Live! From City Lights

Freedom Voices Press 25th Anniversary Party

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Freedom Voices Press Celebrates 25 Years with a Sneak Preview of 2015 Releases and a 2014 Award-Winner with Margot Pepper, Paul Boden, and J. Douglas Allen-Taylor.

In 1989, when editor Jess Clarke worked as a cultural organizer in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District for the non-profit Tenderloin Reflection and Education Center (TREC),  he found the neighborhood awash in unpublished talent. Working with Central City Hospitality House and the printing collective Red Star Black Rose, Clarke organized Freedom Voices to publish literature that speaks to or from voiceless communities on the margins. In the quarter century since its inception, the Freirian Bay Area publisher has expanded that vision to include publication of a diverse collection of high caliber and highly-respected American and international literary talent.  Among the outstanding writers published by Freedom Voices are Native American poet Mary TallMountain; the poet known as the “Beat Friar:” Brother Antoninus/William Everson;  award-winning poet and film-maker Clifton Ross; ] Artist Art Hazelwood and the late Puerto Rican Piri Thomas who, shortly before his death in 2011, chose to publish his final collection of fiction with Freedom Voices: Stories From El Barrio.  International titles include Quetzalcóatl by Ernesto Cardenal and Voice of Fire: Communiques and Interviews of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.  Join Freedom Voices in celebrating this milestone with the early release of two exciting 2015 titles (to jump start the holiday season!) and the recipient of the the PEN Oakland Lifetime Literary Achievement Award.

Freedom Voices celebrates the release of three new books :

Margot Pepper by Scott BraileyAmerican Day Dream by Margot Pepper

Updating Orwell’s 1984, this gripping techno-dystopian thriller set against the Bay Area’s iconic landmarks provides disturbing insight about life in the information age. And escape.

“Daring, brave and fully imagined, this political stance is vital and necessary.”     —Luis J. Rodriguez, author of Always Running.

 

 

 

Paul BodenHouse Keys Not Handcuffs by Paul Boden

The story of community organizing efforts to end homelessness in San Francisco provides a meaningful framework for organizers creating a community-based social justice movement in the United States. Artwork has been a vital part of this organizing and a wide range of images, from cartoons to murals and street posters are highlighted.

 

 

 

 

 

Jesse D_ Allen-Taylor

Sugaree Rising by Jesse Allen-Taylor

A haunting novel in the great literary tradition of Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner from the recipient of the PEN Oakland 2013 Reginal Lockett Lifetime Literary Achievement Award.  Allen-Taylor’s masterful storytelling pulls readers along with the Yay’saw until the novel’s surprising conclusion.

Rad American Women A to Z Book Party!

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City Lights, Radar Productions, Mutha Magazine, and Raising a Reader Bay Area were thrilled to celebrate the publication of their first kid’s book on March 28, 2015 at City Lights Bookstore.

87286100228580LAuthor Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl offered an engaging presentation that involved a reading from the book, a slideshow and Q&A, and a conversation about how to be rad! Kate and Miriam are both mothers and teachers, so they’re no stranger to entertaining young folks—audience participation was encouraged.

This event was hosted by Michelle Tea!

At this event, Miriam also participated in silk-screening, so guests brought a t-shirt, onesie, or other clothing item to rock their own Rad American Women A-Z gear!

Nuruddin Farah

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On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, City Lights Bookstore hosted an evening with Nuruddin Farah to celebrate the release of Hiding in Plain Sight from Riverhead Books.

Nuruddin_FarahWhen Bella learns of the murder of her beloved half brother by political extremists in Mogadiscio, she’s in Rome. The two had different fathers but shared a Somali mother, from whom Bella’s inherited her freewheeling ways. An internationally known fashion photographer, dazzling but aloof, she comes and goes as she pleases, juggling three lovers. But with her teenage niece and nephew effectively orphaned – their mother abandoned them years ago—she feels an unfamiliar surge of protective feeling. Putting her life on hold, she journeys to Nairobi, where the two are in boarding school, uncertain whether she can—or must—come to their rescue. When their mother resurfaces, reasserting her maternal rights and bringing with her a gale of chaos and confusion that mirror the deepening political instability in the region, Bella has to decide how far she will go to obey the call of sisterly responsibility.
A new departure in theme and setting for “the most important African novelist to emerge in the past twenty-five years” (The New York Review of Books) Hiding in Plain Sight, is a profound exploration of the tensions between freedom and obligation, the ways gender and sexual preference define us, and the unexpected paths by which the political disrupts the personal.

The Baffler Party

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The Baffler Party with Tom Frank and John Summers celebrated the release of No Future For You: Salvos from The Baffler from The MIT Press (Co-published with The Baffler) at City Lights Book store.

