Apr 29, 2011

Hi, I'm reading in SF next month...

Canessa Park Reading Series
708 Montgomery Street @ Columbus
San Francisco, CA 94111

2nd Monday Nights

May 9th – 2011

Colleen Lookingbill
John Sakkis

Doors open @ 7 and Reading @ 7:30
Admission $6
(bring this announcement for $1 off)

Apr 21, 2011

Kevin Killian reads

Andrew Kenower sits

Estee Schwartz sits

three photos from Kevin Killian's reading at Mercury Gallery, Oakland, CA.

Apr 19, 2011

While organizing my Hip Hop records tonight (and I'm done!) I came across one of my first mixtape set lists. It was tucked neatly into Elusive's Deceiving The Right Eye...Volume 2. Track list from a long forgotten and long lost mixtape.

Letters Mixtape Side A

1. Elusive- Bakery
2. Itai Doshen- Telephone
3. Elusive- One More Hit
4. Jurassic 5- Concrete Schoolyard
5. Elusive- Stretching Space Pt. 2
6. G&E- The March
7. Eligh- Confidence
8. Saafir- Smart Bomb
9. Swollen Members- Committed
10. K.N.T.- Cycles

Letters Mixtape Side B

1. Talib Kweli/ Mos Def- Definition
2. Heiroglyphics- Oakland Black Outs
3. Fundementals- Pow Wow
4. Sacred Hoop- Burn Drunk Hours
5. Sole- Third Person
6. Socialistik- Deadly Game
7. Haiku De Tat- Still Rappin
8. Peanut Butter Wolf- Styles, Crews, Flows, Beats
9. The Anonymous- Dr. Ez's Cool Fantastic
10. Mystik Journeymen- Right Now
11. The Anonymous- Green And Gold

Apr 15, 2011

Apr 12, 2011

one bottle of white wine, an aching back, and a severely alpha-scrambled brain and half of my records are finally shelved...next up, my 500 Hip Hop records...

Mulder and Scully hold hands in my medicine cabinet. The DC Universe and the Marvel Universe put their differences aside to form the superest super hero team Oakland, CA has ever seen, in my medicine cabinet.

The Excedrin and Tums are UFOs/ MIB/ The Cancer Man. The Degree and Crystal deodorants are evil marauding berserker robots. 

Apr 11, 2011

we won!

Angelos and I won the Northern California Book Reviewers award for Maribor. Very honored to have been selected (esp in light of who we were up against: Josh Edwards and Kurt Beals). The ceremony and reception were great, so much warmth in the room. Serendipitously the Greek-Independence Day Parade was happening along Market st. outside. Afterwords Angelos, Thea Anna and my parents headed over to Ikaros in Oakland for celebratory ouzo and Mythos beer. Such a fantastic day.

Apr 9, 2011

tomorrow, wish me luck!

Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library
100 Larkin Street in San Francisco
Followed by a reception and book signing in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room

Celebrate Northern California's vibrant literary scene when the 30th annual Northern California Book Awards recognize the best published works of 2010 on Sunday, April 10, 1:00-2:30 pm at the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library's Main Branch,
 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco. A book signing and reception with the authors follows the Awards Ceremony in the Latino/Hispanic Room from 2:30-4:00 pm. Nominated books will be for sale by Readers Bookstore at the Main/Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Admission is free. For more information, please call (510) 525-5476 or visit http://poetryflash.org/NCBA.html
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARDIndivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry,
edited by Neelanjana Banerjee, Summi Kaipa, and Pireeni Sundaralingam,
University of Arkansas Press

FRED CODY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENTTAMIM ANSARY, Afghan American writer, lecturer, editor and teacher

The 2011 Northern California Book Award Nominees are:
* Ivan and Misha, stories, Michael Alenyikov, TriQuarterly Books
* Heidegger's Glasses, Thaisa Frank, Counterpoint
* Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, stories, Yiyun Li, Random House
* Death is Not an Option, stories, Suzanne Rivecca, W.W. Norton
* The More I Owe You, Michael Sledge, Counterpoint

POETRY* Suck on the Marrow, Camille T. Dungy, Red Hen Press
* Trance Archive: New and Selected Poems, Andrew Joron, City Lights Publishers
* Writing the Silences, Richard O. Moore, University of California Press
* Rough Honey, Melissa Stein, American Poetry Review
* Pleasure, Brian Teare, Ahsahta Press
* Come on All You Ghosts, Matthew Zapruder, Copper Canyon Press

