The book release party for Deep Code by John Coletti, no. 12 in the City Lights Spotlight Series. John Coletti reads from his new collection, with an appearance from Micah Ballard, author of Waifs and Strays (CL Spotlight No. 6), who reads “greatest hits” and new work.
Deep Code explores “side language,” as a subset of other languages, whether slang or metaphor, to both communicate and obfuscate.
Combining a bent lyric perception with a fragmentation redolent of French cubism, Coletti portrays contemporary urban experience, from power relations and personal loss to nights among city dwellers recording their convivial distress, glad and dissolute at once. Part teddy bear fleeing the cultish outlines of the American northwest, part Apollinaire in Brooklyn, Coletti culls his materials from the ether and assembles them into resonant structures at once intensely personal and strangely universal—a little outrageous—both confusingly lovely and apt in their ungainliness. Lines like “I’m nearly home is what everyone says” and “triceratops & the bad glue / that made us good friends,” only begin to demonstrate the astute linguistic eye and deft line break sense of John Coletti.
Praise for Deep Code:
“A sonic surrealist typewriter clacks in rhythm across Colletti’s brow. Read it in his sweet-eye glance: poetry grams of tender touch. Tuff cookie meat! & mystery. Shit is electric wire awesome stuff.”––Thurston Moore
“Deep Code is a theory of expressive subterfuge performed as piecemeal continuities. Its poems are distressed & fine like all the chances we forget we’re free to make for one another, edged to mellow like the contours of a party felt in general & intimate perception.”––Dana Ward
About the Author:
John Coletti is the author of the book Mum Halo (2010) and the chapbooks Same Enemy Rainbow (2008) and Physical Kind (2005). With Anselm Berrigan, he is the author of the limited edition Skasers (2012). He has served as editor of The Poetry Project Newsletter and co-edits Open 24 Hours Press. Other projects include a collaborative print with artist Kiki Smith, a chapbook collaboration with Shana Moulton, and a libretto for Excelsior, an opera composed by Caleb Burhans commissioned by Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble which premiered in 2013.
John Coletti talks to Garrett Caples about his book, Deep Code.
Garrett Caples is the editor of the City Lights Spotlight Series, of which Deep Code is the 12th edition.
In this interview, John Coletti reads the poem “Gasoline: Toys” from the collection and talks about the story behind its composition. The two discuss the difference between the form in this new collection and his last book, Mum Halo, and much more.
Thomas Page McBee speaks to City Lights about his new book, Man Alive. In this recording of the interview, McBee talks about his writing process and how he came to write the memoir. He also talks about his work in The Rumpus and what lays ahead for him in his literary career.
For more about Man Alive, go here.
Full recording of the book release party for Man Alive. Thomas Page McBee is introduced by City Lights publisher Elaine Katzenberger. Thomas reads from the book as well as his new material and takes questions from the audience about the book and his current/forthcoming projects.
What does it really mean to be a man?
Man Alive engages an extraordinary personal story to tell a universal one—how we all struggle to create ourselves, and how this struggle often requires risks. Far from a transgender transition tell-all, Man Alive grapples with the larger questions of legacy and forgiveness, love and violence, agency and invisibility.
“Thomas Page McBee’s Man Alive hurtled through my life. I read it in a matter of hours. It’s a confession, it’s a poem, it’s a time warp, it’s a brilliant work of art. I bow down to McBee—his humility, his sense of humor, his insightfulness, his structural deftness, his ability to put into words what is often said but rarely, with such visceral clarity and beauty, communicated.”—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers and The Uses of Enchantment
A short conversation between Mylene Fernández-Pintado, the author of A Corner of the World, and Dick Cluster, the translator. They talk about how they met and started to work together and also comment on the translation process of A Corner of the World.
About A Corner of the World:
A cautious, reserved professor of Spanish Literature, Marian has no idea that her quiet life is about to be turned upside down. When she’s asked to review the work of a young, ambitious first-time novelist, she meets Daniel, and their love affair leads her to question both the choices she’s made so far in her life and the opportunities she might yet still have.
Theirs is the story of an intense and impossible love, set in today’s Havana, a city where there can be no plans, where chance is the order of the day and a fierce sense of loyalty and pride coexists with the desire to live beyond the island’s isolation.
A recording of the book party for A Corner of the World with opening remarks by publisher Elaine Katzenberger followed by a reading of the book in the original Spanish by Mylene Fernández-Pintado and English by translator Dick Cluster. Mylene Fernández-Pintado traveled from her home city of Havana (via Switzerland) to read from her own work and discuss the book with the translator, Dick Cluster.
Mylene Fernández-Pintado’s narrative obsessions revolve around the stories we tell ourselves to justify our actions: infidelity, promises not kept, or why live in a country cold and alienating instead of the homeland that we so painfully miss. Winner of the David Award (1998) from the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) for her book Anhedonia. Her novel Otras Plegarias Atendidas won the Italo Calvino Prize in 2002 and the Critics’ Award in 2003. The novel was published by Editorial Marco Tropea in Italy. Her short stories appear in anthologies in Cuba and abroad, and have been translated into English, French, Italian and German. She lives between Havana and Lugano, Switzerland.
