Saturday, December 12, 2009

SAVE THE DATES: Spring 10 Season!

For over 35 years SPT has been at the heart of where experimentation and community intersect. This season we continue to present a multi-pronged conversation that highlights some of the concerns of our readers’ work. These conversations include: bodies, communities and empires.

Our Spring lineup is as follows:

Jan 15: Poets Theater
Jan 22: Poets Theater
Jan 24: Poets Theater

As part of SPT's annual fundraiser, we will be staging several works from the anthology, along with new plays, performances, and surprises by Julie Patton, Dodie Bellamy, Tonya Foster, Brent Cunningham, Cassandra Smith, Stephen Boyer, and a celebration of the release of the epic Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater: 1945-1985, edited by Kevin Killian and David Brazil. . In addition, on Sunday the 24th we will present the first ever off-site Poets Theater event, with multiple simultaneous performances staged in and around the CCA campus. Please check out the SPT website and blog in January for details!

Jan 30: Brenda Coultas and Cedar Sigo on communities

Feb 12: Evelyn Reilly and Angela Carr on empiresat Nahl Hall

Feb 19: Spring Ulmer and Jen Hofer and Erica Hunt on empires

Feb 26: Lasana Sekou and Taylor Brady on empires

March 6: an evening with Harryette Mullen on bodies

March 12: on communitiesImmortal Cupboard in Search of Lorine Neidecker with filmmaker Cathy Cook
and a lecture on ecopoetics by Jonathan Skinner: Thoughts on Things:Poetics of the Third Landscape

co-sponsored by Kino 21, Artists Television Access and Poetry Center

March 13: an evening with Ronaldo Wilson on bodiesa reading and discussion of The Visible Black Body: An Interventionist's Reflection

March 20: Bruce Andrews and Leslie Scalapino on bodies

April 9: an eveing with Ammiel Alcalay on empires
with special guest Charming Hostess singing Sarajevo Blues

April 17: Aaron Vidaver and Dorothy Trujillo Lusk on empires

April 23: Pamela Lu and Mary Burger on bodies

April 25: Kindergarde: Avant Garde Poems, Plays, Stories and Song for Children on communities

April 30: Laynie Browne and Lee Ann Brown on bodiesat Nahl Hall

May 7: Eileen Tabios and Susan Gevirtz on empires

May 11: Charles Bernstein and Norman Fischer on communities Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture Co-sponsored by Taube Center for Jewish Life

May 22: SPECIAL EVENT: the Relequarium (a fundraiser and party for SPT)

It should go without saying that there is no better time to become a member of SPT. If you value SPT and the incredible writers we showcase, show your support by becoming a member (or, if you already are, by making an additional donation) today at

I am grateful and honored to be a part of Small Press Traffic. I hope you are too.
Happy New Year!Samantha

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Friday: an evening with Renee Gladman

Please note this event has moved to
5212 Broadway, Oakland

event begins at 7:30pm
$8-15 sliding scale; members FREE

Renee Gladman is the author of one collection of poetry, A Picture-Feeling (Roof Books, 2005), and four works of prose, Juice (Kelsey St. Press, 2000), The Activist (Krupskaya, 2003), Newcomer Can't Swim (2007), and most recently Toaf (Atelos, 2008). She is the publisher of Leon Works, a press for experimental prose and other thought projects based in the sentence, and teaches at Brown University.

see you there!

in case you missed it: The Smith Family review


Monday, September 21, 2009

and: Join us on Saturday for Dialogues with Anne Tardos!

Come back for more with Anne Tardos in this one day only experience:

Saturday September 26th
Classroom 101, CCA San Francisco
$25 admission/$20 members and students
sliding scale entrance available- please email
Class limited to 20.

In this workshop the participants will compose new texts, using voice, pen & paper (or electronic device). We will address monolingual, multilingual, and neolingual aspects of literary composition. Using certain techniques, we will illuminate the creative process by voicing our works as we compose them. If there is time, we will perform and discuss the works we have just created.

This Friday! Anne Tardos and Amina Cain on the Inverted I

Join us for these dynamic writers as they consider the Inverted I and narritivity.

Friday September 25th
Timken Hall, CCA SF
1111 8th Street
San Francisco, CA
event begins at 7:30pm

Anne Tardos, a 2009 Fellow in Poetry form the New York Foundation for the Arts, is a poet, performer, visual artist, and composer. She is the author of several books of poetry and the multimedia performance work and radio play Among Men. A selection of her readings and performances (many with Jackson Mac Low) can be heard on the University of Pennsylvania’s web site : PennSound and on UbuWeb Sound. Her book of new poetry, I Am You, has appeared from Salt Publishing in 2008, and she is the editor of Thing of Beauty, by Jackson Mac Low, University of California Press, 2008. See also author page on EPC and

Amina Cain is the author of I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues Press, 2009), a collection of stories that revolve quietly around human relationality, landscape, and emptiness. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as 3rd bed, Action Yes, Denver Quarterly, Dewclaw, Encyclopedia vol. 2, La Petite Zine, and Sidebrow and has been translated into Polish on MINIMALBOOKS. She is also a curator, most recently for When Does It or You Begin? (Memory as Innovation), a month long festival of writing, performance, and video that took place at Links Hall in Chicago last January. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Thank you Brandon and David! That was great!

In case you missed these fantastic performances, you can get thoughts and reading reports by Robin Tremblay-McGaw here and by Stephen Vincent here.

Thanks Robin and Stephen!

Frank Sherlock and CAConrad on Voicebox

If you missed their reading, go listen here.

Thank you Andrew Kenower for providing this awesome public service!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

David Larsen and Brandon Brown! This weekend!

Don't miss this stupendous weekend of awesomeness:

David Larsen and Brandon Brown read and perform works in conversation with Translation:
September 18, 2009: Event begins at 7:30pm
Timken Hall at CCA San Francisco
1111 8th Street, San Francisco
$8-15 admission
members free!
Then: join us for a Dialogues event with David Larsen where he presents his talk: Translation as Conceptual Writing Practice
September 19, 2009: Event begins at 1pm
Classroom 101 at CCA San Francisco
1111 8th Street, San Francisco
$10 admission/$5 for members

David Larsen returns for his first Bay Area reading since leaving San Francisco last summer. For a time, he was a co-curator of the New Yipes poetry and video series at Oakland's 21 Grand. He now lives in New Haven, where he is writing a book on historical semiotics. His translation of al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Khalawayh's treatise on the Names of the Lion appeared this year from Atticus/Finch (Seattle). Find discussion about this new work here.

Brandon Brown is a poet. In 2008, TAXT press published Camels! In 2009, Mitzvah Chaps will publish Wondrous Things I Have Seen. He co-curated the Performance Writing series at New Langton Arts, The (New) Reading Series at 21 Grand gallery, and publishes small press books under the imprint OMG!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thanks Frank & Conrad!

Thanks for a wonderful first weekend to kick off the 09-10 SPT season - from the fab reading Friday night to Saturday's workshop (co-hosted by the Nonsite Collective).
(keep an eye out on the Nonsite website for follow-up texts and other media that come out of the workshop)

Monday, August 31, 2009


We are bursting at the seams with giddiness to open our Fall 2009 season with this incredible pair!

