In this episode, Kim picks up where she left off in Part 1, with her decision in 1985 to stay in town and go to college at SF State.
She was, as she says, "deeply" into politics. She attended protests at the DNC in 1984, which took place in San Francisco. She felt pressures from the Red Power Movement, and talks about how tricky it was to be just the right amount of Indian. It was the middle of the Reagan era and Kim lived in the Castro, where AIDS was ravaging the gay community and the president infamously refused to even say the name of the disease.
As far as she and anyone in her life knows, Kim has always written. After college, a friend surprised her by asking Kim to read poetry live in front of people. She’s been doing that on and off since then. Kim talks about Murdered Missing, her book of poems on the large number of Indian women who disappear, even here in The City.
She spent many years teaching Native American arts, both at SF State and CCA. She taught origami arts at elementary schools all over The City. She has also written curriculum for The Exploratorium.
Kim shares the story of becoming San Francisco's seventh poet laureate, including how and where she was when she learned the news. She says she's incredibly honored to have been bestowed with the honor. (Tongo Eisen-Martin is the current poet laureate: Part 1 / Part 2).
We end this episode with Kim talking about what it means to still be here and her outlook for her hometown: San Francisco. If you're still listening at this point, keep going to hear Kim reading a couple of poems for us.
We recorded this podcast at Kim's partner's house in The Sunnyside in December 2021.
Kim Shuck's parents met on Market Street in the late-1950s when her dad wrestled an ocelot away from its grips on her mom.
In this podcast, the San Francisco poet laureate emerita talks about the five generations of San Franciscans on her mom's side. Her dad joined the Navy partly to get out of Oklahoma. He was "career" for a while, but then left that to become an electronics engineer in Silicon Valley.
Her San Francisco grandparents (maternal) met at the Polish Hall in the Mission. Kim spent significant time with both sets of grandparents—both her in The City and in Oklahoma.
When she was young, Kim's mom started working as a special needs para at a school near their home. She was also a founder of Noe Valley Nursery School, one of the first such co-ops in The City and also where Kim went to nursery school. Kim tells stories of the no longer extant Noe Valley Street Fair, which was a fundraiser for the school.
Kim spent most of her years growing up in the Mission, Noe Valley, and the Castro. She lists the different public schools she went to. She reminisces about growing up in the Sixties and Seventies in San Francisco, with an emphasis on the way people used to paint houses in The City in vibrant color and with many hand-painted details (see our episode with Bob "Dr. Color" Buckter--Part 1 / Part 2)
We eventually get around to stories about outdoor music shows and her memories of seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe when she was young. We also spend a good amount of time talking about her love of roller skating (see our podcasts last week with David Miles, Jr., of the Church of 8 Wheels--Part 1 / Part 2).
Ruth Asawa was a neighbor and (probably) Kim's first art teacher at Alvarado Elementary School. Later in her life, Kim did origami and became friends with Ruth again.
Like so many guests of this show, Kim went to college at SF State. She recounts all the academic and social movements that have origins at the school, including ethnic students, free speech, and the American Indian takeover of Alcatraz.
One theme Kim keeps coming back to is the cyclical nature of things, especially pertaining to creativity and art in San Francisco. "One step forward, one step back. We're cha-cha-ing."
We end Part 1 with Kim going into her Cherokee heritage and then more of the story of her decision to stay in town and go to college at SF State. Check back Thursday for Part 2 and our last podcast of 2021.
We recorded this podcast at Kim's partner's house in the Sunnyside in December 2021.
In this podcast, Shizue picks up where she left off in Part 1. Her paternal grandmother, Shige, had just located her husband in Stockton. Shizue goes into more depth about her grandmother's life.
Her dad, Barry, grew up in Stockton and went to UC Berkeley. He was set to graduate in June 1942. But then Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941. The order to "relocate" Japanese-Americans to internment camps was issued in February 1942. Her mom's family had been in camp in Arizona.
At this point in the conversation, we springboard to a larger, broader talk about the dominant, northern European culture in this country and what it's like not to be part of it.
Shizue worked for many years at the J. Walter Thompson office in San Francisco. At first a fine arts student, she switched to commercial art at the Academy of Art here in The City and got the job in advertising. She describes a white, male-dominated work culture and how she navigated that.
We rewind to talk about Shizue's early life. Her parents met shortly after WWII, when Japanese-Americans who had been forced into internment camps were now free. Her dad joined the Army and so the family moved around. Shizue was born in Baltimore. Around the time she was 12, they moved back to California and eventually up from the Santa Clara Valley to San Francisco, where Shizue went to high school.
She describes being a shy, bookworm-ish kid who strove to fit into the "model minority" demographic. That ended when she was a teenager and had an existential crisis.
After her work in advertising, she ended up doing HIV prevention outreach to folks living in subsidized public housing. It was through this work that Shizue started to turn her attention toward people of color. She also started writing poetry.
We end the episode with Shizue's thoughts on our theme this this season: "We're still here."
Shizue's personal site is https://www.shizueseigel.com/.
Her creative writing for people of color website is https://www.writenowsf.com/.
We recorded this podcast at Shizue's apartment in the Outer Richmond in November 2021.
This podcast is almost totally about Shizue Seigel's ancestors.
In the episode, the poet and author digs deep into her family's history, which goes back to Japan just two generations ago. Sakuichi Tsutsumi and Umematsu Yokote Tsutsumi were from Kyushu, a large island in the south of Japan. Irene Yoshiko Tsutsumi Saiki, Shizue's mom, was born in Hawaii. Her family moved there to work on sugar plantations, but the conditions were brutal and they weren't able to save money thanks to the sugar companies' "company store" operations. Also, conditions in the cane fields were dangerous. The family went back to Japan.
Sakuichi moved to San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California. He and his cousins bought some land and used their knowledge of irrigation to help them grow produce. Thanks to an oil boom in the area, the town of San Luis was growing and its population needed vegetables. Now successful, it was time to send for his wife back in Japan.
Shizue shares the incredible story of finding the tiny mountain village and home where Sakuichi's family lived. It's one of those "you have to hear to believe" tales.
Shizue's mom, Irene, was born in 1920. Shizue shares many stories of her mother's family and the Japanese community in and around San Luis Obispo where she mostly grew up, notably before World War II.
Her dad's family moved from Hiroshima to Hawaii with his two older brothers. Life was tough there for them as well, and so it was decided that her grandfather, Yasaburo, would go ahead to California while her grandmother, Shige Matsuoka, took their children back to Japan. Shige waited for two years with no word back from the US. She left her two kids with in-laws and decided to come over to track her husband down. Her journey east is another amazing tale you just have to hear.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 and the continuation of Shizue's life history.
We recorded this podcast in Shizue's Outer Richmond apartment in November 2021.
In this podcast, Yeva picks up where she left off in Part 1. She backs up from her time in Brazil to tell us about peace camps she went to as a kid, and how that took her to places like Tanzania. As the kids who went the camps got older, they started having reunions they dubbed "seminar camps." As a teen, Yeva went to one such reunion the French Alps. Years later, as a college student in Brazil, she was on staff as a seminar camp, coming full circle.
Back in Rhode Island, she went straight into medical school. Returned from her time abroad as a young adult, Yeva noted the material abundance found in US versus a place like Brazil. She says she almost quit med school because it was so intense, but she ended up sticking with it. Once her education really ramped up, things like writing for the newspaper and playing flute fell by the wayside.
Yeva explains that it was during her time in med school that HIV/AIDS started becoming known. But that wasn't necessarily what brought her west to San Francisco. She cites a spring break trip to The City while she was still in med school that sealed the deal for her—that, a brush with Armistead Maupin, and getting matched with a program at San Francisco General Hospital in family medicine serving underserved populations.
Just before her move here in 1990, she came out to help with Loma Prieta earthquake recovery efforts. She did her training, met a partner, had kids, and has worked a lot since her move. Yeva also discovered poetry and shares the story of how that happened.
We end this episode with Yeva's thoughts on San Francisco today as well as what could be in store for The City's future. And then she reads one of her poems: "Incantation for Black Lives to Remain in Focus After the Outrage Fades."
We recorded this podcast at Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park in September 2021.
Yeva Johnson was born in Detroit by necessity.
In this podcast, we welcome Yeva back to the show. We first met her back in 2018 at Working With Death, the show we did that year with Reimagine End of Life.
Her family moved from Michigan to Washington, DC, when Yeva was young. She often joined her siblings and parents at various marches in the capital city—for the ERA, peace marches, etc.
As a student, Yeva liked to read. She talks about going to DC museums and the Library of Congress ("They had every book—almost!") when she was young. Her parents moved her to a new school, and so she had to adjust to a new environment and make new friends.
