Aug 19, 2015

I'm reading this Friday at City Limits Gallery (300 Jefferson Street, Oakland) with Elaine Kahn, Zoe Brezsny and James Cordas

7pm reception,
8pm reading

Jul 14, 2015

Kevin Killian reviews The Islands

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The poems of The Islands, Sakkis' longest and most complete version of his poetics, are by turns a complex and miraculously fluid set of lyrics, with narrative buried in them, sometimes deep under strata of time, sometimes in the shallowest of cuts, so that a child might run his fingers through the sand and pick up a star. Listening to Sakkis read his poetry, you get the sense on the one hand that he has a vatic vision, that his mouth is moving but another's voice is emanating from his throat, like Spicer's receiver, and at other times I feel like he is trying earnestly to explain to us what life is like on that other planet he hails from--David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, broken by the sense of Earth, by our requirements for nouns and verbs and image.

I have been reading his work for ten years now, maybe more, and I remember in his previous book RUDE GIRL how the final part was called "The Breakable Ones," with its suggestion of human fragility; and this volume, THE ISLANDS, ends with a poem called "The Moveable Ones (after Michael Palmer") and I see the question of fragility turning into one of modularity, like we're all chess pieces thrown this way and that way by an angry Bobby Fischer type of God. "We are at war/ on the floor," "We are at war/ near our face." The poem turns on the similarity of bridges to the curve of the body, first, of "head to ass," and later, of "scalp to ass," and how the excellence of the one turns into the fear of the other--elsewhere the "Disney/ arches of Munich." The little suffix "ing" that ends most gerunds pops up unconnected to a verb here and there, opening a line as if torn away from its agency, yet retaining the shape of its agent. These moves I interpret as signs of an increased confidence and surety, or perhaps a renewed belief that the shapes of things in the divination are coming to him more clearly. "Yesterday you met a young Benjamin/ over soapy Turkish coffee." This character, the young Benjamin, returns several times, and each time I understand more clearly that he, Sakkis, is the young Benjamin, or at least the young Benjamin Hollander.

I'm re-reading what I've written and I'm seeing that maybe it isn't very useful way of writing a review, but the fact is, the poetry of The Island while very beautiful is rather dense in syntax and in affect, as I can see my young colleague Mr. Krull has already said above, so it's hard to describe on a certain level--in such situations I have learned to go counterintuitive and paraphrase, translate, as the simplest and shiniest terms possible. It is a more political book than its predecessor, or indeed most poetry of today; it is a travel book and a guide to the Greek islands, if a twisted one; it is a book about love and loss; it is a work of Imagist genius; it is a book of family life and feeling deracinated and uprooted even in one's own shoes. Amazon has this new thing where when you swing your cursor through the stars--when writing a rating--you pass from one star to two, to three, and at each pass words appear to tell you what each rating might mean to a language-less person maybe? Anyhow when I go over to five stars these words appear, "I love it." I'm reading these signs that this book is really amazing. I love it.

May 6, 2015

May 5, 2015

Associations, Four, and the last one here

Associations, Three, peep here

Apr 30, 2015

my second Associations post just went up at Harriett, peepshow


Apr 29, 2015

okay! Part III, the final installment of my interview with Paul Ebenkamp just went up at Harriet, check it out here

Apr 28, 2015

Part II of my interview with Paul Ebenkamp just went up at Harriet, check it out

Apr 23, 2015

I interviewed Paul Ebenkamp about his new book, check it out here

Apr 21, 2015

San Francisco book release party/ reading for The Islands, tomorow night

Murmurations: A Reading Series
Bird & Beckett
653 Cheney Street
San Francisco, CA

April 22nd – French Poet - Franck Andre Jamme & translator Norma Cole read from his new book To The Secret (La Presse, 2015),  along with John Sakkis celebrating  his excellent  new book The Islands (Nightboat , 2014).

Readings start at 7:00 pm.

Reading is free.  Author titles will be available for purchase.

Questions about the readings contact host Avery Burns –


Franck André Jamme has published fifteen books of poems and fragments since 1981, as well as numerous illustrated books (with Jaume Plensa, James Brown, Zao Wou Ki, Marc Couturier, Suzan Frecon, Yang Jie Chang, Olivier Debre, Acharya Vyakul, Philippe Favier). He has been praised by Edmond Jabes, Henri Michaux and René Char (whose Complete Works he has edited in La Pléiade), and has been translated by John Ashbery. He is also a specialist and curator of contemporary Indian Tantric, Brut and tribal arts (for Magiciens de la terre at Centre Pompidou, Fondation Cartier and Galerie du Jour/Agnes b., Paris, the CCA and Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, Feature Gallery, The Drawing Center and Lawrence Markey Gallery, NYC). He has published numerous works in the United States, including Moon Wood (Selavy Press, 2000); Extracts from the Life of a Beetle (Black Square, 2000); The Recitation of Forgetting (Black Square, 2003); Another Silent Attack (Black
 Square/Brooklyn Rail, 2006); New Exercises (Wave Books, 2008). He is one of the authors of The Yale Book of French Poetry, 2004. For his life work, he received in 2005 the Grand Prix de Poesie de la Societe des Gens de Lettres. He lives in Paris and Burgundy.

John Sakkis was recently interviewed  in the SF Weekly which includes a brief bio:

John is currently  blogging for The Poetry Foundation/ Harriet for National Poetry Month: