Best Poet - 2002
It might seem hard to fill the shoes of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Janice Mirikitani, but devorah major, newly named as San Francisco's third poet laureate, seems up to the challenge. The author of two books of poetry, Traveling Women (co-written with Opal Palmer Adisa) and Street Smarts, and two novels, major -- who follows e.e. cummings' model of capitalization -- produces what reviewers have called "performance poetry." The performance part comes into play when major reads live, her mobile face moving from broad, bug-eyed smile to crumpled wince in a flash, her deep voice alternating between seductive and sharp. A longtime local resident, major celebrates the Fillmore District -- both its past richness and present gentrification -- in her latest novel, Brown Glass Windows, due out this month. Her poems tell of love and life experienced fully, but major won't give up youthful bravado for so-called mature wisdom: In "On Being a Poet," she writes, "i however haven't yet qualified for the title/ of older poet but i'll be yr/ been around the block once/ or twice poet." Under her new title, major participates in poetry-related events until her tenure ends in March 2004.