READING:CAConrad and Frank Sherlock on Class/Warfare

September 11, 2009: Doors open 7:30pm/Reading begins at 8:00

Timken Hall at CCA San Francisco/1111 8th Street/San Francisco

$8 admission

CAConrad is the recipient of THE GIL OTT BOOK AWARD for The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009). He is also the author of Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009), (Soma)tic Midge (Faux Press, 2008), Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006), and a forthcoming collaboration with poet Frank Sherlock titled THE CITY REAL & IMAGINED: Philadelphia Poems (Factory School Books, 2010). CAConrad is the son of white trash asphyxiation whose childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He invites you to visit him online at and also with his friends at
Also, find him online
here and here and here

Frank Sherlock

Frank Sherlock is the author of Over Here (Factory School 2009) and the co-author of Ready-To-Eat Individual (Lavender Ink 2008) with Brett Evans. A collaboration with CAConrad entitled The City Real & Imagined: Philadelphia Poems is forthcoming from Factory School later in January 2010. He currently works with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program on Journeys South, a public art project that documents immigrant/migrant experiences in South Philly.

check him out:
here and here and here and here
THEN, join us for a Dialogues writing lab, co-sponsored by Nonsite collective, where Frank Sherlock and CAConrad discuss poetic interventions into the present, past and future life of the city.
Saturday September 12, 2009
at 935 Natoma Street in San Francisco
(btwn. 10th and 11th and btwn. Mission and Howard)
Close to Van Ness and Market (Muni) or Civic Center (BART)
admission $25/$20 for SPT members and students
This from the leaders:
The City Real & Imagined project is a collaborative documentary of both concrete and psychic place, exercising imaginations that are shared in the commons. It is at heart a working of public space in a time of post-9/11 hegemonic decline. Preparations for the death of Baghdad's children had begun, and the displacement of the working poor in Philadelphia was already underway. Two poets with very different experiences within the same city they share wandered together to let the streets shape the form of the poem with its histories and possibilities. CAConrad and Frank Sherlock will discuss their influences and approaches to the project, the collaborative process, and the mutual impact on their re-imaginings of the Philadelphia they live in.

For further investigation, visit the Nonsite Collective website for this:
Spaces are limited for this Dialogues event, so please reserve your seat by emailing

Friday, July 31, 2009

Save the Dates and Grab your Checkbook!

While somewhat nestled in our foggy beds for the summer, SPT has been working diligently to once again create a season of programming to amaze, mystify, inspire and delight you.

As you well know, for over 35 years SPT has been at the heart of where experimentation and community intersect. This season we are excited to present what we're thinking of as a multi-pronged conversation. Components of this conversation include: class/warfare; translation; performance, and the Inverted I (which addresses memoir, lyric, identity). In addition, this season will feature the launch of Dialogues, talks and writing laboratories presented by visiting readers. Our hope is that a heightened sense of debate and investigation will ensue. You don’t want to miss it.

Our lineup is planned as follows:

Friday, September 11, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock on Class/Warfare

Saturday September 12, 2009 at 1p.m
Dialogues with CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock: The New American Hybrid (co-sponsored by Non Site Collective)

Friday, September 18, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Brandon Brown and David Larsen on Translation

Saturday September 19, 2009 at 1p.m.
Dialogues with David Larsen: Translation as Conceptual Writing Practice

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Anne Tardos and Amina Cain on the Inverted I

Saturday September 26, 2009 at 1 p.m.
Dialogues with Anne Tardos: Mono- multi- and neolingual aspects of literary composition

Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
THE SMITH FAMILY: a play by Kevin Killian and Craig Goodman on Performance

Friday October 16th, at 7:30 p.m.
An evening with Renee Gladman on the Inverted I

Saturday, October 24, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Kate Greenstreet and Brian Teare on the Inverted I

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Mark Nowak, Reid Gomez and Rachel Loden on Class/Warfare

Friday, November 14, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Norma Cole and John Sakkis on Translation

Thursday November 19, 2009
Dialogues with Gail Scott: A Talk on Narrative and Identity
Co-sponsored with University of San Francisco

Friday, November 20, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Gail Scott and Bruce Boone on the Inverted I

Friday, December 4, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Carla Harryman and Alan Bernheimer on Performance

Saturday December 5, 2009 at 1p.m.
Dialogues with Carla Harryman: Language and listening in performance

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Fred Moten and Steve Dickison on Performance

Our Fall 2009 season will, of course, will begin after you've been wow-ed by the brilliance of Bill Luoma's Oakdish (held before and during an Oakland As game at the Oakland Coliseum) on August 22nd, for which there are still spaces. Visit for more information or sign up at

It should go without saying that there is no better time to become a member of SPT. As we push to make it through another year with its own set of unique funding challenges, and hear of a different arts organization each day that closes its doors, we are heartened by the fact that it is our community that will sustain us.

If you value SPT and the incredible writers we showcase, show your support by becoming a member (or, if you already are, by making an additional donation) today at

I am humbled and honored to be a part of Small Press Traffic. I hope you are too.

See you soon!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hey Batter Batter!

Bill Luoma has been working hard in preparation for his August baseball writing laboratory at the Oakland Coliseum

Check out what's in store for the workshop at  

There is still room available for this event, so sign up today at

Monday, June 29, 2009

and Don't Forget about August!

The title of the workshop is Oakdish.

Oakland A's /White Sox Game with Bill Luoma
Oakland Coliseum Saturday August 22nd
3:45pm workshop/6:05pm game
$40 includes admission to the game and a baseball to take home/ $30 students and members

In the spirit of the Basketball Aritcle by Meyer and Waldman and Yo-Yo's with Money by Berrigan and Schiff, we will spend some time working on the body of baseball & poetry. Or just poetry since that encompasses baseball.

* Beyond A Boundary, C.L.R. James, Duke Up 1993

* The American Game: Capitalism, Decolonialization, World Domination, and Baseball, John D. Kelly, Prickly Paradigm Press 1996

* The Basketball Article, Bernadette Mayer and Anne Waldman, Shark Books 2005
bring:notebook, pen, binoculars, short poem that will fit on a baseball, some phrase, collage on 4x6 baseball card, hat

* 1 baseball
* 1 copy (facsimile) of Yo-Yo's with Money, Ted Berrigan and Harris Schiff, United Artists 1977
* 1 copy (original) of the proceeds of whatever we do published by subpress if there is enough work/interest
* 1 bleachers ticket to Oakland vs Detroit

*Note* Scholarship admission is available for those who need it. Please contact Samantha for more information. To sign up or get more information by emailing Samantha Giles at


***Please not the change of length and cost for this amazing workshop. You don't want to miss this one, do you?***

Conceptualism and Craft with K. Silem Mohammad
CCA San Francisco Campus
Time: 6pm-9pm$40 / $30 students and members

This one-day workshop will begin by examining and rehearsing various techniques central to Conceptualist poetics, broadly considered so as to encompass appropriation, transcription, and other versions of what Kenneth Goldsmith has called “uncreative writing,” as well as the deliberately awkward and expressively debased gestures associated with Flarf. We will then look at these techniques in relation to older and more traditional notions of craft: can there be coherent criteria for craft-based evaluation of texts written using blankly conceptual or intentionally “bad” methods? Do any of the familiar aesthetic categories still apply, and if so, how?

K. Silem Mohammad is the author of three books of poetry: Breathalyzer (Edge Books, 2008), A Thousand Devils (Combo Books, 2004), and Deer Head Nation (Tougher Disguises, 2003). His work has been featured in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2004, Bay Poetics, and A Best of Fence, as well as the forthcoming Flarf: An Anthology of Flarf, which he is co-editing with Sharon Mesmer, Nada Gordon, and Gary Sullivan. With Anne Boyer, he edits the poetry magazine Abraham Lincoln. He is Associate Professor of English and Writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.

Class is limited to 20 participants.Sign up online by using paypal from sptraffic.orgor make arrangements through email at

Photos of Site Based Practices on Flickr

Check out a few documents from our fantastic Site Based Practices workshop led by Jessica Tully and David Buuck here and here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


We are so thrilled to announce these upcoming summer workshops! Please pass the word along to your friends and students.

