Stephanie Young from her Small Press Traffic Reading Earlier this Spring

Of late, xpoetics posts have arrived slow as molasses as my grandmother used to say. It's been a busy spring and now already, a busy summer. I was out of town the first weekend of June when Stephanie Young and Stephen Motika rocked the Small Press Traffic kasbah. Stephanie and Stephen have agreed to share some of their work, and here we begin with Stephanie's delicious excerpt from AVE VIA.

from AVE VIA

At the beginning of this century Caroline Bergvall collated the first three lines of Dante’s Inferno as translated into English and archived in the British Library through May 2000. You’ve heard this before. In the middle of the journey of the first decade of this new century, high-risk adjustable rate mortgages were aggressively marketed to those who could least afford them. It’s a familiar story. In 2011 the foreclosure rate in Oakland was more than double the national average. That year I couldn’t write any poems. Not one. No music. That year the rental market in San Francisco spiked by 10-20%. I wrote in sentences instead. That one. These. This isn’t an argument about form. 90% of foreclosures in Oakland fell in 3 zip codes: 94601, 94603, 94605. The oldest and most diverse. Primarily low and moderate income. Latino and African-American. The neighborhood known as. Formerly. Owner occupied. It’s well known. Common, current, habitual, ordinary, it came in waves. In 2012 Oakland rents went up by 11%. I woke to find we could no longer afford to live in the neighborhood where we continued to live, in a large, slowly disintegrating house where the cost of rent had not increased since 2003, a situation that could not last forever. That had. For now. I was lucky. The vacancy rate was 1.7%. I was hardly in exile. Nothing about our situation had changed. For a long time. 94609. We could no longer afford to live there. And yet we did. In a shadowy wood. Plus a yard and shed. A sort of cloud hung over verse. I worked with it, in the classroom. In the shadow of. A transit village. I couldn’t write any poems. Student loan surpassed credit card debt. 70% of all faculty were adjunct. You’ve heard this before. This isn’t an argument about form. I forgot how. I had gone astray. Bewildered, lost, way off course. We lived there. We continued to. Not one. No music. Nothing about our situation had changed. But it did feel strange. The situation had. Around us. Feelings. I didn’t know how to go forward, and couldn’t find my way back. The awkward adolescence of middle age. The first phase entered construction. The right path appeared not anywhere. “damages of the profession.” In a slowly disintegrating house. A situation that could not last forever. Real estate bloggers named it the most exciting city. Forbes. A tech cluster. It’s well known. Common, current, habitual, ordinary, it came in waves. Along the way I attended Keith Hennessy’s Turbulence (a dance about the economy). I turned 39. I was lucky. On 36th Street between Webster and Telegraph. Ave. Awe, ave, welcome, as the century picked up, took shape faster, farewell, adieu, 11%, 12, the house across the street went for $500,000, backed up against the freeway, I moved towards the collected lines of Bervall’s poem, Dante’s, Via, iced coffee, I was hardly in exile but it did feel strange, something moved me there, within the lines, the neighborhood, as improvisational structure, as age would have it, I moved within the situation of the poem, a fine wide street, instrumentation, the awkward adolescence of middle age, the action of coming to, a familiar story, from its language, with a certain shape in mind, a dance about the economy, “wherein” “for” might crescendo for a while, slowly overtaken by the idea of wood. Hardwood floors. We lived there. We couldn’t. We did. I imagined the points of this compositional score in the shape of a pentagram. A passage of entrance or exit. I was thinking of work by Pauline Oliveros. That music. Later I realized I’d mistaken one shape for another.


With reverence or from the Old Norse kept in check, frightened, restrained, disciplined, fit




In the manner or way of a grandfather, bird, bird,

A formal expression of greeting

Birds, small birds


In the journey of our life

And in the hour of our death


Ave acuatica

Ave cantor

Ave de corral

Ave del paraiso


Ave marina

Ave migratoria

Ave de paso

Ave pasajera

Ave rapaz

Ave de rapina


Ave zancuda

















San Pablo




the trees that lined them then

the pre-wood trees


the avenues

in pre-dawn light


I awoke to find


three cranes


on every side, a hospital

a hospital complex


more than 600 workers hidden from view

and a new 478-space parking garage


water flowing underground





within a forest dark

within 30 days





I found that I had strayed into The Forest, an American horror film, The Forest, a Portuguese film, The Forest, an Australian film, The Forest, a Cambodian film, the Forest, an Indian film.


