12/1/14 Paul Drabkin hosted by Jan
He was born in New York City to Yiddish-speaking immigrant parents who came to the U.S. more than 100 years ago from different parts of the old Russian empire. He has lived in the Bay Area for over 50 years, Paul was a ³red diaper² baby of the Stalinist variety, which, oddly blended with a kind of Victorian puritanism, proved to be a major toxin poisoning his childhood, and which took several decades to partially overcome. This largely accounts for his present discomfort with lefter-than-thou Berkeley politics and with ideology in general. Despite his two History degrees and three California teaching credentials, and varied teaching experience, Paul¹s longest gig was his over twenty years as a self-employed furniture refinisher. (Among other abortive careers, for several years he had worked as a taxi driver on the graveyard shift in Hollywood, and later in the East Bay.) He presently supplements his meager retirement income teaching English to adult immigrants in West Contra Costa County. Paul wrote his first poem in 1967, while coming down from an acid high. (Fortunately it has been lost to posterity.) He wrote little more until 2007, when he entered a local slam contest, winning fourth place with a decidedly un-slammy poem. Since then he has been serious about writing, although much of his output has been frivolous in the extreme. For months Paul shared his gifts with an alter-ego, Nikos Rhapsodòs, born of a rather labored series of puns on his last name. Nikos, like Paul, has the chutzpah to identify with Odysseus, and is perhaps even more enamored of the mystery and beauty of human language. Paul¹s favorite muse is the goddess Sarasvati, who used to be a river.
One Cool Dude, or Burnt Out on Intensive Caring
These spectacles are not for me;
my peers are grownups who refuse
to see the world in shades of rose
or other less auspicious hues:
we do not drown ourselves in blues!
Long years have passed since you might hear
me rooting for this team or that
or exercised by coups d¹état
while frantic news of global heat
now leaves me cool as Arctic frost.
I choose to waste my energies
on stuff that bores most people stiff:
such vast reserves of obscure verse,
such speculations on the sighs
of God, are quite enough for me.
--Paul Drabkin March 2013