KUSP's Poetry Show

Curt Anderson and Marjorie Simon, guest poets


This week’s Poetry Show guest poets were Curt Anderson and Marjorie Simon. The two will also be the featured readers at this month’s Poetry Santa Cruz reading - Tuesday, April 14, at Bookshop Santa Cruz. In a preview of that reading, Curt and Marjorie joined host Dennis Morton to read and discuss their poetry and a variety of other subjects.

12 - Marjorie SimonMarjorie Simon is best known locally as co-editor of Kayak Magazine, with her late partner George Hitchcock (not to be confused with Alfred). As a poet, she has two published collections: The Long Distance Oatmeal Eater (Jazz Press, 1985) and Adam & Eve, etc. (with George Fuller, Jazz Press, 1981). On this occasion, one of the poems she shared with Poetry Show listeners was an unpublished work written after George’s death in 2010.



12 - book-occasionistCurt Anderson’s first published poetry collection is titled The Occasionist, published by Hip Pocket Press. Curt traces his evolution into a poet back to grad school days at San Francisco State, where he pivoted from English Lit. to Creative Writing and studied with Stan Rice.

Jericho Brown, guest poet


05 - j brownJericho Brown was a first-time guest on the Poetry Show for April 5, 2015. Host Dennis Morton sat down for an interview with the young poet, whose new published collection is titled The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014).

The wide-ranging conversation encompassed much more than poetry, and was interspersed with Mr. Brown’s engaging reading of poems from the new book. Listeners who persevere all the way to the end of the podcast will be rewarded with a song from Jericho and Dennis.





05 - new testamentFrom the publisher:

In The New Testament, Jericho Brown continues his tender examination of race, masculinity, and sexuality. These poems bear witness to survival in the face of brutality, while also elegizing two brothers haunted by shame, two lovers hounded by death, and an America wounded by war and numbered by religion. Brown summons myth, fable, and fairy tale not to merely revise the Bible–more so to write the kind of lyric poetry we find at the source of redemption–for the profane and for the sacred.

‘Rattle’: Japanese Poetry Forms


Rattle #47 features 25 poets writing in Japanese forms, and a conversation with haiku scholar Richard Gilbert. (Courtesy of rattle.com)

Local poet and Japanese poetry form enthusiast Joan Zimmerman joined host Dennis Morton on the KUSP Poetry Show for March 29, 2015,  to read from and discuss the latest issue of Rattle magazine (#47), which features poets writing in Japanese poetry forms.

Japanese poetry forms – especially short forms like haiku – have become popular in the US, and especially in our area. Joan Zimmerman belongs to a very active local group: the Yuki Tekai Haiku Society.  There are also many excellent online and/or print publications with a significant interest in Japanese poetry forms. Joan mentioned a few of them:


Poetry from Prisons


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Special guest Jack Bowers joined host Dennis Morton for a special show spotlighting poetry that has emerged from arts programs in correctional institutions. Jack heads the Prison Arts Project at the William James Association, and has long been involved with prison arts projects all over California, including state programs such as ARTS-IN-CORRECTIONS.

Locally, that involvement led to the establishment of poetry workshops at the Santa Cruz County Jail, which Dennis has been leading for nearly three years.  We hear several examples of the remarkable poetry produced in those workshops and in other programs around the state.

Jack Bowers is also well known locally as a jazz composer and pianist. At halftime, we hear a song called Soledad Morning, part of his Soledad Suite, inspired by work at the state prison in Soledad and performed last year at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Another movement from that suite can be heard on this YouTube video.

Poetry Show listeners also know of Dennis’ work at the County Juvenile Hall. In 2012, several poems written by those kids were incorporated into a “symphonic poem” composed for the Santa Cruz Festival of Contemporary Music.

The Prison Arts Project, with a grant from Arts Council Santa Cruz, printed a broadside (discussed on the show and reproduced below) for distribution around town. It includes poems composed by participants in Dennis Morton’s workshops at Santa Cruz County Jail.

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Writers Cove Poetry Workshop


logoThe Poetry Show had a full studio last night, as host Dennis Morton was joined by six of the participants in a recently-completed poetry workshop, sponsored by Catamaran Literary Reader as part of the new Writers Cove endeavor.

There are currently five different workshops on a variety of writing styles, including poetry (2), memoir, science and nature, and YA novels. Santa Cruz is already full of writing talent, and Catamaran aims to mine more of that local treasure and bring learning opportunities to the rest of us.


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It’s not often we have an excuse to post a picture of Dennis but, as leader of the poetry workshop, his inclusion this time is merited. In addition to hosting the KUSP Poetry Show for umpteen years, Dennis is on the board of Poetry Santa Cruz, and is involved in many other local poetry-related activities.

And yes, that’s Dennis in younger days, posing front and center and sporting a stylish cravat for the Writers Cove promotional image.

Natasha Saje, guest poet


08 - NatashaIt’s spring pledge week at KUSP, but the Poetry Show also made time for poetry, with guest poet Natasha Sajé. When not on the West Coast with a new book, Natasha is a Professor of English at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and director of the Weeks Poetry Series at Westminster.


Natasha Sajé’s newest collection of poems is titled Vivarium, published by Tupelo Press. From the publisher:

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Poetry. A vivarium is an enclosure for living things—plants or animals—which might likewise be said of a poem. With a vivacious sensibility and unruly leaps from elegiac to ironic, Sajé’s new book is an abecedarium, fully using the page, and challenging all manner of received wisdom. Employing lyrics, lists, arguments, narratives, and meditations, and including prose poems devoted to particular letters as well as invented visual or conceptual pieces, in VIVARIUM the alphabet is endowed with power far beyond usefulness. Form breathes life in this book, and the lived emotion of these poems defies death. 

Readings: Hoagland, Ali, Amichai, Simic, Feldman, Siegal


A varied selection of readings by host Dennis Morton filled the Poetry Show hour on March 1, 2015.

From the March 2015 issue of Poetry magazine:01 - 3_2015-cover-360


From the collection So What, by Taha Muhammad Ali:

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From the book Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

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  • A Flock of Sheep Near the Airport
  • A Precise Woman
  • At the Maritime Museum
  • A Man In His Life
  • Now She’s Breathing
  • North of San Francisco
  • What Kind of Man
  • I Know a Man


From The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry,
edited and translated by Charles Simic

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  • Unfulfilled Love, by Ljiljana Djurdjic
  • Lucifer, by Ljiljana Djurdjic 
  • Death Sentences, by Radmila Lazic
  • I’ll Laugh Everywhere, and Weep Wherever I Can, by Radmila Lazic
  • The Key, by Dragon Dzinovic Dinilov



01 - ImmortalityFrom Immortality, by Alan Feldman

  • The Coyote
  • Sincerity and Authenticity
  • In November

From Blood Work, by Matthew Siegal

  • What World Are you In, Mother, When You Sleep?
  • The Girl Downstairs Is Crying

African-American Poetry History, with guest David H. Anthony

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Phyllis Wheatley, Paul L. Dunbar, Robert Hayden

For this last Sunday in February, 2015, the end of African-American History Month, the Poetry Show took a look at the history of African-American poetry, with special guest David H. Anthony. David is not only a professor of African and African-American history at UCSC, but also the partner of host Dennis Morton on The Film Gang, the weekly KUSP film revue program.

22 - danthonyProfessor Anthony began with a brief survey of the early-1900s origins of what has evolved into African-American History Month. Following a discussion of the importance of oral traditions and music to African-American poetry, he reached back to the late 1700s in colonial North America for a poem by Phyllis Wheatley, an African slave woman living in Massachusetts who was allowed an education and became an accomplished poet.

Moving forward in time, David read a pair of poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), one in “dialect” and another in the standard English of that time.

A more recent short poem by Michael S. Harper recalled some of the tragic racial history both of the days of the African slave trade and of the 1960s. Next, a poem by Robert Hayden recalled the struggles of runaway slaves, and the heroism of Harriet Tubman. A 1970s poem by Henry Dumas highlighted the intimate connection between poetry and music in African-American culture.

The last few African-American poets included in this week’s Poetry Show have Santa Cruz connections: Lucille Clifton, Al Young, Harryette Mullin. In parting, David and Dennis agreed that at least one more show in the near future will be needed to do justice to this subject.


New Mags: Poetry, Manhattan, Kenyon. Old LP: The Weary Blues


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In the first half of the KUSP Poetry Show for February 15, 2015, host Dennis Morton read selections from several current issues of favorite poetry periodicals:

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The show’s second half was given to side 2 of a 1959 LP recording titled The Weary Blues, with Langston Hughes reading a number of his poems arranged under the collective title Dream Montage. The reading was given an all-star musical accompaniment, composed by Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather. Players included Mingus and Horace Parlan.

The album title came from the 1925 Hughes poem The Weary Blues, which is not part of the Dream Montage. The best known poem in the montage is perhaps Harlem, whose line “a raisin in the sun” became the title of a play, and later a Sidney Poitier movie.

Ellery Akers: guest poet


08 - Ellery AkersNorthern California poet and visual artist Ellery Akers paid a visit to the Poetry Show on February 8, 2015. The occasion was the publishing of her newest poetry collection, titled Practicing the Truth. Published by Autumn House Press, Practicing the Truth asks the question, “How can we live in a violent world and still affirm life?”

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Practicing the Truth is the third book by Ellery Akers. She has previously published one other book of poetry, Knocking on the Earth, and a juvenile novel titled Sarah’s Waterfall. Ellery is the featured reader at the upcoming event at Bookshop Santa Cruz, sponsored by Poetry Santa Cruz this Tuesday at 7:30 PM.