Monday, November 02, 2009

Poultry & Other Laying of Eggs

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

Which came first
and pray tell when—
the jumbo egg
or the jumbo hen?


Thanks, Claire! Claire J. Baker writes:
Once I placed in a poetry contest. At a bar I told a new friend of my good fortune. Her response: "A poultry contest?"

Well, it's not hard to lay an egg in poetry...

This week in NorCal poultry:

•••Mon. (11/2), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Richard Spilman, SPC Book Manuscript Winner for 2009 [Judge: Dennis Schmitz] at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Richard Spilman was born and raised in Normal, IL and holds a BA from Illinois Wesleyan, an MA from San Francisco State and a PhD from the State University of New York at Binghamton. His collection of short stories, Hot Fudge, was a New York Times Notable Book in 1990. He has published poetry in over thirty journals, most recently in New Letters, Oxford Magazine, The Southern Review, and DoubleTake.

•••Tuesdays, 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center Workshop at the Hart Center, 27th & J Sts., Sacramento. Free; bring 13 copies of your one-page poem to be read/critiqued. Info: Danyen Powell at 530-756-6228.

•••Wednesdays, 9 PM: Mahogany Urban Poetry Series at Queen Sheba's Restaurant, 1704 Broadway (17th and Broadway), Sacramento. $5 cover, all ages.

•••Weds. (11/4), 9 PM: Poetry Night at Bistro 33 is proud to welcome Rae Gouirand and Melissa Stein. The yearly anthology titled Best New Poets is edited this year by past Poetry Night featured performer Kim Addonizio, and for the 2009 edition Ms. Addonizio has chosen to include two Northern California poets who have direct connections to the City of Davis: Rae Gouirand lives here, and Melissa Stein graduated from the UC Davis MA Program in Creative Writing. Both poets will be joining us as featured readers at Poetry Night this coming Wednesday!

Rae Gouirand’s poems have appeared most recently in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, jubilat, Spinning Jenny, MAKE Magazine, Bellingham Review, Tarpaulin Sky, Bateau, Forklift Ohio and mint: poetry trading cards. She is the winner of a Meijer Fellowship, a Hopwood Award, as well as an award for outstanding work by emerging poets from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation in 2008. Recent fellowships include the Vermont Studio Center and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She currently teaches at UC Davis, UC Davis Extension, and through numerous community programs and private workshops. At present, she is at work on One by One, a micro poetry press inspired by real mail, vintage rock posters, and stolen moments. Rae was one of the first poets that we featured at Poetry Night at Bistro 33 in 2006.

Melissa Stein’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southern Review, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Indiana Review, Gulf Coast, North American Review, Cimarron Review, and The Journal, among other journals and anthologies. She has received artist residency fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Foundation, the Montalvo Center for the Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has also received awards from Spoon River Poetry Review, Literal Latté Poetry Awards, and Robert Penn Warren Awards, as well as two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Awards and two Barbara Bradley Awards. She is currently a freelance writer and editor in San Francisco.

•••Wednesdays, 5 PM: Dr. Andy’s Technology and Poetry Hour, KDVS radio station (90.3 FM) or http://www/

•••Thurs. (11/5), 4-5 PM: CSUS creative writing students read their work in "The Collective Reading Series" in the Library Gallery. Info: Host Joe Montalbo at Save the following dates for other readings by these students:
Tues. (11/17), 4-5pm: Multicultural Center (across from the Library entrance)
Tues. (12/1), 4-5pm: Multicultural Center (across from the Library entrance)

•••Thursdays, 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, with open mic before and after.

•••Thursdays, 7 PM: “Life Sentence” reading at The Coffee Garden, 2904 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento. Open mic.

•••Thursdays, 10-11 AM (replayed Sundays 10-11 AM): Mountain Mama’s Earth Music with Nancy Bodily on 95.7 FM. Music/poetry woven around a central theme deeply tied to mountains/earth.

•••Sat. (11/7 and every 1st Sat.): Rhythm and Rhyme readings at Butch N’ Nellies near 19th & I Sts., Sacramento. Televised music, open mic. Info:

•••Sunday (11/8), 4 PM: The Book Collector presents Donald Sidney-Fryer, Do Gentry and Kathryn Hohlwein in a reading to celebrate the publication of The Outer Gate: The Collected Poems of Nora May French, from Hippocampus Press. Free. The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Nora May French published only a dozen or so poems before her death in Carmel in 1907, but she was widely admired by California Romantic poets such as George Sterling, Clark Ashton Smith and Mary Austin. This volume includes substantial biographical information as well as her work. [See also Tom Goff's bio of French in Rattlesnake Review #21.]