GENERAL NONFICTION* Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer-And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Simon & Schuster
* The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis, W. W. Norton
*Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson's Life and Language, Aífe Murray, University Press of New England
* Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, Robert B. Reich, Alfred A. Knopf
* The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons, Richard Rhodes, Alfred A. Knopf

CREATIVE NONFICTION* Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist, Elliot Aronson, Basic Books
* A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California, Laura Cunningham, Heyday
* Cakewalk, a memoir, Kate Moses, The Dial Press
* Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, Rebecca Solnit, University of California Press
* Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean, Julia Whitty, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

* Translation by Anne Milano Appel, Blindly, by Claudio Magris, from Italian,
Penguin Group (Canada)
* Translation by David Frick, A Thousand Peaceful Cities, by Jerzy Pilch, from
Polish, Open Letter Books
* Translation by Damion Searls, Comedy in a Minor Key, by Hans Keilson,
from German, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
* Translation by Kurt Beals, engulf-enkindle, by Anja Utler, from German,     
Burning Deck
* Translation by Joshua Edwards, Ficticia, by María Baranda, from Spanish, Shearsman Books
* Translation by John Sakkis and Angelos Sakkis, Maribor, by Demosthenes Agrafiotis, from Greek, The Post-Apollo Press

CHILDREN'S LITERATURE* Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem, Jorge Argueta, illustrator Fernando Vilela, Groundwood Books/Libros Tigrillo
* The Haunting of Charles Dickens, Lewis Buzbee, Feiwel and Friends
* The Vinyl Princess, Yvonne Prinz, HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishers
* Other Goose: Re-Nurseried!! and Re-Rhymed!! Children's Classics,
J. Otto Seibold, Chronicle Books
* Shooting Kabul, N.H. Senzai, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Paula Wiseman Books

The 2011 Awards are presented by the Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, Center for the Art of Translation, PEN West, Mechanics' Institute, Red Room (redroom.com), San Francisco Public Library and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Apr 7, 2011

going to see my friend Logan's band The Dodos tonight at The Fillmore. can't believe this will be my first time to the Fillmore. Fillmore Fillmore Fillmore!

this is their new video for Black Night, conceptualized by Logan, shot in SOMA and staring the homie Patrick Dunagan as a low down dirty white-collar bruiser (God he looks Irish in this video doesn't he?). i recently had an Ong Bak movie marathon, so this video is sups apropos.

Fillmore Fillmore!
flooded warehouse, broken chain necklace, Brent Cunningham, bird's eye view of ranch in the country, luggage, motivational speakers, rain storm.

dream images last night.

Apr 5, 2011

wherein Lorca holds onto my pointer finger while Micah supports her by the jaw as Cedar with beer in hand swoops in for the big smile...at Jason Morris and Patrick Dunagan's reading at Bird And Beckett last night.

Apr 4, 2011

Hey hey, Jared Alford reviews the 'Lectric Collective reading for the Omnidawn blog...!

What:  Ekphrastic!, the third reading
Where:  Krowswork Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland, CA
When:  Saturday March 12, 7:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Who:  ‘Lectric Collective (Jillian Roberts, Sarah Rothberg, Kelsa Trom) presents
Poets:  Steven Lance, John Sakkis, C.S. Giscombe
Exhibiting Artists: Anthony Dubovsky, Shannon May, Jae Lauren Payne, Jon Stich, Ben Belknap, Peter Schulte, Misako Inaoka, Sarah Ratchye
Review written by Jared Alford, Omnidawn’s Facebook Editor and Lit Scene Features Reviewer.
This third show of the “Ekphrastic!” series presents an ensemble of paintings and poems generated through conversations between artists and writers, with the paintings serving as visual translations of the poets’ words, thus inversing the usual order understood by ekphrasis (from the Greek, “ek” and “phrasis,” “out” and “speak”), in which the visual artwork serves as the source for a graphic, often dramatic description.

The night begins at 7:30, and from then until 8:00 or later light chatter and easy gazes fill the brightly lit room to the left of the entrance, while some prepare to listen in the dark room to the right. In this left room, there are seven visual works and one audio, each based on a different poem to be read aloud.

