Witchcraft and Creepy Statues: a Freshman’s First Reading by Gemma Collins

Never before I got into Creative Writing did I actively go to readings. It was a foreign concept until about last week when I pulled up Green Apple Book’s website and picked the soonest reading. It didn’t matter to me the book or the author, I simply intended to go, watch, and go home.

It was 6:30 pm after school on a Tuesday, and I pushed away my sleepiness and headed to Green Apple. The book Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia was displayed all over the store. Ready to take notes, I pulled out my notebook and pencil. When the author came out and sat on the little stool in front of a microphone, I realized I wouldn’t be taking notes. I would be watching intently. She brought with her a small altar, on it was an age stained doily, a pomegranate, a few crystals, a statue of the goddess of Crete, and elusive essential oils.

Fascinated and slightly confused, I couldn’t help but ask what the items were. She looked curious about my question, possibly because everyone else at the reading was an adult, but then told me the items were passed down from her ancestors and brought peace and balance. The author then asked the audience to hum and clap to the rhythm of our heartbeats. This, she said, was an exercise to show how humans are connected by our hearts.

I was surprised at how interactive the reading was, and I was slightly unsettled. Witchcraft, similar to readings, is another unexplored realm to me. The room vibrated with the audience’s humming, and I too, attempted to join after the shock of the cult-like exercise settled in and I had violently scribbled out some notes.

When I returned home afterward, I no longer thought of readings as chores and dreaded tasks. The interactive style gave me excitement for my next reading. Inspired by the witchy and Halloween theme, I wrote a short poem:


When the sun sinks into the horizon along the tops of city building

We swiftly grab bags and head out the door,

Elaborate costumes on our backs.


Throughout the night,

Our bags are weighed down with candy,

Snickers and gummy bears and Twix and lollypops.

Littered among them

Empty wrappers of the sweets we eat while walking.


When we get back home

We sit cross-legged on the floor and dump each bag over the hardwood,

Hard candies clinking together.

Hours later, piles of our sorted candies make tripping hazards around the house.

We lie,

Costumes crushed under us

The sugar crash has struck.


-Gemma Collins, class of 2023

Thursday at City Lights

The Book of A Thousand Eyes by Lyn Hejinian

Written over the course of two decades, The Book of a Thousand Eyes was begun as an homage to Scheherazade, the heroine of The Arabian Nightswho, through her nightly tale-telling, saved her culture and her own life by teaching a powerful and murderous ruler to abandon cruelty in favor of wisdom and benevolence. Hejinian’s book is a compendium of “night works”—lullabies, bedtime stories, insomniac lyrics, nonsensical mumblings, fairy tales, attempts to understand at day’s end some of the day’s events, dream narratives, erotic or occasionally bawdy ditties, etc. The poems explore and play with languages of diverse stages of consciousness and realms of imagination. Though they may not be redemptive in effect, the diverse works that comprise The Book of a Thousand Eyes argue for the possibilities of a merry, pained, celebratory, mournful, stubborn commitment to life.

Lyn Hejinian is a poet, essayist, teacher, and translator. She is the author of several books of poetry including Saga/ Circus, A Border Comedy(Granary Books, 2001), Slowly and The Beginner (both published by Tuumba Press, 2002), and The Fatalist (Omnidawn, 2003). The University of California Press published a collection of her essays entitled The Language of Inquiry in 2000. Hejinian is also actively involved in collaboratively created works, the most recent examples of which include a major collection of poems by Hejinian and Jack Collom titled Situations, Sings (Adventures in Poetry, 2008). Other collaborative projects include a work entitled The Eye of Enduring undertaken with the painter Diane Andrews Hall and exhibited in 1996; a composition entitled Qúê Trân with music by John Zorn and text by Hejinian; two mixed media books (The Traveler and the Hilland the Hill and The Lake) created with the painter Emilie Clark; the award-winning experimental documentary film Letters Not About Love, directed by Jacki Ochs; and The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography, co-written with nine other poets. Translations of her work have been published in Denmark, France, Spain, Japan, Italy, Russia, Sweden, China, Serbia, Holland, China, and Finland. She is the recipient of a Writing Fellowship from the California Arts Council, a grant from the Poetry Fund, and a Translation Fellowship (for her Russian translations) from the National Endowment for the Arts; she received an Award for Independent Literature from the Soviet literary organization “Poetic Function” in Leningrad in 1989. She has traveled and lectured extensively in Russia as well as Europe, and Description (1990) and Xenia (1994), two volumes of her translations from the work of the contemporary Russian poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, have been published by Sun and Moon Press. Since 1976 Hejinian has been the editor of Tuumba Press and from 1981 to 1999 she was the co- editor (with Barrett Watten) of Poetics Journal. She is also the co-director (with Travis Ortiz) of Atelos, a literary project commissioning
and publishing cross-genre work by poets. She is currently serving as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She teaches in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the Chair of the UC-Berkeley Solidarity Alliance, an activist coalition of union representatives, workers, staff, students, and faculty fighting to maintain the accessibility and affordability of public higher education in California.

Open Mic- Poetry in the Mission

Sunday September 18, 2011
4:00 pm
Sun Rise Restaurant-

3126  24th. Street (near folsom) San Francisco

…Continuing with the great tradition of poetry in the Mission District.
Poesía Revuelta/ Mixed Poetry. Open mic.
tap image see larger for list of poets and more
Mixed poetry with hope
Mixed poetry with wind
Mixed poetry with anger
Mixed poetry with rivers
Mixed Poetry with mountains
Mixed poetry with justice
Mixed poetry with new and established poets and musicians
Mixed poetry with young poets and with children
Mixed poetry colors
Mixed poetry for all ages and races
Mixed poetry and all languages
Mixed Poetry for us all
Above all Poetry mixed with love.

– San Francisco Art and Poetry


Poets for Change- Check out CWROPPS

Anybody interested in participating in a pretty impressive-sounding reading, check the following out–this memo was sent to me via cwropps@aol.com. Join their email group to receive a consistent stream of writing opportunities of all kinds.

We are seeking submissions for TEN THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE,


This amazing world-wide event is happening on Saturday September 24th and has been recognized as the largest poetry reading in history. Poets will be reading in cities across the globe in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote social, environmental, and political change. We are organizing an event in Berkeley and looking for poets to read in a performance that begins at 8pm that evening at the Subterranean Art House, http://subterraneanarthouse.org/.

If chosen, you will be reading along side Poets
Mama Coatl, http://www.reverbnation.com/mamacoatl
Chris Cole, http://disembodiedpoetics.com/
Jenny Overman, http://jennyoverman.com/
and Sam Pierstorff,  http://www.slamonrye.com

All poetry read this night will be archived at Stanford University.

Please submit 1-2 poems, 2 pages MAX, (we will not read more than 2 pages) please include a short bio, and send you submissions to:

<nightgirlpoetry(at)gmail.com> by August 29, 2011. Replace (at) with @ in sending e-mail.