Live! From City Lights

A Tribute to Peter Orlovsky

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Bill Morgan, Joanne Kyger, and Michael McClure celebrate the release of:

Peter Orlovsky, a Life in Words: Intimate Chronicles of a Beat Writer

by Bill Morgan

from Paradigm Publishers

Until now, the ginsberg_orlovskypoet Peter Orlovsky, who was Allen Ginsberg’s lover for more than forty years, has been the neglected member of the Beat Generation. Because he lived in Ginsberg’s shadow, his achievements were seldom noted and his contributions to literature have not been fully recognized.

Now, this first collection of Orlovsky’s writings pulled from unpublished journals, correspondence, photographs, and poems traces his fascinating life in his own words. It also tells, for the first time, the intimate story of his relationship with Ginsberg.

Orlovsky’s story is a refreshing departure from the established history of the Beats as depicted by his more famous companions. The reader will discover why Jack Kerouac described him as the saintly figure of Simon Darlovsky in Desolation Angels and why the elder poet William Carlos Williams praised his poetry as “pure American.” His was a complicated life, this book shows, filled with contradictions. Best known as Ginsberg’s lover, Orlovsky was heterosexual and always longed to be with women. Always humble, he became a teacher at a Buddhist college and taught a class that he entitled “Poetry for Dumb Students.” His spirit was prescient of the flower children of the sixties, especially his inclinations toward devotion and love. In the end Orlovsky’s use of drugs took its toll on his body and mind and he slipped into his own hell of addiction and mental illness, silencing one of the most original and inspiring voices of his generation.

Peter Anton Orlovsky (1933–2010) was more than just the long-time partner of Allen Ginsberg; he was a poet in his own right. Orlovsky’s work has appeared in The New American Poetry 1945–1960 (1960) and The Beatitude Anthology (1965). His work has been included in literary magazines such as Yugen and Outsider. Orlovsky appeared in films such as Andy Warhol’s Couch (1965), Robert Frank films, Pull My Daisy (1959; based on a Kerouac script), and Me and My Brother (1969).

Bill Morgan is an American writer, known for his work as an archivist and bibliographer for popular figures such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Abbie Hoffman, and Timothy Leary. Morgan was Allen Ginsberg’s personal archivist and bibliographer. Over their 20-year relationship, Morgan became quite close to Ginsberg and wrote his biography, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg (2006). Morgan has written extensively on the Beat generation and its key figures.

The Silent History

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Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett discuss and read from their new novel The Silent History

from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

Some time right around now, doctors, nurses, and—most of all—parents begin to notice an epidemic spreading among newborn children. Children who are physically normal in every way except that they do not speak, and do not respond to speech; they don’t learn to read, don’t learn to write.

Unfolding in a series of brief testimonials from parents, teachers, friends, doctors, cult leaders, profiteers, cult leaders, impostors—everyone touched by the silent phenomenon except, of course, the children themselves—The Silent History is both a bold storytelling experiment and unexpectedly propulsive reading experience. Originally conceived and serially published as an award-winning iPhone/iPad app, the book has been re-edited into a text that is vivid, amusing, and sometimes even shocking.

Eli Horowitz was thelie managing editor and then publisher of McSweeney’s for eight years. He is the coauthor of The Clock Without a Face, a treasure-hunt mystery, and Everything You Know Is Pong, an illustrated cultural history of ping pong. He was born in Virginia and lives in San Francisco.

Matthew Derby is the author of Super Flat Times. He lives derbyin Massachusetts.

 

 

Kevin Mofmoffett_kevinfett is the author of Permanent Visitors and Further Interpretation of Real Life Events. He lives in Claremont, California.

Gabrielle Selz reads from Unstill Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Art and Love in the Age Of Abstraction at City Lights

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Gabrielle Selz discusses the release of her new memoir,

Unstill Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Art and Love in the Age Of Abstraction

from W W Norton. She is joined by her father Peter Selz.

Poignant and candid, UnsUNstillLifex6till Life is a daughter’s memoir of the art world and a larger-than-life father known to the world as Mr. Modern Art. Selz offers a unique window into the glamor and destruction of the times: the gallery openings, wild parties and affairs that defined one of the most celebrated periods in American art history. Like the art he loved, Selz’s father was vibrant and freewheeling, but his enthusiasm for both women and art took its toll on family life. When her father left MoMA and his family to direct his own museum in California, marrying four more times, Selz’s mother, the writer Thalia Selz, moved with her children into the utopian artist community Westbeth. Her parents continued a tumultuous affair that would last forty years.

