Thursday, August 4 – 7pm
Three Poets: Cherkovski/Robinson/Bernheimer
open mic follows
Neeli Cherkovski sits comfortably among San Francisco poetry royalty’s best kept secrets — a secret if only because few pay sufficient attention to the riches we have here. He’s hiding in the bright daylight of Bernal, easy to find, easy to love.
Migrating from San Bernardino to Los Angeles as a young teen in the 1960s, Neeli Cherry, tight in the orbit of the legendary Charles Bukowski, flowered as a poet under the gruff old man’s influence, bringing as well the influence of his New York uncle Herman Cherry, an expressionist painter of great accomplishment–much like Robert DeNiro’s father, RD Sr–and his own father, Sam, whose photos of San Francisco bohemian life resonate to this day. Neeli’s mom was a teacher and a valued pedagogical theorist, his dad a bookseller with a shop that attracted ol’ Buk out to San Berdoo in the first place…
In LA, Neeli & Buk co-edited the spirited little mag “Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns” and spawned most of what made for a certain monumental slab of the Los Angeles literary scene of the 1960s and ’70s. Neeli eventually came up to San Francisco and Sacramento where he wrote for politicians including then-State Senator George Moscone. Once here, he wrote biographies of Bukowski (recently republished) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and produced dozens of chapbooks and poetry volumes, drank many thousands of cups of North Beach espresso with Philip Lamantia, persisted through decades. Like Whitman, he’s worn the mantle of the great gay poet, a man of nature and nativity, a prodigious talent, a font of words, phrases, lines and multitudes. He’s welcome in poetry salons of Mexico City, Rome and Naples, the Bronx and Baltimore. He’s an original and a talent San Francisco can be proud of. He takes his coffee at Martha Bros., the Trieste and the Boheme.
Neeli reads at Bird & Beckett from one or another of his many recent poetry volumes this evening, sharing the bill with Kit Robinson and Alan Bernheimer. It’ll be a great evening, and you would be unwise to stay home and rely on the stream. Culture is a tactile art. Our doors open ten minutes before the reading. BYOB, pass it around if you’re of a mind to, and bring something to help us put some dollars in the poets’ pockets. Do your part, and the culture will reward you a hundredfold.
San Francisco remains an autonomous zone of profundity, culture and promiscuous hope. Doom be damned.
Joining Neeli on the reading, as mentioned heretofore, are Kit Robinson–with a new book, Quarantina, from Lavender Ink–and Alan Bernheimer.
Kit and Alan have been colleagues in poetry since their years in the late 1960s at Yale College, partaking of the New York School poets and of New York, itself. Both were active in the San Francisco Language Poets circle of the 1970s and 1980s and performed in and/or wrote for the San Francisco Poets Theater, and they co-produced the KPFA poetry program “In the American Tree” which aired from 1979-1980. Forty more years of poetry have ensued.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
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