Praise for A Corner of the World:
“What I liked most about A Corner of the World, Mylene Fernández-Pintado’s wonderful novel, is how superbly human it portrays its characters. They are neither political or apolitical, and both brave and uneasy, living in a 21st century Cuba that does not easily conform to expectation. A Corner of the World is about desires and dreams, and, of course, about love.”—Achy Obejas
“Love in Havana, love found and mislaid. In thoughtfully chosen words—just those needed, and no more—Mylene Fernandez offers us a magnificent gift. Her story of lost love and the difficult pursuit of literature is at the same time an X-ray of life in Havana, set in a present where glimpses of the future have not yet arrived.”—Leonardo Padura, author of The Man Who Loved Dogs and the Mario Conde novels of Havana
Laila Lalami reads sections from her new novel The Moor’s Account at City Lights. The passages were handpicked by Lalami in order to better display the inner workings of her novel, namely her use of language and the history that lies behind The Moor’s Account. She takes us step-by-step through her artistic process and gives her audience insight into how the novel was produced from scratch.
In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez left the port of San Lucar de Barrameda in Spain, with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and as famous as Hernán Cortés.
But from the moment the Narváez expedition reached Florida it met with bad luck—storms, disease, starvation, hostile Indians—so that, within a year, there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer by the name of Andrés Dorantes; and his Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the other three Spaniards referred to as Estebanico.
The four survivors were forced to live as slaves to the Indians for six years, before fleeing their captivity and establishing themselves as faith healers. Together, they traveled on foot through present-day Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, gathering thousands of disciples and followers along the way.
Years later, three of the survivors—Cabeza de Vaca, Castillo, and Dorantes—were asked to provide testimony about their adventure. Cabeza de Vaca even wrote a book, La Relacíon (The Account), the first European narrative of life in America. But because he was a slave, Mustafa/Estebanico was not asked to testify. His experience was considered irrelevant, or superfluous, or unreliable, or unworthy, despite the fact that he had acted as a scout, an interpreter, and a translator. This novel is his story.
About the author:
Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. She attended Université Mohammed V in Rabat, University College in London, and the University of Southern California, where she earned a Ph.D. in linguistics. She is the author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the novel Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Times, and in numerous anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, and is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.
Josh Weil reads from his new novel The Great Glass Sea (Grove Press) and discusses the book with Tom Barbash
From celebrated storyteller Josh Weil comes an epic tragedy of brotherly love, a sui generis novel swathed in all the magic of Russian folklore and set against the dystopian backdrop of an all too real alternate present.
Twin brothers Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. Living on their uncle’s farm after the death of their father, the boys once spent their days helping farmers in collective fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle’s mythic tales. Years later, the two men labor side by side at the Oranzheria, a sea of glass—the largest greenhouse in the world—that sprawls over acres of cropland. Lit by space mirrors orbiting above, it ensnares the denizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight and constant productivity, leaving the twins with only work in common—stalwart Yarik married with children, oppressed by the burden of responsibility; dreamer Dima living alone with his mother and rooster, wistfully planning the brothers’ return to their uncle’s land.
But an encounter with the Oranzerhia’s billionaire owner changes their lives forever. Dima drifts into a laborless life of bare subsistence while Yarik begins a head-spinning ascent from promotion to promotion until both men become poster boys for opposing ideologies, pawns at the center of conspiracies and deceptions that threaten to destroy not only the lives of those they love but the very love that has bonded the brothers since birth. This is a breathtakingly ambitious novel of love, loss, and light, set amid a bold vision of an alternative present-day Russia.
Josh Weil was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his debut collection, The New Valley. A National Book Award “Five Under Thirty-Five” author, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Columbia University, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, One Story, and Agni.
Tom Barbash is the author of the novel The Last Good Chance and the bestselling nonfiction work On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick & 9/11: A Story of Loss & Renewal. His fiction has been published in Tin House, Story Magazine, The Indiana Review and others. His criticism has appeared in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
William Vollmann reads from his new collection of short stories, Last Stories and Other Stories.
His first novel in nine years, published by Viking Press, comprises numerous ghost stories linked together by themes of love, death and the erotic. In this reading session set in the Initiation Chamber and Library of Lodge No. 15 of European Oddfellows, Vollmann reads Widow’s Weeds, a story about Weneke Lea McLeod.
William T Vollmann is an award winning novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, essayist, and painter. He is the author of ten novels, four short story collections, nine works of non-fiction, and numerous limited special editions. His novel Europe Central won the 2005 National Book Award.
Howard Norman reads from his new novel Next Life Might Be Kinder from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sam Lattimore meets Elizabeth Church in 1970s Halifax, in an art gallery. The sparks are immediate, leading quickly to a marriage that is dear, erotically charged, and brief. In Howard Norman’s spellbinding and moving novel, the gleam of the marriage and the circumstances of Elizabeth’s murder are revealed in heart-stopping increments that ultimately complicate Sam’s life with grief, hallucination, and desperation.
Next Life Might Be Kinder is a story of murder, faith, the afterlife, and of love as absolute redemption—from one of our most compelling storytellers at the height of his talents.
about Howard Norman:
Two of Howard Norman’s novels, The Northern Lights (1987) and The Bird Artist (1994), were nominated for the National Book Award. His other novels include The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, Devotion, and What is Left the Daughter. His books have been translated into twelve languages. Norman is the recipient of a Lannan Award in fiction, and he teaches at the University of Maryland.