Weaving her family narrative into the larger story of twentieth-century art and culture, Selz paints an unforgettable portrait of a charismatic man, the generation of modern artists he championed and the daughter whose life he shaped.

What has been said about Unstill Life:

“A beautiful, compelling memoir, a testament to art, to love, to life and all its losses and joys.” — Frederic Tuten, author of Self Portraits

“Life inspires art inspires life—all of which inspire Gabrielle Selz’s sparkling memoir of her brilliant but chaotic family. In Unstill Life, the art and people ricochet off each other, wreaking havoc but also encouraging everyone to live more intense, artistic lives.” — Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat

Ken Knabb reads from his new translation of Society of the Spectacle at City Lights

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Celebrating Ken Knabb’s new translation of:

Society of the Spectacle

by Guy Debord

The Society of the SpKen_Knabbectacle, originally published in Paris in 1967, has been translated into more than twenty other languages and is arguably the most important radical book of the twentieth century. This is the first edition in any language to include extensive annotations, clarifying the historical allusions and revealing the sources of Debord’s “détournements.” Contrary to popular misconceptions, Debord’s book is neither an ivory tower “philosophical” discourse nor a mere expression of “protest.” It is a carefully considered effort to clarify the most fundamental tendencies and contradictions of the society in which we find ourselves. This makes it more of a challenge, but it is also why it remains so pertinent nearly half a century after its original publication while countless other social theories and intellectual fads have come and gone.

Ken Knabb is a writer, translator, historian, and radical theorist. He has translated into English numerous works by Guy Debord, the Situationist International, and Ngo Van. He has championed the life and work of the anarchist poet and essayist Kenneth Rexroth, producing the critical study titled The Relevance of Rexroth.

Fridays @ Enrico’s: A Tribute to Don Carpenter

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Carpenter, DonCity Lights Booksellers & Publishers in conjunction with The Book Club of California and Counterpoint Press present an evening of readings and discussions about the life and work of Don Carpenter with Peter Coyote, Curt Gentry, Louis B. Jones, Anne Lamott, and Jane Vandenburgh

Hosted by Peter Maravelis/City Lights

Don Carpenter was a close friend of many San Francisco writers, but his closest friendship was with Richard Brautigan, and when Brautigan killed himself, Carpenter tried for some time to write a biography of his remarkable, deeply troubled friend. He finally abandoned that in favor of writing a novel. Fridays at Enrico’s is the story of four writers living in Northern California and Portland during the early, heady days of the Beat scene, a time of youth and opportunity. This story mixes the excitement of beginning with the melancholy of ambition, often  thwarted and never satisfied. Loss of innocence is only the first price you pay. These are people, men and women, tender with expectation, at risk and in love.  Carpenter also carefully draws a portrait of these two remarkable places, San Francisco and Portland, in the ’50s and early ’60s, when writers and bohemians were busy creating the groundwork for what came to be the counterculture.

About the panelists:

Peter Coyote is an ordained practitioner of Zen Buddhism, activist, and actor. He began his work in street theater and political organizing in San Francisco. In addition to acting in 120 films, Coyote has won an Emmy for narrating the award-winning documentary Pacific Century, and he has cowritten, directed, and performed in the play Olive Pits, which won The Mime Troupe an Obie Award. He is also the author of the memoir Sleeping Where I Fall. Coyote lives in Mill Valley, California.

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Hard Laughter and Joe Jones. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.Counterpoint

Jane Vandenburgh is the award-winning author of two novels, Failure to Zigzag and The Physics of Sunset, as well as Architecture of the Novel, A Writer’s Handbook, The Wrong Dog Dream, and The Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century, A Memoir. She has taught writing and literature at U. C. Davis, the George Washington University, and, most recently, at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

Louis B. Jones is the author of the novels Radiance and Innocence, both published by Counterpoint Press. His novels Ordinary Money, Particles and Luck, and California’s Over, are all New York Times Notable Books,

Curt Gentry is an American writer best known for his work co-writing Helter Skelter with Vincent Bugliosi, which detailed the Charles Manson murders and won the 1975 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Fact Crime book.

Kate Gale, Douglas Kearney, and Peggy Shumaker Read for Red Hen Press

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kate galered hen photoReading from her new poetry book, Kate Gale celebrates the release of The Goldilocks Zone (University of New Mexico Press) and Douglas Kearney reads from his new poetry collection Patter (Red Hen Press) and Peggy Shumaker reads from her book of poetry, Toucan Nest (Red Hen Press). Kate Gale is the managing editor for Red Hen Press, celebrating 20 years of nonprofit literary publishing.

