Featuring Bob Dickerson, June 2013

Our feature poet for June will be Bob Dickerson:

Actual birthplace and birthdate unknown. Clue thought to reside in Bible. Book of Amos. Discovered as abandoned, mewling infant in an alligator preserve in Louisiana bayou. Moved to Memphis. Learned to shake hips like Elvis. Thank you, ma’am. First book read was Animal Farm. Nightmares persist. First song heard was Julie London’s “Cry Me a River.” Tears persist. First poem read was “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.” Confusion persists.

Inspired to unlock secrets of trochaic trimeter by sixty year-old English teacher, ex-mistress of Vachel Lindsay. Mumbo jumbo. Are you washed in the blood of the lamb? Played basketball at Duke. Covered Pistol Pete Maravich, who scored at will. Expelled. Flunked out. Doesn’t matter. Ended up marching against war and accompanying MLK on the James Meredith march from Memphis to Jackson. Meredith was shot and wounded. King became one of the most important figures in my life. Joined hippie commune in Ozarks. Discovered sex and money don’t just destroy couples. Also discovered teepees are hard to keep erect in tornadoes. In lieu of working for the man, performed death scenes from novels and movies (spoiler alert): Bonnie and Clyde, Dr. Zhivago, Anna Karenina, Bambi’s mom. Thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert. Joni Mitchell asked me to open for her Blue tour. I’m stage left below the hanging sitar in Scorsese’s The Last Waltz.

Resumed academic career at UW-Madison, leading English department hoops team known as Yahoos to two intramural championships. Wrote film criticism for Satellite Dish, sports articles for Racquetball magazine, restaurant reviews for Memphis magazine. Ran afoul of publisher when I suggested the catfish I had been served had once been a regular on the TV show Sea Hunt. (Restaurant was advertiser.) Promptly became an avid reader of Marx (both Groucho and Karl) giving up journalism for teaching. Never regretted it one day of my life. Ha. Have corrupted thousands of students, many now living in anti-capitalist, punning conclaves scattered around the world where they play banjos, write haiku, do silly walks while smoking cigars, and indulge in deviant social behavior. Frequently for comic effect.

In last six years I’ve decided to write poetry intended to impress and annoy my friends. I’m still waiting for former to happen. About to retire from De Anza College where I served as chair of English department. Whoop-de-doo. Best thing about teaching English is they pay me to talk about books. Quite the perk. Friends say they would pay me not to talk about books. Either way I win.

Married, daughter, dog, mortgage, cable TV, bad poetry, the full catastrophe. Proud Medicare cardholder. Available for bar mitzvahs and wakes.


Open mic to follow.

If you wish your poetry to be included in the Willow Glen Poetry Project, please bring a hardcopy of your open-mic poem to the event, and also email it to us (see the Submissions page). Of course, it’s perfectly okay if you just want to read without submitting.

The reading will take place
Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Willow Glen Branch Library
1157 Minnesota Avenue, San Jose, 95125

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