SITE-BASED PRACTICES with David Buuck & Jessica Tully
Marin Headlands Bunkers>Sunday June 21, 11am-2pm
$40 ($30 for students and members)

Please join writer & critic David Buuck & artist & activist Jessica Tully for a site-specific workshop at the former military bunkers in the Marin Headlands. We will explore a wide range of methods and practices related to site-based writing & art practices, including several on-site exercises & experiments. This workshop is designed for ALL levels of interested writers & artists, to explore how we engage place, site, environment & the political histories therein as writers, artists, and citizens. We will provide optional pre-workshop reading that covers both the site's history as well as essays on site-writing & site-specific art practices. We will discuss & explore writing & research techniques as well as much more performative & embodied strategies of site-work, so be prepared to try new ways of thinking, moving, and working!

Note: We will arrange for car-pooling to the site, as well as lunch. Bring notebook, camera, sunscreen, outdoor shoes, layers for wind, etc. The Marin Headlands is home to several former military installations, including the bunkers, the Nike Missile Site, and the current home of the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Conceptualism and Craft with K. Silem Mohammad
CCA San Francisco Campus
Monday through Thursday July 6-9th
Time: 6pm-9pm $125 / $100 students and members

This four-day workshop will begin by examining and rehearsing various techniques central to Conceptualist poetics, broadly considered so as to encompass appropriation, transcription, and other versions of what Kenneth Goldsmith has called “uncreative writing,” as well as the deliberately awkward and expressively debased gestures associated with Flarf. We will then look at these techniques in relation to older and more traditional notions of craft: can there be coherent criteria for craft-based evaluation of texts written using blankly conceptual or intentionally “bad” methods? Do any of the familiar aesthetic categories still apply, and if so, how?

Oakland A's /Detroit Tigers Game with Bill Luoma
Oakland Coliseum
Saturday August 22nd
3:45pm workshop/6:05pm game
$40 includes admission to the game and a baseball to take home/ $30 students and members

In the spirit of the Basketball Aritcle by Meyer and Waldman and Yo-Yo's with Money by Berrigan and Schiff, we will spend some time working on the body of baseball & poetry. Or just poetry since that encompasses baseball.

*Note* Scholarship admission is available for those who need it. To sign up or get more information by emailing Samantha Giles at

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

NEXT Friday 5/15: Gardner and Treadwell!

Please join us for this final event of our Spring season!
Friday May 15th, Timken Hall, California College of the Arts, San Francisco
Event begins at 7:30; reading at 8:00
$5-10 sliding scale; members and students FREE

Elizabeth Treadwell is the author of seven books including the recent Birds & Fancies (Shearsman, 2007) and Wardolly (Chax, 2008) as well as seven chapbooks including The Graces (Dusie wee, 2006). Writing in Stride magazine, Nathan Thompson has said, "Treadwell's is a difficult but deeply rewarding poetry. It has a precision and a tenderness all of its own." In The Believer, Stephen Burt wrote, "if you want a feminist invention that is at once comic and confident, melodic and bizarre, affectionate and committed to its principles—then Treadwell is the next poet for you." She is slowly working on a picture book as well as some long poems, one of which, "fleece pimsy" (formerly known as "Virginia or the mud-flap girl" and/or "Ancient Celebrity Tune-rot"), she will be reading from tonight.

Susana Gardner lives in Switzerland, where she writes, edits Dusie Press and makes things. Her first chapbook, To Stand to Sea, was published by The Tangent Press, translated into the Italian by Massimo Sannelli, and is forthcoming from Cantarena Press, Genoa. She is also the author of, Scrawl, Or, (from the markings of) the small her( o) which was published in part with the inaugural dusi/e-chap kollektiv and EBB Port which was featured in Jacket in 2008. Geraldine Monk called Gardner’s first full-length collection, [lapsed insel weary], “…a sequence of articulations on the enduring themes of loss, separation, and messy love…” [lapsed insel weary] was published by The Tangent Press in 2008.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This Friday: Stecopoulos and Zurawski in Oakland!

Join us this Friday, May 8, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. for this exciting night!

Please note the change of venue to the CCA Oakland Campus, Nahl Hall 5212 Broadway in Oakland

Eleni Stecopoulos's first book, Armies of Compassion, is forthcoming from Palm Press. The recipient of a Creative Work Fund grant for 2008-2010, she will curate a program series titled The Poetics of Healing: Creative Investigations in Art, Medicine, and Somatic Practice for The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, and write a book in response. She is currently at work on Earth Also is a Private Language, a book-length poem that takes place via the island of Evvia (Euboea): its geothermal springs and hydrotherapy traditions, mythology, and family stories from the island.

Magdelena Zurawski was born in Newark NJ and grew up in Edison NJ, but Providence RI feels like home because that's where she started writing and meeting writers and thinking of herself as a writer. Currently, she lives in Durham, NC, where she is studying 19th-century American literature at Duke. The Bruise, out now from Fiction Collective Two, is the winner of the 2006 Ronald Sukenick prize for innovative fiction. It is her first book.

Monday, April 27, 2009

This Friday! Lau and Vincent!

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
CCA- Timken Hall

Stephen Vincent’s most recent poetry books include Triggers, a Shearsman ebook (, a faux ebook, Sleeping with Sappho (, and Walking Theory (Junction Press: 2007), the latter of which Ron Silliman wrote: “... these are the poems Stephen Vincent has been preparing to write his entire life. They definitely pass the “take the top of your head off” test. I went cover to cover without even sitting up…” Recent poems have appeared in the current issues New American Poetry, Crayon, Jacket and the forthcoming Vanitas. A visual artist, his show Haptics will open at the Braunstein-Quay Gallery from January 22 through February 21, 2009.

A noted teacher and publisher, in the 1970’s and early 80’s, his Momo’s Press published Beverly Dahlen’s first two books, Out of the Third and A Reading 1 – 7, as well as early volumes by many other then locals, including Victor Hernandez Cruz, Jessica Hagedorn, and Hilton Obenzinger, and Shocks, a critical magazine. A longtime San Franciscan, his popular blog of poems, walks, photographs, haptics and occasional political commentary is found at

David Lau's first book of poems is Virgil and the Mountain Cat. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Fourteen Hills, Jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Pool, Willdlife, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. He is co-editor of Lana Turner: a Journal of Poetry and Opinion. He teaches writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College

Monday, April 20, 2009

A new video awaits you!

Check out Claire Chafee on the Small Press Traffic youtube channel here

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saturday April 18th! Tan Lin and Chet Wiener

Please join us!

Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Co-Sponsored with The New Reading Series at 21 Grand At 21 Grand
416 25th Street in Oakland

Tan Lin is the author of Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe, BlipSoak01, and Plagiarism/Outsource: Heath. Lin is the recipient of a Getty Distinguished Scholar Grant for 2004-2005 and a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Arts Writing Grant to complete a book on the writings of Andy Warhol. He has recently completed a novel, Our Feelings Were Made By Hand. He teaches English at New Jersey City University.

photo by Chet Wiener

Chet Wiener writes poetry in English and French. He is the author of a book of poems in French, Devant l’abondance (P.O.L 2003) and the chapbook WalkDontWalk (Potes and Poets 1999). He has translated Félix Guattari and Pierre Alferi, among others into English, co-edited, with Stacy Doris, the collection of translations: Christophe Tarkos; Ma Langue est Poétique (Roof Books, 2000), and his poems, translations and essays on translation have appeared in publications in the United States and France. He is a specialist in 16th-century French literature and philosophy, translates for the French Ministries of Culture and European and Foreign Affairs and writes medical filing documents for review by the FDA and other regulatory agencies internationally. He lives in San Francisco.
Please note special time, day, and location for this co-sponsored event!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Small Press Traffic goes LIVE on YouTube

Our fearless intern Alex Vikmanis has been up to some crazy hijinx after our readings. Check out his deep investigative journalism into the psyche of our readers. Go watch his charming and nervous movies on our new youtube page here 

Thanks Alex! 

Monday, March 30, 2009

FRIDAY APRIL 10TH: Donna de la Perriere and Claire Chaffe

Please come join us for this fantastic night!

