Books & Poetry

Thumbnail image for To Be a Warrior Poet

To Be a Warrior Poet

by Will Falk 04.18.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

I tried to kill myself a year ago.

In the year since, I quit my job as a public defender, spent weeks in group therapy, went on Phish tour, tried to kill myself again, searched every corner of my soul and began writing earnestly.

Sometimes, I think writing has kept me alive. Writing my poetry and essays allows me to fill my world with a meaning that is under attack.

The world is burning at an ever-faster pace. We are at war. Many of us may be imprisoned, tortured, raped and ultimately killed. Before I tried to kill myself, I let myself wander too far with clogged ears deaf to the friends – both human and non-human – that fill this world with meaning.

Armed with my experiences, I know that art can – and must be – a weapon used in defense of the world.

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Thumbnail image for My Buddy Has a Playmate

My Buddy Has a Playmate

by Judi Curry 04.17.2014 Books & Poetry

By Judi Curry

My 13 year old Golden is having some hip issues

Trying to watch him walk down the stairs brings out the crying tissues.

He doesn’t seem to be in much pain and he “smiles” all the time,

Except when he tries to stand up and then you know he’s not fine.

He just helped me “dog sit” my daughter’s big dog,

Who really is a cross between a kangaroo and a frog.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “notes from Hillcrest/one year after suicide attempt” by Will Falk

Poem of the Day: “notes from Hillcrest/one year after suicide attempt” by Will Falk

by Will Falk 04.17.2014 Arts

4/16/14

By Will Falk

I am looking for a pick-axe
a long one with a thick handle
one to chip my way
through the asphalt covering
everything

I want to hear crickets
tall grasses at my heels
the shift of sand
the suck of mud

starlight

this is what I think about
wandering San Diego at night

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski

Poem of the Day: “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski

by Anna Daniels 04.16.2014 Books & Poetry

The poet’s secret pact

By Anna Daniels

Brent Beltrán is the Wednesday editor du jour, so I gave him a heads up yesterday that Bukowski’s poem would be ready to post today. Brent shot back an email with “In honor of Bukowski I’ll get blindingly drunk and bang my head on the keyboard in hopes that a poem appears on my computer screen.” I sense that the man who wrote “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can” would approve of the homage.

Much of Charles Bukowski’s poetry expresses his contempt of hypocrisy, willful stupidity, gratuitous judgments, posturings of superiority and the easy sell-out.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Elegy” by Jon Sands

Poem of the Day: “Elegy” by Jon Sands

by Anna Daniels 04.15.2014 Books & Poetry

Poet as memorist

By Anna Daniels

It’s National Poetry Month and readers have been sending in their requests for poems and poets. Securing publication rights for the poem of the day has been challenging, which is one of the reasons why I am using videos. Many of you have been sending videos links which means I have enjoyed hours and hours of total immersion in all kinds of poems by all kinds of poets. You have introduced me to poets I never knew about or poems by familiar poets that I had never read before. Don’t stop! Thanks to Anna Prouty for suggesting Elegy.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Piss Factory” by Patti Smith

Poem of the Day: “Piss Factory” by Patti Smith

by Anna Daniels 04.14.2014 Books & Poetry

“I will never faint I refuse to lose, I refuse to fall down”

By Anna Daniels

Patti Smith, the queen of punk and one of the few women who was even able to make a name for herself in the punk scene, is now in her late 60′s, still writing, singing and politically active. Piss Factory was one of her first recordings, released in 1974.

Sixteen and time to pay off
I got this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe
Forty hours thirty-six dollars a week
But it’s a paycheck, Jack.
It’s so hot in here, hot like Sahara
You could faint in the heat…
The rest of the poem here.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Guantanamo” by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Poem of the Day: “Guantanamo” by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

by Source 04.13.2014 Books & Poetry

By Shadab Zeest Hashmi/ UniVerse

A guard forces you to urinate on yourself
Another barks out louder than his dog
the names of your sisters
who live in the delicate nest
of a ruby-throated hummingbird
Each will be a skeleton he says

Was there someone who gave you
seven almonds for memory,
a teaspoon of honey every morning?

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Chiaroscuro” by Karen Kenyon

Poem of the Day: “Chiaroscuro” by Karen Kenyon

by Source 04.12.2014 Books & Poetry

The spaces inside that poetry fills

By Karen Kenyon

Why I Write

My mother was a pianist, so I grew up surrounded by music and lyrics. In addition,my blind grandfather wrote poems all the time, so writing poetry and being creative seemed a natural thing to do.

During college years I was an Art Major at UNM in Albuquerque (until I married after 3 years). But it was really after something difficult happened that poetry really entered my life full force.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

by Anna Daniels 04.11.2014 Books & Poetry

The Poet as Witness

By Anna Daniels
During the 1950′s Philip Levine was working in Detroit auto plants and writing poetry. In an interview at that time in Detroit Magazine he described how he found his compelling subject material. “I saw that the people that I was working with…were voiceless in a way. In terms of the literature of the United States they weren’t being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that’s what my life would be. …I just hope that I have the strength to carry it all the way through.”

