Thursday, October 2, 2014

Watershed Poetry Festival

The Flaneur put in an anonymous appearance at this annual ecology poetry gathering in Berkeley.

 There was naturally the predictable hot and a usual buffalo stuff.

I had been had quite a few of these and read poems from a collection entitled "Ghost Nature" one year in past. Lovers of poetry reading seem destined to go the way of the buffalo. Fortunately the weekly farmer's market brings in the unexpected attendees. Joyce Jenkins is the prime mover and shaker; she edits Poetry Flash a long-standing bay area tabloid featuring a thorough schedule of plentiful readings. It is still somewhat published these days but only on line.
For decades there was a vital happening poetry scene here that it served. Now it appears that what remains are thought-they-were-big-fish poets in a drying-up pool of sparsely-attended book shop readings and gladiatorial spoken-word slam contests. The careerist academic lap-dogs pant along as ever happy for scraps offered by the greater vampire-squid of higher education. Did I mention that this festival was started by former US poet laureate Robert Haas a UC professor who was oddly non-commital when it came to the desecrating slaughter of the Memorial Oak grove on campus. Would Frost or Sandburg been so timid as to have made no comment and taken no side in the matter?

There was deep thought as well.

Last year I was there for a fine reading by the fine poet and great man Gary Snyder. In his late seventies he clearly  still possesses the big sky mind and the affecting voice of a major poet. Great to see him again here in Berkeley where he influenced Kerouac. Snyder inspired the character Japhy Ryder in Jack's book the Dharma Bums. When he said we were patient to wait for his segment, as I lay in the grass before him I raised my arm to him in a sincere salute.

27 September 2014

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