Donna de la Perrière is the author of True Crime (Talisman House, 2009). Her poems have appeared in Agni, American Letters and Commentary, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Five Fingers Review, First Intensity, The New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly, New American Writing, Parthenon West Review, Talisman, Volt, Xantippe, and other journals, as well as in Faux Press’s 2006 Bay Poetics anthology. She teaches in the MFA creative writing programs at California College of the Arts and San Francisco State University, co-curates the Bay Area Poetry Marathon reading series, and lives near downtown Oakland with poet Joseph Lease and cat Little Sister.

Claire Chafee’s plays include: Whisper from The Book of Etiquette, Why We Have a Body, Even Among These Rocks, 5 Women on a Hill in Spain and Darwin’s Finches. Her plays have been produced by The Magic Theatre, The Women’s Project Off-Broadway and received productions in L.A., Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Seattle. She has received the Dramalogue Award, Critic’s Circle Award, New York Newsday’s Oppenheimer Award and a Princess Grace Special Projects Grant. Her plays have been published by Dramatist Publishing, Smith and Krauss, Penguin and Alexandra Street Press, a database of 20th Century Women’s Drama. She is a graduate of The Drama Studio, London and holds an MFA from Brown University. Claire has given readings from her own work at A Different Light in NY, Dixon Place and Chaptre Arts in Cardiff, Wales.

Friday, April 10, 2009
California College of the Arts- Timken Hall
1111 8th Street
San Francisco, CA

$5-10 sliding scale/students and members FREE!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thanks Stephen Vincent!

For your thoughtful report here

Monday, March 16, 2009

Check this out!

Robin Tremblay-McGaw : the best.

Thanks Robin!

In Case You Missed It: A reading report from Francois Luong

The room is surprisingly empty. Maybe thirty people at most. This is quite a contrast from Rae Armantrout’s previous reading in the Bay Area at the Artifact Reading Series, with Alli Warren and G.S. Giscombe. Joe Massey is also reading this evening in Oakland, while Rae Armantrout is reading with Lisa Robertson at Moe’s the following evening. All relatively known quantities for the poets I know. I am not quite sure how well known Laura Sims is here. For that matter, I am not very familiar with her work either. I have seen her first book from Fence and the work Flim Forum had published in their anthology a sing economy.

Samantha Giles starts the festivities with the introduction, mentioning the shortness of each reader’s poems and the amount of white space on the page. The importance of the visual aspect in their works. Hence the question about the function of poetry reading, of the oral performance. Poetry readings do not make a good spectacle. They are formatted like a rock concert, with the more prestigious poet getting the top billing in a way to help promote a lesser known one. But they are not as performative, at least in the United States. But like rock concerts, they function as celebration of the guests’ egos. We go because we want to be seen caring.

So the act of listening is a transaction, except that Laura Sims’ new book has not arrived, we are told. But Laura Sims is still glad to be reading with Rae Armantrout, who is described as one of her heroes. So the reading also as the creation of influence and lineage coming forth.

These are the words
used to describe

the world grows
her world

Laura Sims’ voice is uninflected, making pauses after each line break. There is an hesitancy to her words. She explains her project as being the attempt to write “both a memoir and the impossibility of writing such.” Perhaps because of the monotony of her voice, what is made apparent is the complex syntax of the first few poems (from Another Country) she reads, which might not be so as they appear more fragmented on the page.


But going back to the visual aspect of the poem on the page, is the typography playing the role of a scoring? But some words also gain more weight in their repetitive utterance. Again, this might be lost otherwise in the architecture of the book. And despite the monotonous delivery, there is something precious in Sims’ use of “you,” “dear,” “we,” “darling” and the notion of weeping.

The Murder and Serial Killer poems seem more problematic, not because of its subject matter however. Although those poems are found texts rewritten in what seems to be homomorphic lines, are they doing anything interesting to the dramatic monologue? This is not really an interesting question. Anyway, it seems that only serial killer poems could be written in the United States. They are very much part of its mythology.

Rae Armantrout is introduced with a joke on Ron Silliman. Another joke (this time from Armantrout) about how her book is actually available. Her delivery reminds me of Kathleen Fraser’s: crystalline, ludic, enthusiastic. There is nothing of that purported flattened tone of the Language poets. For that matter, I have never heard any language poets read in this manner. It is dense, yet, with each word uttered, I can see the poem materialize on the page. And despite their shortness, they are almost baroque with their multiple references to internet speak (“click here”) and other mass media (“Anna Nicole,” “Fallujah” and “Pirates of the Carribeans”).

This density in Versed also blurs the line between mass entertainment and the real (cf. Baudrillard’s notion of the simulacrum), while the poems from Dark Matter (the second half of Armantrout’s new book) mediate the discourses of representation (mass entertainment vs. scientific language).

This is followed by Armantrout’s new manuscript, Moneyshot, where the language of finance is mixed with that of the service industry, the more bellicose aspect of Bushspeak, and CNN.

The poem as channel surfing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Friday March 13th: Szymaszek and Santos Perez

Stacy Szymaszek is the author of Emptied of All Ships (Litmus, 2005) as well as many chapbooks, most recently Orizaba: A Voyage With Hart Crane (Faux, 2008), and from Hyperglossia (Hot Whiskey, 2008). Stacy S: Autoportraits which features her self-portraits with texts written in response by Lisa Jarnot, Renee Gladman, Kevin Killian and others was also published in 2008 by OMG!. The complete Hyperglossia will be published by Litmus Press in spring of 2009. She is the editor of Gam and the Artistic Director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church.

Craig Santos Perez, a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guahan (Guam), is a co-founder of Achiote Press and author of from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008). His poetry, essays, reviews, and translations have appeared (or are forthcoming) in New American Writing, Pleiades, The Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others.
-- Samantha GilesExecutive DirectorSmall Press Traffic Literary Arts Centersptraffic.orgsmallpresstraffic.blogspot.comg

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Friday March 6th! Armantrout and Sims!

Rae Armantrout’s most recent book of poetry, Versed, was published in Feb. of 2009. Next Life (Wesleyan, 2007), was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2007 by The New York Times. Other recent books include Collected Prose (Singing Horse, 2007), Up to Speed (Wesleyan, 2004), The Pretext (Green Integer, 2001), and Veil: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001). Her poems have been included in anthologies such as American Hybrid (Norton, 2009), Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (1993), American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Language Meets the Lyric Tradition, (Wesleyan, 2002), The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford, 2006) and The Best American Poetry of 1988, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008.. Armantrout received an award in poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008. She is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, San Diego.

Laura Sims is the author of two books of poems: Practice, Restraint, winner of the 2005 Fence Books Alberta Prize, and Stranger, forthcoming from Fence Books in 2009. Her book reviews and essays have appeared in Boston Review, New England Review, Rain Taxi, and The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and she has recently published poems in the journals Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, CAB/NET, and Crayon. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches writing at Baruch College in Manhattan.

Follow Up to Poets Theater: Installation for Letting Go By Lara Durback

To those that participated in letting go of something in my Ritual for Letting Go Tank installation on the first night of Poets Theatre, here is an update.
(If you did not know what this was, people wrote on a paper something they wanted to let go of and forcefully threw it into the tank after thinking about it for a while, walking on the concentrating path, as I played irritating tones on my toy keyboard.)
I had all the items sitting in a bag for a few weeks gathering strange energy with very strong magnets that were originally in the bottom of the tank. On one spooky night, (called Burns' Night in Scotland, I later found in my roommate's witchy calendar, but it was for Robert Burns though. I thought it had much witchier intent than that) I snuck into my favorite parking lot/backyard where the lines from the fences make plinko shapes on the pavement in the moonlight. I removed the slips of paper that were rubber-banded to the objects in complete darkness, then burned all these pink papers in the dark without reading them. I did see one that said "Peepee Poopie" which made me laugh, and also made me mad, but I'm glad I did not see any of the serious ones. I put the pink papers in this lovely metal bowl thing as they burned. I took pictures of myself with my Photobooth on my Mac and I smelled like campfires all night.
I felt deliciously high after doing this, but completely depleted the next day. This is what happens when you're dealing with everyone's shit, but it is all for the better.
So if you dropped something in there, it's really gone now.
Oh, and did I mention, it was also the night right before Chinese New Year.
So, my people, you are healed now. For this whole year, you have been.
And to those who tripped and fell on my installation, esp. Erika Staiti and Morgan, I apologize. I didn't have time to fix it.
Sasha Spahr played with the pathway like legos. This was good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In Preparation for Tonight!

