Friday, December 05, 2008

The Power of Powell

Danyen Powell

—Danyen Powell, Davis

Hunched, reclusive neighbor.
Mount Diablo
behind a thick haze curtain.

For every acre of corn,
two acres of lethargy.

City surrounded by farmland,
concrete scaled by trees
—grounded crows everywhere
with beaks open:

still-life, reflected
in the dead eyes of high-rise buildings.

Sacramento’s theme:
record heat,
the cicadas’ high-pitched drone.


This coming Wednesday, December 10, Rattlesnake Press is proud to present a new chapbook from Danyen Powell, Blue Sky Flies Out. Join us at The Book Collector for the release of Danyen's book; a littlesnake broadside from Kevin Jones (Low-Rent Dojo); and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#20)! That's at 7:30 PM, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.

Danyen Powell was born in Sacramento in 1952. He was raised by his father and mother along with four brothers. He attended local schools, graduated, and went to San Diego State College, then to Sacramento State College. In 1977, he started a construction business with his father. He now runs that business with his son, Joel.

Danyen’s poetry has been included in a variety of publications, such as Brevities, The Poets’ Guild, Poetry Depth Quarterly, Chrysanthemum and Rattlesnake Review. He was also the featured poet in Pudding Magazine, Issue 38, in 1998. In 2000, Danyen won the Ad Schuster Annual Citation for outstanding poetic excellence at the 74th Annual Poets Dinner for his poem, “Pantoum of the Oncology Ward”. His work has also been included in The Sacramento Anthology: One Hundred Poems, which was developed as part of the Sacramento Poet Laureate Program in 2001. Rattlesnake Press published Anvil, a collection of his poems, in April, 2004. Danyen has also been the facilitator of the Sacramento Poetry Center’s weekly poetry workshop for the past eleven years. He currently resides with his wife, Betsy, in Davis. (Ask him about his grand-kids!)

Danyen is a good friend of mine and a wonderful poet; his Anvil was the first chapbook to roll off the presses of Rattlesnake Press, so he will always hold a special place in Snakedom. He also facilitates/shepherds the SPC workshop every Tuesday night with a deft hand; I was a member of that group for quite a few years. Here's one of my favorite pictures of him, taken with Joyce Odam at her 80th birthday party which was held at Danyen's and Betsy's house a few years ago. (Joyce is still recovering from a broken right shoulder, by the way, but, trouper that she is, watch for her column in the new issue of Rattlesnake Review, coming next Wednesday at Danyen's reading.) You can also see more of Danyen's poetry at (the rattlechaps page) or by going to his feature on Medusa's Kitchen: click on December, 2007 at the right and scroll down to Dec. 3.

Danyen Powell and Joyce Odam


Two up-coming events in Stockton:

•••Tomorrow night (Sat., 12/6), 2 PM: Raven's Brew Book Signing and Open Mic will feature Chrissy D. (Chrissy Davis) at Jitterz, 149 Lincoln Center, Stockton (off W. Benjamin Holt and Pacific Av.). Info: Donald Anderson at 209.405.4041 or Come help Chrissy D. celebrate her new book, Raven's Brew, and watch for her poetry in the new Rattlesnake Review.

•••Tuesday (12/9), Cesar Chevez Central Library in Stockton will host a poetry open mic from 6-7 PM, followed by a workshop hosted by Donald R. Anderson. Cesar Chavez Central Library is at 605 N. El Dorado St. in Stockton, between El Dorado, Center, Park and Oak Streets. The event will be upstairs in the Administration Meeting Room. Info: 209.405.4041 or

Also this weekend in Norcal poetry:

•••Friday (12/5), 7 PM or 9:30 PM: Movies on a Big Screen presents Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press, Or: How Barney Rosset Published Dirty Books for Fun and Profit. Local author, poet, CSUS professor and co-founder of Roan Press Brad Buchanan will be in attendance to speak and discuss issues in the film following the 7 PM screening (there will be no speaker after the 9:30 PM screening). 600 4th St., W. Sacramento (corner of 4th & F in West Sacramento, just over the river from downtown). Digital projection on to a large screen. Admission: $5.00. See last Monday's post for more about Obscene.

