Today, December 13, 2011 is Kenneth Patchen’s 100th birthday.
The next week will be a big one for Kelly’s Cove Press. Join us for one or more of our events.
On Tuesday, the 29th, I’ll appear on the 10 am (PCT) hour of Forum (KQED FM) with Michael Krasny to talk about Ambrose Bierce with S. T. Joshi, editor of Library of America’s definitive Bierce. Kelly’s Cove Press’s two Bierce volumes, The Best of the Devil’s Dictionary and Civil War Stories will also be part of the mix.
Wednesday, November 30, at 7pm, I’ll host a reading and celebration of Kenneth Patchen’s jameshallison casino work at City Lights Bookstore. Readers will include poets Bill Berkson, Lorna Dee Cervantes, David Highsmith, Genine Lentine, David Meltzer, and Jonathan Clark, editor of our volume Kenneth Patchen: A Centennial Selection.
On Thursday, December 1st,at 8pm, my one-man show, The Miraculous Return of Ambrose Bierce, with veteran San Francisco actor Felix Justice as Bierce, opens for three consecutive nights at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, 2041 Larkin Street (near Broadway) in San Francisco. One of the miracles of this production is that this will be Ambrose Bierce’s first appearance inside a church in more than 150 years.
A fourth performance of The Miraculous Return of Ambrose Bierce, will take place on Sunday, December 4, at 2pm, at Bird & Beckett, the great Glen Park bookstore at 653 Chenery St. in SF.
Come cheer on Felix in his miracle play.
We had two great events this last weekend. Friday night at Bird & Beckett, the hip neighborhood bookstore in the Glen Park area of San Francisco, Jonathan Clark with his grand basso voice read Kenneth Patchen poems to the walking bass of former SF Symphony bassist and jazz veteran Don Prell. And yesterday, at Readers” Books in Sonoma, Jonathan read with the fine jazz shakuhachi stylist Karl Young. As Jonathan noted, “This has to be the first time Patchen”s been performed online slots with shakuhachi.” At each event I found myself feeling really grateful to the small, iconoclastic bookstores, that against all odds, keep their stores open and gather their communities for free events. And yet for the sake of a few shekels, customers prefer buying their books at the 1% bookstore which offers no community.
What a relief – someone finally paying long overdue attention to Kenneth Patchen again.When I was in college, I kept a slim edition of Patchen’s poem paintings wide open on my desk the whole four years. I would return to them every time my brain felt overloaded or cooked (often). Always, Patchen’s fluent words and images served as a crucial restoration. Someone borrowed the book and never gave it back, so I am really pretty desperate for this new edition.–Naomi Shihab Nye
“First came Patchen, then Ferlinghetti….” That line from a Ron Padgett poem keeps echoing, pinpointing one of the coordinates shared by poets born at just the time––1940 or so––when Kenneth Patchen’s own writing took off––those searching out the corners where evidence of something “other” in the present day, alive and taking out the edges, was to be found. Patchen’s non pareil tough-guy, great-hearted stance, his unruliness, too, delighted and opened up all sorts of possibilities when I read him (and then with friends sat rapt by the phonograph to hear the jazz intermingling, too) beginning in the late 1950s.––Bill Berkson
Note: Bill Berkson will read at the centennial celebration at City Lights Bookstore on November 30.
“Like Whitman, Patchen was an American Visionary. Our Blake.Key texts like The Journal of Albion Moonlight& Sleepers Awake remain as unique as Leaves of Grass or Moby Dick. Tender poet, angry singer, Patchen endures even in his apparent absence from the litter of Literature studied in English Departments. Shame.” —David Meltzer
Note: David Meltzer will read from Patchen on November 30, at 7pm, at City Lights Bookstore
This weekend we’re happy to have two readings from Kenneth Patchen: A Centennial Selection. On Friday, November 4, at 8:30 pm, editor Jonathan Clark and publisher Bart Schneider read with the esteemed jazz bassist Don Prell at Bird & Beckett Bookstore in San Francisco. On Sunday, November 6, at 2:30, the same two readers will perform Patchen at Readers’ Books in Sonoma with the renowned jazz shakuhachi player Karl Young.