Related Articles: Literary, All

Poetry & Pizza

What to do when you have a craving for poetry? Open up your business to poets, which is exactly what Paul Geffner, the host of monthly poetry reading Poetry and Pizza, has done for the past four years.

Escape from New York Pizza on Bush Street, with New York paraphernalia adorning its walls, may seem like an unlikely spot for poetry. However, Geffner's love for poetry can be seen on the walls of the pizza joint -- customers can enjoy "Suzie's Enzyme Poem" or a poem by Galway Kinnell while munching on a potato-and-pesto pizza slice.

Poetry and Pizza, which takes place the 1st Friday of every month, is coordinated by local poet Clive Matson and Katharine Harer, who used to run Small Press Traffic. Although the olive green walls, crowded metallic tables and countertops might be lacking in decor, Poetry and Pizza is worth a visit if you're hankerin' for some poetry in a laidback environment.

Very different from the spoken-word rage that has been sweeping the nation in poetry slams and nightclubs, Poetry and Pizza usually features two poets who read their poetry to an older, attentive audience.

Battling bright lights, the humming of the restaurant's generator and a vibe that is more prone to spawning late-night quick fixes rather than creative masterpieces. The poets are often hard to hear over the din. If you strain your ears, you'll be listening to the impressive talents of poets like devorah major, the third Poet Laureate of San Francisco, as well as Beth Lisick and other big-name local talents.

The $5 donation, which buys your pizza, is given to a worthy organization, usually a non-profit or small publishing press, selected by the evening's performers. In the past, donations have been made to groups such as the Media Alliance, Doctors Without Borders, Huckleberry House and a host of small presses and magazines. And who could turn down free pizza?

The series seems to be geared more for the old-time lover of poetry-on-the-page before it got all fancy, televised and oriented towards performance. If poetry without the frills is what moves you, then Poetry and Pizza may be a place you want to visit.

Poetry and Pizza
Escape from New York Pizza
333 Bush St. (at Montgomery), SF, 415.421.0700
1st Friday of the month, reading starts at 7:30 pm
$5 suggested donation to an organization of the poets' choice
Mailing List: [email protected]