Rachel Zolf's current project, The Neighbor Procedure, is title partly for the Israeli army policy described in this haunting testimony.

To read more about her work visit here and here and here.

Christian Bök will read from a variety of projects.

To read more about his work visit here and here.

See you tonight!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


What would the Iliad look like if rewritten using only one vowel? What happens to political poetry when channeled through the waste of corporate language and search engines? On February 20, Small Press Traffic presents Christian Bök and Rachel Zolf, two celebrated members of the Canadian avant-garde, who will read from their landmark, award-winning books.

Christian Bök's Eunoia was an instant bestseller in the U.K., where it was just released in the fall of 2008. First published in Canada in 2001, Eunoia is a univocal lipogram (using only one vowel per chapter), which achieves its full impact when performed live by Bök. Charles Bernstein has called it 'an exemplary monument for 21st century poetry.' Bök will be reading from the Griffin Prize-winning Eunoia, among other recent works.

Rachel Zolf's Human Resources is a writing machine in which poetry and ‘plain language’ collide. At the intersection of creation and repackaging, we experience the visceral and psychic cost of selling things with depleted words. Pilfered rhetorics fed into the machine are spit out as bungled associations among money, refuse, culture, work and communication. With the help of online engines that numericize language, Human Resources explores writing as a process of encryption. Zolf will read from Human Resources and her current work-in-progress on competing knowledges in Israel-Palestine, The Neighbour Procedure.

Small Press Traffic Presents Christian Bök and Rachel Zolf
Friday, February 20, 7:30 p.m.
Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco
$10 suggested donation

In Case You Missed It: A Reading Report by David Brazil

[[SPT READING REPORT, 2/6/2009]]

[[transcribed from [future] notebook No. 9049]]

[[KEY :

*** = page break
[ ] = transcribed brackets (written at time of composition)
[[ ]] = brackets subsequently inserted (editorial brackets)]]


At the reading, SPT.
Kaia & Yedda & Kim.

Brownies in the hallway

I'm sitting in the back row

[[drawings of cubes]]

Sara me Konrad Erika Buuck


Kaia, "Remember to Wave"

Directions read by
Samantha for how to get
to the poem.
"civil control


effects of the living"

"to that which can be carried"

"pods transform the hassle"

divagation into PODs,
if secularity proceeds
out of uprootedness,



"it may prove useful in a time
of emergency"

"alteration therefore are
not allowed"

"portable on-demand shelter"

"We Refugees" (Arendt)

people were living in the
during Katrina

David Buuck, Stephanie Young,
Konrad Steiner.

"free speech ends when
you shout fire in a crowded theatre
-- *but there is a fire*"

slides from Oregon Historical

dialectical tercets

liquidity --
profitable disaster -- what
happens when capital comes
to town --

rewrite gemeinschaft

only language from
starting *now* --

"with fine animal hair"

at lunch I was reading
Kit Robinson on the Dolch
Stanzas --
restricted vocabulary
which is also our
restricted common.
possibility of transfer --

but also with Jules & Taylor
was talking about
Marcus Rediker's "Slave


Ship," which made me think of
Zong!, composed from a
restricted vocabulary (from
court records relating to the
jettisoning of cargo from
the Zong, cargo which
happened to be human
beings) --
and whose
method's spectral, corrosive,
or brings elements into
relief, composes another
song out of the known one
as Radi Os
(Johnson says, "I composed
the holes," on the
model of Lukas Foss' Baroque
Variations, which turns
repertory warhorses into
reminiscent of Webern) --

why anyway now is redaction &
erasure a
crucial tactic,
why do we all know


what redaction means.

"the NAFTA"

"The President Probably Talks"

"who the president is
is shifting"

"my [[illegible]] voices are still talking"

litany of commodity,
commodity litany, & what
cant wedge into that grammar --

"somehow ... hears this"

Samantha's email to Yedda.
Yedda's email back.

Steven Farmer :
"I have no idea what's going on here."



[revisit Girl Scout Nation since the
lights were out during Yedda's
reading] [[see below]]

She had a vest & read by
the light of a Coleman
lantern, & wore a
hood for the middle segment of
the reading --

"I am burning like fire.
I am burning right now."
--Tiffany, age 8,
Troop 64.

Kim Rosenfield.
A scent she's
crafted is wafting its way from
the front of the audience,

"I am not only my
brother's keeper, I am
my brother"
--Samantha's introduction [written by Kim I understood later]


Sure, echolocation, sure.

Kim dedicates her reading to
Abraham Lincoln &
Charles Darwin,
who share a Feb. 12 birthday.

Landscapes of Dissent
of Man,
joked Konrad, earlier.

"sex organs
buried in the earth
beneath a living tree"

"every blank's like the
setting sun"

"the I would go so far as
to reinvent all language"

"economy as waste product"

"ontological and essentialist

"the lake of knowing"


lago di cor

"genderlicious genderbars"

"Vermont frogs
will never meet Florida frogs"

(as I'm writing this
the perfume baton
"The Other Me"
is handed to me by
Konrad & I
pass it on to Sara.

"People, are they different from

"Gender is datum and
we suffer for it."

"Almost the last thing
that keeps people together
is the law."


the vertigo of disgust.
"Sex is nature's trap."

"a creature properly known
as homo apien"

"saintly variants"

"Impulse is the most beautiful force
in human nature,
when it is."

[[codicil to 2/6/09 reading report, transcribed 2/10/09 --
some lines I remember Yedda reading, transcribed out of my copy of Girl Scout Nation,
and in the order of the book & not the reading :

"The unprecedented violence of human power has its deepest roots in (the)
structure of language." --Giorgio Agamben [[not, however, read as an epigraph to the
reading, but rather amidst it, as though it were poem, which perhaps it is?]]

"this goddamn exquisite Winnebago"

"and soft in the Locust we clammy do sing"

"like the moving hairs of the drowned"

"There are these two girls named Fawn"

"Dr. Phil would like to see Fawn H. return to Meadow Haven. Fawn H. is skeptical."

"Oh to be an image

Friday, February 6, 2009

Inter-Media Follow-up & Links

Due to a little hiccup in last Friday's program, Linh Dinh's video got skipped, so here's the link for those who'd like to check it out, plus some other fun "poets-video" links...

Linh Dinh's A Smooth Life

Henry Hill's Money

Eirikur Örn Norðdahl's Kreppusonnettan (IMF! IMF! OMG! OMG!)

Laura O'dell's Unmaking Whoopee, or the Text is Thus a Gas

Helen Adam's Cheerless Junkie Song

Paul Chan's Untitled Video on Lynne Stewart and Her Conviction, The Law, and Poetry

Ivor Cutler's Shoplifters

Dylan Morgan's Rejection Letter

Rives' De(a)f Jam

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Case You Missed It: A Reading Report from John Sakkis

A full house, a fundraiser, questionable wine, minimal ventilation and 2.5 hours of inter-media work. Thus was the Poets Theater 09 Inter-Media night. Typically my favorite SPT night of the season.

