Monday, April 09, 2007

Tranquillities of Angels

Tapestry designed and done by
D.R. Wagner, from
his forthcoming SpiralChap,
Where The Stars Are Kept,
to be released this Wednesday, April 11 at
The Book Collector,
1008 24th St., Sacramento
7:30 PM

—David Humphreys, Stockton

To balance the gravitational contraction
caused by matter you walk down to the river
in this city of trees about to bloom magnolias
and cherry blossoms. You are suddenly stopped short
by a purple surprise of violets against thick green
and a background scent like aromatic kisses
emerging from winter's damp fog. Daffodils are erect
and simple in front of another house further on
and ash and walnuts are sturdy oak ribs in the ship
of what is relative to your perspective. You see juniper
and Lebanese cedar over by the sea as you navigate
through the paradigm red-shift expanding universe,
standing for a moment at the intersection of
quantum mechanics and gravity, wondering,
perhaps it hadn't been such a blunder after all,
as you return to the front step with this persistent
question dropping like a walnut on the driveway
catching your full attention.

(previously published in Montserrat Review)


Summer Poetry in Idyllwild: July 15-21, 2007

Summer Poetry in Idyllwild is a week-long celebration of poetry with small-group intensive poetry writing workshops, lectures, discussions, readings, and festival of poetry. The program offers a wide range of opportunities for participation, from 6 hours of daily immersion to an hour each evening of engaged listening. Tuition: $10-$995, based on level of participation selected. No charge for evening readings by Visiting Poets. See our Web site [below], email or call for details and registration information. Visiting Poets: David Lehman and Marilyn Nelson. Poets-in-Residence: Cecilia Woloch (program director), Richard Garcia, Terrance Hayes, Eloise Klein Healy, Natasha Trethewey, David St. John; Guest Poets: Yona Harvey and Steve Kowit. Contact: Idyllwild Arts, PO Box 38, Idyllwild, CA 92549 or 951-659-2171, ext. 2365, or

American Academy of Poets Celebrates Nat'l Poetry Month:

National Poetry Month 2007 kicks off this April with the announcement of America’s biggest poetry fans—individuals who have demonstrated a passionate devotion to poetry that goes beyond the usual. After a national search unlike any other, poetry’s biggest fans will be profiled on in April with creative media showcasing why these “poetfans” are more than mere readers in their unrivalled engagement with poetry. See Other activities planned for National Poetry Month 2007 include:

•••Free National Poetry Month Poster: Designed by renowned graphic designer Christoph Niemann, the 2007 National Poetry Month poster features the encoded image of poet Walt Whitman, composed of repeating white type reading “National Poetry Month April 2007.” The image is accompanied by a line from Whitman’s poem “Leaves of Grass”: “And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements of any.” The poster is downloadable from the site; it will also be mailed for free (while supplies last) to teachers and librarians by online request. See

•••Poem-A-Day [this is different from the Knopf one]: After 20,000 readers signed up in 2006, the Academy will again offer a daily dose of new poetry each day this April. The poems represent some of the best work being published in 2007, and include new poems by authors such as Eavan Boland, Henri Cole, Kevin Young, and Carl Dennis.

•••Life Lines: We each carry lines of poetry with us. Words that others have written float back and stay with us, indelibly. This year, the Academy of American Poets has asked poets with new spring books, friends and other visitors to to share the lines of poetry that are most vital to them—their Life Lines. These Life Lines will be featured during National Poetry Month 2007.

•••Poetry & The Creative Mind: The Academy will host its fifth annual star-studded benefit, Poetry & The Creative Mind, on Wednesday, April 11, at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. This year, the Academy presents such luminaries as Lauren Bacall, William F. Baker, Glenn Close, David Halberstam, Ethan Hawke, Simon Schama, John Simon, Alfre Woodard, and others to be announced on Tickets ($35-$75) are available by calling (212) 721-6500. See

••• New Features & Resources: This April, will get even bigger, offering a double helping of new poems, biographies, essays, interviews, audio clips, and educational resources. In addition, a new and improved National Poetry Map will be relaunched with hundreds of new resources, profiles, and event listings, to help people discover great poetry across the country.

