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Celebration of the Word

As many writers and lovers of the spoken word know, poetry is one of the most ancient and widespread of the arts. San Francisco has been celebrating that genre and other forms of spoken word for decades. I began going to poetry readings after the publication of my first collection of poetry, February Voices, in 1994. As I listened to performances in cafés, bars and restaurants around the City, I was struck by the magical atmosphere created when the human voice lifted "the word" from the page. Wanting to locate a reading closer to where I lived, I spoke with Patricia, then owner of Polk St. Beans & Café, and we reached an accord.

Of course, I had no idea how things would go. There were moments of hilarity, shock, confusion and scandal. Overriding everything, though, was the magic: The mad painter from Market Street with his powerful readings of Oscar Wilde. Quicksilver ladies who enchanted with bold words and shy manner. Hearts stolen forever. Occasional feuds. An RN by day, who sang beautifully, and taped "Miss Otis Regrets" for her biggest fan. The short stories of K. L. Hill, who died last year. Words from prose, stage plays and poetry, which staccatoed on tabletops and danced around our shoulders as we walked home afterward. In 1998, "North Beach NOW" said we were the best reading series in San Francisco.

After the sale of "Polk & Beans," the series moved here and there, finally settling at Perry's Joint in the Upper Fillmore. With wonderful support from the owner, who has been at Fillmore and Post for nine years, we continue to celebrate the word every Monday evening from 7 pm to 9 pm. The magic still sings through everything: a family therapist who plays rock violin and speaks her poetry after hours, an attorney by day, who stuns with powerful rap lyrics under cover of darkness. Be whomever you really are, for twenty minutes as the feature, or five minutes during open mic.

Celebration of the Word
Every Monday, 7 pm - 9 pm
Perry's Joint
1661 Fillmore @ Post, SF, 415.931.5260