Arts Listings

Vincent, Reed Talk Poetry at Pegasus

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Tuesday November 27, 2007

Poets Stephen Vincent (author of the newly published Junction Press collection, Walking Theory) and Pat Reed, both Bay Area poets noted for close observation of landscapes, will read 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Pegasus Books, at 2349 Shattuck Ave. 

Vincent is a native of Richmond, and, excepting two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, lecturing at the University of Nigeria-Nsukka, a lifelong Bay Area resident. He lives in San Francisco. A founding coordinator of California Poetry-in-the-Schools, Vincent lectures at the SF Art Institute and teaches creative writing at the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning. He leads a walking and writing workshop for Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program.  

Vincent is the founder and publisher of Momo’s Press and is director of arts for book publisher Bedford Arts. His other titles include Walking (also from Junction Press), Towards Spicer (Cherry on the Top Press) and Sleeping With Sappho (faux ebooks). 

Vincent’s new collection alternates between observations and ruminations of what he sees on his walks, and elegies, especially for his father and his brother, but also for friends and for jazz musician Steve Lacy: “no one ever said the roll/would stop rolling ... / ... we strange ones, so familiar.” 

Repetition and restatement weave together the strands of immediate experience with loss and reflections on language. Poet Beverly Dahlen noted: “[Walking Theory] enhances the ancient association of the foot as measure of the poetic line ... measure becomes metaphor: ‘ ... foot ever to the ground, image by image, / thought by thought, word by word ...’.”  

A whimsical quality also enters in: “Leave a spiral jetty on the hill/little stone by little stone. / vary the color—dark to bright— / say hello, say good-bye.”  

Or, more abstruse: “Falling in love with Aphasia: / ( ) / Will you be mine? / Will you not say a thing? / Breathe on me.”  

Pat Reed was born “under the landing patterns of LAX,” and “grew up with her feet in the Pacific Ocean.”  

After years of “practicing violin ... in a walk-in closet,” she discovered poetry at 19, and moved from Southern California to the Bay Area about 25 years ago.  

She’s studied literature at UC Berkeley, surfed, played fiddle and practiced Soto Zen at Green Gulch Ranch in Marin and at the Berkeley Zen Center. She lives in Oakland, where she’s taught—and written about teaching-—South-East Asian immigrants over about a decade.  

She teaches at Cal State Hayward.  

Her poems often read as quick, sometimes humorous glimpses of nature, with a sense of the gaze that’s perceiving: “Aspen / flip’t the sun- / light /and the speckled deer / bound at me / blink’t big eye / lifted an ear / swiveled its head / & tore at the / thorny berry.” 

The series at Pegasus has featured notable internationally known poets, such as Nathaniel Tarn, as well as local writers. Schedules and info can be found at: Clay Banes, series programmer, posts a blog, “eyeball hatred.” 

Owen Hill, who organizes readings at Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue, commented, “Clay really knows what he’s doing, and has been programming a good series, though it’s been a little under the radar. I hope it gets more recognition.”