Jason Conger, Rodrigo Toscano, Riva Roller, Clare Alexa Sammons (photo by Laura Elrick)
Jason Conger, Rodrigo Toscano, Riva Roller, Clare Alexa Sammons (photo by Laura Elrick)

Meet the Radical:  Jason Boog, GalleyCat impresario and freelance video essayist, explores the life and work of Rodrigo Toscano for this week's cover story.  A taste:

"Frustrated by his formal education, Toscano skipped college altogether, moving to San Francisco in the early 1990s. There, poetry and activism became intimately intertwined in his adult life. Toscano’s self-made syllabus sampled a wide range of poets—Leslie Scalapino, Fanny Howe, Bob Perelman, Lyn Hejinian, and Charles Bernstein—as well as political thinkers such as Karl Marx, Louis Althusser, and Herbert Marcuse. In the mid-1990s, he helped organize the Labor Party in San Francisco and published his first collection, Arbiter (Parenthesis, 1995)."

Read the whole fascinating story of this labor activist, poet, and playwright here.

Welcome:  We're pleased to announce that Barbara Jane Reyes, author of Poeta en San Francisco and Gravities of Center, has joined us at Harriet.  Welcome to the conversation, Barbara!

Topping the Charts: The number 1 book on the contemporary best seller list this week is Slamming Open the Door, Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno's harrowing series of poems about her daughter's murder.  Bonanno's book edges out W.S. Merwin's Shadow of Sirius and Mary Oliver's Evidence for the top spot.

UPDATE:  While "How Forrest Gander is like Megadeth" is pretty good, the headline of the week (so far) goes to "Shocker: Robin Williams’s poetry teacher character is unlikable, 'needs to grow up' says director."  That one really does have it all, doesn't it?  Even better?  The director is Bobcat Goldthwait.

Read each and every bit of news fit to print over at the news page (Thanks, as always, to Cate and Abby for stellar puns and cub reporter skill-sets).

Originally Published: August 20th, 2009

Travis Nichols is the author of two books of poetry: Iowa (2010, Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (2010); and he is the author of two novels: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (2012) and The More You Ignore Me (2013). He has contributed to The Believer, Paste, The...

  1. August 20, 2009
     Joel Brouwer

    A warm and formal welcome to Barbara Jane, fierce poet/a and whipsmart blogger! I'm a longtime lurker on her home blog, which you can enjoy here: http://bjanepr.wordpress.com/

  2. August 20, 2009
     Barbara Jane Reyes

    HI Joel and Travis, many thanks for the warm welcome. So far, I'm enjoying myself here.

  3. August 20, 2009
     Jason Boog

    Thank you for your kind introduction. I'm looking forward to reading more from Barbara Jane Reyes. It's such a lovely, welcoming space you've cultivated here.

  4. August 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    I enthusiastically second Joel Brouwer's welcome to Barbara Jane Reyes, and indeed would welcome any Contributing Writer who could be praised as both a "fierce poet" and a "whipsmart blogger!"\r

    Moreover, and taking a cue from Eileen Myles "Political Economy" article just below, I hope Barbara will be as right and as wrong as Eileen was, and with such cheek and creativity. I also hope Barbara can be allowed to post freely, which at the moment is not true in everybody's case as I, for one, am on what's called "moderation" and must wait up to 12 hours for my posts to get approval before they appear. I'm sure Barbara will find the courage and ingenuity to go on whatever gets thrown at her here, and be a hell-raiser just like Eileen. (Yes, I almost said just like me, because I'd be so honored if any of you felt the trouble I stir up had some value too, and would actually like to read it.)\r

    I'm going to get involved in this thread if I can because I so heartily agree with the headline, “Shocker: Robin Williams’s poetry teacher character is unlikable, 'needs to grow up’ says director.” I went to the original "Dead Poets Society" school in person, and didn't commit suicide but almost. What I will be examining (I almost said attacking, forgive me!) is the way the "Masterpiece Theatre" subtext gets in the way of our evaluation of any so-called "British. . . elite," indeed, makes us suckers for any teacher who teaches as if they were in, out, or above it! I haven't seen Bobcat Goldthwait's "poet" yet, but inevitably that's going to be the subtext.\r

    Tell me how wrong I am to say it's about class again, and then let loose the gods of war!\r


  5. August 21, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    Oops, there are obviously commies in this woodpile too as all sorts of people are seeing Red!\r

    Here's another "Tell-me-how-wrong-I-am" for you. \r

    The photograph of the four individuals lying on the floor reading the scripts? It would be funny and maybe even thought-provoking if it weren't for the high gloss polyurethane on that wide parquet floor and the blockbuster size of the blackboard. This is well-kept academia for sure, a place where Third World Activities like lying on the ground can be explored creatively.\r

    I find it unconvincing. I think it may need a little growing up too. (Did you see that YouTube clip of Bobcat Goldthwait on stage in the shower?)\r