Monday, November 29, 2010

The Doug of Edwards: Standards

Jazz supporter, DJ, and activist Doug Edwards from
Here's the poem I wrote on request and read at the memorial for Doug Edwards at Kimball's Carnival, Oakland, California, November 21, 2010.

The Doug of Edwards: Standards

© 2010 Lisa Bernstein (Lisa B)

He had found a cadence,
a voice to call listeners to the music
and I like others was invited
to step along with him, to enter the tide
of air across the airwaves, the phone line,
the moment of his onstage introduction
and then listen and sing and play
as the music we made floated out
to the world buoyed
by Doug’s support. He was ready to serve
in the army of The Music,
to push off the boat from the shore, sound a 21-gun salute
and then stand there laughing as we sped out.
And he always made the phone call to welcome us home,
to find out more about the trip of the
tones, the jones to scat the next passage, the new poem.

Doug’s was the stubbornness
of a gentleman. He would do you the kindness
of stating when standards were not met, gently if he cared about you,
forcefully if he simply knew you,
but always with courtesy. Standards mattered,
whether expectations for the show, the sound level,
the songbook, the degree of literacy, the way to act.
Doug loved to stress in his introductions whether one was an educator
and he never stopped educating
us – players, listeners, as an elder in a community
that he helped call into being by being here with us.

He died with his usual good timing.
No surgery, no lengthy stay in the hospitals he hated.
In his vet-hospital bed, what he wanted to talk about
was my new job, my parents’ health, and the next gig.
As he’d said two weeks before on the phone,
“I’m just trying to stay relevant.”
In that long telephone catch-up I’d told him about my despair –
what did it all matter
given the state of the music world and what I did?
“If you’re throwing all that around,” he said,
“I’d like to be part of the conversation.” And listed to me passionately
some of what of value I was. I was just one of those
privileged enough to have him defend me
to myself.

Doug hasn’t yet left us all the way. I can feel him watchful, grinning,
shaking his head at the way he would have done this
just a bit differently, but grateful for and graceful with the show.
It’s we the living who suffer
without his real live voice,
not him who chafes now against his ever-darkening sight,
against the difficulty in near-blindness
of getting to the station or the show,
against not having witty company enough hours of the day.
In death now he is not alone,
he sees and walks even with no dog or human arm to link his through,
he has been awarded all the medals of honor,
he has made peace with the wrong-headed and the rude, hearing only
the strong and mournful trumpet, the exactly swinging brush
on the snare, communing with Shirley Horn and Milt Jackson,
and the first blues singers, and still shaking his head
with a proud and easy smile about what we creators do,
just right enough to keep the human project going.

How often do you know that someone gets you?
Doug’s comprehension of my art was like walking into
an airy lavender building
full of gardenias, where the walls would give
space to work, where the floors became a stage for his audience.
How often does someone know where your art fits into history?
He laughed when I complained of not getting the attention
of this or that singer or songwriter.
“How can you even compare yourself?” he laughed,
his warm voice like velvet scattered with the scratch of emeralds.
“You’re in a whole different category.”
It took being that himself to know.

Doug, it’s me who is bereft beyond consoling now.
I wish I could still walk with you
into the control room and read a PSA for you,
hand you a bio downloaded in 14-point bold,
hear you announce Ear Thyme, Jazz Passages, BAJABA,
the Audible Art Gallery, And that’s the way it jolly well goes,
and the latest plans for an award from the Order of the Flask,
amble into Anna’s or Yoshi’s or the billiards place
where Kimball’s used to be for a taste of cognac and fish & chips,
hear your rare, wistful need and relief
when you told a story about Cindy your partner,
dish the latest about Dee-Dee or Dianne, laugh
at the latest foolishness, shake our heads –
and forgive it, setting the world right
with the articulation of standards.
And then get up and walk again, deliberately,
with you The Doug of Edwards, holding your warm, your cool,
your kind, your certain hand.

If you were here now, I know just what you’d say.
“Let’s not talk about me,” you’d say. “Tell me about you.”



Fellow Women Rock Member in 12/1 Show to Benefit Blue Bear Music: The Independent, San Francisco

Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco is where I got my start as a singer and songwriter years ago, so I'm delighted to help promote a show this Wednesday benefiting the school and co-organized by, and featuring, my fellow Women Rock ( member Bernadette.

The BISS Silver Holiday Ball
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Independent
628 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.771.1422 ::

The New Up, bernadette, Crackerjack Highway,
M80 Mailbox (featuring members of ALO and Tea Leaf Green)
Jack Frost (Antarctica/Blackcrack NYC) spins b/t sets

A portion of proceeds benefit Blue Bear School of Music
Doors: 7:30pm / Show: 8pm . Ages: 21+
Tickets: $12 adv/$14 door
Advance tickets available on:
Buy tickets with no service fees at The Independent Box Office and at the front desk of Blue Bear School of Music (Fort Mason Center - Building D, San Francisco).

