Calendar Poetry

Poets! Every First Thursday @ Bird and Beckett

Featured Poets:

Nellie Wong and Robert Eugene Rubino

On the first Thursday of each month, Jerry Ferraz and Michael Koch host a poetry reading that showcases local legends, poets passing through and folks from around the Bay — typically two featured poets followed by an open mic. We can count on a warm group of poets and poetry fans eager to hear the features and the potpourri of poets of every stripe who come out to read and keep the open mic scene alive.

An open mic hosted by Jerry Ferraz and Michael Koch follows the featured readers.

Robert Eugene Rubino is the author of the hybrid prose-and-poetry collection “Aficionado” (Humming Word Press) and two poetry collections: “Vanity Unfair” (Cathexis Northwest Press) and “Douglas Knocks Out Tyson” (UnCollected Press). He’s published prose and poetry in various online and print literary journals and he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for creative nonfiction in 2016. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a journalism degree in 1979, he worked as a newspaper copy editor and sports columnist, mostly in Sonoma County, for more than 30 years. In the year before the pandemic he was a regular at the weekly poetry open mic at Sacred Grounds in the city and he continues to participate at open mics in various venues in and beyond the Bay Area both in person and online. Born in New York City when the Giants still played at the Polo Grounds, he’s old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and smart enough to solve the Times crossword puzzle on Mondays (other days not so much). He lives in Palo Alto with his wife, Terry.

Nellie Wong’s most recent volume of poems is Breakfast Lunch Dinner (Meridian Press Works, 2012). Her first, Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park (Kelsey Street Press) was published in 1977, followed by The Death of Long Steam Lady (West End Press, 1986). Stolen Moments, a chapbook, was published in 1997. Her poems have appeared widely in periodicals and anthologies including those of The Revolutionary Poetry Brigade and Moonstone Press, among others, and one of her poems was published in 2023 on The American Academy of Poets’ Poem-a-Day webpage.
Currently, Nellie writes, participates in radical politics and gives readings, including a solo reading at Stanford in the fall of 2023, and is wrapping up a new collection of poems. She is active performing with The Last Hoisan Poets (Merle Woo, Genny Lim and Flo Oy Wong ) at various venues including the deYoung Museum, Asian Art Museum, Oakland Asian Community Center, UC Berkeley, among others. A new manuscript is complete, which she hopes will be published this year, “as I race to 90(!) in September.” 
She has received awards from the Women’s Foundation (San Francisco), University of California, Santa Barbara’s Asian American Faculty and Staff Association, and the San Francisco-based Kearny Street Workshop, a multidisciplinary art collective. 
In the late 1960s, when she was in her mid-30s, Nellie studied poetry at SFSU and became active with the Women Writers Union on campus. A life of activism and creative productivity has ensued.
Beginning in the late 1970s, Nellie served for many years as the Bay Area organizer of the Freedom Socialist Party. She remains active with the party as well as with Radical Women and Bay Area United Against War. In 1979, she co-founded the feminist literary and performance group Unbound Feet with Merle Woo, Genny Lim, Kitty Tsui, Nancy Hom and Canyon Sam. In 1983, she traveled with Tillie Olson, Alice Walker and Paule Marshall on the first U.S. Women Writers Tour to China.She taught poetry at Mills College in Oakland from 1983 to 1985, as well as play writing at the Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco and women’s studies at the University of Minnesota. During the 1980s and 1990s, she was keynote speaker at many national and regional conferences, including Third World Women and Feminist Perspectives, Women Against Racism, and the National Women’s Studies Association. Nellie has recited her poetry in China, Cuba and throughout the U.S. and has participated on numerous panels concerning labor, Asian American literature and poetry.
In 2011, students at Oakland High, Nellie’s alma mater, succeeded in having a building on campus named for her. In 2022, she received PEN Oakland’s Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Award.
Nellie was born in Oakland’s Chinatown in 1934 and has lived in Glen Park for a long time now. We’ve been honored to have her as a friend and neighbor, and are always pleased when she can read her work in the store.