POSES: Release Party! November 30 @ McRoskey Mattress

POSES:  reading & Release Party!

Presented by Green Arcade Books

November 30 @ 7:00

in the fabulous McRoskey Mattress 3rd floor loft

With special guests:  Farnoosh Fathi, Alix Lambert & Frances Richard

FB event page

I’m excited to be getting ready for the Release Party for Poses: An Essay Drawn from the Model, hosted by The Green Arcade, November 30, 2012 @7:00 in the fabulous McRoskey Mattress Co. 2nd floor loft.

The book comes out very soon, and this will be the first reading from it in SF.  What better way to celebrate the publication of my own book, but to have friends join me and read their own work? The evening will include readings by Farnoosh Fathi, whose book Great Guns will be coming out with Canarium this spring; Alix Lambert, who will read a new piece and show some clips of new video work; and Frances Richard, whose book The Phonemes was published earlier this year by Les Figues and her book, Anarch. will be coming out out any minute from Futurepoem.

The general schedule for the evening is as follows:

7:00 – 8:00

+ General Merriment/Refreshments

+ Life Drawing session with Chester Arnold & co.   You are welcome to join in and draw from the model.  [easels + paper + materials are provided]

+ Fal’e Farnoosh: Collaborative Oracular Readings with Farnoosh Fathi (a sneak peek of her new book Great Guns coming out this spring from Canarium Press)

+ Screenings of work by Alix Lambert

8:00 – 9:00:  Reading

Farnoosh, Alix, Frances, & Genine

Admission:  $5.00 (free with purchase of the book)

at The McRoskey Mattress Company, 1687 Market Street (at Gough)


Genine Lentine is the author of Mr. Worthington’s Beautiful Experiments on Splashes and the chapbook Poses: An Essay Drawn from the Model. She is co-author with Stanley Kunitz and photographer Marnie Crawford Samuelson of The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden. She received an M.S. in Theoretical Linguistics from Georgetown University and an M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University.  She’s received residencies from Headlands, Hedgebrook, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center. This year, with support from an Alternative Exposure grant from Southern Exposure Gallery, she is conducting a series of interviews called Mattress Talks: Artists Discuss Discomfort. Recent work appears in Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas and Conversations at the Wartime Café, Ninth Letter, and Shambhala Sun. Works-in-progress include Archaeopteryx, On Growth + Form, and Slug or Snail: An Assay on Velocity and Viscosity.  She is currently at Montalvo Arts Center as a 2012 Lucas Literary Arts Fellow.


Farnoosh Fathi was born in 1981 to Iranian parents, and raised in California. Her poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Everyday Genius, Poetry and elsewhere. Her translations of poetry have appeared in Circumference and Jacket2; interviews with poets can be found in The Brooklyn Rail; and an essay on Emily Dickinson’s influence on contemporary poetry can be found in The Emily Dickinson Journal. Her first book of poems Great Guns will be published by Canarium Books this spring. She lives in Oakland.


Alix Lambert’s feature length documentary The Mark of Cain was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, received an honorable mention from the French Association of Journalism, and aired on Nightline. Her feature length documentary, Bayou Blue (made in collaboration with David McMahon) had its world premiere in competition at IDFA (Amsterdam) in November. She wrote Episode 6, season 3 of Deadwood: “A Rich Find” (for which she won a WGA award) and was a staff writer and associate producer on John From Cinicinnati. As an artist Lambert has exhibited her work to international critical acclaim, showing in The Venice Biennale, The Museum of Modern Art, The Georges Pompidou Center, and the Kwangju Biennnale, to name a few. She is represented by Anna Kustera Gallery in NYC. She is the author of four books: MASTERING THE MELON (D.A.P.), THE  SILENCING (Perceval Press), RUSSIAN PRISON TATTOOS (Schiffer Publishing), and CRIME (Fuel Publishing). For theater, she has written and directed Crime, USA which has been staged at Joe’s Pub in NYC and elsewhere.  Lambert co-founded and is co-artistic director of The Brooklyn International Theater Company (with Nelson George, Danny Simmons, and Annabella Sciorra). She is currently in post-production (as director and producer) on the feature length documentary: Mentor (about teen suicide and bullying at Mentor High in Mentor Ohio).

Frances Richard

Frances Richard is the author of Anarch. (Futurepoem, 2012), The Phonemes (Les Figues Press, 2012) and See Through (Four Way Books, 2003), as well as the chapbooks Shaved Code (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2008) and Anarch. (Woodland Editions, 2008). She writes frequently about contemporary art; with Jeffrey Kastner and Sina Najafi she is co-author of Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates” (Cabinet Books, 2005).

In conjunction with MATTRESS TALKS:  Interviews with Artists & Poets on Discomfort.
Support for MATTRESS TALKS is provided by Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure Program.