Music has always been a big part of Yeva's life. She has been playing the piano since she was five and the flute since she was in fourth grade. When she was young, she went to several jazz festivals in the DC area with her mom. She kept playing flute throughout her time in school and in fact, she still plays today.
She went to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she immediately got into their medical program. In her third year of college, she spent time in Brazil, which we wrap this episode with.
Check back Thursday for Part 2 and the continuation of Yeva's life story, including her move to San Francisco.
We recorded this podcast in the Shakespeare Garden at Golden Gate Park in September 2021.
In this podcast, Alan tells us about his discovery of Israel. A friend told him all about the country, smashing Alan's preconceived ideas about the place, and so he went and lived there for a number of years.
He shares stories of his return to NYC, drunken addiction, and homelessness. He was in a downward spiral before a friend told him to snap out of it and get help. He did, and roughly a week later, he was headed for San Francisco.
He quickly got involved in the early '90s poetry scene here, and tells some great stories around that. He goes on to describe what it was like to get discovered as a writer as well as his work with "outlaw" artists here in The City. He also shares the story of a student strike he led while he taught at the Academy of Art University.
Alan ends this podcast comparing the San Francisco of today with the city he moved to 30 years ago, and tells us all about the poets strike he led back in the early '90s.
If you missed Part 1, please go back and listen to learn about Alan's parents and his upbringing in New York City.
We recorded this podcast outside of Alan's home in Oakland in October 2020.
Alan Kaufman is lucky to be alive.
In this podcast, the writer and poet traces his lineage back to his parents, who met in New York in the 1940s. His dad was a Jewish gangster, as Alan describes it, and his mom was a French Jewish Holocaust survivor. Here is the card that the French government issued, verifying his mother as a Holocaust survivor:
Alan details a trip to Europe he took in 2014. His hosts in Zurich drove him to the mountains in Northern Italy where his mother and grandmother hid during World War II.
He fast-forwards to his parents' meeting and starting a family in the Bronx. When he was a teenager, he picked up a copy of On the Road, and the book ended up inspiring his move out west.
Please check back Thursday for the continuation of Alan's story.
We recorded this podcast outside of Alan's home in Oakland in October 2020.
In this episode, Tongo picks up where he left off in Part 1, describing the changes he saw in his hometown of San Francisco after spending a few years in New York. It was obvious that money had done its part to stifle, displace, and erase art and the working class.
He started teaching with SF YMCA's CARE program, which works with imprisoned youth in The City, but some shady goings on in the program spurred him to leave. He went to Jackson, Mississippi, to do some movement work for a couple years before returning once again to San Francisco in 2015. He began writing poetry while in Mississippi, and when he got back to the Bay Area, it took off after Chinaka Hodge asked him to read before her at City Lights.
To end the podcast, we asked Tongo to read one of his poems for us. Here's what he recited (not read):
Poet Tongo Eisen-Martin was born into a revolutionary home.
Tongo's parents met in Chicago but moved to San Francisco soon after. He was born and raised in an apartment at 25th and Valencia, part of a communal environment that taught him to question and analyze institutions from a young age.
He got started with poetry in elementary school doing a rap for Jesse Jackson when Jackson ran for president in 1988 (Tongo was 8 at the time).
Tongo started seeing poetry all around The City and the Bay Area before heading to New York City for college, where he soon discovered Nuyorican Poets Cafe. He ended up working in arts-based education with imprisoned youth at Rikers Island before returning to San Francisco to teach chronically truant kids through a YMCA program.
Check back Thursday for Part 2, when Tongo will tell us more about his teaching career and his poetry. He'll also recite for us his poem "The Course of Meal." You don't wanna miss this.
We recorded this podcast in San Francisco during quarantine on Zoom in July 2020.
In this podcast, Josiah picks up where he left off in Part 1, sharing stories from his time with Molotov Mouths, the touring poetry collective from the 1990s. He pivots to talking about the gentrification he saw happening first-hand in the Mission in the late-'90s/early-2000s.
Josiah has been working at City Lights Books in North Beach for the last several years, and he talks about his job at this iconic San Francisco business (which is open during the pandemic).
He ends this podcast with a hella powerful poem about gentrification in the Mission. The words to that poem:
Josiah Luis Alderete's poetry speaks for a people devastated by gentrification and colonization.
