MY FIST IS A BOOK OF ETHICS Now Available At Needles & Pens, Modern Times Bookstore & Another Adventure

Ryan McGinley, “Night Sky (Pine)” 2010

Yesterday I took another walk/ day trip to The Mission in San Francisco, this time by myself, and here is what happened:

I stumbled across Aldea Ninos, where I picked up a copy of a book called “The Fox and The Hare,” a Russian folk tale retold by Vladimir Dal and illustrated by Francesca Yarbusova, illustrator and wife of acclaimed animator Yuri Norstein. The illustrations, I learned, are the- extremely vibrant and engaging- “sketches” for Norstein’s 1975 animated film of the story. Rovakada Publishing, based out of San Francisco, has published two other books that feature Yarbusova’s illustrations, one of which follows the same format- sketches for the narrative of her husband’s acclaimed work of the same title, “Hedgehog in the Fog,” and a poem by Korney Chukofsky called “Mishmash… about a funny mix-up that happened among the animals.”

The Hero of “The Fox and The Hare” is a Rooster, of course.

Next I stopped at Needles and Pens where I intended, and subsequently succeeded in, selling five copies of my collection of poems, MY FIST IS A BOOK OF ETHICS. I also managed to pick up a copy of MONO.KULTURE #27(Spring 2011), which features the work of famed photographer Ryan McGinley. I was particularly taken by the proliferation of nakednesses and colors, best exemplified by the photograph below, but was disappointed by the short review at the beginning of the zine, wherein I learned that the “division” between “art and commerce,” which McGinley is apparently exceedingly adept at traversing, is “antiquated.” In an apparent allusion to something along the lines of an enlightened postmodern nihilism, MONO.KULTURE was not willing, or able, to level any sort of critique against their inadvertent claim that there is no difference between a piece of art and a Levi’s advertisement. And wherein I don’t think I am personally under any illusions about anything like the revolutionary potential of art- indeed, I find it interesting that the fine art object has become the capitalist object par excellence- it was still a bit of a downer to find any and all road bumps removed in the consideration itself. And to top it off, they brought home their lack of critique with a good old fashioned grammatical faux pas: “… anything goes in a world where boundaries are blurring and the world is becoming increasingly intertwined,” which totally ignores the fact that the verb intertwined applies only to situations of two or more things.


Afterwards I took my first walk down 24th Street, where I took my time doing the usual tourist-mural routine.  I was particularly taken by two pieces, a couple of blocks apart, that I was pleased to find were products of the same artist, Laura Campos. Be sure to surf the hashtag #lauracampos on the linked-to-Instagram photo below to find more of her work.

Finally, I stopped by Modern Times Bookstore Collective, a San Francisco landmark. It was my first time visiting, and I had a wonderful time checking out both their poetry and criticism sections, each of which carried a wide range of really crucial texts, from Mahmoud Darwish to Dante in the former, Susan Sontag to Fredric Jameson in the latter.  Also on display was a mountain of essential Black literature: Cornel West, James Baldwin, Assata Shakur and others. I highly recommend going, and keeping track of their busy schedule for all sorts of events of persuasions literary, political and both.

photo 2
Detail, “Spiritual Connection,” by Laura Campos, 24th & Treat, The Mission, SF

My Fist Is A Book Of Ethics Now Available At Dog Eared Books And Other Adventures

Detail, Zio Ziegler, 24th & Bartlett, SF


Dearest Reader, I’m extremely pleased to be able to announce that you can now purchase a copy of my first collection of poetry, My Fist Is A Book Of Ethics, IRL at Dog Eared Books in San Francisco, California.

Yesterday (two thirds of) my ladies and I took a day trip to The Mission for a bookstore day, with the intent of visiting Needles and Pens, Dog Eared Books, and Modern Times. We discovered that Needles and Pens is temporarily moved to a location on Valencia, where we visited after stopping by Dog Eared (for the first time! We decided to cut the trip short and hit the 24th Street BART home before making it to what would’ve also been our first time to Modern Times, but that’s okay- we’ll visit someday soon.)