Karla Milosevich:"My Past Life" and "29 Palms"
I think what they said was "I was a horse" and then there were two women, one of them Karla, standing next to each other off of I-5 looking at the sky maybe, or making big Tai Chi circles with their arms, I think the other women, Paula Pereira, was miming Carla's movements but I could be wrong, and I kept waiting for Karla to turn into Steve Martin and pipe "What the hell is that?" and for the other woman to morph into Bill Murray and say "I don't know, what the hell is that?"

and then Karla: Hey, you kids! Get away from there!
Paula: I would not mess with that thing..
Karla: Don't put your lips on it!
Paula: [ ever curious ] What the hell is this?
Karla: Well.. get a photo of me with it, anyway!

But none of that last part happened...but it looked like it might have.

Dillon Westbrook:"pan(Oa)ic(k)land"
This one featured Westbrook on drums and Woodcock on bass. I think they were both wearing Oakland A's jersey's...but then Westbrook put on a jacket, so I could be wrong...and then a video by Nao Nakazawa driving around Oakland (quick zooms, slow pans, landscapes, architecture, people, signs, OAKLAND, mirrors) with live jazzy musical accompaniment by Westbrook and Woodcock. David Harrison Horton's dubbed voiceover reciting poetry things but I forget what and I couldn't take notes even though I brought a notebook because it was pitch black in the theater...and then suddenly it wasn't Horton's voice anymore (Westbrook's?) and it reminded me of Jim Morrison's post-humus spoken word album An American Prayer esp. that track where he says something like "Did you have a good world when you died? enough to base a movie on...?"

Heriberto Yepez:"Voice Exchange Rates"
Probably my favorite of the night, anti-fill-in-the-blank iconography a la Hot Topic and the AK Press Catalog (at a slant) (I think...)) as moderated by a 4bit robot-voiced human skull...super funny and charming. The part where the robot-voiced human skull repeated glitchy variations of the phrase "Americans rule the world" made me laugh and then feel ashamed of laughing in the same way that Nate Fisher's (Six Feet Under) first AVM (arteriovenous malformation) seizure in the Chubby's drive-thru where he ordered his food all "I'd like a chubb-chu-ch-ch-ch-cubbbbb-FUCK!!!-chchchchch-Chubby's Burger" made me laugh and then feel ashamed. And then something about Gertrude Stein and Nazi's and a big black dildo.

Bill Luoma:"The Concept of Ass"
A blooper reel! A baseball blooper reel! A baseball blooper reel Benshi Particle Physics cut-up delivered by a baseball-cup-wearing-baseball-shorts-sporting Bill Luoma. Bill "Homer" Luoma. Everyone laughed. A Dragon Fly on a pitcher's cap. Bill and David Hadbawnik used to show up to Poet's softball in SF in full uniform. David's uniform really annoyed me, Bill's didn't. Success!

Claudia Rankie & John Lucas:"Provenance"
Zinedine Zadane headbutts Marco Materazzi in slow motion with a Terminator 2 Brad Fiedel like sound design. Compelling. Materazzi got "owned" but so did Zinedine. I love Claudia. I love soccer. There was a rumor going around Naropa in 06 that I loved Claudia. Which was true but besides the point. Naropa's only sports team is a soccer team. I was in Claudia's workshop during the 06 World Cup.

Paolo Javier:"FYEO"performed by Dennis Somera
I have never met Paolo (or seen a photo), and I had never met Dennis (or seen a photo). And I didn't read my program closely enough, so the whole time I thought that Paolo was the one on stage performing his piece, not so, it was Dennis. A slide show, lot's of Filipino puns, drawings, comic book erasures, poetry, quotes, mis-ques and National Anthems.

Intermission:Henry Hills's "Money" (1982)"feat.
John Zorn, Abigail Child, Bruce Andrews, Sally Silvers, Charles Bernstein, Arlo Lindsey and dozens more..."like, a young Jack Collom!!! and then LRS remarks "poets seemed a lot less inhibited back then..." and then says "I think my wine is bad..." and then buries his face in his contributor's copy of Mrs. Maybe handed to him earlier by Lauren Levin. Hills's "Money" was the best piece of the night that nobody saw. We were either smoking, or eating cookies, or drinking 2-buck Chuck, unfortunate. Have you ever seen that rare 1979 Graf documentary Stations of the Elevated? "Money" is like the "innovative poetry" version of that.

Amanda Davidson & Cassie Riger:"A-Verbal"
This was a super cute piece (by "cute" I mean "fun" and by "fun" I mean "not bad"). And pseudo-interactive! I kept thinking "where do I know Amanda Davidson from?"...I still don't know. Great choreography and interaction between their video piece and their stage performance. I don't know, this piece just sort of "worked" really well. A refreshing way to start the second half of the night. They looked like they were having fun (a relief), and they took the "inter-media" theme to heart incorporating audience, video and set design, bully to you guys! And then those scenes that were shot in an SFSU classroom (burgundy chairs!) reminded me of having one of those dreams where you flunk your 9th grade pre-Algebra quiz and then you wake up and realize that you're 29 years old and never have to take a math class again...

Linh Dinh:"A Smooth Life"
I think Linh was a no show. I thought Ariana's piece was Linh's piece the whole time I was sitting through it. It wasn't. I think Lindsey Boldt told me Linh was a no show. Is that correct? Boldt is also the one who told me that Dennis Somera was in fact NOT Paolo Javier. Egads.

Ariana Reines:"Father"
Lot's of adorable Emo boys on stage reading a huge text in synch over an intermittent sound-scapey Macbook Pro score. Hmmm...Father talking to progeny about Mother on Father porn. About Mother's vagina, I think. I thought this was Linh Dinh. And it kind of made sense. But it seemed a little conceptual (or something) for Linh. I don't know, I was confused. I think I tried closing my eyes to concentrate better. But then Buuck (I think) turned on the air which suddenly ventilated the entire theater (ahhhh, sweet air...) which kind of distracted me which for some reason made me check my phone where I learned that it was 10:07pm which made me panic a little because I realized that I was already 15 minutes late for a date at Mission Hill Saloon down the street with 2 more pieces still to go after Reines's piece which was just now winding down. So after the boys left the stage I grabbed LRS and bee-lined to the bar, where my date showed up 15 minutes later than I did.

So, I missed Konrad Steiner's "Suite for Face" and the raffle drawing. Sorry Konrad! Sorry Raffle!

Addendum: Formally Sadies, Mission Hill Saloon is steadily becoming the new Gino & Carlo's. They love poets there. Not sure if Gino & Carlo's ever "loved" or just tolerated poets, but anyway, Mission Hill loves poets, just ask for Cesar!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In Preparation for Friday's Reading

Read Yedda Morrison here and here.

Read Kim Rosenfield here and here

Read Kaia Sand here and here
and these links show a bit of what Kaia's been up to lately--The "econ salon" (last link) is a project she's launched in Portland since the Economic Crisis became clear--

This Friday 2/6: Kaia Sand, Yedda Morrison, & Kim Rosenfield!

Small Press Traffic Presents: Yedda Morrison, Kim Rosenfield, & Kaia Sand

Friday, February 6, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
CCA- Timken Hall
1111 8th Street, San Francisco

Writer and visual artist Yedda Morrison was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Morrison's books include; Girl Scout Nation (Displaced Editions, 2008), My Pocket Park (Dusie Press, 2007), and Crop (Kelsey Street Press, 2003). Morrison has exhibited her work in the US and Canada and is currently represented by Republic Gallery in Vancouver, BC. She lives in Montreal.

Kim Rosenfield is a poet and psychotherapist. She is the author of three books of genre/blurring language; Good Morning—Midnight—(Roof Books 2001), which won Small Press Traffic's Book of the Year award in 2002, Tràma (Krupskaya 2004), and re: evolution (Les Figues Press 2008). She lives in NYC with her husband, poet Robert Fitterman, and their daughter, Coco.