+ Broadsides of poems from Poses letterpress printed by Annemarie Munn will be for sale. (to benefit Mattress Talks)

Gratitude to McRoskey Mattress Company @ 1687 Market St.
For more information, write to geninelentine@gmail.com

Two Loons

I love the sounds of the night here at Montalvo.  A deep plush dark night.   I have especially loved this sound, but didn’t know what it was:

I was happy to learn that these are looncalls because I’ve been thinking about loons after finding a slip of paper with a note abt. how Stanley’s mother called him and Roethke “two loons.”  As in “When are you two loons coming down for breakfast?”

I’ve been sorting through files of little fragments I’ve kept and just gathering them in one place to explore their resonance, a wall essay, or an altar of a sort.  These have been in random files and it’s been a very useful process to just gather all those files in one place and select specific items to put on the wall, and see how they relate to each other, etc.

I heard this story from Stanley several times and pictured this scene of his mother making breakfast while they slept late, no doubt having stayed up most of the night.  But I realized that I have no idea where it’s set.  Did Roethke and Stanley visit Stanley’s mother in Worcester?  Did she come to his farmhouse in Bucks County? Wherever it is, it speaks of a kind of ease that rarely attends his stories of his mother.  Teasing is only possible when there’s an easy exchange in place.

I think I’ve kept this scrap of paper because of that way it fills out the way we can see Stanley’s mother, and also for what it represents about friendship and how inextricably friendship is tied to the work we do.  Here’s Stanley describing when he and Roethke first met:

The image that never left me was of a blond, smooth, shambling giant, irrevocably Teutonic, whose even-featured countenance seemed ready to be touched by time, waiting to be transfigured, with a few subtle lines, into a tragic mask. He had come to talk about poetry, and talk we did, over a jug, grandly and vehemently all through the night. There were occasions in the years that followed when I could swear that I hadn’t been to bed since we first met.

–from Stanley Kunitz on Theodore Roethke, originally published in PSA Crossroads, 2002.

And thinking of his mother calling them two loons evokes this and many other scenes of them staying up talking about poems deep into the night, testing each other with arcane prosody games and reading each other’s work.

A game that Ted and I invented was designed to test how much we really knew about the poetry of the past. We would try to stump each other by reading aloud the most obscure poem from another century that we could find. If the identity of the author escaped us, the alternative requirement was to guess the date. We became so adept at the game that we were scarcely ever more than ten years off. Indeed, style and prosody are such sensitive variables that every poet, without realizing it, stamps a dateline on his work.

Stanley often told the story of how he and Roethke one day noticed that no one had invited them to give a reading, and so they decided to schedule one themselves and found someone to host it in their living room. It felt a little like a Ren and Stimpy episode, the way he described going around the town and tacking up flyers about their reading.

Upcoming Workshops

Upcoming Workshops


Part workshop, part salon, each Sunday Writing Studio session includes a combination of generative writing, reading, sharing/critiquing work, and discussion of craft and process.

September 2, 16, 23, 30
October 7, 14, 21


10 am – 5 pm

So, put yourself in the way
of the poem. It needed your willing
impediment to be written. Remember the lily, growing through
the heart of the corpse?
You had to be willing to let it through the sunshine
error of your life,
be willing not to finish it—

Brenda Hillman, from Death Tractates

In this workshop, we’ll dedicate our attention to those poems we resist writing. Those poems we imagine we might write, oh, some day, when we’re ready. Exploring what these poems are requesting of us, we’ll experiment with possible entry points and cultivate a supportive environment to allow the poems to take shape.

We’ll cultivate a friendliness with apparent obstacles, holding out the possibility that they might mark where our most necessary work lies. Working through the internal and material obstacles that arise in writing a poem enacts dramas of desire, resistance, and surrender.

Language is in the way of the poem. The poet is in the way of the poem. The resistance shapes you as you shape the materials. In his “Meridian” speech, Paul Celan said, “The poem wants to reach an Other, it needs this Other, it needs an Over-against.” To use another metaphor, in writing a poem, is the poet the forge, the iron, or the flame?

The course will include in-class writing, reading, and responding to participants’ work. Participants are invited to send one poem of their own to the instructor in advance with an accompanying question or suggestion for discussion to help tailor the day’s discussion.

Please bring:

  • plenty of fresh paper and a juicy pen
  • a piece of your writing (1-2 pages) that feels in some way elusive, resistant, or inert, but that you would still like to explore further (optional)
  • your lunch

$90; $81 current SFZC members; $72 limited income. Please bring your lunch.  Registration: 888.743.9362 or 415.475.9362.