They Feed They Lion was written in 1968, when Levine returned to Detroit following the race riots of 1967. It is one of his finest poems, reflecting the degree to which he found “the strength to carry it all the way through.” The poem is merciless in its judgements and propelled by the rhythmic insistence of the language itself.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “The Spruce Street Bridge” by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Poem of the Day: “The Spruce Street Bridge” by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

by Source 04.10.2014 Books & Poetry

From the ongoing SDFP column Geo-Poetic Spaces

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Editor’s Note: San Diego Free Press contributor and poet Karen Kenyon has introduced readers to a number of San Diego poets. One of the iron-clad rules of poetry is that one poet always leads to another. Ish, as we know him, is one of those poets. Since SDFP’s launch in 2012 he has contributed both poems and essays. A few months ago he attended one of our contributor and editor meetings and told us that he has been combining videos with his poetry. The ongoing SDFP series Geo-Poetic Spaces arose from that meeting.

As part of our National Poetry Month coverage, we have asked San Diego poets who contribute to SDFP to provide some insight into why they write poetry. Ish responded: Poetry is breathing. I write because I can’t hold my breath for long without exhaling words. I have to create. For me art is not just a way of living it is life.

The Spruce Street Bridge

Wind strumming up chords
Strolling over Spruce Street bridge
Nasturtiums swaying
Canyon suspending sound’s scent
A suite for strings struck in steel

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton

Poem of the Day: “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton

by Staff 04.08.2014 Books & Poetry

The Poet as Mentor and Model

By Staff

A poet’s audience often includes other poets. If you want to write good poetry, you need to read good poetry and a lot of it. Then you need to read more. It’s not just about the writing. Poet and short story writer Aafa Michael Weaver wrote this about Lucille Clifton:

Rooted in that vernacular consciousness and endowed with an encompassing intelligence and supremely keen intuition, Lucille was also as originally American as the blues and jazz. She resisted the homage to western tradition with its Athenian origins. In her work, antiquity is African but not Afro-centric. In the distinctness of her poetic project she gave us a black woman’s confessional lyric that is as celestial as it is earthbound. She wrote openly of the female body, openly and defiantly, and she wrote about the pressurized space of a black woman as a survivor of childhood trauma. In doing so she gave me a model that would take me two decades to know, and the process of “knowing” is the key to that pressurized space. … “Two Puffy Afros Going Down the Road: On Lucille Clifton’s Influence,” The California Journal of Poetics.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “This Is Not a Poem” by Will Falk

Poem of the Day: “This Is Not a Poem” by Will Falk

by Will Falk 04.08.2014 Books & Poetry

First, there’s the world. Then, there’s poetry.

By Will Falk

Editor’s Note: Will Falk contacted San Diego Free Press back in December of 2013. He wrote that he had recently moved to San Diego and was interested in submitting essays and poetry. Since that first contact it is unusual for a week to go by without receiving a submission from Will in one genre or the other. His essays have attracted a wide readership; they are often picked up on reddit and reposted on other sites. It is often harder however for poets to discern the extent and nature of the audience for their poems. So we asked Will why his first passion is to write poetry. His response is in his poet’s manifesto below. This is Not a Poem follows.

First, there’s sunshine, clouds, empty skies, and lightning storms. First, there’s wind kissing your breast, chills chapping your lips, and dew on your sleeping bag before the dawn. First, there’s salmon swimming upstream, heron stalking bluegill, and grizzly bear brothers wrestling. First, there’s quick clean water chasing over pebbles, ice cracking under a spring sun, and sand dragging over desert floors.

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Thumbnail image for At the Behest of the Dirty Food Lobby, Congressman Peters Joins GOP in 55th Attempt to Sink Obamacare

At the Behest of the Dirty Food Lobby, Congressman Peters Joins GOP in 55th Attempt to Sink Obamacare

by Doug Porter 04.07.2014 Books & Poetry

By Doug Porter

Congressman Scott Peters and seventeen other Democrats responded to the clarion call of the dirty food lobby last week by joining with House Republicans in their 55th attempt to to scale back or repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Following intensive lobbying and publicity events by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (hotels won’t be able to provide 24 hour service any more) and the National Restaurant Association (we’ll simply cut employee hours) the House of Representatives voted last week 248 to 179 to change the law’s definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week to 40 hours.

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says about one million people would lose employer-backed coverage and the number of uninsured would climb by nearly 500,000 if the law’s work definitions were changed.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: Touch/Palpar by Octavio Paz

Poem of the Day: Touch/Palpar by Octavio Paz

by Anna Daniels 04.07.2014 Books & Poetry

By Anna Daniels

During National Poetry Month, San Diego Free Press will be publishing a poem of the day. San Diego has poets, some very familiar and others not so familiar. We will be posting their works on Saturday and Sunday, while you are enjoying late coffee and oranges in a sunny chair.