Dog Eared is a truly wonderful bookstore; we had a great time perusing their poetry and local literature sections, and I spent a good deal of time flipping through their excellent children’s literature section, where I picked up a copy of Crockett Johnson’s Harold’s Circus for my son, Byrd Baylor (who lives in the desert)’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations for my youngest daughter, and a collection of Poetry for Young People by Carl Sandburg, which I didn’t know existed but which I am very excited about- both the verse and the beautiful painting/ illustrations by Steven Arcella – for my eldest daughter. Also I need to say that all the folks who were working there were very helpful and pleasant to chat with. For the record/ your information.

Heading south on Valencia, we happened upon Amos Goldbaum, a San Francisco artist who also designs and creates T-shirts of all kinds with wonderful line-drawings of San Francisco cityscapes, which I realized, as I stood there looking them over, I really liked. This is in part because they remind me of the small but growing to-my-knowledge number of children’s books that are a) set in or about San Francisco, and b) do not suck: the first being Miloslav Sasek’s This is San Francisco (I haven’t googled it yet but if there isn’t a known connection it should definitely be mentioned that Genndy Tartakovsky’s famed Samurai Jack and Clone Wars series display an intense similarity to Sasek’s illustrations), and the second being Don Freeman’s Fly High, Fly Low (that I had just read at Dog Eared)- both of which contain really the best illustrative representations of The City that I’ve seen.  Not that I’ve seen a ton? Maybe I have.

At Needles and Pens’ current location, we browsed both the jewelry and maga/ ‘zine sections, where I came away with a hilarious little ‘zine called Museein’ (a museum zine) by Emily Alden Foster. In it, she chronicles some of the high points of her visits to a plethora of museums in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2011. I’ve provided my favorite example(s) below (Without permission! Ms. Foster if you see this and disprove please let me know and I’ll take them down!)

“Julia Child donated her kitchen to the Smithsonian. They sawed it right out of her house and here it is. It’s surprisingly small.”


“On the wall, right between Julia’s lorgnette and a heart-shaped pan, there’s a B. Kliban plaque. B. Kliban’s work deserves to be in the Smithsonian on its own merits, but it’s not. Wherever it is, I would like to visit it someday.”


Finally, having turned east on 24th, we found ourselves passing the Campfire Gallery, and were pleased to see a mural by SF artist Zio Ziegler splayed across the west side of the building. I had only just found Ziegler’s work and subsequently followed him on Instagram the night before, so it was an interesting experience to immediately recognize and identify the work writ large and IRL. I’ve provided an Instagram of my own above, a small detail of the much larger work.

All in all a pleasant constitutional, if I may say so myself and/ or if you will. Or if you don’t (or won’t), I guess.  Afterwards I took a nap that I’m not sorry about. Keep checking in for more updates re IRL locales for the purchasing of my poetry, in SF, the East Bay, and beyond.



Organizing Life & Matter (CFP)


The Ecomaterialisms Collective, an interdisciplinary graduate student-organized research group at the University of California, Irvine, is organizing a conference on May 15th of this year.  Here is the text from the CFP:

“EcoMaterialisms: Organizing Life and Matter” will bring interdisciplinary graduate work to  bear on the ongoing critical discussions grouped under the umbrella of “new materialisms.” While what exactly these new materialisms might be or look like remains a vitally open question, this conference is an attempt to map a number of conceptual coordinates that give this emergent field of inquiry some consistency. As Diana Coole and Samantha Frost write in the introduction to their edited collection on new  materialism, “If we persist in our call for an observation of a new materialism, it is because we  are aware that unprecedented things are currently being done with and to matter, nature, life,  production, and reproduction. It is in this contemporary context that theorists are compelled to  rediscover older materialist traditions while pushing them in novel, and sometimes experimental,  directions or toward fresh applications.”

While reconfiguring materiality and our relations to environments has significantly opened the scope of our theoretical engagements, there remains in this same gesture the risk of ignoring other potential lines of thought and practice. “EcoMaterialisms” is intended to open a forum for thinking through these possibilities and their attendant problems.

The keynote address will be given by Columbia University Anthropologist Elizabeth A. Povinelli.

For details and updates, visit the collective’s website.

The deadline to submit abstracts or panel proposals is Friday, January 30th.

Equal to the Moment

True literary activity cannot aspire to take place within a literary framework… it must nurture the inconspicuous forms that better fit its influence in active communities than does the pretentious, universal gesture of the book- in leaflets, brochures, articles, and placards. Only this prompt language shows itself actively equal to the moment.

– from Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street (via Harper’s)