Blue Bear School of Music is San Francisco's leading destination for aspiring musicians of all ages
and all skill levels who want to enjoy learning and playing rock, blues, jazz, folk, or pop. A nonprofit organization founded in San Francisco in 1971, Blue Bear is a place where learning and playing popular music is fun and affordable, where people come together who love music, and where each student's unique talents and goals are recognized and supported. Blue Bear's mission is to provide superior quality and affordable popular music education to aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels within a supportive and encouraging community. For more info, please visit


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oakland Tribune Article on Emeryville Poet Laureate Appointments

From Oakland Tribune, October 25, 2010
by Sean Maher

EMERYVILLE -- The city's sculptures and installations will soon be joined by the thoughtful verse of a new town poet.

Janell Moon, a 69-year-old hypnotherapist, was named Emeryville's first poet laureate during last week's City Council meeting, an honor that has her already setting a voracious schedule of plans and aspirations. First on the list, she said, is getting poetry in the hands and from the minds of local students.

"I'd like to work with some of the more introverted children," she said. "And I'd like to bring in a local rap artist to work with some of the extroverts. (The two approaches) make two very different kinds of poetry but they're both very valuable."

Moon finds the metaphors that figure in her poetry come pretty naturally.

After all, she spends her professional life dealing in hypnotherapy and dream analysis, coaxing her patients through the varying levels of consciousness and pulling out the meaning of symbols their minds create.

"My work very much dovetails with poetry," she said. "For example, I might ask someone who's anxious: 'When you wake in morning, what might you think of? Something in your life today or from childhood that would calm you?' Usually when they first wake up they're OK and then a second later they remember all their troubles and then they're anxious."

Their answers, she said, might be that they think of birds in flight, or the bloom and close of morning glories -- an image that conjures a feeling, a foundation of metaphor-based poetry.

In case Moon isn't able to finish her term -- and perhaps to provide a second voice of passion for poetry -- the city named Lisa Bernstein as its alternate poet laureate.

Also known as Lisa B, Bernstein has published two books of poetry, been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, and released four albums as a jazz [note: and soul-hiphop-pop] vocalist.

Bernstein got started as a writer when she was a child; her parents were "artistic folks" and she'd read Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" by the time she was 10.

She lives in Berkeley [note: actually, Oakland] and works in Emeryville, where she is beginning her fourth year as a volunteer running a weekly poetry-writing workshop with second-, third- and fourth-graders at Anna Yates Elementary School.

"You're never too young to be a poet," Bernstein said. "They're loving it, and their teacher is really astonished they're writing so much."

The children recently began learning how to use comparisons, Bernstein said. One young poet began a poem by describing herself as "mad as red glitter," progressing until she was "happy as a garden" by the end of the poem.

Both Moon and Bernstein said they hope to continue working with children and to publish an anthology of local poetry by young authors as part of the laureate program.

Emeryville Mayor Ruth Atkin said she is delighted with the new program, which reinforces and expands the city's already prevalent outdoor art program and its commitment to the arts in general.

The two poets will do a reading together Dec. 17 at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley. For information on the event, go to or call 510-644-4930.


Poetry Reading in Monterey, Calif., Tuesday 11/9 at 7 p.m., for the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium

Maria Garcia Teutsch from Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) blog Maria Garcia Teutsch

The Monterey Bay Poetry
Consortium Presents:

Lisa B (Bernstein)
Maria Garcia Teutsch

Tuesday, November 9, 7:00 p.m.
East Village Coffee Lounge,
498 Washington Street, Monterey
$5.00 Admission

Poet-singer Lisa Bernstein (Lisa B) is the author of The Transparent Body (Wesleyan University Press) and Anorexia (Five Fingers Poetry). Her poems have appeared in 60+ anthologies and periodicals, including The Kenyon Review, Tikkun, Ploughshares, Calyx, Brilliant Corners, Field, City Lights Review, Zyzzyva, Antaeus, and Feminist Studies. She has won creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Headlands Center for the Arts, and Puffin Foundation and was just named the alternate Poet Laureate of Emeryville. Lisa B is also a jazz-soul singer-songwriter incorporating poetry into original songs and standards. Her latest CD of four is The Poetry of Groove (2009). Raised in Santa Cruz, she lives in Oakland. See

Maria Garcia Teutsch is Editor-in-chief of Ping-Pong magazine. She also serves as president of the board of directors of the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, Ca. She is widely published, and has three poetry chapbooks, Surrender Dorothy, Fractured Fortunes, and there are no cars on this highway. She teaches poetry and creative writing at Hartnell College. She is an MFA candidate at New England College.
Upcoming Events:
Dec. 14---Diana Garcia and Jim Powell

For more information, please contact John Laue:
(831) 684-0854
Cosponsored by the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium, Poetry Slow Down on KXRA540,
The National Writers Union, Chapter 7,