Sunday, January 08, 2006

Seamas Navarro, Beat Poet

A couple months ago, I was with several friends at Toronado, enjoying a sausage and a beer for dinner. At around 6pm, I stepped outside to take a phone call. Just as I finished, a man in a blue jacket and worn sneakers approached me.

"Hey man," he said. "Do you like poetry?"

I looked at him and hesitantly said, "Sure."

To my surprise, he said, "Well, don't let the backpack fool you, but I'm an internationally known poet." He pulled out a stack of paper and pressed it into my hands. "Here, why don't you read some of this and tell me what you think."

Internationally known poet? Yeah right.

I didn't want to be rude, so I read a couple poems off the first page. They were pretty good.

After a minute or so, he said, "So what did you think? Did you like them?"

"Yeah, they're pretty good," I replied.

"Here's the deal, I just got back from Burning Man and I need to get to my next gig in Redding, but I'm out of money." I looked at him skeptically as he continued. "But I don't want your money. How does this sound: if you come with me to Kinko's and help me run off a few copies, I'll give you two signed copies of my book. I want to sell off these books and get enough money to buy a Greyhound ticket... I'm supposed to leave tonight, but I don't know if I can make it. What do you think?"

I thought about it for a few seconds. I had initially thought he was going to recite poetry and then bug me for a buck or two. But this seemed different. technically, he wasn't begging for a free ride; he just needed some seed money to get himself started. I actually admired him for it.

I said, "Sure. Where's the Kinko's?"

"Right down there on Church and Market. It's not too far."

"Sounds good. Let's get going."

We walked for about 15 minutes, talking about anything and everything.

- Bush's war on terror ("It's all messed up there. I can't believe this is happening right now")

- Santa Barbara, where he was from ("beautiful place... but it's changed man... it used to be a great place with Santa Barbara character, but now it's just another outgrowth of LA.")

- Burning Man - ("I was nominated for poet laureate for Burning Man. It was great. There was this really hot girl who gave me this handmade leather journal. She said, 'Wow, your poetry was really great and it really spoke to me. I made this and I want you to have it." Here, check it out. I've already started writing poems in them.")

- Women and relationships ("This girl I met, I said, 'Tell me two things about yourself. I want to hear darkness and I want to hear light.' She said, 'Well, I'm engaged to marry this guy, but I don't think I love him and I'm thinking about calling it off.' Once I heard that, I thought to myself, 'I'm not fooling around with this girl. That's just a disaster waiting to happen.'")

- How he submitted some of his poetry to an international poetry society in France and got published.

- Life on the road ("I was in Aspen about six weeks ago. I've traveled through 14 states already. I basically left Santa Barbara to do what I loved. I left with basically nothing and made my way around the country, doing readings at coffee shops here and there, and just seeing if I could live off my poetry.")

- How he's able to tell who would be receptive to hearing his poetry ("I can tell by their shoes... and their general look. If they've got the full-on business suit, I generally avoid them. Birkenstocks? Yeah, they're usually more chill about things and they'll usually hear me out and throw a few bucks my way. Normally guys with nice black shoes like loafers aren't too receptive, but I could tell you were a decent guy, so that's why I asked you.")

- On the Beat movement - "I think the beat movement is a philosophy, not a movement. I'm trying to live that philosophy. A few years ago, I decided to see if I could live off my art. I'm still doing it."

When we finally got to Kinko's, I talked him out of running photocopies on standard 20-lb bond paper. "It's a business decision," I said. "You'll probably sell more books and people would probably be more interested and take you more seriously if it was on nicer paper." So, we ended up running off about 15 copies of his book (more like a booklet actually) on some light stone 24-lb bond.

On the way back to the bar, he kept thanking me profusely. "You just saved my life man. I would've been stranded here in SF. From now on, anytime you want to come to any of my readings, you're in, no cover charge or anything. You and one other person, just let me know. Just tell me that you're Dave from SF who helped me run copies of my book and I'll know who you are."

And with that, we shook hands and parted ways.

