Drawing the Shade by Michael Rothenberg


Illustrations by Donatella D’Angelo

Daily life and monumental changes, diet colas and chocolate cake, writing projects and road trips. Drawing the Shade captures, in Beat-inflected seat-of-yr-pants phrases and observations, snippets of phone conversations, and thumbnail sketches of profound relationships, a vivid commitment to poetry as a way of life. Rothenberg’s journey from the Bay Area to Miami, from attending to poetry goddess Joanne Kyger to tending to his own dying mother, takes on the poetic pulse of the most well-known epics while retaining the poignant charm of the quotidian, the unexceptional, the internal flow of language that is the seam between doing and thinking. —Maria Damon


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 154
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: Sept, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-56-3


Drawing the Shade plays five gracefully jagged songs with very fluid forms which, like a Charlie Parker sax trip, take me on a thousand rides escorted by The Man Inside who understands how to pay attention in a way that connects and fires up my neural networks. We are Stargazers living in frequent Hurricanes. I love hearing the world through Michael’s eyes. CUBA! —Barbara Barg

The least understood of all the New American poetries are the Zen Cowboys, who finally found not much use for big city life or the hustle of late capital, scattering from San Francisco and the Bolinas mesa out across the continent to the Sierras, Oregon, the Southwest, even Vermont. Drawing the Shade finds Michael Rothenberg, perhaps the youngest person who might be so defined, in that unlikeliest of places, his native state of Florida, with open mind, huge heart and a hand (& ear!) acutely attuned to the word-to-word intricacies that illumine everything. This is a beautiful, sad, wonderful book because life is all of these things also. ¡Guajiro! —Ron Silliman


Grown Up Cuba
for Joanne Kyger

Oh no, not another broken heart!

Let Elian Gonzalez go home to his father
The regime of doing without and not having, speaking
forbidden against the holy president and king

sleeping under leaking tin, one vote, one voter, one
party, one beer, just add six tear drops to
each night, clock, day watch, work week

moment, pulse, root, tendril, claw
assassin. Recite this bone-faced prayer
and a cup of silence becomes sacred wine

What you don’t say . . .what she doesn’t hear . . .


“Date it!”

Somehow, I left off the date (this place)
when I excerpted

the poem from
the poem


More Instructions from Another Side


I dream I found a note pad someone left on an airplane
I begin writing but I don’t remember what



Michael RothenbergMichael Rothenberg is a poet, editor and publisher of the online literary magazine BigBridge.org, co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change (www.100tpc.org) and co-founder of Poets In Need.

Born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, Rothenberg moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975 and co-founded Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. While in Pacifica, he helped lead local environmental actions that stopped major coastal developments that would destroy wildlife habitat.

He has published 19 books of poetry including Nightmare of The Violins, Favorite Songs, Man/Woman (a collaboration with Joanne Kyger), Unhurried Vision, Monk Daddy, The Paris Journals, Choose, My Youth As A Train, Murder, and Sapodilla (Editions du Cygne-Swan World, Paris, France, 2016). Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, was published in 2013 by Ekstasis Editions (Victoria, B.C., Canada), and in 2014 by Shabda Press (USA). A Spanish/English edition of Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, and the poetic journal collection, Tally Ho and the Cowboy Dream/The Real and False Journals: Book 5 are scheduled for publication in 2017 by Varasek Ediciones (Madrid, Spain).

His work has been published widely in literary reviews and included in anthologies such as Ecopoetry: A Contemporary American Anthology, edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street (Trinity University Press), 43 Poetas por Ayotzinapa, edited by Jesús González Alcántara and Moisés H. Cortés Cruz (Mexico), Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, edited by David Trinidad and Denise Duhamel (Soft Skull Press), Hidden Agendas/Unreported Poetics, edited by Louis Armand (Litteraria Pragensia), and For the Time-Being: The Bootstrap Book of Poetic Journals, edited by Tyler Doherty and Tom Morgan (Bootstrap Productions).
His editorial work includes several volumes in the Penguin Poets series: Overtime by Philip Whalen, As Ever by Joanne Kyger, David’s Copy by David Meltzer, and Way More West by Ed Dorn. He is also editor of The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen published by Wesleyan University Press.

Rothenberg currently lives on Lake Jackson in Tallahassee, Florida.

Additional information

Weight 12 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in