During the week we will draw upon poetry from other places and times. Thursdays however, are reserved for Ishmael von Heindrick- Barnes video/poem series for SDFP called Geo-Poetic Spaces. We will also keep our eyes open for poems from SDFP contributor Will Falk.

Today we bring you Octavio Paz. The one hundredth anniversary of Octavio Paz’s birth was this past March 31st. The Mexican born poet was a prolific poet and essayist. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Wake in Rage” by Viet Mai

Poem of the Day: “Wake in Rage” by Viet Mai

by Source 04.06.2014 Activism

By Staff

It’s National Poetry Month. SDFP is recognizing San Diego poets this month. Viet Mai has been performing spoken word around San Diego since 2001. As a member of the 2013 ELEVATED! Slam Team, Viet represented San Diego to rank 4th place at the National Poetry Slam in Boston/Cambridge/Sommerville, MA.

Drawing upon his formal studies at UCSD in Ethnic Studies and Music as well as his interest in Hip-Hop lyrics, Viet’s mission is to collaborate with community members to educate, motivate, and inspire the youth through spoken word, art, and culture.

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Thumbnail image for It’s National Poetry Month and San Diego Has Poets

It’s National Poetry Month and San Diego Has Poets

by Anna Daniels 04.05.2014 Books & Poetry

By Anna Daniels

It’s April and the whole month is devoted to reading poetry, writing poetry and listening to poetry. National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 in the hopes of keeping this particular art form alive and flourishing. It is not as if poets stopped writing poetry and became successful hedge fund managers instead over the past decades. The obstacle has long been one of connecting audiences to poets.

Those connections began to occur a number of years ago in poetry slams–often informal arrangements set in coffee houses and book stores. These venues have provided an opportunity for both writers and audiences. A number of years ago San Diego buses displayed poetry written by local students above the seats. The series was called “Poetry in Motion” and it was one of the collaborations of poet and educator Quincy Troupe. San Diego is fertile ground for the poetic imagination.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Swami’s

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Swami’s

by Source 04.03.2014 Books & Poetry

What was Paramahansa Yogandanda thinking
building his Golden Lotus Temple
on sandstone cliff?

The town doctor warned,
“Erosion!”

Was it returning waves of karma?
condensation from past lives deviating from
path?

Was it watered Hinduism?
The refracted face of Jesus?
leading to back slide?

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Thumbnail image for Prayer to Brian Boru  on the dawn of battle, 2014

Prayer to Brian Boru on the dawn of battle, 2014

by Will Falk 04.01.2014 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

one millennium later
and there are still warships in the bay

our time, our place
the longest night before
our own Clontarf

the sea
turns green from gray

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Rain

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Rain

by Source 03.27.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

RAIN

Fingers tapping nails
Into eye beams blurring limbs
Wiping away clouds

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Thumbnail image for Where to Go

Where to Go

by Will Falk 03.25.2014 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

the canyon where I wander
seems empty to me

I am
wondering where to go
wondering what the canyon
will do with me
wondering at the emptiness of it all

burnt orange reaches to blue
where the stones hold the sky
the stones’ strong hands
are the only hands sure enough
to carry the sky

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Thumbnail image for Poetry: Tanja and All that Jazz

Poetry: Tanja and All that Jazz

by Ernie McCray 03.24.2014 Books & Poetry

(Celebrating a Life that Lasted from January 18, 1927-February 9, 2014)

By Ernie McCray

Tanja Winter.
Talking about a woman who had pizzazz.
I wrote, for her 80th birthday,
how she came into the world
about the same time as

Bob Fosse
who gave us
some sexy razz ma tazz
in the name of
All that Jazz;

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Battle for Mule Hill

Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Battle for Mule Hill

by Source 03.20.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Surrounded
by houses malls
the ghosts of Mule Hill
pinned down by charging Interstate
under fire from lancing nine irons
shooting 18 holes

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Thumbnail image for Poetry: I Lost A Friend Today

Poetry: I Lost A Friend Today

by Judi Curry 03.11.2014 Books & Poetry

I lost a friend today

I do not know why,

He didn’t explain it to me

When he said “Good Bye.”

I held my own until I was out the door,

And then I let go with a big cry.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: A Collection of Poems

Geo-Poetic Spaces: A Collection of Poems

by Source 03.08.2014 Books & Poetry

A collection of video poems by local author Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes from his award-winning book, Intimate Geography.

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Thumbnail image for Poem: Redemption

Poem: Redemption

by Will Falk 03.04.2014 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

I am searching for redemption
wishing for La Fonda beach to form
the sandy altar of my own Eucharist
an offering of the body and blood
the body and blood of me

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