THE FEAST OF LOSSES:  Writing into Transience

Saturday, September 15, 2012 9:00 – 5:00

Memoir Journal Master Class Series

“Death is the mother of beauty.” –Wallace Stevens

In this workshop, we’ll investigate the possibility that there is no monolithic proposition that can be simply called loss. We’ll explore the relationship of creativity and grief. Grief can feel like a singular unprecedented experience and to encounter writing that speaks from within that experience can help us start to find our way through it. Is there a place no writing can reach? Or can writing actually help us reach into depths of feeling previously inaccessible to us? What do we find there and how is it different from what we fear?

The course will be generative, experiential, and analytical. We’ll do a series of intensive writing exercises throughout the day and participants will have an opportunity to have their work discussed in the group.

(workshop takes place at Art Jam, Art Jam, 725 Gilman St., Suite E, Berkeley)


If you’re interested in meeting one-on-one to discuss your writing, please email me  for more information about scheduling and rates.



July 14, 2012 9:00 – 5:00, Memoir Journal Master Class Series

The essential trait of the poet, for John Keats, is the capacity for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The uncertainty Keats speaks of is not a blandly passive “what.ev.er,” but rather an actively curious posture, an empathic receptivity, and flexibility of response.  In writing memoir, as well, an adventuresome relationship with doubt and uncertainty helps us find a way into writing that considers the “story” in an open and fresh way, and helps us see experience prismatically.

What Robert Motherwell said of painting is perhaps true of tolerating uncertainty as well:  it cannot be taught, but it can be learned. This workshop will be analytical, experimental/experiential, and generative. In our discussion, we will draw upon practices and points of references from other arts and sciences to cultivate strategies for negotiating friendly obstacles in the writing process.

(workshop takes place at Art Jam, Art Jam, 725 Gilman St., Suite E, Berkeley)

At home in the hyphen

This morning, with another move not too far on the horizon, in thinking about the notion of “home,” I was remembering how one year, the address of the apartment where I lived was hyphenated, and how right that felt, because that year felt so intensely transitional, (as they all do, it turns out).

And at the time, I was trying to learn to find a way to be at home amidst so much shifting. And then this hyphen in my address – even the address contained movement.


The internet is so weird, within a few seconds i could find my very doorway.  with its missing E.

Findings from the Spirit Rover

In honor of Curiosity, this sestina featuring Spirit and Opportunity~

My father had a flexible notion of sacred and profane, of lethal and palliative, decanting holy water from Lourdes in a can that once held Raid Flying Insect Killer.  Finding this relic in my grandmother’s closet inspired this sestina, “Findings from the Spirit Rover,” now up over at the Fishouse.  (audio)

Or, How a Solution can Become Confused with the Difficulty Itself

I had a small square of surgical tape left from taping up a photo with this tape. I love surgical tape, and use it for many purposes other than bandaging things, which doesn’t come up that often.  It is a more delicate duct tape.  I absently smoothed this small square over a spot on my desk where the paint had come off.  A few days later, I lifted the tape and saw the spot underneath as if I’d never seen it before, and it seemed, for a moment, as if lifting the tape had caused the spot instead of covering it up.


Mark Doty, Introduction from Nothing is Hidden Reading, 2010

Thinking about my intro for Mark for Saturday evening. Where to start? Here’s my attempt from his reading here two years ago~

By way of introducing Mark Doty, I would like to introduce a koan from a collection of koans called the Mumonkan, or Gateless Gate.  This is case 40 of 48.  It concerns a monk named Isan and his teacher Hyakujo, the abbot of the Monastery.  Isan is tenzo or head cook at the monastery.  The Abbot wants to find someone suitable to serve as abbot for a new and very large Monastery.  He issues a challenge to the head monk and all the other students.  It’s the usual Zen setup:  The favored head monk will give a competent but lackluster answer and someone no one expected will come forward with something unprecedented and blow everyone away.

So Hyakujo fills a wooden pitcher with water, places it on the floor, and says:  This must not be called a pitcher.  What do you call it? The favored head monk says, “It cannot be called a wooden sandal.”  Okay, so he’s pointing to the arbitrariness of language.  He gets some Zen points for that.

Hyakujo then asks Isan the same question.  Isan walks up, kicks over the pitcher and walks out, thus defeating the head monk and then being vested with, as the koan slyly implies, the perhaps questionable reward of becoming abbot.

I could see Mark responding in this way to the Abbot’s challenge.  First of all, it pulls off a slightly bitchy, elegant note he strikes now and then in his poems, but more importantly Isan does to the pitcher what Mark does to language:  breaks it open and heightens its properties. Negates and celebrates.

It’s a very tired convention to say that language is a wedge between the speaker and reality.  Isan’s response does something much more thrilling.  It is a pure event, a material correlate of sense, as are Mark’s poems.

What does a pitcher do?  It holds water.  What happens when the pitcher breaks?  We see the water doing what it does.

