Page One

New anthology peeks into city’s non-traditional art

Sari Friedman, Special to the Daily Planet
Friday October 19, 2001

Experimental, street, and non-academic poetry for Berkeley’s New Millennium 



What is a poem?  

Must its words rhyme?  

What if you don’t have an expert to pontificate upon the subtle poetic flavors?  

Do they still exist?  

Does a poem have to be taught to students who scored high on the GREs in order to raise a pulse? Does art have to make sense?  

And what if nothing in your life makes sense, nothing whatsoever?  

Say you’ve spent a little too much time on the rough side of the street and it’s amazing you’re even alive.  

What, then, if you want to write, or your hand itches to draw, and the desire to manifest your artistic vision is so strong in you, so compelling, that, at times, you can hardly breathe. You can hardly think. The obsession fills your horizon and every inside space. 

What, then, do you do about that? 

The New Now Now New Millennium Turn On Anthology (no, that wasn’t a typo) might be your port in the storm. This provocative, edgy, sometimes gentle, sometimes bitter, kooky, luminous, and occasionally lightning-strike brilliant collection of mostly Berkeley artists and writers is one big ‘ol mother lode of non-academic, street and experimental artistic expression. 

Dedicated to the spirits of Gregory Corso, Alan Ginsberg and other local artists who died within the last few years (some of whom did make it well into “the academy”), the anthology’s editor, H. D. Moe, has gathered the work of about 250 contemporary poets, illustrators, reviewers, and short story writers.  

Many extraordinary poets and artists are represented in this anthology. I don’t have the space, in this review, to name all the names, and can’t do justice to many remarkable works….  

Please understand you might want to buy the anthology and see this work for yourself.  

It’s impossible to even find a representative voice or image in this plethora of sensibilities, some searching for esoteric wisdom, others expressing rage, a few just shifting burdens from arm to arm –  

But here are the first few lines from one voice: 

Heavy Drinking 

By Robert Lavett Smith 


In my teens, prevented by cerebral palsy 

From driving—the usual rite of passage— 

And unacquainted still with the mysteries of sex, 

I viewed those first clandestine beers on sticky 

Summer nights as an invitation to adulthood: 

Proof I was part of a world I had barely begun to understand 


And here are the closing few lines from a poem by another voice: 


From Me To She 

By Leonard Irving 


But she lies beneath 

The yum-yum tree 

Of memory 

And there will stay 

As I lie here 

In Peoples Park 

Bereft and sad 

In Berkeley. 


Or you might want to consider these words if you’ve, perhaps, given up on defining what poetry is, and instead want to wonder what it does…. 


From Whole Poetry 

By Kelly Arbor 


Sing, daughter, sing. 

Your wideness is wonder. 

Your whole is not half. 

Find your voice inside 

the hole of poetry.