Arts & Events

Around & About Poetry: Jack Marshall Reads from 'Spiral Trace' at Moe's on Thursday, with Poet Anne Winters

By Ken Bullock
Friday September 13, 2013 - 08:40:00 AM

Jack Marshall, well-known Bay Area poet, an El Cerrito resident, will read from his booklength poem, Spiral Trace, recently released by Coffee House Press, at Moe's Books on Telegraph this Thursday at 7:30, with poet Anne Winters also reading from her book, The Displaced of Capital. Admission is free. 

Marshall, who has produced over a dozen books of poetry and a memoir, has both concentrated his decades of experience of presenting " ... a narrative you/won't find/in the news" and expanded his own poetic horizons with this continuous, ongoing narrative of 85 lyric poems, sections of the book, which the poet's said is made up of "the cumulative effect of one poem on before and after poems, their echoes and resonance, propulsion, pause and turn-abouts, their rethreaded themes and music ... That make them a cohesive (if ragged) ensemble ... A lyric epic?" 

Quickly moving from the greater issues of the day to personal events and insights and back again, with even quicker changes in mood and attack, from lament to slangy humor, Marshall employs a supple three-line stanza, with terza rima (Dante's form in the Commedia) of often deliberate off-rhymes, summing up, then discounting a welter of impressions, then taking time to concentrate on some penetrating perception.  

"So in the passing speed of each other in order/to return with more/of what is alien to the other--//there's love? There is, if our fate/is to be tapped/and resonate//when darkness nears." 

There're jeremiads about the state of the world, war, ecological disaster, the strange distraction and indifference of whole endangered populations, side by side with tender eulogies for departed friends, like fellow poet Morton Marcus: 

"If poetry is near able to say/what's not heard in speech,/perhaps he'll hear what I didn't say--//here, in out of the unbound/stretch and reach and touch of/time in sound." 

Finally, after a whole book of rushing words amid idling thoughts, the poet makes his exit: 

"We live in, on,/through, traces of flow/before song sung, tongue stone ... //or strewn, then sown. I don't know,/song, stone, strewn, dumb--/I gotta go." 

Free. 7:30 Thursday, September 19, Moe's Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue (between Haste & Dwight Way), 849-2087 or