NoFutureThere’s never been a better time to be outside the consensus—and if you don’t believe it, then peer into these genre-defining essays from The Baffler, the magazine that’s been blunting the cutting edge of American culture and politics for a quarter of a century. Here’s Thomas Frank on the upward-falling cult of expertise in Washington, D.C., where belonging means getting the major events of our era wrong. Here’s Rick Perlstein on direct mail scams, multilevel marketing, and the roots of right-wing lying. Here’s John Summers on the illiberal uses of innovation in liberal Cambridge, Massachusetts. And here’s David Graeber sensing our disappointment in new technology. (We expected teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, and immortality drugs. We got LinkedIn, which, as Ann Friedman writes here, is an Escher staircase masquerading as a career ladder.)

Packed with hilarious, scabrous, up to-the-minute criticism of the American comedy, No Future for You debunks “positive thinking” bromides and business idols. Susan Faludi debunks Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s phony feminist handbook, Lean In. Evgeny Morozov wrestles “open source” and “Web 2.0” and other pseudorevolutionary meme-making down to the ground. Chris Lehmann writes the obituary of the Washington Post, Barbara Ehrenreich goes searching for the ungood God in Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus, Heather Havrilesky reads Fifty Shades of Grey, and Jim Newell investigates the strange and typical case of Adam Wheeler, the student fraud who fooled Harvard and, unlike the real culprits, went to jail.

Rebecca Solnit and Peter Turchi

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On Language and Place: Rebecca Solnit, in conversation with Peter Turchi, celebrated the release of her novel Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, and A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic by Peter Turchi, both from Trinity University Press, at City Lights Bookstore.
SolnitRebecca Solnit is beloved as an activist and a passionate writer who speaks truth to power, and as the title of her latest book suggests, the territory of her concerns is vast. In her signature alchemical style, Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness combines commentary on history, justice, war and peace, and explorations of place, art, and community. The 29 essays gathered here encompass celebrated iconic pieces as well as little-known works to create a powerful survey of the world we live in. This rich collection tours places as diverse as Haiti and Iceland; movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring; an original take on the question of who did Henry David Thoreau’s laundry; and a searching look at what the hatred of country music really means.

In A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, turchi-peter-2014-small-1and Magic, Peter Turchi draws out the similarities between writing and puzzle making and its flip side, puzzle solving. As he teases out how mystery lies at the heart of all storytelling, he uncovers the magic—the creation of credible illusion—that writers share with the likes of Houdini and master magicians. Applying this rich backdrop to the requirements of writing, Turchi reveals as much about the human psyche as he does about the literary imagination and the creative process. This much anticipated follow-up to Turchi’s bestselling Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer helps the reader navigate the fine line between the real and the perceived, between the everyday and the wondrous.

Bill Berkson

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Bill Berkson read from his new poetry collection, Expect Delays, from Coffee House Press, at City Lights Bookstore, December 2, 2014.

Born in New York inBerkson author photo 1939, Bill Berkson is a poet, critic and professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute, whose previous collection Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems won the Balcones Prize for Best Poetry Book of 2010. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Brooklyn Rail, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology, The New York Poets II, Bay Area Poetics, The i.e. Reader, The Zoland Poetry Annual 2011, Amerarcana, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology and Nuova Poesia Americana. He now divides his time between San Francisco and Manhattan.

“Like his good friend Frank O’Hara, Bill Berkson writes about friends and family (wife, son, mother on her 100th birthday) and isn’t afraid to drop a few glam names from life in the cities where he lives, in his case San Francisco and New York. In this he resembles Stéphane Mallarmé, who wrote verses on fans (the kind you wave) and notes on fashion, as well as difficult dreamlike poetry. Berkson includes two celesta-toned Mallarmé translations, one of them ‘Brise Marine': (‘The flesh is sad, alas! And I’ve read all the books’) alongside journalistic patter: ‘Lovers for a time, Lee Wiley and Berigan began appearing/ together on Wiley’s fifteen-minute CBS radio spot,/ Saturday Night Swing Club, in 1936.’ Expect Delays is an all-too-familiar warning to urban Americans. In this case, the delays are as rewarding as the invigorating voyage.—John Ashbery

The Ecstatic Writing of Qiu Miaojin

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Ari Larissa Heinrich, in conversation with Scott Esposito, discussed the work of Qui Miaojin, author of Last Words from Montmarter, published by NYRP Classics and translated from the Chinese with an afterward by Ari Larissa Heinrich at City Lights Bookstore.

Qiu_MiaojinWhen the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women—their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love. In a style that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to pathos, compulsive repetition to rhapsodic musings, reticence to vulnerability, Qiu’s genre-bending novel is at once a psychological thriller, a sublime romance, and the author’s own suicide note.