Praise for Kate Gale:

“The clipped jumpy rhythm of these poems with their sudden bursts of syntax prove repeatedly that Kate Gale possesses a poetic tone and pace all her own. She is also refreshingly out of step with today’s poetry of self-absorption, for she is fascinated less by her ego than by the strange variety of the world around us.”—Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate

about Douglas Kearny’s Patter:

For a couple struggling with infertility, conception is a war against their bodies. Blood and death attend. But when the war is won, and life stares, hungry, in the parents’ faces, where does that violence, anxiety, and shame go? The poems in Patter re-imagine miscarriages as minstrel shows, magic tricks, and comic strips; set Darth Vader against Oedipus’s dad in competition for “Father of the Year;” and interrogate the poet’s family’s stint on reality TV. In this, his third collection, award-winning poet Douglas Kearney doggedly worries the line between love and hate, showing how it bleeds itself into “fatherhood.”

about Toucan Nest:

“This is a book of burnished, lapidary attention. Its poems—vibrant with seeing, quickened with sound-work, subtled by insight—peel open landscapes both outer and inner. The costs of our human presence and extractions are in these pages, but also the radiant return of human awareness. Toucan Nest is a unique account of encounter, imaginative inquiry, and expansion.”—Jane Hirshfield”

Dr. Kate Gale is Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review and President of the American Composers Forum, LA.  She serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America.  She is author of five books of poetry and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, with composer Don Davis. The Goldilocks Zone is available from the University of New Mexico Press, February 2014.

Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. It was also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in 2010. His third collection is Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014). He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Coat Hanger award, and fellowships at Idyllwild and Cave Canem. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts.

Peggy Shumaker is Alaska State Writer Laureate. Her previous book of poems is Gnawed Bones. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Toucan Nest, her most recent collection, grew from an eco-arts writing workshop in Costa Rica. Professor emerita from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publishers of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press.

Tess Taylor Reads from her New Poetry Collection The Forage House, Alongside D. A. Powell LIVE! from City Lights

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In an evening graciously hosted by ZYZZYVA, who recently published their 100th issue, Tess Taylor and D. A. Powell sat with a small group in the poetry room of City Lights to read some of their own poems. Taylor read excerpts from her latest collection, The Forage House, published last year by Red Hen Press, while Powell read a mixture of some of his favorite past poems.

The Forage House is at once a sensuous reckoning with an ambiguous family history and a haunting meditation on national legacy. In it, the speaker unravels a rich and troubling history. Some of her ancestors were the Randolph Jeffersons, one of Virginia’s most prominent slaveholding families. Some were New England missionaries. Some were dirt-poor Appalachians. And one was the brilliant, controversial Thomas Jefferson. Shuttling between legend and story, history and family tale, these poems visit cluttered attics, torn wills, and marked and unmarked graves. Many of the poems were written while Tess was in residence at Monticello, in dialog with and working alongside historians and archaeologists there. Based in years of research and travel, these poems form a kind of lyric journalism, collaged from tantalizing fragments. The Forage House explores how we make stories, and how stories—even painful ones—make us.

Tess Taylor has received writing fellowships from Amherst College, The American Antiquarian Society, The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The International Center for Jefferson Studies, The Headlands Center for the Arts, and The MacDowell Colony. Her chapbook, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland and published by the Poetry Society of America, and her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New Yorker. Her essay, “The Waste Land App” published in The Threepenny Review, won a 2013 Pushcart Prize. She currently reviews poetry for NPR’s All Things Considered and teaches writing at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in El Cerrito, California. Her book of poems, The Forage House, is published by Red Hen Press.

D. A. Powell is the author of five collections, including Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. His honors include the Kingsley Tufts Prize in Poetry and an Arts & Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Critic Stephen Burt, writing in the New York Times, said of D. A. Powell: “No accessible poet of his generation is half as original, and no poet as original is this accessible.”  A former Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University, Powell has taught at The University of San Francisco, Columbia University, The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Davidson College. He lives in San Francisco. Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys is Powell’s fifth collection of poems.

Oscar Villalon is the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews appear on NPR.org and KQED’s “The California Report.” He is the Managing Editor of ZYZZYVA.