The first poet, Steven Lance, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, reads five poems which might be said, as one host indicated, to exhibit a fluent synthesis of logic, history, and poetry—or, even grander, a veritable symphony played by none other than Time and Reason on the black-and-whites of the text. As exemplified in the poem included below, “Letatlin,” the poems often combine the cinematic, monumental, and referential into whimsical narratives of subtle characters, wonder, and humor—deftly delivered in the poet’s careful, gentle tones. One of his collaborators, Misako Inaoka, contributes perhaps the most singular visual piece of the event, echoing this rare knack for hybridizing the improbable with a metal sculpture sprightly thrusting its wondrous body of butterfly, luxurious balconies, and what look to be cocoons. Sarah Ratchye also presents visual re-combinations with “Things and WhAr BEtwEen,” and “Th’ unsrtAntE uv antlrz,” the first a graphite work of gradations of scribble in the shapes of lips, flowers, and orbs, and the second a collage again presenting lips and ornamental orbs, but this time with cherries, buttons, and a curious bird which seems part hummingbird, part eagle.

Next appears John Sakkis, who reads fairly lengthy poems of such rhythm and reference sliding in and out of the satirical their brisk tones edge toward the brusque, but remain sincere. In the selection included below, for example, in “The Lone Gunmen,” we are circulated “From Simon Magus to Moses to Logos,” and confronted by “the Gunmen… named after an Airforce base / A punk rock band and JFK,” so that by the end of it we feel perhaps “like ghosts asking stupidly / ‘Where does [such] lightning come from… / By what will…?,” left in wonder by our “Magician incarnate,” John Sakkis. His poems are refigured by Jon Stich, who contributes some pen-work figuring Chewbacca in cross-hatch poised to destroy a Muni bus, as well as by Shannon May, who presents hypnotic amalgamations of black-and white orbs, dark wisps, perhaps a vague face, and hands or paw-tracks.

Finally comes C.S. Giscombe, a professor in UC Berkeley’s English department, who commits constellations of cities and genealogies of travelers to lucid lines of keen reflections and nuanced descriptions. A selection from Giscome Road is translated into the single audio piece in the event, “The Bridge,” by Peter Schulte, a mostly gently mesmerizing work of over 13 minutes filled with crackling electronic oscillations, organ and trumpet tones, what sounds like coyotes and ocean waves, and a brief plateau of heavy drones and calls for “Home” approaching the 10-minute mark. Jae Lauren Payne also contributes with “Popcorn Tin,” consisting of what looks to be a 4”x4” canvas embedded in old red brick featuring stark, rippling textures and three-dimensional elements of wood and construction materials in shades of white and aqueous blue and green.

The Ekphrasis! series continues with its fourth iteration sometime in mid-May, when the ‘Lectric Collective curates a similar assemblage of larger scale, gathering together curators of reading series with curators of art galleries, with artists responding to writers’ work once again. Writers that have so far expressed their interest include David Brazil, Sarah Larsen, Sara Mumolo, Brandon Brown, Brent Cunningham, Jackqueline Frost, and Zack Tuck.

Stay tuned to lectriccollective.blogspot.com for updates.

Steven Lance

At the end of the movie
it took on the shape of a bird
and so did the camera, we flew
to a house where an old man
kept several black cats.

The monument would not be built because it had been pronounced
structurally unsound. In these poems the words are often composed
figuratively to form a picture. Other words make a fig tree,
the winged fig tree in the Louvre representing the genre.
The coats were also cats, which I think was the joke. The pictures make a poem
and dominate the staircase. Its right hand raise in epiphanic salute
was discovered years later but could not be attached.

Returning from the city they surprised themselves
with a new sophistication, a joke about old men and cats.
He would tell it in the voice of Sir Walter Scott, he would
tell it only his eldest son. Vladimir Tatlin
waved from the glass revolving cylinder
down to the crow, all Petrograd watching in wonder.
There are phrases for what this was. There are phrases for fig trees
and phrases for “the first October object.”

He built a flying machine with wings like Leonardo’s
and he strapped himself beneath it for a group of reporters.
They took his picture but so much had changed,
it was 1932, and there was something pathetic in his
boy’s smile and his boy’s dream of wings.


“The Lone Gunmen”
John Sakkis

Hubba hubba in the West
But it’s his magical powers
That keeps that magazine in circulation

From Simon Magus to Moses to Logos
A judge with his own store
But it’s where we hideout

And just as Scully was named after
A baseball announcer, The Gunmen
Are named after an Airforce base
A punk rock band and JFK

The History Of Hell in a series spinoff
And that little cry-baby CC
Was anything but a duelist
Dropping the hammer on message boards
Swearing to kill off anybody not
Tuned into this Friday night ménage
Until Mulder was tasked to chat
With these ghosts asking stupidly
“Where does lightening come from, and
By what will does it strike the tower?”

