DEAR FRIENDS, 2/20/2012

Well, I’ve actually taken a week off, sort of. I’ve written letters, read, commented on and blurbed a long manuscript of poems, given a reading at a nearby college, talked with an MFA candidate about her thesis on “place”, hired a new webmaster and started remodeling my website, and so forth. Some week off.

I’ve also gone over the text for PARK SONGS: A Poem/Play a number of times and signed off on it. It’s off to the designer. It’s due out in September, on the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement.

PARK SONGS will appear in a very small format, 4 inches by 6.5 inches. It’s meant to fit easily in your pocket.

I have a hardcover book of my very first favorite poet’s poems that’s that size. The book is POEMS by William Cullen Bryant, © 1895, and yes, it is falling apart.

PARK SONGS is totally different from my last three books. Filled with the forgotten, neglected and abused people who are all around us all the time, it’s kind of an urban JUDEVINE. However in this new book there is no narrator, no David, only the characters themselves speak about themselves and to each other.

Here’s the catalogue copy for PARK SONGS: A Poem/Play:

A “tale of the tribe” (Ezra Pound’s phrase for his own longer work), PARK SONGS: A Poem/Play is set during a single day in a down-and-out, mid-western city park where people from all walks of life gather. In this small green space amidst a great gray city, the park provides a refuge for its caretaker (and resident poet), street preachers, retirees, moms, hustlers, and teenagers. Interspersed with blues songs, the community speaks through poetic monologues and conversations, while the homeless provide the introductory chorus—and all of their voices become one great epic tale of comedy and tragedy.
Full of unexpected humor, hard-won wisdom, righteous (but sometimes misplaced) anger, and sly tenderness, their stories show us how people learn to live with mistakes and make connections in an antisocial world. As PARK SONGS: A Poem/Play engages us in their pain and joy—and the goofy delight of being human–it makes a quietly soulful statement about acceptance and community in our lives.

The book will also have photographs by R. C. Irwin, whose absurdist and nostalgic work provides the set design for PARK SONGS. R.C. Irwin teaches at San Francisco City College.