Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reading and reading

The ZYZZYVA reading tonight was very cool, in a small little room in the San Francisco public library, surrounded by books. As it should be.

71-year-old Ed Mycue read a few sweet poems and then from a "cultural/social history" piece that honors the lives of a number of now-gone San Franciscans.

Bucky Sinister's poetry is funny and edgy. It's very San Francisco and Beat-influenced, but he's certainly his own man.

ZYZZYVA's managing editor, Kristin Kearns, read part of a quirky story about a woman whose husband leaves her, only to move in next door with a neighbor woman.

I read my poem that appeared in ZYZZYVA along with a few from my book. I was a little thrown when reading "First" because I could feel images of all the loss we've suffered lately creeping into my mind and body, and I began to tear up. I had to will myself to finish.

During the reading, two guys who looked like they probably live in a shelter or on the streets came in and sat in the chairs in front of me. The older man removed his hat and smoothed his hair down with his hand. Not taking his eyes off the reader, he then pulled a little black comb out of the pocket of his leather jacket and combed his hair slowly until it was neatly helmeted on his head. It was poignant gesture to me, as though he felt poetry deserved his finest appearance.

Howard handed them both copies of the issue. A nice touch: giving people copies of the magazine we're celebrating.

I exchanged copies of my book with Ed and Bucky for copies of theirs. Highly recommended: It's a great way to read new-to-you work, to get signed copies of books, and to spread your own work around to people you know like to read poetry.

I finished reading The Book of Salt recently--and wow. It's really good. It's told from the point of view of a Vietnamese cook who works for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. The cook is the narrator, and we learn throughout the story his compelling, and devastating, family history and why he left Vietnam.

I was only a few pages into the book when I realized that I don't have the voice yet for my historical novel. Truong has captured a rich, unique voice in her book that is addictive and haunting. I only have ideas and notes, not that voice that will drive the story. And I know the only way to find it is to keep researching and writing.
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