In this theogony TLG might be
The Bride but your ideas are even
Weirder than the myriad scientific
Inaccuracies of the sci-fi series Earth 2
El Lobo appears to live a normal life
And his motto “as above, so below”
Might trick a satellite dish into bouncing
Back his image, but don’t be fooled
By these childish scraps, he is the
Magician incarnate asking for assistance


C.S. Giscombe

To me love’s an animal, not the feeling of watching one but the animal itself—blunt, active, equipped.  The long body and, almost independent of that, the mobile head, the range of its movement, the obvious ambivalence.  A horse in the river.

I was a sad boy in a dream on his bicycle in the marshes.  Always the first question is Where?  Jamaica probably along the Black River itself where the boat takes one to see the crocodiles and then there’s a place to eat at the end of the tour where the tour boat turns around at a low bridge.  A dream of what?

Love’s an animal to me, not working one or the expectation of one’s arrival, not “love’s animal.”  Love’s full of uncorrected error, the fact of it being unseen or seen and stared at, speechless beneath a bridge, eating with its mouth instead, a croc or any animal.

An island, a river, a bridge.  Marshes in the dream, though bird-less; and a swaying wooden bridge and the image of a missile having gone up or come up—from where?—through it: I offered it to the boy bicycling as a kind of humorous solace for his situation, an aimless if tangential exaggeration.

(But at the end was a small train station—an archetype—, just out of town, out of the marsh, and going there I got, in the dream, to long strands of passenger cars stretching out in two directions, platforms alongside.)

Jimmy, Pat and Kazwell contemplate husbandry

this man is reloading his meth bullet while looking at the pretty horses

meth bullet guy, cowboy and man pointing at something with his wife shot

Nevine pretending to contemplate her bets

dude crew and one Asian girl with a sexy Chicana poof

Carl checking out some garbage-art

the view from Albany Bowl text message

posted up on bunch of landfill, garbage-hippie art dragon in the background

tent city to my left, tent city to my right, just out of frame

I have known Nevine exactly half of my life

me and Kazwell in an epic post-rock chucking malaise

this is the one where me and my brother are posing like a couple of Cholos in front of some horrible garbage/hippie graffiti

My shadow is still taller than Nevine's

wrapping it all up at Heart and Dagger

Sunday off to the race track. Another hot day, perfect for betting on the ponies at Golden Gate Fields. Dollar beers, dogs, admittance and parking. Brother, Dempsey, Pat, Kazwell, Nevine, Melissa and some other fools. I think the horse named "Not Jonny" might have won Nevine a few bucks (told her she had to bet on that one). Dempsey and Kazwell came out ahead. Carl showed up steaming at the collar but just in time for the last race. He was pissed because one of his friends had placed a "Woman looking for Men" casual encounters ad up on Craigslist using his phone number. By the time he showed up to GG Fields he had received 60 text messages (tons of cock-shots) and 15 phone calls. Poor Carl. This is what Carl posted on Facebook later that night "To whomever posted my number in a personal on craiglist, fuck you and I owe you a swift fist to the face. It was fun for a minute. But I'm over this now. And I have had 3 phone calls and five texts during the course this message. Go fuck yourself GFY!" Poor poor Carl.

After the races Carl lead us all over to Albany Bowl/Beach. A short hike into the cuts to make your way down to the water. I guess the place used to be landfill, and then people started making all of this artwork/sculpture out of the garbage. It's garbage-art/ Burner/hippie-art, lot's of squatters out there in make shift tent cities. Pretty neat spot though with a great view of GG Bridge and SF skyline. After taking in the view for a while my brother and I decided to have stone throwing contest. We were amazed that it appeared we threw the exact same distance no matter how many times we tried, we called it a tie and blamed genetics for the indecision. We then proceeded to hurl giant hunks of concrete and boulder at a wooden post, which entertained us to no end (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, Nevine made a wrong turn somewhere back on the trails. Now totally lost she kept making these frantic phone calls to us which we found sort of hilarious only because we were in such small controlled open space. Nevine never made it down to the water so we told her to stay put and we'd find her on our way out. We spotted her within 5 minutes, collected her, apologized for being dicks and then headed back to the cars. The dudes headed home but Nevine and I decided to head to Heart and Dagger for a beer. At this point it's early evening and it's still hot out and I'm wearing a tank top, full farmer's tan from the track, I'm in an incredibly good mood. First time at Heart And Dagger, the place is amazing, exactly the kind of bar I was hoping I would find close to my new apartment. Rock and Roll bar with a pool table, TV for baseball, large backyard with picnic tables, attractive girls doing attractive things, and just 3 blocks from me! Gee Whiz I love Adam's Point. Nevine and I enjoyed our Trumer Pills in the backyard talking about boys and girls and gossip, rehashing old times etc. We walked back to my place as the sun was setting on Lake Merritt, again, had one of those 'WTF I actually live here' moments. Said our goodbyes, I made and ate leftovers for dinner, watched a couple episodes of Big Love and went to bed. Sunday.

