22 January 2014


Some of my favorite things of 2013—and now, looking back, I can see they mostly revolve around the idea of conversation. I guess I was looking to talk in 2013.

The Poetry Exchange Project (PXP) in New Orleans, organized by the incomparable Andy Stallings, with Zach Savich and Dan Rosenberg. It was a model for me of a conference that was actually a conversation, and a conversation that actually moved everyone toward new ground.

The Lone Glen series in Oakland, where Alexandra Mattraw and Owen Rosenboom bring together poets and artists for conversation in their lovely basement.
The many glorious events at University Press Books on Bancroft in Berkeley, organized by Peter Burghardt—readings and classes and slow dinners and art installations and music....

Poetry and Psychoanalysis talks in San Francisco, curated by Susan Kolodny, Alice Jones and Forrest Hamer. Talk about talking.

Sharon Osmond’s magical summer reading series in her magical Oakland garden.

Poet as Radio, hosted by Delia Tramontina, Nicholas Leaskou, and Jay Thomas, through KUSF in-exile. Many wondrous conversations, and all available on their website.

And some of the books I conversed with through 2013:

Sorry Was in the Woods
. Michelle Taransky. that you is always you/ in the plural may account for/ the ill-trained hunters, their fears/ of the headless horses...

Poemas de un zombi/ Zombie poems. Martin Camps. Los humanos tienen un olor salado/ Y los zombis dulzón como los leprosos...// Humans emit a smell of brine, and/ Zombies,---one that is saccharine like lepers// Qumrán/ Tanto rollo/ Tanto muerto/ Y tanto mar...// Qumran/ all that trouble rolled up/ and by a sea/ deemed dead...

Marybones. Pattie McCarthy. Mary
-// was a horizontal collaborator. was when the bough 
breaks. was safe as houses. was our lady of private devotion.
 was nervously waiting for word. was the daughter and
 only surviving child. was crushing his head with her
 immaculate foot....

Companion Grasses, Brian Teare. He died & lamplight/ that night brought out against fog its grid of gambits,// each street a perfect winter/ dissembled : pure effect....

End of the sentimental journey. Sarah Vap. And if something is easy, haven’t you learned this yet?, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it loves you.

Ascension.  giovanni singleton. scratch and sniff lawns/ on southern streets where/ one sips lemonade or// iced tea before hosing/ down weeds in/ the way of light.

& Now My Feet are Maps. Jenn McCreary.  It was time as a color or my/ life in miniature.

Bough Down. Karen Green. There are hours I refuse to have, hours with feeders and runaway tendrils, fast-motion cloud forest growth, roots upon vines upon trees upon roots wherein the beasts run, leave nits, latch on.

Laura Walker is the author of four books of poetry: Follow-Haswed (Apogee Press, 2012), bird book (Shearsman Books, 2011), rimertown/an atlas (UC Press, 2008), and swarm lure (Battery Press, 2004). She is also the author of a chapbook, bird book, from Albion Books (2010).  Her poetry has appeared in various journals, including New American Writing, VOLT, Ambush, Thermos, and Fact-Simile, among others. Laura received her MFA from San Francisco State University, where she also taught poetry, fiction, and playwriting.  She currently teaches poetry at University of San Francisco’s MFA in Writing program and at UC Berkeley Extension, and she occasionally teaches private classes. Laura grew up in rural North Carolina and now lives in Berkeley, California.

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