•••Sunday (11/8), 1 PM: In a rare West Coast appearance, poet, playwright, essayist and political activist Amiri Baraka delivers a historic speech on our first African-American President, Barack Obama at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch (Koret Auditorium), 100 Larkin St., SF. Free and open to the public. One of the true giants of international poetry, Amiri Baraka is a towering presence in the history of the United States and throughout the Americas. A transitional figure in both the Beat Generation and Civil Rights Era, Baraka is also known as the father of the Black Arts Movement. In 2008, during the primary and general election cycles, Baraka continued to surprise, delight and provoke his friends and enemies with a series of rigorous, inventive, and powerfully deciphering essays on then candidate Barack Obama. With this unique, once in a lifetime, event Amiri Baraka will revisit those essays, and bring his keen, always original, interpretation of the Obama Presidency in its first year. The talk will be immediately followed by a discussion with Justin Desmangles, and continue with a question and answer period with the audience.


—Peter Klappert

One is so seldom struck by
lightning, so seldom struck by
everything beautiful.

Oh, sometimes a butane fuel
truck intercepts you enroute
to a new supermarket;
if you even get a toot
out of that, you're lucky
to find a place to park it.

Or some guy stops, his car key
still plugged in his ignition,
hits you with a tire iron
(not even a fire arm) and
—what kind of inspiration
is that?

And the impression
I get on occasions when
I am struck by the sidewalk
is something I will not talk
about. How pedestrian
can you get. (Though each upset
makes me considerably more
concrete than I was before.)


—May Sarton

The snail watchers are interested in snails from all
angles...At the moment they are investigating the

snail's reaction to music. "We have played to them

on the harp in the garden and in the country on the
pipe," said Mr. Heaton, "and we have taken them
into the house and played to them on the piano."

—The London Star

What soothes the angry snail?
What's music to his horn?
For the "Sonata Appassionata,"
He shows scorn,
And Handel
Makes the frail snail
While Prokofieff
Gets no laugh,
And Tchaikovsky, I fear,
No tear.
Piano, pipe, and harp,
Dulcet or shrill,
Flat or sharp,
Indoors or in the garden,
Are willy-nilly
To the reserved, slow,
Who prefers to live


—Judith Viorst

Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they smell,
And never sit when you say sit,
Or even when you yell.
And when you come home late at night
And there is ice and snow,
You have to go back out because
The dumb dog has to go.

Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they shed,
And always let the stranger in
And bark at friends instead,
And do disgraceful things on rugs,
And track mud on the floor,
And flop upon your bed at night
And snore their doggy snore.

Mother doesn't want a dog.
She's making a mistake.
Because, more than a dog, I think
She will not want this snake.


Today's LittleNip:

Dying is easy; comedy is hard.

—Edmund Gwenn (or George Bernard Shaw, or...?)



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


RR23 is now available free at The Book Collector,
and contributor and subscription copies
have gone into the mail—you should've received yours;
let me know if you haven't.
You may also order a copy through

Deadline is November 15 for RR24: send 3-5 poems, smallish
art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter,
no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to or
P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to add all contact info,
including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of the on-going Medusa
are always hungry; keep that poetry comin', rain or shine!

Just let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa,
or for either one, and please—only one submission packet
per issue of the quarterly Review.

(More info at

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46:
Snake Secrets:
Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press
(and lots of other places, besides!):

A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process
so as to make editors everywhere more happy,
thereby increasing the likelihoodof getting your poetry published.
Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or
write to me (include snail address) and I'll send you one. Free!


Now available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento:
A new chapbook from Brad Buchanan (The War Groom)
and a new Rattlesnake LittleBook from
William S. Gainer: Joining the Demented.

Now available from SPC or at The Book Collector:
Our new anthology,
Keepers of the Flame:
The First 30 Years of the Sacramento Poetry Center.

Editor-in-Chief Mary Zeppa and her helpers have put together
many, many documents and photos
from SPC's 30-year history.

WTF!!: The third issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from
Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick,
is now available at The Book Collector,
or send me two bux and I'll mail you one.

Deadline for Issue #4 was Oct. 15;
it'll be released at Luna's on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Next deadline (for Issue #5) is Jan. 15.

Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send your poems, photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing,
to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 (clearly marked for WTF).

And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be
over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from Dawn DiBartolo
(Secrets of a Violet Sky)
Rattlesnake Reprint #2 from frank andrick
(PariScope: A Triptyche)
plus our 2010 calendar from Katy Brown
(Wind in the Yarrow)!
That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector. Be there!


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.) Medusa cannot vouch for the moral fiber of other publications, contests, etc. that she lists, however, so submit to them at your own risk. For more info about the Snake Empire, including guidelines for submitting to or obtaining our publications, click on the link to the right of this column: Rattlesnake Press ( And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.