November 26, 2014

Lists beget lists. Top ten poetry titles I’ve read in 2014: 

  • Dante Alighieri, Inferno (Mary Jo Bang, trans.)
  • Dante Alighieri, The Inferno (John Ciardi, trans.)
  • James Baldwin, Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems
  • Bill Berkson, Expect Delays
  • C. P. Cavafy, The Collected Poems (Evangelos Sachperoglou, trans.)
  • The Complete Poems of Cavafy (Rae Dalven, trans.)
  • Diane di Prima, The Poetry Deal
  • Alan Feldman, Flowers in Wartime—January-May 2003
  • Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel
  • Taylor Mead, On Amphetamine and in Europe: Excerpts from the Anonymous Diary of a New York Youth, Vol. 3
  • Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition

Still a month to go; the list may change at the actual close of the year.


November 24, 2014

A few months ago, Hilton Obenzinger posted on Facebook a list of ten books he has found  himself returning to, decade after decade. As a poet-novelist-scholar and enduring friend, Hilton often inspires me to think about this or that, in this case, my own list:

  • The Merchant of Venice—Shakespeare had things to say about capitalism, sexism, racism,  anti-Semitism—all in one play—in 1596
  • Leaves of Grass (1855 edition)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass—witness
  • Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Moby Dick—like Hilton, I read it every few years, usually on a long trip
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton—her most brilliantly entertaining and surprisingly class-conscious melodrama
  • Early short stories of Hemingway and Fitzgerald—the young are different from you and me
  • The New American Poetry 1945-1960—I don’t pick up my fragile copy very often these days: it’s printed in my mind
  • Ginsberg’s Howl and Kaddish
  • Busy Dying by Hilton Obenzinger—nostalgia and narcissism (mine)


November 20, 2014

David Meltzer East Bay Fundraiser

Saturday, November 22, 4:00 p.m.
Mythos Fine Art and Artifacts at Firehouse North
1790 Shattuck Avenue (at Delaware), Berkeley

  • Readings by Jack Hirschman, Owen Hill and others

  • Zan Stewart on sax

Refreshments will be served – donations at the door
For more info go to:


November 10, 2014


Les Gottesman, Hilton Obenzinger, Julie Rogers, David Meltzer at ONWARD! A Celebration and Fundraiser for David Meltzer’s medical expenses last night at Bird & Beckett Books & Records, San Francisco. For more Meltzer activities and appearances, see David’s page in the Omerta Retail Pages.



November 3, 2014

Thanks to Andrew Joron for creating this poster.

Reading at Bird & Beckett, November 9, 2014



October 11, 2014

If you’re in the Bay Area don’t miss this show!

Sunday, November 9, 7:30–10:30 p.m.

ONWARD! A Celebration and Fundraiser

for David Meltzer’s Medical Expenses

with Clark Coolidge, Les Gottesman, Andrew Joron, Julie Rogers,
and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux
and two Bay Area bands, Cloud Shepherd and The Rabbles!
and a possible surprise guest!

Bird and Beckett Books and Records

653 Chenery Street, San Francisco
$20 at the door—no one will be turned away for lack of funds
A new broadside will be available – a David Meltzer poem and drawing
For more Meltzer activities and appearances, see David’s page at the Omerta Bookstore


September 22, 2014


Please help a great poet with pressing medical needs


David Meltzer, in his seventh decade, continues to be one of the major figures of the Beat generation and of American poetry. David is the author of more than 50 books—poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, and anthologies (see below).

For the past three years, doctors have been watching a lesion on David’s liver. Despite a healthy liver, for people with hemochromotosis, the blood disease that David’s dealt with for most of his life, a lesion can be problematic. Recently, the lesion changed. This past summer, he underwent several tests and finally a biopsy, which was positive for liver cancer.

David is scheduled for surgery on September 22 at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland. The plan was to remove a portion of the liver. A successful surgery would mean David’s hospital stay would be relatively brief, a couple of days. He’ll be cared for during the healing process by his physicians and his wife. Any unexpected complications down the road will be closely watched for. Due to his other physical issues also caused by hemochromotosis, such as the need for routine phlebotomies and lab work, his chronic osteo-arthritis, and Type 1 diabetes, he will continue to need and receive ongoing medical care, both conventional and natural/alternative.

Though Kaiser does cover some costs, David still has monthly bills and now larger co-pays. There will be ongoing tests, doctor appointments, and the repair of his stairway chairlift to pay for. He’d also like to continue with alternative medicines and there’s no insurance for that.

Though David Meltzer was a humanities and poetics professor at New College in San Francisco for thirty years, when the school folded several years ago, he received no pension and his main income is social security. This is one reason why fundraising is needed.

To donate, please go to David’s fundraising page at

Thank you so much for being there for David—he is a treasure and has selflessly given to the literary and educational communities of the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States for decades. The support of family, friends, and those who have met him through his work will help to ease the current difficulties and provide means to benefit him in the future. David just wants to continue writing and creating, and those who know him or his work will agree, he’s extraordinarily gifted and loved.

And be sure to check out David’s work, old and new. David’s Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer (Penguin) appeared in 2005. Other books include No Eyes (Black Sparrow), poems on Lester Young; and a book of interviews, San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (City Lights). Meltzer’s Beat Thing (La Alameda Press) is his epic poem on the Beat generation. David’s most recent books are When I Was a Poet (City Lights, 2011) and Stunt Man (Omerta Publications, 2013). City Lights will reissue Two-Way Mirror, A Poetry Journal later this year, a profound guide to reading and writing poetry, now with an addendum recently written, almost forty years after the original publication. David was also a guitarist with his band The Serpent Power during the 1960s, and is a Cabalist scholar, raconteur, and spellbinding reader of his work. Check out his website at


March 28, 2014

New from Omerta Publications

Beginning: The Immigration Poems, 1924-1926, of Nachman Obzinger

Translated from Yiddish by Benjamin Weiner
Edited by Hilton Obenzinger



Now available in the Retail Pages.



February 19, 2014

Just published by Omerta: Arthur Rimbaud in a new translation.


Rimbaud 10 Poems

Translated from the 

French by Bill Zavatsky

See more info (and a poem from the book)

and buy your copy in the Retail Pages


 February 1, 2014

diane-289x300Please donate to the campaign  that is raising money for Diane di Prima’s fight against Parkinson’s Disease. Go to POETESS WITH PARKINSON’S, a campaign on the Give Forward website. Let’s help Diane collect greatly needed funds!


  January 31, 2014




Buy Sluggo’s Backyard at regular price of $14.50 and get Complete Poems 2005-2013 and SAVE $5.50!

Buy Les Gottesman Twofer now!

For details on these two NEW books by Les Gottesman, go to the Retail Pages.


 January 30, 2014: Poem by Les

Night Hawks

Once immortality equaled
being on the guest list
and immaculate phobias had
their own lascivious cubism.

Let’s, we said, syndicalize
our irritation, yours with
mine, in 1984.

And I slept.

And Sophocles in a dream
was ghostwriting
thermonuclear daybreak
on Columbus Avenue.



January 5, 2014

Check the authors’ pages in the Retail Pages to see what Omerta

writers are doing in 2014.