community, (anthology: non-fiction, poetry, art), Tia Chucha
Lucille Lang Day, Married At Fourteen, (memoir), Heyday Books.
Toni Morrison, Home, (fiction), Vintage International
Tim Seibles, Fast Animal, (poetry) Etruscan Press
Christopher Wagstaff (Editor). A Poet’s Mind: Collected Interviews with Robert Duncan, 1960-1985 (interviews), North Atlantic Books.
Recipient of the Reginald Lockett Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award is Jesse Douglas Taylor, for his gadfly writings exposing the hypocrisies and errors of Bay Area politicians.
Recipient of the Censorship Award is Chris Hedges, who has been dubbed the conscience of journalism for his resistance to the platitudes and distortions of corporate journalism.

The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. Upon receiving his award Norman Mailer said, “Part of the pleasure of receiving the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award for 1996 is that I can now think of myself as an honorary citizen of Oakland, not a sister-city, but a West Coast mate to Brooklyn, my old place.”

The awards were named for Josephine Miles, the great poet and University of California at Berkeley faculty member.


Saturday, December 7, 2013 – 2pm – 5pm


rockridge oaklandpublibindex

Oakland Public Library, Rockridge Branch
5366 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
Phone: 510.597.5017

arrowMap & Directions

For further information, please contact Tennessee Reed at 510.206-6107


WANDA COLEMAN | November 13, 1946 – November 22, 2013 | In Memoriam

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

DEPARTURES | Mike Sonksen: In Honor of Wanda Coleman November 27, 2013
LIVING IN THE DEEP WEST | Al Young: A poem in memory of Wanda Coleman

tiny-youtubeWanda Coleman Mariano Zaro
The shorter version of Wanda Coleman’s May 2013 interview

Mariano Zaro’s interview notes

Wanda Coleman PoetryLA Extended

five stars

Wanda Coleman (1946-2013) had a literary career that spanned over 30 years and included numerous volumes of poetry and fiction, most recently Jazz & Twelve O’Clock Tales (Godine/Black Sparrow Books, 2008) and The World Falls Apart (Pitt Poetry Series, 2011). Her honors included an Emmy in Daytime Drama Writing and a Leonard Marshall Prize. In this May 11, 2013 video she discusses her life and work with Mariano Zaro, part of the www.Poetry.LA interview series featuring noted poets of Southern California and beyond.

Wanda Coleman

“We got so naturally ripped, we sprouted wings,

crashed parties on the moon, and howled at the earth

we lived off love. It was all we had to eat

when you split you took all the wisdom
and left me the worry”

— Wanda Coleman
(“In That Other Fantasy Where We Live Forever,”)

Copyright © 2001 by Wanda Coleman. Reprinted from Mercurochrome: New Poems (Black Sparrow Press). All rights reserved


Saturday, November 23, 2013


High Priestess gone at 67

© giovanni singleton

© Foto Gezett (Germany)

I was introduced to the work and the person known as Wanda Coleman by the poet/literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller as I made my way as a young poet and human being. Her work opened my ears and heart. Her American Sonnets for sure turned the tables. She was part of an important mandala of influence for me, the last one remaining after Barbara Christian, Alice Coltrane, Lucille Clifton, and Jayne Cortez.

Our first meeting would be at a conference in the late 1990s entitled “Expanding the Repertoire: Innovation and Change in African-American Writing” organized by Renee Gladman and myself at the New College of California in San Francisco. The proceedings were published in special issue of Tripwire and include talks and writing by Will Alexander, C. S. Giscombe, Erica Hunt, Nathaniel Mackey, Mark McMorris, Harryette Mullen, Julie Patton, Lorenzo Thomas. To my great surprise Ms. Coleman dedicated her presentation to me. Read her article at

She later said how wonderful it was to have been invited to such a historical and important gathering.

After that, we gathered occasionally by phone, snail mail, email and occasionally in person. As founding editor of nocturnes (re)view  I was honored to publish a selection of her work in the 2002 “Spirit” issue. This past April (2013), I was invited to join Ms. Coleman for dinner at a private residence in San Francisco. The neighborhood is notorious for difficult parking but I set out early, determined not to miss one minute of her company. I had heard that she had been unwell. Though more slight of build, her voice, her presence was unmistakable. The occasion was a simple but important one: to introduce local, young African American women poets to the High Priestess. Ms. Coleman was gracious in sharing her wisdom and intelligence. She and I exchanged knowing glances and silent conversation. We shared a long, heartful hug, the sound and warmth of which lingered for a long time afterwards. And too we cleaned our plates full of good home cooking. Cameras flashed long into the night.