I woke in wonder in literature sunless and dusky—an 1871 play, a 1903 novel—


The Forest.



Stephanie Young lives and works in Oakland. Her books of poetry are Picture Palace and Telling the Future Off. URSULA of UNIVERSITY is forthcoming from Krupskaya. She is a founding and managing editor of Deep Oakland, and co-edited, with Juliana Spahr, A Megaphone: Some Enactments, Some Numbers, and Some Essays about the Continued Usefulness of Crotchless-pans-and-a-machine-gun Feminism


Two Hot San Francisco Events on the Horizon

 S M O K' N  H O T   E V E N T S!

Saturday, June 15th, 7:30 PM
NEW DIALOGUES: Writing Sound/Playing Words
An evening of improvisations with music, silent acting, speaking and whispering voices, composed verse, and urgently ringing the bells. with Bruce Ackley, Clark Coolidge, Carla Harryman, Jon Raskin, Roham Shiekhani, and Crystal Pascucci.
John Raskin and Carla Harryman
Organized by Jon Raskin, and informed by his ongoing collaboration with writer, Carla Harryman, the evening will feature writers Harryman and Clark Coolidge, and music groups led by Raskin and Bruce Ackley.
The composition of words has always played an important role in the development of Rova members’ musics, and the Harryman-Raskin project demonstrates significant correspondences between the media. Coolidge and Ackley have threatened to perform together for years, and bassist Lisa Mezzacappa is the perfect co-conspirator to complete the trio. Clark will be featured both as a poet and drummer
Clark Coolidge, early San Francisco Days

7:30: Ackley/Coolidge/Mezzacappa Trio
Clark Coolidge – drums, poetry
Bruce Ackley – woodwinds
Lisa Mezzacappa – bass

Clark Coolidge attended Brown University, where his father chaired the music department. After moving to New York City in the early 1960s, Coolidge cultivated links with poets Ted Berrigan and Bernadette Mayer. Often associated with the ‘Language School’, his experience as a jazz drummer and interest in a wide array of subjects (including caves, geology, bebop, weather, Salvador DalĂ­, Jack Kerouac and movies) informs his writing. Recent works include A Book Beginning What and Ending Away, and 88 Sonnets, Fence Books. Coolidge currently lives in Petaluma.

Lisa Mezzacappa is a San Francisco Bay Area-based bassist, composer, and musical instigator. An active collaborator and curator in the Bay Area music community, she leads her own groups Bait & Switch and Nightshade, and co-leads the ensembles duo B., Cylinder, the Permanent Wave Ensemble, the Mezzacappa-Phillips Duo, and the Caribbean folk band Les Gwan Jupons. Lisa has released her own recordings on the Clean Feed, NoBusiness, Leo, Evander, Odd Shaped Case and Edgetone record labels, and has recorded as a sideperson for the Tzadik, Kadima and Porto Franco labels. She collaborates frequently on cross-disciplinary projects in sound installation, film/video, sculpture and public music/art.


8:30 Carla Harryman & Jon Raskinwith Crystal Pascucci and Roham Shiekhani

Carla Harryman is the author of seventeen books, among them the prose diptych W—/M—forthcoming from Split Level Press in 2013; Adorno’s Noise, a collection of conceptual and experimental essays (Essay Press, 2008); and a sequence of essays in  The Grand Piano, a multi-authored ten volume work about art and culture in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1975-1980, (Mode D, 2011). Her Poets Theater, interdisciplinary, and bi-lingual performances have been presented nationally and internationally. Recent work in performance includes the “re-performance” of Theodore Adorno’s 1959 lecture “Music and New Music” at dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany (with music composition by Jon Raskin) and the publication of  Open Box, a music and poetry collaboration with Jon Raskin (Tzadik, 2012). She is co-editor of  Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker (2006), and the editor of Non/Narrative a special issue of the Journal of Narrative Theory (2011).

Roham Sheikhani is a poet, actor, and a playwright. Since 1986 he has worked with diverse groups, including DARVAG, Night Letter Theater, and Shotgun Players. Since 1986 he has collaborated with artists Harryman and Raskin, as well as James Cave, Woody Woodman, Amy Trachtenberg, Erling Wold, Lauren Elder, Sydney and Arthur Carson.