ZYZZYVA publishes the best prose, poetry, and visual art produced by West Coast writers and artists—along with the occasional piece from east of California. Since 1985, they’ve published such writers as Sherman Alexie, Raymond Carver, Aimee Bender, Po Bronson, F.X. Toole, Haruki Murakami, Richard Rodriguez, and Daniel Handler; poets such as Kay Ryan, Adrienne Rich, Matthew Zapruder, Czeslaw Milosz, W.S. Di Piero, and Francisco X. Alarcon, and have featured work from such artists as Ed Ruscha, Sandow Birk, Laurie Anderson, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud. Visit: www.zyzzyva.org

LIVE Poetry Reading at City Lights! Matthew Zapruder Reading from Sun Bear

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87286100085770LWe were so excited to celebrate the release of Matthew Zapruder’s new poetry collection Sun Bear from Copper Canyon Press.

Matthew Zapruder’s poems begin in the faint inkling, in the bloom of thought, and then unfold into wide-reaching meditations on what it means to live in the contemporary moment, among plastic, statistics, and diet soda. Written in a direct, conversational style, the poems in Sun Bear display in full-force why Zapruder is one of the most popular poets in America.

Matthew Zapruder is a poet, translator, and editor at Wave Books. He is the author of three collections of poetry, and his book The Pajamaist won the William Carlos Williams Award. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in many publications, including BOMB, Harvard Review, Paris Review, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Believer. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

An Evening with Yanomami Spokesperson and Shaman Davi Kopenawa

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87286100881450MThis past April, City Lights, in conjunction with Survival International and The Emerald Tablet, presented a rare evening with Davi KopenawaYanomami spokesperson, shaman, and now author of The Falling Sky Words of a Yanomami Shaman, recently published by Harvard University Press. Listen in on this special event as Kopenawa talks about his culture, his people and their beliefs, as well as the current dangers that they face. Opening statements and translation come courtesy of Leila Batmanghelidj, the US office coordinator of Survival International.

The Falling Sky is a remarkable first-person account of the life story and cosmo-ecological thought of Davi Kopenawa, shaman and spokesman for the Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon. Representing a people whose very existence is in jeopardy, Davi Kopenawa paints an unforgettable picture of Yanomami culture, past and present, in the heart of the rainforest—a world where ancient indigenous knowledge and shamanic traditions cope with the global geopolitics of an insatiable natural resources extraction industry.

In richly evocative language, Kopenawa recounts his initiation and experience as a shaman, as well as his first encounters with outsiders: government officials, missionaries, road workers, cattle ranchers, and gold prospectors. He vividly describes the ensuing cultural repression, environmental devastation, and deaths resulting from epidemics and violence. To counter these threats, Davi Kopenawa became a global ambassador for his endangered people. The Falling Sky follows him from his native village in the Northern Amazon to Brazilian cities and finally on transatlantic flights bound for European and American capitals. These travels constitute a shamanic critique of Western industrial society, whose endless material greed, mass violence, and ecological blindness contrast sharply with Yanomami cultural values.

Bruce Albert, a close friend since the 1970s, superbly captures Kopenawa’s intense, poetic voice. This collaborative work provides a unique reading experience that is at the same time a coming-of-age story, a historical account, and a shamanic philosophy, but most of all an impassioned plea to respect native rights and preserve the Amazon rainforest.

Survival International is a non-profit organization that champions the causes of tribal peoples from around the world. They assist in defending their lives, protect their lands, and determine their own futures. They build a platform for indigenous people to speak to the world. The investigate atrocities and present evidence to the United Nations and other international forums. They support legal representation. They fund medical and self-help projects. They educate, research, campaign, lobby and protest. For more info visit:www.survivalinternational.org

Tony Serra Reading from his New Memoir, Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer

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Tony_SerraTony Serra recently came by City Lights to read from his new memoir, Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer. What followed was an entertaining, educational, and emotional evening as one of San Francisco’s most luminary intellectuals talked about his life, his work, and his passion.

Tony Serra is a life long civil rights activist and attorney. He is the epitome of a counter-cultural hero. He has spent his life defending society’s marginalized citizens in the courtroom. His role in the Chol Soo Lee case was depicted in the film True Believer and he has gained national prominence for his closing argument techniques. Mr. Serra has consulted with hundreds of professional organizations on various legal issues in multiple forums in 14 different states. He is a life-long tax resister who has spent time in federal prison in protest of what he perceives to be an unjust political and legal system.Serra has served the community as a practicing criminal defense attorney for over 45 years. He has represented: Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, The White Panthers, The Hell’s Angels, Chol Soo Lee, Hooty Croy, Brownie Mary, Bear Lincoln, and many others. He is the recipient of numerous awards that include: ACLU Benjamin Dreyfus Civil Liberties Award, Gideon Equal Justice Award from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Lawyer of the Year from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, as well as numerous others.

Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer is available from Grizzly Peak Press.