As Shakespeare does in Hamlet, Eliot in “The Four Quartets,” the very materiality of the poem belies the claim of language’s inadequacy.  He is constantly breaking his poems so that we see are invited into the flaw, the place where language breaks down.

In Mark’s gorgeous new book The Art of Description, he talks about Neruda’s quote from the poem, “I Explain a Few Things,” “and through the streets the blood of children/ran simply, like the blood of children.”

Mark’s work isn’t just some pale stand-in for experience.  The language is fully alive even as it is at once entirely interrogated. His poems are organic creatures of sound and rhythm and breathing that have the capacity to stretch across time and place and heart.    Louise Glück said, via Richard McCann (and I don’t mean that in the FB way) that one of the functions of poetry is to restore us to avidity.  This is a quality in great abundance in Mark’s work; it return us to our bodies.

Our capacity for syntax and for the interaction of conversation is primitive and at work before a child is born.  The quality of relatedness among human beings is enabled by language in whatever form it emerges.  And this is what I think is one of the main contributions of Mark’s work, the deep sense of connection it embodies.

And coming back to the koan, we can read the pitcher to be the body and again, it shows us as Mark’s work does over and over, the fragile unreliable nature of it.

Another feature of Isan’s response is that it’s a way of saying, You’ve set up this competition and I’m not interested.  He walks away from the whole setup.  In this way, it’s a gesture against scarcity, as in that which ranks one poet against another.  Mark’s presence in the poetry world is one of extreme generosity and support of other poets.

I’m thrilled that Mark could come and be part of this series.  He’s been one of my most important teachers. What I call a deep tissue teacher, someone whose influence reaches to where my faith flags and introduces a new and more mobile response than whatever habit had been occluding my sense of possibility.  I was fortunate to be in Mark’s workshop in Provincetown ten years ago.  My journal from this day was simply a page that was blank except for the date, and one word at the top:  God. The relief that Louise spoke of –of being restored to avidity.

Glow at the Extremest Verge: An Evening with Mark Doty, 7/21

Hear how the mouth,
so full
of longing for the world,
changes its shape?

“Difference” from My Alexandria

Very much looking forward to Mark Doty’s reading at City Center next Saturday, July 21 at 7:30.  And it’s just been confirmed that the reading will be available via LIVESTREAM video so I’m thrilled that wherever you are you can join us!  You can click here to RSVP for the Livestream .

Mark will read from his poems and from What is the Grass, his forthcoming book-length prose meditation on Walt Whitman, desire, the ecstatic, and the limits of the body.

Here’s a clip from Mark’s Q&A from his reading here in the Nothing is Hidden series in 2010.  I love what he says about “lean[ing] against doubt.”

Click here to listen:  Mark Doty, on Doubt

The question was if I always trusted my voice as a poet, and if not, what would I recommend or works for me.  I think that self-doubt is one’s ally, ultimately.  You need it. The problem is, of course, is that most of us have too much of it.  The project then becomes how to make use of it, how to harness it…I find, as I’m working, what I would refer to as a kind of operational faith:  I believe just enough to write this now. And, later, I can allow all that doubt to come back, all that doubt to come back and lean against it.  And some of that doubt gets really useful in pushing the poem, in sharpening language, in trying to get rid of what’s necessary. And then after the poem is finished, published, the doubt is still there, saying other things, but so far, not enough to shut me up.

Saturday, July 21, 7:30pm
San Francisco Zen Center City Center
300 Page Street, San Francisco

You can purchase tickets and find more information here

Here’s one more clip from that 2010 reading ~

Thank you to the SFZC Livestream crew: Laura Trippi, Dianne Griffin, Tanya Takacs, Shundo Haye, and Caren McDonald!

We’ll hit a World, at every Plunge,

Includes a complimentary subscription to Memoir Journal. Students should bring a brown bag lunch. 

Maximum enrollment 12, by advance registration only.

The essential trait of the poet, for John Keats, is the capacity for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The uncertainty Keats speaks of is not a blandly passive “what.ev.er,” but rather an actively curious posture, an empathic receptivity, and flexibility of response.

In writing memoir, as well, an adventuresome relationship with doubt and uncertainty helps us find a way into writing that considers the “story” in an open and fresh way, and helps us see experience prismatically.

What Robert Motherwell said of painting is perhaps true of tolerating uncertainty as well:  it cannot be taught, but it can be learned. This workshop will be analytical, experimental/ experiential, and generative. In our discussion, we will draw upon practices and points of references from other arts and sciences to cultivate strategies for negotiating friendly obstacles in the writing process.

For more information, contact Rae Gouriand at rgouirand@memoirjournal.com

Here’s the Emily Dickinson Poem from which the title for the workshop comes:

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –  

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –  
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb –  

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here – 

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –  
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –