Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Reyes Del Mundo Nuevo

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Why, to the barn, the pig-sty, to feed the library-
pig. The little porker destined for market
with the rest of the litter, but so much more succulent
and fatter, thanks to special treats. The children

have been coddling him since April. That's
when you chose him to bring home the literary
bacon. Come Christmas his price will buy
natural history, old romances, poetry, philosophy—

books to warm a winter. When fields lie dormant,
the mind is ripe for planting. Just look at the children,
by lantern-light consuming the pig’s gift.
Soon enough—

with all those words growing in their heads,
their prospects enlarged with knowledge—
they too will be gone into the world’s market-
place. Your most fruitful harvest.

(based on Elihu Burritt’s “The Dignity and Comfort of the Farmer’s Life”)

Go to the Bulletin Board at the right for info about TG's appearance in the Sac. Bee today, as she talks about her interest in Elihu Burritt!


Two Bay Area events this weekend:

•••Sat. (6/5), 3-5pm: Bay Area Poets Coalition ( presents an Open Poetry Reading at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St., Berkeley (Addison is one block south of and parallel to University Ave., between Acton & Bonar St. Please park on the street, NOT in the S.C.L. parking lot). Reading will be held in the 4th floor movie room (or back yard/garden); upon arrival, please check in at the front desk. All ages welcome to come and enjoy a friendly and informal read-around; 3-5 minutes per poet/reader, or "just listening" is fine, too.

•••Also this Sat. (6/5), 1-6pm: The 8th Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival, corner of Telegraph Ave. & Haste St. Jack Foley to receive lifetime achievement award. Limited number of spaces for the open mic (arrive before 12:30pm, drawing at 12:30). For details:

WRITING AND KNOWING: 7th Annual Poetry Workshop with Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar July 25-30 at Esalen, Big Sur

The focus of this workshop is on generating new poems. The topics this year will be:

Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar
Playing by Ear: Letting the poem take the lead (part 1 and part 2)

Discussion will focus on the various options which open up to us during the making of a poem: its forks in the road, its branchings and widening fields. We'll use model poems from the ranks of contemporary poets and lyricists as well as those from the venerable tradition, listening for when the poem begins to talk back to the poet, asking the writer to make a choice. Handouts include: T.S. Eliot, Susan Mitchell, Tony Hoagland, Belle Waring, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Mayer, Philip Levine, B.H. Fairchild, Rickie Lee Jones, Frank X. Gaspar, The Band, Stanley Kunitz, Matthew Dickman, Joni Mitchell, Etheridge Knight, Tom Waits, Lucia Perillo, Linda Hogan, Larry Levis, Deborah Diggs, Brenda Hillman, William Matthews, Laurie Duesing.

Ellen Bass
Writing About The Natural World

This discussion will focus on detail, fresh seeing, and fresh language. Our task will be how to write about the natural world, described by poets for so many centuries, without falling back on tired language and tired ideas. Esalen is a perfect place for this practice. And for poetic inspiration, we'll look at poems which portray, praise, and respond to nature by W. S. Merwin, James Wright, Pattiann Rogers, Lucia Perillo, Mark Doty, Linda Gregg, Charles Simic, Kay Ryan, and Frank Gaspar.

Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations (ranging from $570 to $1105). The least expensive rate is for sleeping bag space which can be very comfortable, but it's limited, so you need to sign up for it early. Some work-scholarship assistance is available, as well as small prepayment discounts and senior discounts.

All arrangements and registration must be made directly with Esalen at 831-667-3005 or visit If you have questions about the workshop itself, please email Ellen Bass at or call her at 831-426-8006. See also


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

On the playground cyclone fence,
a cast of sweaters, parkas
hung as in a cloakroom, the morning suddenly

too hot for wraps. Almost summer.
The end of recess. On to other
classes. Cast-offs forgotten on the fence.

Mothers will be asking what happened
to those not-yet-grown-out-of things that always
cost too much and never come back home.

Lost and found, two worlds, the old
and young. Who can boogie, break-dance,
rap? One single of a pair

of gloves left lying in line with third base.
Come summer,
fireworks under a quarter-moon.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

The room stands empty now
A silent tribute to past days
Toys and books rest in their places
Silent, unused, a memory of former days
Of laughter and play
These toys and books need to travel along
To new hands to make new memories
Now that the spirits have fled
Into the lives of newly minted adults

Photo by Katy Brown

Today's LittleNip:

A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


—Medusa (with thanks to today's contributors. We're talking about a photo of an empty playhouse this week: Where are the Children?)