Friday, May 27, 2011

Poetry Cafe / 5th Grade Beatnik Day

Today I took a break from SPD duties to drive up to Davis.  The 5th graders at my nephew's school, North Davis Elementary, were having a "Poetry Cafe" and Beatnik Day and my brother-in-law, knowing I'm a poet, invited me up.

The kids read in groups for the most part, although a couple brave souls went solo.  These were all original poems/compositions/pieces. 

Wade at the Mic

Dog, Chicken & Cat

the young Velvet Underground

Beatnik = Drums

Goin' Solo

Beatnik-teachers on Playground Duty

Wade and Friends

The poet/performers could select one of four different formal structures to make their poems.  According to Wade, my nephew, his group chose a form called a "rubaiyat," which at North Davis seems to mean a rhyme scheme of a-a-a-a.  A lot of the boy groups chose to do rubaiyats, and most of those seemed to be about how great the San Francisco Giants are.  The most popular form (probably because it was the easiest) was based on the One Little Indian nursery rhyme, except instead of Indians the kids used birds, computers, etc.  This got a little tedious, actually, but those moments were punctuated by some extremely creative performances.  My favorite was basically a rap about the American Revolution, with shout outs to 1776 and Paul Revere.  The refrain made the point that liberty is the most important thing, and that to preserve it we should be willing to make our own clothes.

Admittedly, many of the poems were clearly written as acts of drudgery, and many kids were bored with the whole thing, but on the other hand how is that different from poetry in the adult world?  And there were some moments of very impressive performance and even, periodically, the glimmers of some serious facilities with language.  I loved it....

One of the many poetry-positive messages
on the back scrim

Couldn't quite interpret this one

Who knows, maybe they mean it, or at least someday will...

Thanks and praise to Becca Yazdani, Wade's teacher, and all the 5th grade teachers, students, and parents at N. Davis Elementary!


  1. Girlvert: A Porno Memoir by Oriana Small (A Barnacle Book)
  2. The Business of Fancydancing: The Screenplay by Sherman Alexie (Hanging Loose Press)
  3. They Could No Longer Contain Themselves: A Collection of Five Flash Chapbooks by Elizabeth J. Colen, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Sean Lovelace, Mary Miller (Rose Metal Press)
  4. The Bird Hoverer by Aaron Belz (BlazeVOX [books])
  5. Instan by Cecilia Vicuña (Kelsey Street Press)
  6. How Phenomena Appear to Unfold by Leslie Scalapino (Litmus Press)
  7. Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region by East Bay Municipal Utility District (East Bay Municipal Utility District)
  8. Witness by Curtis Smith (sunnyoutside)
  9. Devotional Cinema by Nathaniel Dorsky (Tuumba Press)
  10. Light In Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola Ridge by Lola Ridge (Quale Press)
  11. Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor by Terence Winch (Hanging Loose Press)
  12. My Sister's Continent by Gina Frangello (Chiasmus Press)
  13. What Is Owed the Dead by R. H. W. Dillard (Factory Hollow Press)
  14. From Milltown to Malltown by Jim Daniels, Jane McCafferty, and Charlee Brodsky (Marick Press)
  15. A Little White Shadow by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books)
  16. From the Middle Woods by Neeli Cherkovski (New Native Press)
  17. Avatar by Evan Lavender-Smith (Six Gallery Press)
  18. Eros & (Fill in the Blank) by Charles Freeland (BlazeVOX [books])
  19. The Voice of the Print by Paul Caponigro (Muse Press)
  20. Up Jump the Boogie by John Murillo (Cypher Books)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


  1. Barrio Bushido by Benjamin Bac Sierra (El León Literary Arts)
  2. Georgic by Mariko Nagai (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City)
  3. Beauties by Mary Troy (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City)
  4. Master of Miniatures by Jim Shepard (Solid Objects)
  5. The Hieroglyphics by Michael Stewart (Mud Luscious Press)
  6. Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns (Dorothy, a publishing project)
  7. Stories in the Worst Way by Gary Lutz (Calamari Press)
  8. Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting (Starcherone Books)
  9. Ambient Parking Lot by Pamela Lu (Kenning Editions)
  10. The Porthole by Adriano Spatola (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions)
  11. Monster Party by Lizzy Acker (Small Desk Press)
  12. Halal Pork and Other Stories by Cihan Kaan (UpSet Press)
  13. In the Company of Strangers by Michelle Cruz Skinner (Bamboo Ridge Press)
  14. The Old Whitaker Place by David Chambers (Miami University Press)
  15. About Them by Chester Aaron (El León Literary Arts)
  16. Answer to an Inquiry by Robert Walser (Ugly Duckling Presse)
  17. Consolation by Jonathan Strong (Pressed Wafer)
  18. Music of the Spheres by Michael Burke (Caravel Mystery Books)
  19. Leche by R. Zamora Linmark (Coffee House Press)
  20. Event Factory by Renee Gladman (Dorothy, a publishing project)
  21. Haywire by Thaddeus Rutkowski (Starcherone Books)
  22. Angelina's Lips by Giuseppe Conte (Guernica Editions)
  23. Ever by Blake Butler (Calamari Press)
  24. Alaskan: Stories from the Great Land by John Elvis Smelcer (Standing Stone Books)
  25. Grim Tales by Norman Lock (Mud Luscious Press)
  26. To Be with Her by Syed Afzal Haider (Weavers Press)
  27. Color Plates by Adam Golaski (Rose Metal Press)
  28. How We Move the Air by Garnett Kilberg Cohen (Mayapple Press)
  29. Cut Through the Bone by Ethel Rohan (Dark Sky Books)
  30. The Fiction at Work Biannual Report edited by Tobias Amadon Bengelsdorf (The Green Lantern Press)