Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 21 event with Brian Komei Dempster

The Poetry and Psychoanalysis interview series continues on March 21, 2015 with a program featuring the poet Brian Komei Dempster. The event is free and open to the public at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, 444 Natoma Street, from 11.30 am-1 pm. Forrest Hamer, poet and psychoanalyst, will lead the conversation.

Komei Dempster’s debut book of poetry, Topaz, was published by Four Way Books in 2013 and received the 2014-15 Bytes Book Award in Poetry. He is the editor of both From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps (Kearny Street Workshop, 2001), which received a 2007 Nisei Voices Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement (Heyday, 2011). He is a professor of rhetoric and language and a faculty member in Asian Pacific American
Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he where he received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010.

Currently, he divides his time between teaching and serving as Director of Administration for the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

April 5 event with Camille Dungy

The Poetry and Psychoanalysis interview series continues on April 5, 2014 with a program featuring the poet Camille T. Dungy. The event is free and open to the public at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, 444 Natoma Street, from 10.30 am-noon. Alice A. Jones, poet and psychoanalyst, will lead the conversation.
Camille Dungy is author of Smith Blue (Southern Illinois University Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Book Prize, Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006). Dungy is editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great (Persea, 2009), and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Cane's First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Dungy has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Cave Canem, the Dana Award, and Bread Loaf.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Poetry and Psychoanalysis at SFCP

The Poetry and Psychoanalysis interview series resumes on February 22, 2014 with a program featuring the poet C. S. Giscombe.   The event is free and open to the public, and will take place at the San Francisco for Psychoanalysis at 444 Natoma Street, San Francisco (415-563-5815), from 11.30 am to 1 p.m..  Susan Kolodny, poet and psychoanalyst, will lead the conversation.

C. S. Giscombe’s poetry books are Prairie Style, Giscome Road, Here, etc.; his book of linked essays (concerning Canada, race, and family) is Into and Out of Dislocation.  His recognitions include the 2010 Stephen Henderson Award, an American Book Award (for Prairie Style) and the Carl Sandburg Prize (for Giscome Road).  Two new prose books having to do with poetry—Border Towns and Ohio Railroads—will be published in 2014 and 2015.  He teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

Beginning in 2006, the interview series has featured a variety of prominent poets in conversations with poet-analysts at SFCP.  The interviews focus particularly on the process of making poems, and programs have included each poet reading from selected works.  The program is currently supported by the J. David Frankel Memorial Fund for Poetry and Psychoanalysis.  Contributions to the fund are welcome, and tax-deductible.

On April 5, the series continues with an interview with Camille T. Dungy, in conversation with Alice Jones.  Also occurring at the SFCP site, this program will occur from 10.30-noon that Saturday morning.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fiftieth Anniversary


My grandfather tells me not to let them rub my head. 
I don’t know why this is, but, later, when
I hear the tale a black boy’s crown
brings his master good luck, I understand


Something else, now.

A Poem Also about Psychoanalysis

I studied the problem inside me, something absurd
In the world 
To live with, try to sing about, and sing. 

And the poem was the song

To live with, try to sing and sing about.
In the world,
I studied the problem inside me, something absurd:

History was happening; my people still not free—
I was a child learning Negro History.

For many children, the age of 7 is the age of social awareness, a perspective on the world that broadens beyond what is identified as local, and some beginning awareness of a history beyond the one the child conceives as one’s immediate own.  When I was 7, the March on Washington, the bombing of the Birmingham church and the deaths of those four like-aged girls, and the assassination of President Kennedy marked my entry into social awareness, and the particular quest for the civil rights of Negroes.  As I learned more about the history and circumstances of that quest, I began to develop what would prove to be twin interests—writing poems and understanding the complexity of the human mind. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Poetry & Psychoanalysis Program 2013

SATURDAY, February 9, 2013, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.    A special presentation in honor of the Chinese New Year: Paula Varsano, Associate Professor in the Chinese Program at U.C. Berkeley, will speak on “Translating the Ineffable: A Reading of Classical Chinese Poetry.” Professor Varsano specializes in classical poetry and poetics from the third through the eleventh centures, with particular interest in literature and subjectivity, the evolution of spatial representation in poetry, the history and poetics of traditional literary criticism, and the theory and practice of translation. She is the author of The Poetry of Li Po and Its Critical Reception (Hawaii, 2003), and is currently working on a book tentatively titled Coming to Our Sense: Locating the Subject in Traditional Chinese Literary Writing.

