Friday, July 27, 2007

The Going's Hard

Lantern seed pods
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Li Po

The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.


—Li Po

A white mooon
On sea-green waves;
A snowy heron
In the night;
Walking home
From water-chesnut picking
And singing
In the moonlight.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Thursday, July 26 through Sunday, July 29 is the weekend of the San Francisco International Poetry Festival, starting with the Kick-off Celebration Thursday in Jack Kerouac Alley in North Beach (6:30 PM), hosted by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The Main Reading at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater on Friday (7 PM) will feature Ferlinghetti, Bei Dao, and lots of other readers from around the world. Saturday is Branch Library Day, with readings at various SF Library branches beginning at 2:30 PM; then at 7 PM, another reading at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater featuring Jack Hirschman and more international artists. Sunday’s North Beach Poetry Crawl, beginning at noon at the Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, will feature readings at several venues (one after the other), including Purple Onion, Caffe Trieste, City Lights, and Live Worms Gallery. Info:

•••Also this weekend, attend the Sixth Annual Sacramento French Film Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. Info: 916-442-7378 or

•••Saturday (7/28), 7:30 PM: Unheimlich Theater presents The Poetry of Charles Baudelaire at The Book Collector, 1008 24th Street, between J & K Sts., Sacramento. Info: (916) 442-9295 or This month, Unheimlich Theatre will be presenting the works of Charles Baudelaire, featuring frank andrick, Todd Mann & Leslie Kramer, Sheri Adee and Gilberto Rodiguez in a combination of essay performance, poetry reading and uncanny theatrics.

The evening begins with a reading/performance of Baudelaire Poetry presented by Todd Mann and Leslie Kramer, working from various translations of the poet's poems and prose. Todd and Leslie are the poets and publishers who publish the poetry art journal Lit. Jar. A new fall issue of Lit. Jar will be available in September.

Sheri Adee, a master of atmospheres and soundscapes via Tibetan bowls, gongs, and multi-cuiti percussion instruments, will be adding her unique interpretations of merging musics to the evening's performance.

frank andrick (aka francois drouin) will present a performance/essay on the life, times, and works of the French poet Charles Baudelaire. It will conclude with an exposition of Baudelaire’s influence from his contemporaries, thru his influence upon modem art, both literary and visual, including Symbolism, Dada, Surrealism, the Beat Writers, Philip Lamantia, and now contemporary Sacramemto poets. The presentation will interpolate statement, poems and prose of Baudelaire and his 'echoes' of influence as it segues into sheer unadulterated performance Unheimlich style of works by Baudelaire, Antonin Artaud, frank andrick, Henri Michaux, by Gilberto Rodriguez, the man who has reintroduced the concept of Doppelganger into the life of Sacramento.

•••Sunday (7/29), 1 PM: Poetry and Pie: Call it a Gala or just a healthy time out — an open forum for reading a favorite poem. Or getting supportive feedback on your own creation. Or simply for voicing it for applause only. Tim will provide some poets’ tips and poetry starters for all (briefly!) Upbeat and informal, they meet for coffee or lunch or pie (Mmmm) at Marie Calendar’s on Sunrise (just north of Madison in Citrus Heights). The room holds 12 max, at one big table. Perfect! But please RSVP to Tim Bellows, so they can reserve their space:
Hosted by the power of the Muse (and Tim Bellows / Sierra College / Liberal Arts).

Admission price: a poem to share. Or a tip for poets in the craft dept.
Attitude: To celebrate greatness in language, to contribute, to enjoy!
Prevailing koan: “Ideas are water soluble.”

•••Monday (7/30), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Brandon Cesmat at HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Please come out to see this dynamic poet at the end of his summer Valley tour. Cesmat mixes music (gourd rattles and guitars) and poetry and has a broad range of styles and topics which should make for a tour de force performance. Brandon Cesmat's Driven into the Shade (Poetic Matrix Press) received a San Diego Book Award. He teaches at Cal State University San Marcos, serves as president of California Poets in the Schools (CPITS). He has received a Pushcart Prize nomination and first prize in The Music of Poetry Anthology (Palabra Productions). His work has appeared in Homestead Review, Red River Review, Pemmican, Weber Studies, California Quarterly and Pacific Review. He and his wife survive gracefully on the edge of a mesa above the San Luis Rey River Valley in Southern California. Once he and Brenden Constantine read at the Ugly Mug Cafe in Orange, California, where they hoped to make clear that no matter how the name is spelled, it means "from the fiery hill." Visit Brandon on the web here:


—Li Po

I pull off my cap
And fling it
On the rocks.
I stretch myself
Under the green trees.
Lazily waving my fan
Of white feathers,
A wine-cup in my hand,
I listen to the whisper
Of the wind
Among the pines.


—Li Po

The rain
Tries without avail
To quench your lamp,
And the rushing wind
But makes it glow
The more.

I believe
That if you flew
Up to the sky
You would twinkle
As a star
Beside the moon.


—Li Po

Climbed high, to gaze upon the sea,
Heaven and Earth, so vast, so vast.
Frost clothes all things in Autumn.
Winds waft, the broad wastes cold.
Glory, splendor; eastward flowing stream,
This world's affairs, just waves.
White sun covered, its dying rays,
The floating clouds, no resting place.
In lofty Wu-t'ung trees nest lowly finches.
Down among the thorny brush the Phoenix perches.
All that's left, to go home again,
Hand on my sword I sing, "The Going's Hard."



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 (free publications): Rattlesnake Review14 is now available at The Book Collector; contributors and subscribers should have received theirs by now. If you're none of those, and can't get down to The Book Collector, send two bux (for postage) to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 and I'll mail you a copy. If you want more than one, please send $2 for the first one and $1 for copies after that. Next deadline, for RR15, is August 15. VYPER6 (for youth 13-19) is in The Book Collector; next deadline is Nov. 1. Snakelets10 (for kids 0-12) is also at The Book Collector; next deadline is Oct. 1.

Books/free broadsides: June's releases include Tom Miner's chapbook, North of Everything; David Humphreys' littlesnake broadside, Cominciare Adagio; and #3 in B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series, this one featuring Jane Blue.

ZZZZZZZ: Shh! The Snake is sleeping! There will be no Snake readings/releases in July or August. Then we return with a bang on September 12, presenting Susan Kelly-DeWitt's new chapbook, Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree. See the online journal, Mudlark, for a hefty sample of poems from her book; that’s Also coming in the Fall: new issues of the Review, Snakelets and VYPER [see the above deadlines], plus more littlesnake broadsides from NorCal poets near and far, and a continuation of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series—including an anthology of interviews to be released for Sacramento Poetry Month (October).