Sunday, August 21, 2016

Censored at Poetry Diversified, World Ground Cafe, Oakland, California

Recorded February 4, 2003

Originally published by East Bay Express Feb 19, 2003
©2003 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

7 Days
What good is it to gag a man who can't speak?

The dangers of being Frank: Although controversial Berkeley artiste Frank Moore likes to think of his work as dangerous, the cops rarely have to break up his act. But a couple of weeks ago Oakland police officers escorted Moore and his entourage out of the World Ground cafe in the Laurel District.

As Moore tells the tale, Alison "Chokwadi" Fletcher, organizer of the cafe's "Poetry Diversified" series, "freaked out into irrationality" after reading a recent Express cover profile of Moore ("Touching Our Private Parts," January 29) and pulled the plug on his previously scheduled poetry reading at the last moment. The cover story featured a photo of Moore in his wheelchair next to a painted, naked woman, and detailed his fondness for nude "erotic play" in his performance pieces. A few days before the reading, Fletcher asked the artist via e-mail if he planned "to do any of the erotic stuff or just poetry or what?" "My firm policy is to never reveal what I'll do beforehand," he wrote back (due to severe cerebral palsy, Moore cannot speak without an interpreter). "But most places do ask me back!" That was apparently too coy for comfort, and so Fletcher canceled his reading, although she planned to still host an open mic. "World Ground has many patrons, from small children to senior citizens," she explained in another missive to Moore, "and I cannot risk having a show that would offend any of these people."

When Fletcher arrived, she was surprised to find Moore and his posse already present. "What are you doing here?" she recalls asking. "I canceled you. I need you to leave." Instead of leaving, a couple members of Moore's entourage began reading poetry and, Fletcher says, one began yelling at the host, calling her "retarded" and accusing her of censorship. "They were basically attacking me," she says. Fletcher then asked cafe owners Martha and Uffe Gustafsson for backup, and passions escalated further. Moore says Uffe "basically attacked" one of his female cohorts (the one doing most of the yelling) and pulled her outside, only to have her come back in crying, "He hurt me!" Uffe denies hurting the woman. According to Martha, irritated customers suggested calling the cops to break up the fracas. After the cops arrived, Moore took his impromptu reading to the sidewalk and the evening concluded without any arrests.

Moore later sent out a group e-mail titled "CENSORED," blasting Fletcher and the cafe's owners for overreacting. Fletcher, who first saw Moore do his poetry last year at the Art & Soul Festival in Oakland, says she intended only to make sure he wasn't planning anything inappropriate (like getting naked), not censor him. "It's a coffeehouse, it's not a theater," she says.

Martha Gustafsson says her cafe, which hosts many spoken word events, has a rule that artists need to disclose whether they're going to do anything explicit beforehand so she can warn customers. "They didn't respect the rules of the establishment," she says.

The thing is, Moore says, he wasn't planning on any nudity, and Fletcher should have realized that, since he didn't get kinky at the earlier poetry reading she saw. "How ironic," e-mails the artist. "After all I have done, this straight nudity-less poetry reading is the closest I have gotten to being busted."

In another episode earlier this month, Moore's series of twice-monthly performances through UC Berkeley's art department was unexpectedly canceled after just one show (eight were scheduled through May). Art department manager Judith Coyote says the faculty sponsor, Katherine Sherwood, violated department policy by not attending the show, and apparently couldn't guarantee her presence at future performances. Moore claims another reason for the series' demise. According to him, an art department heavy also read the Express story and put the kibosh on future performances. Apparently, some people can't handle the truth. -- Will Harper


This is the poem that Frank wrote about this event.

Frank Moore

Oh this poem is shit!
I might as well
Be writing an essay
Like I told the cops
When they ask me
“Are you with THOSE poets?”
Hey, Peter denied being with Jesus
Three times
Before the cock crowed!
But they ain’t no Jesus!
Just poets whining
About poetry being censored,
Being thrown out of the café
Because they wouldn’t follow
To promise the poetry
Would not offend anybody,
To give a warning
Of possibilities of offense
So that earplugs
Could be inserted!
Now I agreed
Are Fascist.
I told the cultural gatekeepers
My opinion!
I tried to be
Tried to mediate.
After all.
But the immature poets
(obviously age ain’t a sign
Of maturity!)
Started reading poetry
Right here in the café…
After their permit had been
I mean I was embarrassed!
I started chatting loudly
To drown out
The forbidden words,
To not be connected
To the untouchables
Actually yelling about
Thank god
The powers turned up
The musak!
But the savages just screamed
That’s when I started
Writing my poem…
After all
But my focus
Has been shaken by poets
Being dragged,
Very roughly,
Across the floor,
Right in front of my table,
And being booted outside!
It’s a wonder I can
Write at all!
They have put
armed police protection
Around the café
As I write this.
That’s better…
But still the sounds
Of struggle outside
Invade the café
Just like the sweet smoke
Gets into my house
From the soap factory
Next door…
Some fools say it is a death camp!
Fools! No one would put a death camp
In OUR neighborhood!
The loonies are actually
Reading poetry
In the bitter cold,
Right outside the big window
Right next to my table.
They are making eyes at me,
Trying to make me feel guilty
For being a poet
Sitting warm inside,
Sipping coffee,
Writing poetry
When poetry is
Locked out!
Well, it won’t work!
I just moved to another table,
My back towards them.
Don’t they realize
The real censors are rightwingers,
Lady Bush, Helms, brown shirts
With their blacklists?
We nice reasonable people
Ain’t censors!
We are artists and poets,
After all!
We are family,
After all!
We ain’t the enemy,
After all!
And we will make you
Look like feeble-minded whiners
If you dare come after one of us,

Damn, they are still out there!
I can’t leave,
Going through raw poetry
Between home and me!
Listening to Phil Ochs
Singing on the jukebox

© Frank Moore 2003

Raw Footage Part 2 - 100 hojdare aka Filip & Fredrik featuring Frank Moore

This is the raw footage recorded during the second shoot for a Swedish television show. Recorded on January 23, 2008.

Filip & Fredrik, the two hosts of this Swedish television series, came to our house in Berkeley twice with their film crew and made a stop at Suzy Block's in Los Angeles in between.

See Raw Footage Part 1 here:

Watch the episode of 100 hojdare aka Filip & Fredrik featuring Frank Moore here:

Raw Footage Part 1 - 100 hojdare aka Filip & Fredrik featuring Frank Moore

This is the raw footage recorded during the first shoot for a Swedish television show. Recorded on January 9,  2008.

Filip & Fredrik, the two hosts of this Swedish television series, came to our house in Berkeley twice with their film crew and made a stop at Suzy Block's in Los Angeles in between.

We even did a short jam with them here at the house which is included in this raw footage!

See Raw Footage Part 2 here:

Watch the episode of 100 hojdare aka Filip & Fredrik featuring Frank Moore here:

Jam - Frank Moore's Shaman's Den

Recorded May 19, 2002
Featuring Kalib, Pixie, Gio, Alex, Teresa and Frank.
More episodes at the Frank Moore's Shaman's Den Channel:
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