Kaia Sand is the author of the poetry collection interval (Edge Books 2004), selected as a Small Press Traffic Book of the Year, and co-author with Jules Boykoff of Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space. Dusie Press published her wee book, lotto, and Sand has participated in the dusie kollektiv for three years, making the chapbooks heart on a tripod and tiny arctic ice. Jim Dine created two artist book based on Sand's poems, lotto and tiny arctic ice. Remember to Wave, multi-media investigations of political histories lodged in Pacific Northwest of the United States, is forthcoming with Tinfish Press. The NAFTA, a chapbook of collages, is forthcoming with Duration Press e-chap series. Sand co-edits the Tangent Press.

Kaia will be also giving a presentation with Jules Boykoff on Landscapes of Dissent on Sat. 2/7 at the nonsite collective.

More Bev Dahlen Tribute Links

texts from Charles Alexander, Bruce Boone, Kathleen Fraser, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Ron Silliman, &
Stephen Vincent

Thanks to Robin Tremblay-McGaw & xpoetics -

audio from event will be up at PENNsound soon!

Friday, January 30, 2009

In Case You Missed It: A reading report from Ariel Goldberg

A Mummer's Play, by Vanessa Place, directed by Yedda Morrison, was perhaps the funniest play of the night with extravagant gender baffling costumes accessorized with plastic toy sword knives that must have been hoarded, with incredibly foresight back in October 0h eight from the Halloween superstore. A theme of all the plays though, thanks to the aura of PoetsTheater as a place to see your friends or friend's friends on stage or seeing, forgivable via charm, scripts in actor's hands, I enjoyed a clear recognition of the audience by the actors. This wall between performer and viewer that the pros build so stoically and only destabilize in the most post modern moments was virtually mocked when Samantha Giles as actor, not ED, turned away from her fellow actors to wave to the audience in her grand entrance as an honest to be your swindler doctor. The actors in a Mummer's Play, when "offstage," walked in some creepy circle ritual, as if to tell the spotlight, I can hear you over there so don't talk smack too loud now. The plot thickened accordingly with duels and teeth pulling, mutually exclusive. When the hollow Chinese weaponry got a little bulky, all-star player of the Poets Theater, Jocelyn Saidenberg initiated a pencil fight, complete with a strobe light. Writers got fiest! Cinematically hailing the kid scissor aesthetic of sprouting tree dioramas meets pillory for some minor offense, Jocelyn's head inside a tree and fake money being exchanged, or was it real money, was a most pleasing ending. Apologies for more plot details being excluded. The visuals were too intoxicating.

The News from Zimbabwe: a re-enactment, "conducted" by David Buuck brought not only the events of playwrights tortured in Zimbabwe in 2007 to our San Francisco consciousness, but challenged the role of citizen as spectator. How does censorship and torture happen I often wonder, however decontextualized? Why, by the participation of the audience as non participators, of course. Buuck casted the audience as the lead of this play, under the influence of our lights out look forward to the stage costume, rendering our predictable passivity, individually, greatly disturbing. What would have happened if I, unplanted, ripped off the duct tape from Buuck's stomach before he was scheduled to bow? It would have looked planted. Unlike the distance the perpetrators of torture rationalize, with the "I was just following orders" explanation, as the Abu Ghraib photos continue to loom over this warring superpower I share a nationality with, this play took people we recognize, it took our local artists and put them into the task of horrific events, of too many plays within plays. Buuck’s knee jerk joke at the U.S. of repetition of "Mugabe, Zimbabwe" (it's Harare, stupid Americans, not the 29 year and counting president). Or can we put people as place names? And then say something? For the board of Dateline producers and the routine of a new staff member walking into the room to repeat the script of "following orders" resulted in escalated abuse onto the Poets Theater organizer, by far the most haunting pivotal role in this piece were the narrator, Lara Durback. She was positioned center stage as gatekeeper between the News media evil doers drinking their booze and the caged playwrights. Durback stood over kitchen appliances like a Martha Rosler reincarnate, hailing semiotics of the kitchen ( as a model for the execution of our everyday objects as having potential harmful uses. Durback condoned the torture repeatedly with "I don't see anyone stopping you." I was struck with how Buuck's piece helped me understand the hot in the art world re-enactor Mark Tribe who says the goal of his re-staging of famous protest speeches is to point out "how much has changed, yet how much has stayed the same." Tribe hires actors to create replicas. After volunteering as a (film) photographer for his Loretta Scott King speech, he asked me if I think he should get more famous people do the re-enactments. I was baffled at the time. Because Tribe's crowds don't have a personal connection, either with a local arts community or with the actors themselves, it seems he is barely attacking the passivity we as audience members are capable of. Buuck was not afraid to do this.

We were back from intermission with Flow — Winged Crocodile by Leslie Scalapino, where stepping up on low to the ground furniture to rub rhino dung off balanced out palpable lines of poetry. The Patty Hearst character seemed to mock the hyphenated air pauses of Scalapino's verse with a blow up gun only blowing away the tilt of her beret. The minimal activity on the stage made every gesture powerful, particularly the slow-it-down-running man movements of M. Mara-Ann, whose somersault, in full bubble wrap, was hilarious.

Coming to the end of the night, I was thinking: What's more funny in Poets Theater, when an actor laughs on stage or the play executes a joke, literally written into the script? Only the Money is Real, by Raymond Pettibon and directed by Kevin Killian had plenty of put on your making fun of art school hat jokes. Monet got confused with Manet in the cloud of a faux joint and gays were the real playas, as the womanizing hetero professor laments. The backdrop at the beginning, middle and end of this play's first act debut were Pettibon drawings that set some mysterious linking at work. How does one manage a cross-genre regiment? Much needed playfulness set up dialogues between business and art, the authority of academics, and the farce of authenticating artwork. Suzanne Stein gave a vigorous defense of Joyce Carol Oates at folding chair dinner table of rich people before throwing down her napkin. She was the only cast member graced with a napkin to throw. Dodie Bellamy moderated awkward conversations with complete precision of notifying the professor of his inappropriateness, yet tolerating it, with intrigue, at the same time.

I have to say, I love this stuff. Every moment of it. I can't wait for more and more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

This Friday 1/30: Poets Theater Inter-Media Night!


Please join us Friday Jan 30th for the last night of PT09, with several inter-media works from local & national writers, artists, musicians, & filmmakers, along with our huge raffle & other festivities! Program includes:

Karla Milosevich: "My Past Life" & "29 Palms" (video)
two new videos by Bay Area arts legend & Poets Theater starlet!

Amanda Davidson & Cassie Riger: "A-Verbal" (video & performance)
The Doctors Feelings present preliminary research on the emerging averbal condition.
( see the preview at )

Paolo Javier: "FYEO" (text & images), performed by Dennis Somera
live cross-cultural de(tour)nement & comix!

Linh Dinh: "A Smooth Life" (video)
The unconscious of online visual culture whispers its (per)verses into our ears.

Ariana Reines: "Your Mother & I" (audio & performance)
"Now son, you know we are not perverse individuals..."

Heriberto Yépez: "Voice Exchange Rates" (video)
What happens when our machines begin to translate us back into the feedback loop.

Bill Luoma: "The Concept of Ass" (speech & video)
baseball bloopers meet diamond gem poetics...

Henry Hills: "Money" (film)
a classic cut-up featuring John Zorn, Abby Child, Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Sally Silvers, and dozens more....

Dillon Westbrook: "pan(Oa)ic(k)land" (video, text & live music)
A multi-media investigation of Oakland & its hidden rhythms.

Claudia Rankine & John Lucas: "Provenance" (video essay)
On the head-butt heard 'round the world...

Konrad Steiner: "Suite for Face" (video & live music)
Improvising movie musicians pull the masks of actors into new affective directions.