Apr 3, 2011

first weekend in Oakland started off with an implied bang. Steve and Lindsey were hungry but didn't want to go to a BBQ with me. so i rolled over to my friend Carl's house solo for a rooftop grill n' chill. Carl lives right next to the giant new Kaiser building currently under construction. i knew from a Facebook update that Carl had a giant cooler full of Miller High Life (he's really into Americana), i wasn't disappointed when i got there. so Americana in hand i made my way out to the roof where i was introduced to a "Mike" and then another "Mike" and then a "Micah" and then a "Mick" and 2 "Neals"...i'm not kidding at all. those were really their names; it was difficult at first but i pretty much ignored Mike #2, Micah was too hammered to worry about, i'm not sure if Mick ever existed and thankfully one of the "Neils" was asian. so i ate an amazing meal of BBQ chicken slathered in Kinders marinade (Concord, CA's finest BBQ sauce!), pork loin, grilled asparagus, hot potatoes, home made chili and more Americana. first BBQ of the warm seasons always tastes best. Carl then told me about how the old Kaiser building was going to be destroyed by explosives as soon as construction wrapped up on the new building, oh hooray and huzzah! i told him that he should have a detonation party, he told me that he was already planning on it...youtube video forthcoming. and then i saw that Albert Brown's Mortuary was also right next to Carl's apartment (photo below) which cracked me up. i used to rock an old Dose One Albert Brown Mortuary t-shirt...black and pink. here's a link to a photo with me rocking the shirt in Munich. so anyway, i started singing that old song "come on down to Albert Brown/ come on/ come on/ come on down to Albert Brown/ come on/ come one..." which got fools looking at me sideways...after that the dice were pulled out and many people quickly lost many dollars to Carl, he's kind of a dice-shark, he carries dice in his pocket, nuff said. so then i called Steve and Lindsey a million times because it was getting time to head out to the Art Murmer and we had plans to mash to the event together as Art Murmer virgins. but those dudes weren't picking up the phone. so i just texted them something like "on the way to pick you up!"...and then i heard back pretty quick "we're cooking dinner, we'll meet you there in a bit..." and i thought to myself, yeah they ain't making it, bummer...so me and the dude-crew headed out in cars and cabs...first stop "Can't Remember The Name Of The Tattoo Shop That Mike Works At On 24th And Broadway" for beers and billiards. then onwards to Mama Buzz in the midst of the block party (i had no idea Oakland went off like that by the way), and then over to Stork Club for a breather, then over to Kroswork Gallery, which i only realized was the venue i had read at for the 'Lectric event after hanging out in their parking for like 20 minutes (i'm still getting really turned around in Oakland, lot to learn)...and then it was just me and Carl and his lady friend traipsing around bumping into people talking about how trippy "schwas" are. i faded pretty quick after that though and wanted to be fresh for my Dad's 72nd birthday the next day, so i bid farewell and headed home buzzing on what an amazing night i just had. such a great first weekend in Oakland. can't really convey how excited i am about the move, my beautiful apartment, the weather, my neighborhood, and all the new and exciting friends and experiences that are headed my way. hi Oakland, i think i'm falling in love...

i spent the day today at my parent's house in Concord for my Dad's 72nd birthday. my Mom cooked roast lamb, spanakopita, yellow rice, meat dolmathas, horiateki salata, garlic bread and roast green peppers in olive oil...i watched the Giants destroy the Dodgers 10-0 making up for those 2 first games...finished the night out playing Portes bumping Rembetiko with my Dad and Brother and Sister...

tomorrow morning i'm heading to the track for dollar Sundays to bet on the ponies with my brother and the gang...

New Kaiser foregrounding old Kaiser

Albert Brown!

One of the Mikes loosing his daughter's college fund

Oh you know, just Carl dice-sharking

Another Mike getting pwnd