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Poetry at Cody's

The Poetry Flash bimonthly review & literacy calendar has staged their weekly reading series at Cody's Books in Berkeley since the early 80s. Held every Wednesday for many years, Poetry at Cody's recently moved to Sunday evenings. Hosts Richard Silberg and Joyce Jenkins (Associate Editor and Editor/Publisher respectively) usually arrange 2 readers per night, giving each poet ample time to cover a range of their work.

Cody's event room is large enough to accommodate more than 50 poetry buffs, but the prevalence of empty seats and the type of crowd depends on who's on the calendar. However, numbers are never very thin due to the many literature hounds living in Berkeley. Being situated upstairs in the sales book section, you get the inkling you've been rewarded in a bargain hunt, especially with the signs "Sale Judaica," and "Sale Christianity" hanging overhead.

Instead of worthless brick-a-brack, people find insights into the human condition, clues to journey of life, as well as random images tossed out for emotional value. And you never thought making yourself think could be so easy. It's because the readers have probably worked and reworked their troubled lives so painstakingly onto the page, while delivering them with fluid aplomb.

Although they don't open up the mic to non-scheduled readers, there are a great many styles represented here. It should be noted also, that the organizers appear to make a conscious effort to give women readers an equal presence. Sometimes readers quote from award-winning anthologies, and an academic poet may tickle you by peppering his pieces with swear words.

Amusement shifts to controversy at the drop of a hat in these circles too. An audience chuckles one minute and in the next, the poet stirs up primal longings and political disagreements. Disagreeing with the poet doesn't often result in raised voices here. Perhaps the tall stacks of books towering all around give the setting a library-like air, not so conducive to loud debates.

Poetry at Cody's
Cody's Books
2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley
7:30 pm start; $2 donation