Friday 1/30, 730 pm. $10 donation.
Timken Hall, CCA
1111 8th Street, San Francisco

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From the Blogosphere

A great take on Poets Theater from Robin Tremblay-McGraw at X Poetics here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Poets Theater Night 1 Photos

click here and here and here for more photos

In Case You Missed It Last Week: A Poets Theater Report from Brandon Brown

Ah, Poets Theater at Small Press Traffic. There’s really nothing like it, socially or otherwise, that happens in the Bay Area all year. The first clues and cues a sudden decrease in social availability on weeknights, given over to rehearsal, and before you know it it’s opening night in Timkin, the room afroth with strange (and beautiful, don’t worry) faces, more of them than usual, and a buzz that this commentator found a little overstimulating. What makes Poets Theater (Alli reminded me: no apostrophe) different from regular Theater? Ostensibly the plays (such as they are) are written by poets (but this isn’t hard and fast) and played by poets (though this is even less hard and fast). What seems to me to be the fundamental difference is that the adding of POETS to THEATER entails a redrawing of the rules of the spectacle. Fourth wall? Why yes, please, and I’m working on my fifth. And before the spectacle can even commence onstage, it’s buzzing outside the doors. Players are vacillating between the theater and the crowd, half in costume half out, sometimes wielding un- or semiwieldy props; small camps might be crouching on their haunches for one last, desperate rehearsal, or just as likely passing a flask in the dim hallway behind the stage (just kidding, no drinks in Timkin!). I suppose what I suggest by this is that the performance starts as soon as you break the seal that leads to the hall, and this was overscored by David Buuck’s amazing vaudeville introduction, sung to a recorded track on his IPOD, even as he wore Joy Division eyeliner and did his best Fred Astaire.

The program on Opening Night 2009 was pretty representative of Poets Theaters past. You had your world premieres written by contemporary extra-Bay Area poets with strong Bay Area ties (Stan Apps’ Elsa In Berlin, Bhanu Kapil’s Rabbit Butoh, Bunny Butoh), your local talent new to PT (Tetra Balestri’s Perverted Virtue), your veteran PT alumna (Wendy Kramer’s Trademark Girls), and the reprise of neglected Russian avant garde plays translated by Matvei Yankelevich (er…three short plays by Danii Kharms).

If there was any trope common to this very diverse program of plays, it might be the (very broad) one of desire thwarted by the interference of an other (the Spinozan definition of jealousy—a comment on poets writing poets theater?). But specifically for the plays Friday, the interfering other often took the form of a more or less arbitrary orneriness rather than a hubristic challenge or fatalistic intervention. Take Elsa in Elsa In Berlin, a role brilliantly delivered by Erika Staiti. Victor Shlovsky loves Elsa, and sends her the “genius” but overtly insulting “love letters” to prove it—the crisis in the play is not the one you might expect, according to Aristotelian categories, that Elsa fails to recognize the genius of Shlovksy, thereby spurning him for a lesser intelligence. Rather, Elsa recognizes Shlovsky’s genius perfectly—and this becomes the reason for her disavowal. Aristotle’s like WTF? Similar interferences are run by the steroid-dealing, mouse-befriending housewife in Perverted Virtue, the medical stenographer or perhaps the Pepsi machine in Rabbit Butoh, Gogol and Pushkin in Kharms—if such a blatant figure fails to appear in Trademark Girls, let that not imply that the desires of the trademark girls are fulfilled necessarily (though their story might be the most redemptive of the night, and thus served as an appropriate closer).

If the plays express frustrated desire, the activities at the intermission express frustration’s opposite. For there not only could one drink plentifully, for free, but Lindsey Boldt’s Human Jukebox provided song, my Dessert Storm provided dessert, raffles provided prizes, and I leave it other commenters to chime in on Lara Durback and Ariel Goldberg’s intermezzo performances as I was occupied sweetening cream and whipping it with air, thus creating a colloid roughly doubly the volume of the original cream, as air bubbles are captured in a network of fat droplets.

To close, I would like to start a partial list of the terrific outfits everyone was wearing and impart some miscellaneous highlights.

The outfit list is necessarily partial, as there were so many well-dressed strangers to me, and also I had like a thousand drinks and can’t possibly recall what, say…okay, to be honest I can’t remember what anyone was wearing except for Stephanie Young’s amazing boots and Alli Warren was wearing suspenders, Erika Staiti was in drag, Brent Cunningham was in a salmon blazer that I loaned him a year ago and need to recover, Brent, just so you know, Lara Durback was in drag, Stan Apps was wearing his “Bill Luoma” shirt, Bill Luoma was wearing his “Stan Apps” shirt, just kidding, he was wearing his candy color blazer, David Buuck was wearing eyeliner, Taylor Brady was wearing an Executive Director blazer and then became Lil Debbie, Rob Halpern was wearing clothes for a while.

Miscellaneous highlights: Sasha Berkman Tupac Spahr is a born Poets Theater participant, and also his outfit was spectacular. Massive rabbit head on Lara Durback’s neck during Bunny Butoh and then in people’s hands and arms for photo taking. Fake blood. Stas Feldman emerging from a bed in Elsa in Berlin. Oh, and at the end we all threw our shoes at David Buuck.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Poet's Theater, Part the 2nd: This Friday Jan 23rd!

Please join us for night two of Small Press Traffic's annual Poets Theater Fest & fundraiser - this Friday Jan 23rd, at 730pm.

Flow — Winged Crocodile
by Leslie Scalapino

Only the Money is Real
by Raymond Pettibon
directed by Kevin Killian

A Mummer's Play
by Vanessa Place
directed by Yedda Morrison

The News from Zimbabwe: a re-enactment
conducted by David Buuck

and come again the following Friday 1/30 for video & intermedia works by Linh Dinh, Ariana Reines, Heriberto Yépez, Konrad Steiner, Henry Hills, Paolo Javier & Dennis Somera, Dillon Westbrook, Karla Milosevich, Cassie Riger & Amanda Davidson, Bill Luoma, Claudia Rankine, & more!

and look to this blog soon for a Poet's Theater Night One Reading Report by Brandon Brown!

Small Press Traffic's Poets Theater 09, night 2
Friday Jan 23, 7pm.$10-20 donation
- refreshments will be served

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Please join us for a full night of theater, performance, and other delights, at the first night of our annual Poets Theater Fest fundraiser. Featuring:


"Elsa in Berlin" by Stan Apps (directed by David Brazil)

"Perverted Virtue" by Tetra Balestri (directed by Milenko Skoknic)

"Rabbit Butoh, Bunny Butoh" by Bhanu Kapil (directed by Erin Morrill)

"Trademark Girls" by Wendy Kramer (directed by the author)

* three short plays by Daniil Kharms, trans. Matvei Yankelevich (directed by Brent Cunningham)
* intermission performances by Lindsey Boldt, Ariel Goldberg, Brandon Brown, Lara Durbeck, & others
* as well as a huge raffle, with artworks, signed broadsides and more, from a variety of poets, artists, and presses.
* wine & refreshments will be served.

And: come back on the 23rd for longer plays by Leslie Scalapino, Raymond Pettibon, Vanessa Place & more, & again on the 30th for inter-media & video works by Linh Dinh, Heriberto Yépez, Konrad Steiner, Henry Hills, Paolo Javier & Dennis Somera, Ariana Reines, Dillon Westbrook, Karla Milosevich, Cassie Riger & Amanda Davidson, Bill Luoma, Claudia Rankine, & more!

see you then & there!
Show starts promptly at 730pm. $10
Timken Hall, California College of the Arts
1111 8th St., San Francisco

Photos from SPT's offsite MLA reading

from top: Bill Luoma, Steve Farmer, Xochiquetzal Candelaria, Scott Ignuito, Rob Halpern, Oscar Bermeo, Alli Warren, Erika Staiti, Stacy Doris, Chet Weiner, Alan Bernheimer & Brandon Brown. Thanks for coming out to the Hotel Utah for a great event. & check out some video at Oscar Bermeo's blog (thanks Oscar!)