Later that night, I googled him out of curiosity, and sure enough Seamas Navarro was the real deal. His story checked out; he had been travelling across the country, he was a beat poet living off his art, and he was indeed in Aspen just six weeks prior.

I still have his books on my shelf, signed in an artsy scrawl, "Thanks Dave! Good luck! Seamas Navarro, Beat Poet! 9-9-05, Fillmore, San Francisco."

28 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

wow cool story David! Show us his book next time you're home.

 
At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is such a cool story, dave. go you, for helping him out!
- tb

 
At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seamas never made it to Redding. he made it up to Mendocino for a couple months, reeked havoc, and then went on a drugged out craze back in SF again. then i think he headed south. Apparently he leaves stories behind in every town he lands in. It was weird, cause after i met him...a day or two later...i realized i had met him 14 years earlier and we had had sex. weird.

 
At 3:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey Dave, just a 'lil update on Seamas. He's here in Phoenix AZ now. As a matter of fact, my husband and I met him at a bar in Tempe. He was just passing by and heard live Greatful Dead music and thought...what the hell. After talking and enjoying the jams, my husband and I treated him to dinner, gave him a place to crash for 2 days, and well, tomorrow, we are all driving up to Sedona for the day. Where he'll go from there...only he knows. My husband and I both feel truely blessed to have this kinderd soul cross our path. And in regaurds to previous comment, Seamas readily admitted of his "...drugged out craze..." and I'm happy to report that he has lived and learned from those "daze", and stays away from those paticular habbits! Best to the guy...u got to luv him!

 
At 12:09 PM, Anonymous seamas navarro said...

not every thing in life is good, not every thing in life is bad;its life-good and bad.
ive done some good things, ive done some very bad things;im human,accept me as i am.
seamas

 
At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that dude is a freakin con. His name is Anthony Navarro and claims to have started the band Vicious Circle back in the 80's. He was full of lies and contradictions. Got me arrested a few times, introduced me to drugs(may not have been a bad thing) but the dude is not for real . the guy i knew in SB probably was not the real him. all i am saying is watch your backs, wallets and women, he can not be trusted !

 
At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just met Seamas Navarro, "Beat Poet", in Harvard Square. Nice guy, listened to his poetry and bought his booklet.

It was printed on 24-lb light stone bond paper.

18-June-2009.

 
At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Jayme said...

Wow it was cool to read this, i just had him approach me this past Saturday in Boulder Co. He said "you like poetry?" and then asked "dark or light?" Light, I said, and he read me an unknown powm ending in how he would say.. "hey you like poetry" and the poem, after i gave him 5 bucks for a copy of his poems, was unmistakably named. "boulder" LOVED IT.

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger John said...

Known Seamus for years, still have his satchel he gave me to hang onto while he spent time in Pitkin Co. Jail. Tell him Aspen Jack needs to relinquish his property.

 
At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was cell mates with Seamus Navarro at Wasco State Prison while doing 16 months for possession. That is, until it came to light he was there for molesting an 8 year old girl. Then he had to go. It's a shame really, he was an entertaining and enlightening guy. Just goes to show, you can't judge someone solely on first impressions.

 
At 2:17 PM, Anonymous blackHat said...

@Anonymous, 1:27am:

That's some serious bullshit slander, man. i'd love to see you say something like that to someone's face, instead of hiding anonymously on the internet. i know Seamas personally, and he is most certainly NOT a child molester. To set the record straight, he was at Wasco for a parole violation, from a bullshit drug conviction years ago. Fuck you, troll.

 
At 2:21 PM, Anonymous seamas navarro said...

that is a total lie. if i'd done that to a child' i'd be on the calafornia sex ofenders regersty. i did time for drugs- no shame in my game, check me out. obviously this person is very unhappy...
seamas navarro

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous seamas navarro said...

hay, little girl bicycle seat sniffer, reveal yourself,bitch. but i think i know who you are,your the punk who used to get your shit took all the time. yeah, you were in for grand theft dildo- but they dropped to joy riding. your mama!!!!!
-seamas-

 
At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now in Portland, OR ... Met today on SE Belmont

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Met Seamus a few years ago at the Portland market - I still have your book, buddy. Best wishes...

