On Thursday, February 15, at 7:30pm The Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz Reading Series at 215 Main in Point Arena will feature Berkeley poet Carol Denney. The reading will begin with live improv jazz and an open mic with jazz improv; the reading will conclude with more live improv jazz.
Carol Denney was one of the Bay Area's most respected songwriters for many years before the year 1991. After 1991 her alma mater, the University of California, announced that she was "the key leader of a violent conspiracy" according to their civil suit against her and four other activists, including respected Ashkenaz founder David Nadel.
"None of us were sure how that happened," she says, reflecting on the matter, which left her legally declared a public figure. She had spoken, along with thousands of others, on behalf of the community-wide effort to save landmarked People's Park from the indignity of being turned into a sports facility. She had also written a ripping song called "See You in Santa Rita" which, she says, "may have turned the crank."
The university finally had to drop its SLAPP-suit against her, but the song is still considered part of the People's Park canon, and joins many other respected songs by the poet/musician as having particular resonance to those who pay attention to local politics, such as "Set Your Radio Free", which tells the story of Free Radio Berkeley, a micro-power station of which she is proud to have been among the original pioneer crew.
"We started newspapers and radio stations," she says of her work with Free Radio Berkeley founder Stephen Dunifer. "We worked with all media as best we could, but it made sense to start our own. Our story was a good one, and we needed to make sure it was told."
Carol Denney's poetry is included in Revolutionary Poets Brigade anthologies and she's performed as a featured poet and musician throughout the Bay Area at venues such as the Beat Museum, the Emerald Tablet, the Freight and Salvage and festivals nationwide. She's the Human Rights Editor and a regular columnist for Street Spirit newspaper, a columnist and reporter for the Berkeley Daily Planet, Editor and founder of the 26-year-old Pepper Spray Times, a cartoonist for the Berkeley Times, and is a featured artist at the Passages Gallery and the Expressions Gallery in Berkeley, California.
Denney is best known for her political comedy, which is featured on KPFA's TwitWit Radio, but her performance art garnered front page San Francisco Examiner coverage when she threw a bake sale for PG&E at its Market Street headquarters after it declared bankruptcy in 2001, raising $1.27 for the beleaguered utility. "They deserved every penny," she says.
Denney is an Northern California Songwriters Association award-winning lyricist, an innovative guitarist, an old-time fiddler, a concertina player, Fiddlers for Peace" founder, curator of the Deep Poetry Project", was a 2004 honoree by the City of Berkeley for homeless advocacy, a 2003 honoree for civil liberties activism through music, humor, and art by the Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women, the winner of the East Bay Express' readers' poll "Best Solo Performer" for 2002, and selected as one of the San Francisco Bay Guardian's 2001 "Best of the Bay" honorees for writing "The PG&E Song; Write the Check and Shut Up."
But her favorite thing to do is support the arts, whether as a volunteer fiddler for the Augusta Music Heritage Festival in West Virginia, or as part of Old Mill Days for the Bothe-Napa State Park, where she missed getting caught in the recent fire by one day. Her Failure to Disperse Acoustic Revolt and Road Show ensemble is a favorite at local street performances and as music for San Francisco's Maritime Labor History tour every year as well as for decades of other Laborfest events. She's proud of having been the spiritual advisor and doing graphic production for the Best of Blasphemy project in Canyon, California with Ann Callicrate and Neil J. Young, and is routinely heard on KQED's Perspectives doing comedic pieces on civil rights and other dangerous subjects. She's been quoted by Alexander Cockburn as well as the Wall Street Journal, and is a proud part of the Folk This! extended family. She was awarded the 2009 Oldtime Spirit award from the Augusta Music Heritage Festival, voted best female artist at PirateCat Radio in SF in 2010, and was nominated to the Revolutionary Poets' Brigade by former poet laureate of San Francisco Jack Hirschman in 2010, where she finally met others as enchanted with the intersection of words and politics as she. And she is perhaps proudest of being the inventor of the chairapillar, a protest parade of moving chairs. More information about Carol can be found at www.caroldenney.com
Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz is supported by The Third Thursday Poetry Group, many anonymous donors, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.