Wanda's Picks

by Wanda Sabir

(From San Francisco Bay View, 4/3/2002)

Beat Poet Bob Kaufman celebrated at San Francisco Main Library, Saturday, March 23 Composer, pianist, and writer Cecil Taylor was part of a well-attended program last month, in remembrance of San Francisco beat poet Bob Kaufman (1925-1986.)

The event, hosted by Q.R. Hand, who read original poetry as well as Kaufman favorites that afternoon at the San Francisco Main Library, also featured Tony Seymour and Blake More who performed "Godzilla verses Swan bLake: A Poetic Conversation."

Seymour and More captivated the audience with their sometimes erotic journey along a terrain that wasn't grounded in any specific geography - it was a "what if" landscape that touched on topics one thinks of but hardly ever discusses. More had memorized her work, while Seymore read his so dramatically, one forgot that he was holding text (excerpted from his manifesto) - Poems for Another Time: Evolution of a Soul, Collected Works of Tony Seymour (1998.) The poetic conversation was a wonderful excursion into the question of intimacy and relationships - reminiscent of a play Bob Kaufman wrote where the protagonists, a man and a woman, are locked inside a bookstore.

Blake and Tony didn't meet at a bookstore, but a theatre was not a bad second choice. "Godzilla verses Swan Lake" which was born in '98 at Venue 9 is the result of the "Voices on the Edge" album recorded that evening. The simpatico nature of the two poet's work was apparent to all that evening, so Tony and Blake got together - their stunning collaboration witnessed by all that afternoon in the Koret auditorium.

Witty, sassy and thought-provoking, Blake was interrupted repeatedly by applause as she perched on a table, walked around, even lay down, as she and Tony flirted with possibilities. Tony, who actually worked as his friend Bob Kaufman's biographer for three years - evoked in his work the rich idioms, bounce and jazz of that era, his tone often one of the sophisticated observer: "Can I [have] immunity from love?" he asks. "Good luck." Blake's character responds.

They were followed by Cecil Taylor, whose poetry reflected his work as a musician. Let's just say that there were a few moments when I think I understood what was going on. However, for the most part I just let the language wash over and touch me when and wherever it happened to land.

Spearman said of Taylor: "Ralphe (Cecil Taylor's trumpeter in 1981) helped me realize how difficult and highly structured that music really is - it's really the opposite of free jazz."

To be continued.



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