Poets!

Thursday, 7/21 at 7:00: Poets pay tribute
to the late carol lee sanchez

hosted by Bill Vartnaw, with readings by Avotcja, Duane BigEagle, Judy Grahn, Gail Mitchell, Kim Shuck, and others

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised in the village of Pagute, carol lee sanchez passed away in Sedalia, Missouri on April 6, 2011 at the age of 77.  Her cultural heritage was largely Laguna and Lebanese-American; the Laguna tribal name given her at birth translates as message bringer woman, and indeed so she was, in a long life as a poet, educator and activist.

This memorial reading has been organized by poet Bill Vartnaw, who established his small publishing concern, Taurean Horn Press, in 1974 to publish carol lee’s poetry, having first encountered her at the Coffee Gallery on North Beach’s Grant Street, where she ran the a weekly open reading series regularly frequented by Bob Kaufman (then silent), Jack Micheline, ruth weiss, A. D. Winans, H. D. Moe and Eugene Ruggles, among many others who made up the rich fabric of the San Francisco poetry scene of the era.  Vartnaw published three books by carol lee over the years, as well as books by two of her siblings, Paula Gunn Allen and Lee Francis. All three are now sadly gone, but their legacy in literature endures. The Bay Area Poets Coalition, begun in 1973 by carol lee and Barbara Gravelle (who was running the reading series at Intersection for the Arts over on Union at Powell), also endures.  Read Bill’s appreciation of carol lee at this link.

Monday, 7/18 at 7:00 pm: Featured poets/writers
Michael Koch and Willy Lizarraga, plus an open mic

painting by Michael Koch

Michael Koch and Willy Lizarraga are very much alive and are terrific poets who will hold your attention and spur your imagination. Koch, born in New York City of Slavic and Jamaican heritage, is a painter, poet, translator, amateur percussionist and avid salsero who resides in San Francisco.  He says, “I like inspired mistakes, asymmetry, the fissures between worlds…the rare moments in which we glimpse our doubles fleeing down an alley with a jewel so precious we ache for it. Looking at the blank paper, I try to intuit what’s already there, to honor the silence that makes the music sweet. I tip my hat to chance. There is no balance without vertigo.”

Lizarraga was born and raised in Peru, arriving in San Francisco as a teenager. His novel, in Spanish, “Mientras Elena en su lecho,” won the 1995 Letras de Oro Literary Prize, University of Miami. His short story, “La Mas Chingona,” won the second prize in the 2008 New South Short Fiction Contest, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia. “Frida and Diego, or Among Musicians Only,” will appear in Zyzzyva, November 2010. Currently, he’s working on “The Last King of the Mission,” a novel about musicians and demons.

Koch and Lizarraga read Monday evening at Bird & Beckett, in our twice-monthly series hosted by peripatetic troubadour Jerry Ferraz.   An open mic follows the featured readers. This series is underwritten through the generosity of Carlota del Portillo and Priya Kailath and is presented by the Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based at Bird & Beckett.