In this podcast, Josiah traces his life back to his parents' union at a club in North Beach roughly 50 years ago. He moved around the Bay Area a bit, from various spots in the Mission to Marin and back. He tells stories from the back room at Cafe Babar, including his first time to read poetry in front of people, and the connections he made as a result. Josiah reflects on how he finds representation and expression in poetry. He and other poets formed a group called Molotov Mouths that toured the country doing readings, which he'll talk more about in Part 2.
Josiah ends this podcast describing the world of artists in the Mission in the late-'80s and early-'90s and the influence that Bucky Sinister had on him.
To hear more from Josiah, including some of his poetry, check back Thursday for Part 2.
We recorded this podcast on Zoom during quarantine in San Francisco in July 2020. Special thanks to Cassandra Dallett (this season's Ep. 1 storyteller) for introducing us to Josiah.
Thea Matthews is a powerful poet.
In this podcast, Thea picks up where she left off in Part 1, talking about the early days of her writing and performing poetry. She helped established the Black Student Union at City College and later went to UC Berkeley, commuting the whole time from her home in The City.
Later in the episode, Thea reflects on the current uprising for racial and social justice. And she ends the podcast by reading four poems: "Gazonia," "Azalea Rhododendron," Fuchsia Fuchsia magellanica," and the prelude ("Praeludium") to her book of poems that comes out on June 20, Unearth [the Flowers], which you can buy at Green Apple Books, Bookshop, or your local bookstore.
Poet, activist, and scholar Thea Matthews grew up in the Excelsior, which to this day is still a largely ungentrified, working-class neighborhood in San Francisco.
In this podcast, Thea talks about growing up as a Black/Mexican/Indigenous kid with a single mom in San Francisco in the 1990s. Most of her childhood experiences with her Blackness were negative, but they later formed a backdrop to her embracing that aspect of her life. Her views of the city, in all its complexity, inspire a lot of her poetry to this day.
Toward the middle of the podcast, Thea reads her poem "St. Francis."
She ends the episode talking about embracing her Blackness and drawing strength from it.
Please visit Thea's website to learn more.
Join us tomorrow for Part 2.
We recorded this podcast during quarantine in San Francisco in June 2020.
Film photography by Michelle Kilfeather
In Part 1, Cassandra Dallett took us on one helluva ride, from Haight and Fillmore and over to North Beach and shows at the Mab.
In this podcast, she tells the story of enrolling in school and making some unlikely friends, a few relationships she had back in the late-'80s, and some friends from back east she bumped into here in San Francisco. She closes the show out talking about her journey as a writer.
We recorded this podcast at Cassandra's home in Oakland in December 2019.
Film photography by Michelle Kilfeather
When Cassandra Dallett moved to San Francisco in the mid-1980s, she hit the ground running ...
Welcome to Season 3 of Storied: San Francisco! It's good to be back at it, capturing the spirit of the people still here making this city one hell of a special place. Cassandra is the perfect person to get us started.
In this podcast, Cassandra talks about her early life in New England and what drew here to San Francisco as a teenager. She takes us through adventures in a flat at Haight and Fillmore that sounds like something right out of Tales of the City. She started going to shows all over town, but the Mab in North Beach had the strongest attraction for her and her young punk rocker friends.
Today, Cassandra lives in Oakland and is an award-nominated poet with her own podcast and book club. She'll be reading her poetry live tonight at our Season 3 kickoff event--Love Letters to the City.
Check back Thursday for Part 2, when Cassandra will tell stories of some of the colorful characters she met when she enrolled in high school in SF.
We recorded this podcast at Cassandra's house in Oakland in December 2019.
Film photography by Michelle Kilfeather
In this podcast, K.R. shares what being a high school creative writing teacher means to her. She talks about the changes she’s seeing in San Francisco reflected in the students in her classes. Lastly, she describes how teaching kids to write gives them confidence that they can apply to any aspect of their lives.
If you missed Part 1, when K.R. talked about moving to San Francisco and learning to play drums, please go back and listen.
We recorded this podcast in November 2018 at Spec's.
Film photography by Michelle Kilfeather
K.R. Morrison moved to San Francisco in 1997. In this podcast, she talks about the differences between people like her who came here in the late-'90s and those who've come over the past several years. She also describes what it was that drew her here and what's kept her calling San Francisco home for more than 20 years.
Check back Thursday for Part 2, when K.R. will talk about what being a public school teacher in the city means to her.
We recorded this podcast at Spec's in November 2018.