Close to home. Home to the Beat poets of San Francisco, the Street poets of Berkeley, Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz and Pulitzer Prize winner Carolyn Kizer.
Home to critically-acclaimed novelists and short story writers like Herbert Gold, James D. Houston, Leonard Gardner, Thomas Sanchez, Gerald Haslam, Leonard Michaels and Gerald Rosen.
Home to poets with names like Ishmael Reed, Diana O Hehir, Robert Hass, Al Young, John Logan, Eugene Ruggles, Jack Micheline, Josephine Miles, Leonard Nathan and Nanos Valaoritis.
And home to previously undiscovered talents with powerful insights into worlds as diverse as Peninsula halfway houses and San Quentin jailscells.
Their writings are here, close to home, in an anthology of powerful and original writing from that Athens of modern times, the communities that surround San Francisco Bay.
—Santa Cruz Sentinel
Excerpt from “Dead Lion or Live Dog: The Artist in American Society
Some Reflections on the Suicide of Richard Brautigan”
Richard, the Hans Christian Anderson of America, had lost his naivete through self-indulgence like many of the jaded rich. Al Young called him world weary—no matter what his family roots were, bastard son of a millworker or not. Money can give an artist, or anybody, too much independence, too much freedom. A person’s got to keep giving to the society that gave to them. They’ve got to think of someone else besides themselves. The more talented they are, the more they should give. I used to buy Richard’s Xeroxed poems because I liked him and he was a poet and needed the money. Soon, I couldn’t afford to buy Richard a drink and he could get drunk in an expensive North Beach hangout every night, and he often did. It ruined his health. He must have woken up filled with despair in the mornings like any person who drinks too much.
Man’s got to give, to the society that gave to him. He or she ‘s got to think about someone else besides themselves. It really comes down to purity. It’s in the giving through spiritual communication with people that you really live, not the getting. Richard became selfish and cut off, precious like too many and I might say, most, successful writers, meaning those who have achieved fame and fortune.
Snobbishness killed Brautigan. He became a dead soul, unable to self-generate love anymore, after the blessings of youth were gone, love which comes from giving not getting. In the end the bell tolls for all of us, but let’s heed the sound of Richard’s death knell. It rings particularly for us writers.