Poster of the Poets Laureate of California, 2007

Ronna Leon of Benicia has put together a poster featuring some of the past and present Poets Laureate of California. It is not inclusive (it includes Jose Montoya and not Julia Connor, for example), but it’s a good idea and helps spread the word about poetry in California, and how many cities have PL’s. If you would like a poster (20" x 30") with pictures of many of the Poets Laureate of California, send a check for $18 made out to Ronna Leon, 2060 Casa Grande, Benicia, CA 94510. Contact: or 707-746-5597. Orders will be mailed out every two weeks (middle and end of the month).

This week in NorCal poetry:

•Tonight (Monday, 4/9), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents its 2007 Poetry Contest winners Cathleen Williams, Marie Reynolds, Frances Kakugawa, Tom Goff, and more. HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Free.

•••Also tonight (4/9), 7:30 PM: CSUS presents Jello Biafra, the founder of the Dead Kennedys and the Alternative Tentacles music label, in a lecture-spoken word performance. University Union Ballroom, CSUS, 6000 J St., Sacramento. Free. Info: 916-278-6997.

•••Tuesday (4/10), 8:30 PM: An evening of fish clouds, pedantry, gluttony, flat-feet floogies, and faddish cosmology all wrapped up in the prose and poetry of Arturo Mantecón. Bistro 33, 226 F St., Davis.

Come hear D.R. Wagner read from his latest book of poems and tapestries, Where The Stars Are Kept, this coming Wednesday, April 11 at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. The reading starts at 7:30 PM, but feel free to come enjoy the buffet a little earlier than that. This is the Snake's third birthday; come help us party! Also premiering that night will be the brand-new Rattlesnake Interview Series: A Conversation with Ann Menebroker and B.L. Kennedy. To celebrate the launch of this new series, Ann has consented to do littlesnake broadside #33 for us: Swallowed By This Whale Of Time; come get your free copies of both publications. And a new issue of VYPER, the journal of poetry from youngsters 13-19, will also be released that night. Be there!

•••Wednesday through Saturday: CSU Sacramento Festival of the Arts: plays, art, music and more. 6000 J St., Sacramento. Info: 916-278-4323.

Thursday (4/12), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St., Sac.). Info: 916-441-3931 or Open mic before/after.

•••Sunday (4/15), 7 PM: California Poet Laureate Al Young reads in CSU, Chico in the Performing Arts Center, Room 134. A reception in his honor will be held after the reading. The AS Bookstore will offer books for sale at this event. The reading is free and open to the public.


—David Humphreys, Stockton

Your hair smells warm is what you said
the night before she played in the concert
like a bird of paradise preening in sunlight,
her cello with violins surrounding delight
as if the bird in a dream of flight
cascade of brilliant sparkling diamonds
against a silk satin gown’s bright light
shimmering celebration, waterfall thunder
to granite and green, soul of transcending,
ascending, supreme, trills of resonant tremolo vibrato,
hummingbirds and bees swarming loud spring,
flower explosion beneath the blue dome
lovely as a swan upon a pond beside her home
where tranquilities of angels sometimes sing.


Thanks, David. This poem is part of a series of music poems that David Humphreys has done about his father; Rattlesnake Press will publish the series as a littlesnake broadside in June of this year.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events to (or snail ‘em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)

SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:

Journals: Rattlesnake Review #13 is available at The Book Collector; next deadline is May 15. The new VYPER #6 (for youth 13-19) will be out April 11. Snakelets 10 (for kids-12) is available; next deadline is May 1.

Books/broadsides: Current releases are Skin Stretched Around the Hollow by Steve Williams and littlesnake broadside #32 by Brad Buchanan: Ultrasound. Next release: April 11, 7:30 PM, at the Snake’s Third Annual Birthday Bash and Buffet at The Book Collector: SnakeRings SpiralChap #7 from D.R. Wagner: Where The Stars Are Kept, and littlesnake broadside #33: Swallowed By This Whale Of Time by Ann Menebroker.

Something new: Rattlesnake Interview Series with B.L. Kennedy also premieres April 11; #1 is Ann Menebroker.