SATURDAY, March 23, 2013, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.    Laura Walker is the author of Follow-Haswed, (Apogee Press 2012), bird book (Shearsman Books, 2011), rimertown/an atlas (U Press, 2008), and swarm lure (Battery Press, 2004), and the chapbook bird book (Albion Books, 2010). Her poetry has appeared in VOLT, Switchback, Ambush, Thermos, and Fact-Simile, as well as in other journals. In conversation with Susan Kolodny and reading from her work.

SATURDAY, June 1, 2013, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.    D.A. Powell is the author of Chronic (2009), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, and of the trilogy, Tea (Wesleyan, 1998); Lunch (2000); and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2004). His latest book Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf, 2012) is currently a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America. In conversation with Forrest Hamer and reading from his work.

PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION: All events will be held at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis’s new building at 444 Natoma Street, S.F. (Powell Street BART). All are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poetry and Psychoanalysis Special Event

The Poetry and Psychoanalysis series at SFCP will host an interview with Ron Silliman on Sunday, April 8, from 3.30-5.30. Alice Jones will interview him, and books will be available for signing at the end of the event.

Silliman is the author of some 30 books, including an anthology of the Language Poetry literary movement that he helped found with several Bay Area poets during the 1970s. Since 1974, Silliman has been working on a single poem, entitled Ketjak. It is composed of four works: The Age of Huts, Tjanting, The Alphabet, and Universe. With the exception of the book-length poem Tjanting (1981), each of the other projects is also a compilation of texts. Ketjak is also the title of his book-length prose poem published in 1978, which serves as the first section of The Age of Huts (compleat).

Silliman is also the author of a well-respected and widely read poetry blog that he began in 2002.

This special event will occur in the temporary quarters of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, 2340 Jackson Street (enter on Webster), 4th floor, San Francisco. It is free and open to the public, and reservations can be made online at

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sight inward seeing itself

How Indeterminacy Determines Us
William Bronk

We are so little discernible as such
in so much nothing, it is our privacy
sometimes that startles us: the world is ours;
it is only ours; others that move there,
or seem to, are elsewhere, are in another world,
their world; only, we see from time to time
—shattered, as though we were nothing, or not
stable—sometimes we see what they see,
no world we know. Theirs. Strange. As though
by a momentary shift of little bits
of charges, copper were carbon and felt the weight
and valences of carbon in a changed field
of inertias and reactions, and then were copper again
in a cupreous world. We are left to wonder at
and ponder our privacy and ponder this:
we are two unknowns in a single equation, we
and our world, functions one of the other. Sight
is inward and sees itself, hearing, touch,
are inward. What do we know of an outer world?

As the office poetry reading group goes on hiatus, I offer this poem by William Bronk as one of our last subjects of study. It’s from his 1964 book The World, the Worldless, one of my favorites. I was especially intrigued by the idea of sight inward seeing itself, and the implications similarly for the sensory experiences of hearing and touching. But what proved most fascinating to us was the consideration of privacy as a way to refer to the psychic reality—conscious and unconscious—characterizing each person’s subjectivity. One view of psychic reality proposes that deep subjectivity is limited by and contained within one body; another that privacy is in fact constituted between two or more persons in interaction; and a third which suggests that subjectivity between people is created in reference to—and perhaps because of—a social third manifesting as language, or social structure, or social order. We take our privacy for granted, assuming it belongs to us. But, who and what exactly are we?

Here’s looking to 2012.