Sean Wilsey has written up some anecdotes of his book tour for McSweeney’s. They’re quite amusing. Here’s what he has to say about his home town, San Francisco:
“I've been on the road for two weeks. I started in San Francisco, where a lot of my book is set. It was wonderful, and weird. Wonderful: A bookseller at Booksmith on Haight Street asked me to sign her copy of The Lord of the Rings! Weird: A woman in her 60s accosted me in a restaurant (I was there for a "literary lunch") and rubbed her breasts up and down my right arm till I fled.
But here is the most surreal moment:
I was sitting at a desk signing books when a woman handed me her copy and said, "Don't you recognize me?"
I said, "Mrs. Warburg!"
She said, "Yes. That's right. Mrs. Warburg, on page 84. We have a new car now." I smiled. Had I insulted her car? She leaned close, hissed, "You shit!" and smiled back twice as wide.
Page 84 contains a description of car shopping with my mother: "We were in the Oldsmobile showroom. Who'd ever even heard of an Oldsmobile? The only one I'd ever seen belonged to the parents of the dorkiest kid in my class, who'd tried to befriend me, until I realized he was only going to make my life worse and mercilessly ditched him. His parents were even older than mine. The Oldsmobile was like the car of the dead."
I said I was sorry, signed Mrs. Warburg's book (she couldn't have been that pissed), and congratulated her on the new car. Then she told me her son lived in Seattle and would be coming to my next reading. She had recognized herself from a description of her son as the "dorkiest kid in my class," and she was now going to send him to my reading.”
I’m a little late on this one. Beverly Burch, an Oakland poet and friend of mine, just won a Lambda Literary Award for her recent collection of poetry, Sweet To Burn, published by Gival Press. Burch didn’t go to New York for the June 2 awards ceremony because she didn’t think there was any chance she could win. Other finalists included the prominent poets Adrienne Rich and Mary Oliver.
Sweet To Burn is a highly-praised collection of linked poems that tell the story of a lesbian couple and their daughter and the ups and downs of love and family life. None of the poems are on line, but here is a poem Burch wrote a few years ago.
Above the Bay
Ohlone Canyon turns slick after heavy rain, but we agree to meet,
hope the muck’s hardened. Our trail looks churned, congealed, a mosaic—
sticks-rock-mud—a rough ribbon in the woods.
We hold hands inside your pocket. A truce,
you say. I didn’t want to name it, make us self-
conscious. Signs of recovery. Yes.
I could take issue, but the sky’s a blue relief,
Farallones visible past the Golden Gate.
Why is tenderness not simple? Like the throb
of warmth in April, the reliable way
spring offers itself. And the glossy body
of the bay below, how sun falls across
water, gold paint spilling over broken glass.