Crystal Pascucci , cellist/composer/improviser. Before relocating from the east coast, she worked in new music ensembles and studied under improvising masters, Robert Black of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and Anthony Braxton. Pascucci’s current personal projects include Opera Wolf and Wild Hen. She recently performed the works of Roscoe Mitchell at Yoshi’s Jazz Club, participated in the 2012 Outsound Summit Festival and has presented a solo set at several Bay Area events. She performs regularly with Lisa Mezzacappa’s String Band, the Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra and Oakland Active Orchestra, which performed at the 2013 SF Switchboard Festival. www.crystalpascucci.com

Center for New Music
55 Taylor Street
San Francisco



The Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetics is an annual lecture series with a focus on critical analysis of innovative poetry, essays, plays, and cross-genre work primarily by women poets. The Series invites contemporary writers to present their work in the spirit exemplified by Scalapino’s own critical writing and editorial vision as publisher of O Books.

June 23, 2013

at Timken Hall, California College of the Arts
1111 8th Street, San Francisco CA

event begins at 5pm
lecture at 5:30pm



Petah Coyne is a contemporary American sculptor and photographer. Some of her works are in the permanent collections of museums and galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Her most recent solo exhibition at the Mass MoCA (May 29, 2010) features large-scale mixed-media sculptures along with silver gelatin print photographs. Coyne layers wax-soaked materials such as pearls, ribbons and silk flowers into large sculptural forms, often incorporating taxidermy birds and animals.

“The works in this largest retrospective of the artist’s work to date range from her earlier and more abstract sculptures using industrial materials to newer works made of delicate wax. All of Coyne’s works take inspiration from personal stories, film, literature and political events. Coyne takes these sources and applies a Baroque sense of decadent refinement, imbuing her work with a magical quality to evoke intensely personal associations. Together these diverse yet intimately connected periods of Coyne’s practice make evident an evolution, which highlights the artist’s own blend of symbolism alongside an innovative use of materials including black sand, car parts, wax, satin ribbons, trees, silk flowers, and taxidermy.”
- Mass MoCA

“Coyne belongs to a generation of sculptors—many of them women—who came of age in the late 1980s and forever changed the muscular practice of sculpture with their new interest in nature and a penchant for painstaking craftsmanship, domestic references and psychological metaphor.”
-Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Leslie Scalapino (July 25, 1944 – May 28, 2010) was born in Santa Barbara, California and raised in Berkeley. She traveled throughout her youth and adulthood to Asia, Africa and Europe — including Tibet, Bhutan, Japan, India, Mongolia, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere — and her writing was intensely influenced by these experiences. She published her first book, O and Other Poems, in 1976. In 1986, she founded O Books, dedicated to publishing innovative works by young and emerging poets, as well as prominent and established writers. She also taught writing for nearly 25 years at various institutions, including Bard College (16 years in the MFA program), Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the California College of Arts in San Francisco. She lived with Tom White, her husband and friend of 35 years, in Oakland, CA until her death in 2010.

Scalapino is the author of thirty books of poetry, prose inter-genre-fiction, plays, and essays. In 2010, the year of her death, she published five books: The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom (The Post-Apollo Press); Flow-Winged Crocodile and A Pair / Actions Are Erased / Appear (Chax Press), two plays published in one volume; The Animal is in the World like Water in Water (Granary Books); a collaboration between Scalapino and artist Kiki Smith; and Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows (Starcherone Books), which is a pair, or preceding volume, to The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom. This same year, she also released a second edition of Crowd and not evening or light (O Books). Scalapino’s It’s go in horizontal/Selected Poems, 1974-2006 was published by University of California Press at Berkeley in 2008. Other books of Scalapino’s poetry include Day Ocean State of Stars’ Night (Green Integer), a collection of eight years of writing; Zither & Autobiography (Wesleyan University Press); The Tango (Granary Press), a collaboration with artist Marina Adams; Orchid Jetsam (Tuumba); Dahlia’s Iris—Secret Autobiography and Fiction (FC2 Publishers); a reprint of the prose work Defoe by Green Integer; and It’s go in/quiet illumined grass/land (The Post-Apollo Press). A revised and dynamically expanded version of her essay book How Phenomena Appear to Unfold (originally published by Potes & Poets in 1989) was published by Litmus Press in May 2011.