The New San Francisco Poetry Underground:
J. Brandon Loberg


J. Brandon Loberg

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 124 in September, 2010.

Bio in his own words:

My chance of being a respectable, materially comfortable person was first compromised by punk rock, then further deteriorated, in college, by my discovery of the Beat Generation. The night I stumbled upon 16th & Mission, I was decimated like a pumpkin on the receiving end of a steel toe. An obsessive perfectionist, I busy (or perhaps abuse) myself with writing poetry that I hope will strike a chord with literati and and sparechanger alike. I indulge heavily in book and poster design and typography, and serve as co-editor of the 16th & Mission Review. What little spare time is left, I spend nursing my papercuts.

Soundbyte Interview:


Principally other writers at 16th & Mission. i also owe a substantial debt to Tom Waits, the poetics of William Carlos Williams, to Joseph Conrad, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Alan Moore, Ian MacKaye, Mikhail Bulgakov, William S. Burroughs, and many others.

What do you think of slam poetry? Getting judged to bear your soul?

Creativity is better when collaborative, rather than competitive. Competition (in any arena) tends to encourage people to find a formula and stick to it. Poems that diverge from that formula tend not to score very highly. However, if that's the impetus keeping people writing well and prolifically, then that's a positive thing.

We can print books and hand them to one another but at the end of the day why are we doing this? The other day, Charlie Getter said: “Little bulbs grow because of us. We grow the bulbs.” Is that enough?

Charlie also says that "poetry is an affliction"; it's something we do because we have to. i'm an absolute junkie for ideas. Frankly i don't see much point in continuing to draw breath if there's no conscious thought, no beauty involved. That's where the poems come from. i can be pretty damn cynical, but when someone shows up at the Corner for the first time and walks away at the end of the night beaming like it's the coolest thing they've ever seen...yeah, that might just be enough.

Interviewed by EVAN KARP


William Zantzinger (looks after them proudly)

Indolence plays dice-games
in hand-wringing silence
Drives off with the days
Piled in plywood-side pickups
And the best we can do here
is pick through the bottles
This one might be a good year
So portends the label

But the man with the newspapers
He begs to differ
Throws down the whole mess
Shakes a fist up at heaven
They blow through the street
in a murder of headlines
He shouts to the sky
Fuck the news, and
Fuck everything
And the crows condescend
from their roosts on the high-rise
Their pickings spread dank human stains.

And some do it evenings
with cocktail glass fingers, fidgeting
rapacious for the card-castle blackjack
They scheme for position
Thin men, well-credentialed
And rest on their laurels
Barely older than twenty, with
Arm-candy women and
All the right trappings
They preen and they talk
But they understand nothing
They’d shrug off their best
For high sloth or a diamond ring

When you saw how it’s come to this
Saw what your friends became
You bit down your tongue
Smoked a pack
Maybe two
for the sake of civility.

The keel’s run aground
All’s we know, it stays even
And the scar in the sand
All that’s left cuts between us
What’s it matter whose side we’re all on?

So if you meet old St. Peter
Would you tell him we’re waiting
In the shrapnel of landmines
A few dimes for our trouble
And a few worthless dollars
Are all we were good for
‘Til we fell upon hard times
Some the ends of their sabres.

And mostly Chris wishes
His days were over
When he wakes in the park
with chagrin to another
And he lays down his head
at day’s end in the clover.