Third Thursday Poetry Presents Berkeley Poet Dan Bellm

     On Thursday, July 20, at 7:30pm The Third Thursday Poetry & Jazz Reading Series at 215 Main in Point Arena will feature Berkeley poet Dan Bellm. The reading will begin with live improv jazz and an open mic with jazz improv; the reading will conclude with more live improv jazz.

     Dan Bellm is a poet and translator. His fourth book of poems, Deep Well, comes out from Lavender Ink (New Orleans) in Spring 2017; his third, Practice (Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco), won the 2009 California Book Award. Buried Treasure (1999) was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, and won the 1998 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize. One Hand on the Wheel (1999) launched the California Poetry Series from Berkeley’s Roundhouse Press.


     His poems have appeared in such journals and anthologies as Poetry, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, The Best American Spiritual Writing, The Ecopoetry Anthology, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease.

     Dan is also a widely published translator of poetry and fiction from Spanish and French. Recent books of poetry in translation include Speaking in Song, by Mexican poet Pura López Colomé (Shearsman Books, UK, 2017), The Song of the Dead, by French poet Pierre Reverdy (Black Square Editions, New York, 2016), and Description of a Flash of Cobalt Blue, by Mexican poet Jorge Esquinca (Unicorn Press, Greensboro, NC, 2015).

     Dan teaches literary translation and poetry in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council.

     Concerning Dan’s work, poet Adrienne Rich called One Hand on the Wheel “courageous and humane…a very fine book.” Poet June Jordan called him “singular, fresh, an American artist of enormous gifts and discipline.” Poet Mark Doty wrote, “‘Delle Avenue’ – and I don’t say this lightly – is a great poem of city life, of the confluence of memory and history and voice which city streets are.” Of his new book, Deep Well, poet Alicia Ostriker writes, “With a touch on the keys of language as light as the air we breathe, Dan Bellm traces his mother's death, and abides her continuing presence, as the keeper of ‘this/ blessing of kindness’ which is both hers and his. Deep Well is a book of the purest poetry I have read in a long time. I am grateful for it.”



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.


Before words

A baby is singing in the morning 

before anyone is up in the house 


Before he has decided 

which of all the languages he will speak 

he is trying the sounds of his voice

in the first light


He hears a man 

come up the street collecting bottles

just ahead of the garbage truck

straining uphill 

to come throw them away


He hears the shriek of glass 

It is like the vessels of Creation 

breaking in God's hands


He hears the wind around the house

and in the wind 

every word he will ever say 

and what will stay unsaid


and stops to listen to silence

and sings to it

the way the body addresses the soul

lending it shape

lending it comfort and sorrow


The body wants to be useful

and the soul is open so wide


This is the way we awaken 

He remembers he is alone

and cries for us.

Words On Wellness

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