The letters (which, Qiu tells us, can be read in any order) leap between Paris, Taipei, and Tokyo. They display wrenching insights into what it means to live between cultures, languages, and genders—until the genderless character Zoë appears, and the narrator’s spiritual and physical identity is transformed. As powerfully raw and transcendent as Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, and Theresa Cha’s Dictée, to name but a few, Last Words from Montmartre proves Qiu Miaojin to be one of the finest experimentalists and modernist Chinese-language writers of our generation.

James Laughlin Double Feature

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On December 4th, 2014, City Lights Bookstore and Publishers celebrated the release of two new books: The Collected Poems of James Laughlin, (FSG) and from New Directions, “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin. Special guests Peggy Fox and Ian MacNiven spoke in discussion with Scott Esposito.

LaughlinAbout The Collected Poems Of James Laughlin:

Published in Laughlin’s centenary year The Collected Poems Of James Laughlin encompasses in one majestic volume all of the poetry (with the exception of his verse memoirs Byways) written by the publisher-poet. Witty, technically brilliant, slyly satiric, and heartbreakingly poignant, Laughlin charted his own poetic course for over six decades, prompting astonishment and joy in fellow poets. The Collected Poems includes over 1250 poems – from the early lyrics written in Laughlin’s signature “typewriter metric” to the “long-line poems of his later years, to the playful antics of his doppelganger Hiram Handspring, to the trenchant commentary of the five-line pentastichs that occupied his last days.

About Literchoor Is My Beat:

A biography — thoughtful and playful — of the man who founded New Directions and transformed American publishing. James Laughlin — a poet, publisher, world-class skier — was the man behind some of the most daring, revolutionary works in verse and prose of the twentieth century. As the founder of New Directions, he published Ezra Pound’s The Cantos and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson; he brought Herman Hesse and Jorge Luis Borges to an American audience. Throughout his life, this tall, charismatic intellectual, athlete, and entrepreneur preferred to stay hidden. But no longer — in “Literchoor is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions, Ian S. MacNiven has given us a sensitive and revealing portrait of this visionary and the understory of the last century of American letters.

Peggy Fox retired as President and Publisher of New Directions in 2011 after 36 years of working primarily with ND “bedrock authors” such as William Carlos Williams and Tennessee Williams. She is James Laughlin’s literary co-executor and a Trustee of the several trusts set up under Laughlin’s will to support New Directions and literary endeavors. She is also a Trustee of the Thomas Merton Legacy Trust and the E. E. Cummings Trust. She considers working with Lawrence Ferlinghetti one of the highlights of her editorial career. Several years after James Laughlin’s death in 1997, following Laughlin’s wishes, Fox contacted long-time friend and colleague Peter Glassgold and asked him to edit a complete edition of Laughlin’s poems, The Collected Poems of James Laughlin. She has continued to be the in-house editor of the book since her retirement.

James Lenfestey

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On October 20, 2014, author James Lenfestey reads from Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage To Cold Mountain from Milkweed Editions, live at City Lights Bookstore.

jim-lenfesteyIn this transformative new book, award-winning poet and essayist James Lenfestey makes an epic journey across the world to find the Cold Mountain Cave, a location long believed to exist only in myths, and the ancient home of his idol Han Shan, author of the Cold Mountain poems and a legend in the history of both Chinese and international poetic tradition. Lenfestey’s voyage takes him from the Midwestern U.S. to Tokyo to a road trip across the expanse of China with frequent excursions into the country’s rich historical and cultural landmarks. As he makes his way to the cave, Lenfestey learns more than history or geography, he discovers his identity as a writer and a poet.

Here On the Edge

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On the occasion of LITQUAKE 2014. City Lights in conjunction with LITQUAKE presented a panel discussion with Steve McQuiddy, Vladimir Dupre, and Steve Dickison (of The Poetry Center at SFSU) celebrating the recently released book, Here on the Edge by Steve McQuiddy, published by Oregon State University PressWaldport.

Here on the Edge is the story of how a World War II conscientious objectors camp on the Oregon Coast plowed the ground for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. This evening explores a long-neglected element of World War II history: the role of pacifism and conscientious objection in what is often called “The Good War.” It focuses on one camp situated on the rain-soaked Oregon coast, Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camp #56. As home to the Fine Arts Group at Waldport, the camp became a center of activity for artists and writers from across the country who chose to take a condition of penance (compulsive labor for refusing to serve in the military) and put it to constructive ends. After the war, camp members went on to participate in the San Francisco “Poetry Renaissance” of the 1950s, which heavily influenced the Beat Generation of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg—who in turn inspired the likes of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, leading the way to the 1960s radical upheavals epitomized by San Francisco’s “Summer of Love.”