Arts & Events

Berkeley Poets Garcia and Krech Read at Moe’s Books Monday

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday February 09, 2007

Luis Garcia and Richard Krech, two lifelong Berkeley poets, will read for Monday At Moe’s, the series produced by Owen Hill at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave., 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12. 

Admission is free. Books by the poets will be available. 

Garcia, a native of Berkeley, had his first book published in Chile, 1963, where he was studying with poet Nicanor Parra. Later books were published by George Hitchcock’s Kayak Press, Robert Hawley’s Oyez Press, and White Rabbit Press—three of the best-known Bay Area poetry presses of the ‘60s-’70s. 

In 1965, Garcia met poet Robert Creeley “by chance” at the Berkeley Poetry Conference. Some years later, after taking a course with Creeley through S.F. State, Garcia was invited to his home in Bolinas. “We didn’t discus writing poetry; he seemed relieved I didn’t ask about it! We just drank wine together, but I came away with more subliminal information than ever came out of any class or lecture.” 

Though he never stopped writing, Garcia withdrew from the poetry scene in the 80s, but has been active again since the 90s, His book The Token (Summit Press) came out last year. He also organized poetry events at the Berkeley Art Center in Live Oak Park, notably reading with poet James Schevill. 

Garcia says he’s not a metaphysical poet, but one who writes about feelings: “I feel my way through a poem.” Those poems play with shades of meaning and the musical assonance of words. “I’ve come to have a small body of work about process; some about time and mortality—and a few do a little muckraking.” 

Richard Krech grew up in Berkeley, producing a single issue mimeo magazine in 1965, then starting Undermine Press in ‘66, publishing the six issues of The Avalanche and a series of chapbooks, and running a free open reading series every Sunday at Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore. 

Meanwhile, his first book was issued by poet d. a. levy in Cleveland. He read at the Bowery Poets Co-Op in 1965 (“a bunch of anarchists sitting around, drinking wine!”) and at SF’s Rolling Renaissance in 1968. Further collections were published by Gunrunner and Runcible Spoon; in 1976, Litmus Papers put out The Incompleat Works of Richard Krech. That year, he entered law school and stopped writing poetry. “Ron Silliman, who I published first in my mimeo magazine, calls it a 25-year linebreak,” said Krech. “But I never stopped writing, just writing poetry.” 

After a trip around the world, from the journals of which a North African entry found its way into a poem last year, Krech opened his ongoing criminal defense practice in Oakland, representing clients charged with “everything from murder to shoplifting—but also antiwar and antiapartheid demonstrators, pro bono, and the only KPFA demonstrator arrested whose case went to trial [in 2000].” 

“Lawyers are considered bad writers,” Krech continued. “I liked to write appeals for others in my office. Some opponents may well have thought it was fiction.” 

In 2001, concerned about family health crises, he read about the demolition of the giant statue of Buddha in Afghanistan (“I once meditated while sitting in a cave atop the statue, looking over the Bamiyan Valley”), and thinking about life and death, wrote his first poem in a quarter century, “The Statue with No Face.” Since then, poems have appeared in chapbooks, magazines, and online.