•••Sat. (12/6), 6:30-8 PM: Underground Books presents Terry Moore reading from his new book, Love Back & Forth. Underground Books, 2814 35th St. (off 35th and Broadway), Sacramento. Free admission. Info: or


—Adam Zagajewski

The December wind kills hope,
but don't let it take
the blue mist from the ocean
and the summer morning's mildness.

Who believes that invisible,
light islands still exist
and stains of sunshine
on a parquet floor?

Sleep wanders in rags
begging for alms
while memory, like Mary Stuart,
withers in a prison cell.


—Adam Zagajewski

Those who don't like it say it's
just a mutant violin
that's been kicked out of the chorus.
Not so.
The cello has many secrets,
but it never sobs,
just sings in its low voice.
Not everything turns into song
though. Sometimes you catch
a murmur or a whisper:
I'm lonely,
I can't sleep.


—Adam Zagajewski

My train chugs along a ruddy meadow,
where a traveling circus has pitched camp.
Acrobats in pink shirts
are playing soccer; the tiger yawns.
The Seine flows north, carried along
by barges, ships, and motorboats.
A huge cloud screens the sky briefly.
But the swallows are already taking leave
of autumn, they chat awhile with the wind
and the Judas tree, who's feeling down.
The four elements doze and wake.
Who knows, behind the dark cloud
a small star may be playing.
I'm going to see my friend, my master.
My friend's memory is fading.
Its place is taken by knowledge
light as a spring at night.

(Today's poetry by Adam Zagajewski was translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh.)


Today's LittleNip:

—Carl Sandburg

When water turns ice does it remember one time it was water?

When ice turns back into water does it remember it was ice?



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: Deadline for the current issue (#20) has passed (it was Nov. 15); that issue is currently rattling around in the SnakePit and will be released at The Book Collector reading on December 10, then mailed to contributors and subscribers in mid-December. Next deadline is February 15: 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 include all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

Coming in December: Join us at The Book Collector on Wednesday, December 10, for the release of a new chapbook from Danyen Powell (Blue Sky Flies Out); a littlesnake broadside from Kevin Jones (Low-Rent Dojo), and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#20)! That's at 7:30 PM,
1008 24th St., Sacramento. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.

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 likelihood of getting your poetry published. Write to me and I'll send you one. Free!

Coming in January: The Snake will be snoozing during January; no releases or readings. But our October road trips inspired a new Rattlesnake publication, WTF, to be edited by frank andrick. This 30-page, chapbook-style quarterly journal will primarily showcase the talents of readers at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, but anyone is welcome to submit. Deadline is Jan. 15 for a Feb. 19 premiere at Luna’s. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send three poems (each one page or less in length), 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. And be forewarned: this publication will be for adults only! so you must be over 18 years of age to submit.

Medusa's Weekly Menu:

(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for any and all of these!)

Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar

Seed of the Week: Tuesday is Medusa's day to post poetry triggers such as quotes, forms, photos, memories, jokes—whatever might tickle somebody's muse. Pick up the gauntlet and send in your poetic results; and don't be shy about sending in your own triggers, too! All poems will be posted and a few of them will go into Medusa's Corner of each Rattlesnake Review. Send your work to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOWs; respond today, tomorrow, or whenever the muse arrives. (Print 'em out, maybe, save 'em for a dry spell?) When you send us work, though, just let us know which "seed" it was that inspired you.

Wednesday (sometimes): HandyStuff Quickies: Resources for the poet, including whatever helps ease the pain of writing and/or publishing: favorite journals to read and/or submit to; books, etc., about writing; organizational tools—you know—HandyStuff! Tell us about your favorite tools.

Thursday: B.L.'s Drive-Bys: Micro-reviews by our irreverent Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. Kennedy.
Send books, CDs, DVDs, etc. to him for possible review (either as a Drive-By or in future issues of Rattlesnake Review) at P.O. Box 160664, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Friday: NorCal weekend poetry calendar

Daily (except Sunday): LittleNips: SnakeFood for the Poetic Soul: Daily munchables for poetic thought, including short paragraphs, quotes, wonky words, silliness, little-known poetry/poet facts, and other inspiration—yet another way to feed our ravenous poetic souls.

And poetry! Every day, poetry from writers near and far and in-between! The Snakes of Medusa are always hungry.......!


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.