Warren from Portland

 
At 2:15 AM, Blogger Tyler Brown said...

met him in pittsburg PA this past week, my band was playing a show and he was doing some really cool street stuff, so we asked him to come in and read some poems. he gave us a copy of his booklet, i love it. im trying to figure out how to contact him, i'd love to record some songs and read his poems over them.
the best to him.

 
At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Met Seamus today in NYC at washington square park, trying to make his way back to SF. Didn't have my wallet on me, it's a shame I couldn't help him out, his poetry was great and he seemed like a pretty cool dude

 
At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Met Seamus in Portland, Maine on this past thursday (08.08.13). Super cool guy he recited an awesome poem about Big Sur. His poetry book is awesome, it was printed on normal computer paper.. not 24lb stone paper. but it is still awesome! Thanks Seamus

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Met him in boston a couple weeks ago. Awesome guy.

 
At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just met him in Columbus, Ohio. Bought 2 booklets and gave him a little extra $ to run more copies. Good luck out there Seamas!

Cody from Indianapolis

 
At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I met him in Washington Square Park on July 6,2013. We had heard about him from a tour guide on the hop on hop tour in NYC. We bought a booklet. Ran into him the next day in Central Park. Enjoyed the poems.

 
At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found him sharing poetry outside voodoo donuts in Portland, Halloween night 2014. Keep it up, Seamus!

 
At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With my husband wandering wooly parts of SF foreshore when we came across Seamus and a friend. Lonely place so a bit scary for a couple of seniors to find themselves cornered by a skinny, ragged-looking guy and his much bigger mate,asking us if we liked poetry. He recited a long piece of his prose, no notes, very impressive and his rythmical poetry on travelling the road was beautiful. Chatted more, told us about his travels including how he loves Portland Maine, he was very grateful for a few dollars, then we said goodbye. A nice and memorable experience, thanks Seamus, hope you're doing OK and finding a warm shelter from the freeze. Pat & John, Sydney, Australia

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous ted mahar said...

Met Seamus outside Bread and Ink restaurant in Portland OR about 2:30 p.m. 11/21/14; got his standard opening. Liked his verse about St. Jack K. and passed him a buck.
Then I recited Houseman's "Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries for him. He then recited another poem that I liked (on a military theme; he was against it) and I gave him another buck, and he was on his way.

Then I thought, damn, I should have given him a twenty. I drove up and down looking for him to no avail.
If he reads this and contacts me, the twenty is on its way. All he needs to do is answer two simple questions.
In any case, excelsior Seamus.
Ted

 
At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Met Seamus today at Vons on Sunset and the beach in LA. I am so f'ing tired of meeting people who are passionate about their I-phone or the shit they watch on television. Better watch out Isis and Fidel and the ebola and the f'ing blah blah blah are coming for you all. Thanks Seamus! for temporarily re-schuffling the deck. I think I can make to Thursday. Love the poem. Go to Ireland, Doolin, Sligo - Graveyard shadow of Ben Bulben Hope you are staying dry tonight.
M

 
At 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. stay away from this man. I know he isn't a good man...because he got my mother pregnant 25 years ago and has been threatening me and her ever since. he is a dangerous man. all I know is, yes he is my father, but he is a lowlife who doesn't care about anyone but himself. please for the love of god, don't talk to him. I refuse to even believe that he is a good man. And Seamus Navarro is an alias. his real name is Anthony Cabrera. He is a bad man. I don't want anyone else to be hurt by him the way my mother and I have been. Please head my warning

 
At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Seamus, id like to hear what you have to say about why you treated Heather so poorly. why did you hurt my mom so much? I have heard her side...but I want to know yours. Technically, im not supposed to talk to you...but I just want to know why you did this? please. why did you want me aborted? why did you want to keep me when you had wanted me aborted? just....why? I don't understand....did you really not love me at all? did you not love my mom?

 

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