I didn’t know that the focus of the event is really on younger poets, but was thrilled with what I saw and heard.
Most of the audience were high school students, from Newark Memorial (in the East Bay near Fremont), really getting into reading and writing poems for the first time.
They were excited, they were nervous, they were trying to look really cool and they totally reminded me of me.
Some of the students read for the first time to an audience. It was just lovely to not only see how poised these kids were, but also how fully realized their craft was in each poem.
I went back to my first time in print, which happened in high school, which felt awesome (oh! nostalgia!)…but how awesome it would have been to read at City Lights when I was sixteen. Hell, it just struck me that I’ve never done a reading at City Lights in adulthood, either. So, okay, now I’m actually a bit jealous.
Anyway, what I learned was that Laura Moriarty (director of SPD) started
New Lit Generation to inject some excitement into young writers and readers both in and outside the classroom. It’s a chance for young people to publish for the first time, to exchange a poem for a book at the Poetry Trading Post, and to introduce the lively and thriving world of poetry and literary events in the Bay Area. You can read more about why SPD started the program here.
Students of Cathlin Goulding’s class who read: Anthony Boyd, Hong Le (who already has such presence) and Sarah Larsen.
After the students’ reading, we heard Micah Ballard and (my favorite work of the evening) Javier O. Huerta’s reading selections from his first book Some Clarifications (Arte Publico Press 2007).
Diane DiPrima was scheduled, but apparently had a conflict. More than us missing out on her work (DiPrima definitely qualifies as one of those “living legends” of poetry I mentioned last week), though, I think she really missed out on something truly exciting brewing in the generation of writers who will follow and subsequently challenge all of us.
The next big SPD event is their Open House on Sunday, April 5th. Laura tells me that Graham Foust (a mentor of mine during grad school) will be reading, and he. is. fantastic. So save the date.
The Open House is from 12-4, the readings are at 2. You get a big discount on books and it is fun! We are located in Berkeley on 7th and Gilman (1341 7th Street).
Thank you Laura. We’ll see you there.