Over the years, Ms. Coleman and I laughed loudly and fearlessly. We did not hold our tongues. We too communed in conversations punctuated by silence.

We could see stained glass and tell time by colors.

As I head to L.A. to teach for the Spring, I bow my head to the High Priestess and hear her say, “Now, listen.”


giovanni singleton received a MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from The New College of California. Her debut collection, Ascension, is informed by the music and life of Alice Coltrane. It has recently received the California Book Award Gold Medal for Poetry. singleton was selected in 2011 for the Poetry Society of America’s biennial New American Poetry Series, which recognizes recent first book poets. In 1999, she founded nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts, a critically acclaimed journal dedicated to the work of artists and writers of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces.


l.a. times logo

Wanda Coleman dies at 67; Watts native, L.A.’s unofficial poet laureate

During four decades as a force on the L.A. poetry scene, Coleman produced works that compelled attention to racism and hatred. | Elaine Woo | November 23, 2013



the nation logo

E. Ethelbert Miller: ‘Remembering Wanda Coleman’ | The Nation, November 25, 2013



Home » Arts & Culture, Featured, la riots, News

Wanda Coleman reads: ‘The Riot Inside Me’, ‘Soon Ja’, ‘After the Rampage

Posted April 26, 2012 by Caitlin Shamberg | Comments (2) | ]
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Poet Wanda Coleman

Wanda Coleman grew up in Los Angeles in Watts in the 1960s. She witnessed the 1965 Watts Riots, and the 1992 Rodney King riot. We invited her into the KCRW studios to share some of her poetry, which we are also playing on air this week as we look back on the civil unrest. “The Riot Inside Me” was published in 2003 and Coleman says she wrote it in response to the Watts Riot and the Rodney King Riot.

button ff  Listen


Jack Foley

(mostly her words)


cvr Jazz & 12 O'Clock Tales
Jazz and 12 O’Clock Tales c
over (David R Godine)

I’ve been thrown out of Hollywood night spots for being too rowdy


have picked cotton from the roadside in Fresno


was once pulled over by the CHP for spilling apple juice on the roads of King City


Allen Ginsberg hugged me in Oakland


I’ve seen L.A. riot twice


I’ve been blissed out at Mt. Shasta, stoned at Wolfgang’s, and nauseated in Palm Springs


My heart lives in Lancaster and my grief dwells in the Russian River


I am a Black Californian, but I am forever married to a New York Jew.


I was born here. I intend to die here.


At home.


“in cold grey morning
comes the forlorn honk of workbound traffic
i wake to the video news report

the world is going off
rising, I struggle free of the quilt
& wet dreams of my lover dispel
leave me moist and wanting

 in the bathroom
i rinse away illusions, brush my teeth and
unbraid my hair
there’re the children to wake
breakfast to conjure
the job
the day laid out before me
the cold corpse of an endless grind

 so this is it, i say to the enigma in the mirror
this is your lot/assignment/relegation
this is your city

 i find my way to the picture window
my eyes capture the purple reach of hollywood’s hills
the gold eye of sun mounting the east
the gray anguished arms of avenue

 i will never leave here”

people speak
of the violence and dignity
of your presence
but what
of the beauty
of your language?

© 2013 Jack Foley


LEEWAY | A Poem by Al Young

Friday, November 22nd, 2013


lavender, antique clock and white candle via Knick of Time  © Angie Chávez


“Consider me,
Descended also
From the
— Langston Hughes

Time-weary, still, he feels safest winter nights

in the kitchen by the stove. At the back

of his too-studied brain, cave-dwellers groan.

No music, no texts, no ghosts at his side. Just

silence enough to let him listen to the Mystery

from which he’s descending. Few ever know;

fewer care. When the pull of phone calls dies

and paramedic fire truck sirens dial down,

he can boil eggs, toast bread, drizzle oil,

peel fruit and thank and see forever into

this moment that staggers, opening endlessly

here into now. Deeper than anything he can

remember, fiercer than any fictitious futures,

pure Mystery stops him cold with warmth.

—Al Young

© 2013

“Consider Me” by Langston Hughes was first published in 1951, the be-bop inflected period of his great “Montage of a Dream Deferred”. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes.