San Francisco presents itself as the Left Coast Poetry Hub, the focal point of all things doggerel. And for a fact, the place does have a lot of free verse action. So I figured I’d ask some of the local poets what they were reading, as opposed to what they weren’t reading. Most people who know anything about poetry know that August Kleinzahler hangs out in San Francisco. And since he’s probably the most famous living poet in the Bay Area, his stuff sells well–that’s a given.
What I wanted to know was this: who’s turning out remarkable poetry? And I don’t care if they’re from the Left Coast or not. Who–regardless of where they’re from–is worthy of note?
Get this: one name kept popping up–Tess Kincaid. I’m not even sure what part of the country she lives in–the Midwest? Maybe. According to the cognoscenti, she has a lovely ‘voice,’ a true poetical sense, and almost never steps over the line separating poetry from specious crap.
He latest volume of verse, which is not yet available, but will be in the next few months, is Unpressed, a title borrowed from William Cullen Bryant. ‘Unpressed’ is an adjective that means “not smoothed with heat.” Its anagrams are resuspend and suspender, in case you were wondering or are a Scrabble freak.
Of Unpressed’s scintillating offerings, there are some real gems. ‘Not Yet’ is worth the price of the book, which also includes a tasty poem called ‘Cannibal.’ Really, I’m not sure what ‘Not Yet’ is talking about, but I do love the way it articulates:
“The dictionary people
are not pleased
to find me
at pictures of exotic places,
of naked snake charmers
like soft sweet leeches.”
And ‘Cannibal’ means whatever the reader wants it to mean, as long as there’s flesh and mastication involved: