Writers Who Love Too Much

City Lights welcomes Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, joined by special guests Margaret Jenkins, David O. Steinberg, Judy Grahn, Camille Roy, Roberto Bedoya, Gabrielle Daniels, Scott Watson, and Matias Viegener in celebrating the release of Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative 1977-1997, edited by Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian and published by Nightboat Books.

In the twenty years that followed America’s bicentennial, narrative writing was re-formed, reflecting new political and sexual realities. With the publication of this anthology, the New Narrative era bounds back to life, ripe with dramatic propulsion and infused with the twin strains of poetry and Continental theory. Arranged chronologically, the reader will discover classic texts of New Narrative from Bob Glück to Kathy Acker, and rare materials including period interviews, reviews, essays, and talks combined to form a new map of late twentieth-century creative rebellion.

Dodie Bellamy is the author of numerous works of prose. Her latest book is When the Sick Rule the World. She teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University and California College of the Arts.

Kevin Killian is a San Francisco-based poet, novelist, playwright, and art writer. He is the author of fifteen books and co-wrote Poet Be Like God, a biography of the American poet Jack Spicer (1925-1965). City Lights published his novel Impossible Princess, winner of the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Erotica .

Hot Books Inaugural Party

City Lights celebrates an exciting new publishing venture!

Hosted by David Talbot with Rebecca Gordon, Nicholas Schou, and Alexander Zaitchik.http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/HotBooks.jpg

Our body politic has grown sluggish and dull-witted, stuffed with a steady diet of junk media and corporate propaganda. It’s time to light a fire under this slumbering giant, American democracy. It’s time to think dangerous thoughts. Enter Hot Books. The Hot Books series will seek to live up to its name – offering tightly-written books (no longer than 40,000 words) that passionately address the most burning issues of our day. Some Hot Books will take the form of argument and storytelling. Others will be works of investigative journalism, trying to fill the void left by too many newspapers and magazines in the digital age, when in-depth reporting and editorial budgets have been severely cut back. Whether they are searing collections of essays or works of crusading journalism, Hot Books will draw inspiration from that great prophetic tradition of speaking truth to power and enlightening the public. Hot Books authors will dare to speak the unspeakable.

Three new books are celebrated:

American Nuremberg: The US Officials Who Should Be Prosecuted for Post 9/11 War Crimes – by Rebecca Gordon

Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood – by Nicholas Schou

The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America – by Alexander Zaitchik

David Talbot dreamed up Hot Books in partnership with Tony Lyons, publisher of the independent book company Skyhorse. Talbot is the founder and former editor-in-chief of Salon. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, the national bestseller, Season of the Witch, and, most recently, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. Talbot was a senior editor at Mother Jones magazine, and his writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Time, The Guardian and other publications. He lives in San Francisco.

Hal Niedzviecki

Hal Niedzviecki appeared at City Lights to speak on and answer questions about the challenging material he presents in Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future, an examination of modern culture’s preoccupation with the “next” and the consequences of faster-than-light-speed innovation for innovation’s sake.

What is it like to live in a society utterly focused on what is going to happen next? In Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future, cultural critic and indie entrepreneur Hal Niedzviecki asks how and when we started believing we could and shoulhal niedzvieckid “create the future,” arguing that the short-term purview of innovation is not always as effective as we think it is. On the contrary, it’s often damaging. “Innovation” may be the most overused and fetishized term of the past five years. Tech bloggers livecast the launch of the latest Kindle, crowds form serpentine lines outside of Apple stores on the eve of new iPhone releases, stock markets surge and recede on rumors of what Intel and Microsoft have in the pipeline, and, on college campuses across the country, universities offer master’s degrees in Future Studies. . . .

87286100803890LTrees on Mars will introduce readers to futurist consultants who preach the need for constant change, to a fourth-generation New Jersey dairy farmer grappling with the increasing complexities of a once-bucolic industry, to a group of Stanford undergraduates pulling all-nighters in an effort to produce the next must-have app, to a Michigan teacher struggling to integrate mandatory iPad use into her third-grade curriculum, and to a recently laid off auto worker being sent to state-sponsored retraining. Through these characters and others, Niedzviecki shows how future-obsession and future-anxiety are affecting real people.

Hal Niedzviecki is a writer, speaker and teacher. His work is known for challenging preconceptions and confronting readers with the offenses of everyday life. He writes and thinks about the effects of mass media, pop culture and consumer technology on individual life and society. He is the author of books of nonfiction and fiction, most recently the collection of short stories Look Down, This is Where it Must Have Happened (City Lights Books) and the nonfiction books Trees On Mars: Our Obsession with the Future (Seven Stories Press) and The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors (City Lights Books).

David Calonne on Henry Miller

David Calonne celebrates the release of Henry Miller (Critical Lives) from Reaktion Books, describing his relationship with Miller’s work and the exhaustive critical study presented in the book.
As an author, Henry Miller (1891–1980) was infamous for his explicit descriptions of sex, and many of his novels, from The Tropic of Cancer to Black Spring, were banned in the United States on grounds of obscenity. But his books—frequently smuggled into his native country—became a major influence on the Beat Generation of American writers and would eventually lead to a groundbreaking series of obscenity trials that would change American laws on pornography in literary works. In this new critical biography, David Stephen Calonne goes beyond Miller’s notoriety to take an innovative look at the way in which the author’s writings and lifestyle were influenced by his spiritual quests.

Charting Miller’s cultivation of his esoteric ideas from boyhood and adolescence to later in his career, Calonne examines how Miller remained deeply engaged with a variety of philosophies, from astrology and Gnosticism to Eastern thinkers. Calonne describes not only the effects this had on Miller’s work, but also to his complex and volatile life—his marriages and love affairs with Beatrice Wickens, June Mansfield, and Anaïs Nin; his years in Paris; and the journey to Greece that resulted in the travelogue The Colossus of Maroussi, the book Miller considered to be Henry_Miller_1940his greatest work. After discussing Miller’s final residences in Big Sur and the Pacific Palisades in California, Calonne considers the author’s involvement in the arts, love of painting and music, and friendships with a number of classical musicians. Miller, Calonne reveals, was a quirky, charismatic man of genius who continues to influence popular culture today.

Highlighting many areas of the author’s life that have previously been neglected, Henry Miller takes a fascinating revisionary approach to the work of one of American’s most controversial and iconic writers.

David Stephen Calonne is the author of “William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being” and “Bebop Buddhist Ecstasy: Saroyan’s Influence on Kerouac and the Beats”, and he has edited several Bukowski titles, including “More Notes of a Dirty Old Man” published by City Lights Books.

Interview with Benjamin Hedin

17047Author Benjamin Hedin sits down with City Lights to talk about how he became involved in the civil rights movement, the successes and shortcomings of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his new book with City Lights, In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now.

Benjamin Hedin & Radio Silence Magazine

City Lights teamed up with Radio Silence and author Benjamin Hedin to celebrate the release of Hedin’s newest book, In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now. At the event, Benjamin Hedin shares excerpts and comments on the difficult questions that he tackles in his book about the civil rights movement. 17047

Recently, the New York Times featured an article that described the reversion of Little Rock’s schools to all-black or all-white. The next day, the paper printed a story about a small town in Alabama where African Americans were being denied access to the polls. Massive demonstrations in cities across the country protest the killing of black men by police, while we celebrate a series of 50th-anniversary commemorations of the signature events of the Civil Rights movement. In such a time it is important to ask: In the last fifty years, has America progressed on matters of race, or are we stalled—or even moving backward?

With these questions in mind, Benjamin Hedin set out to look for the Civil Rights movement. “I wanted to find the movement in its contemporary guise,” he writes, “which also meant answering the critical question of what happened to it after the 1960s.” In In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now, he profiles legendary figures like John Lewis, Robert Moses, and Julian Bond, and also visits with contemporary leaders such as William Barber II and the staff of the Dream Defenders. But just as powerful—and instructional—are the stories of those whose work goes unrecorded, the organizers and teachers who make all the rest possible.

In the pages of In Search of the Movement the movement is portrayed as never before, as a vibrant tradition of activism that remains in our midst. In Search of the Movement is a fascinating meditation on the patterns of history, as well as an indelible look at the meaning and limits of American freedom.

Benjamin Hedin has written for The New Yorker, Slate, The Nation, and The Chicago Tribune. He’s the editor of Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader, and the producer and author of a forthcoming documentary film, The Blues House.

Radio Silence is a creative community of literature and rock & roll. They publish a signature print magazine and innovative digital edition, produce unique live events, and support arts education.

Banning Eyre

A special evening of word and song celebrating the new book with Banning Eyre discussing the life and music of Thomas Mapfuno and his new book,

Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe

by Banning Eyre

from Duke University Press

Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country’s anti-colonial struggle and Like

Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country’s anti-colonial struggle and cultural identity. Mapfumo was born in 1945 in what was then the British colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The trajectory of his career—from early performances of American rock n’ roll tunes to later creating a new genre based on traditional Zimbabwean music, including the sacred mbira, and African and Western pop—is a metaphor for Zimbabwe’s evolution from colony to independent nation. Lion Songs is an authoritative biography of Mapfumo that narrates the life and career of this creative, complex, and iconic figure.

Banning Eyre ties the arc of Mapfumo’s career to the history of Zimbabwe. The genre Mapfumo created in the 1970s called chimurenga, or “struggle” music, challenged the Rhodesian government—which banned his music and jailed him—and became important to Zimbabwe achieving independence in 1980. In the 1980s and 1990s Mapfumo’s international profile grew along with his opposition to Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship. Mugabe had been a hero of the revolution, but Mapfumo’s criticism of his regime led authorities and loyalists to turn on the singer with threats and intimidation. Beginning in 2000, Mapfumo and key band and family members left Zimbabwe. Many of them, including Mapfumo, now reside in Eugene, Oregon.

A labor of love, Lion Songs is the product of a twenty-five year friendship and professional relationship between Eyre and Mapfumo that demonstrates Mapfumo’s musical and political importance to his nation, its freedom struggle, and its culture.

About The Author:
Banning Eyre is a freelance writer and guitarist and the senior editor and producer of the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. He is the author of In Griot Time: An American Guitarist in Mali, Playing With Fire: Fear and Self-Censorship in Zimbabwean Music, and Guitar Atlas: Africa, and the coauthor of AFROPOP! An Illustrated Guide to Contemporary African Music. Eyre is a contributor to National Public Radio’s ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, and his writing has been published in Billboard, Guitar Player, Salon.com, the Boston Phoenix, CMJ, Option, Folk Roots, Global Rhythm, and other publications. He has also performed and recorded with Thomas Mapfumo.

Visit: http://banningeyre.com/

Keith P. Feldman

Keith P. Feldman discusses his new book, A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America, at City Lights.

Upon signing the first U.S. arms agreement with Israel in 1962, John F. Kennedy assured Golda Meir that the United States had “a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East,” comparable only to that of the United States with Britain. After more than five decades such a statement might seem incontrovertible—and yet its meaning has been fiercely contested from the start.

feldmanA Shadow over Palestine brings a new, deeply informed, and transnational perspective to the decades and the cultural forces that have shaped sharply differing ideas of Israel’s standing with the United States—right up to the violent divisions of today. Focusing on the period from 1960 to 1985, author Keith P. Feldman reveals the centrality of Israel and Palestine in postwar U.S. imperial culture. Some representations of the region were used to manufacture “commonsense” racial ideologies underwriting the conviction that liberal democracy must coexist with racialized conditions of segregation, border policing, poverty, and the repression of dissent. Others animated vital critiques of these conditions, often forging robust if historically obscured border-crossing alternatives.

In this rich cultural history of the period, Feldman deftly analyzes how artists, intellectuals, and organizations—from the United Nations, the Black Panther Party, and the Association of Arab American University Graduates to James Baldwin, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Edward Said, and June Jordan—linked the unfulfilled promise of liberal democracy in the United States with the perpetuation of settler democracy in Israel and the possibility of Palestine’s decolonization.

In one of his last essays, published in 2003, Edward Said wrote, “In America, Palestine and Israel are regarded as local, not foreign policy, matters.” A Shadow over Palestine maps this jagged terrain on which this came to be, amid a wealth of robust alternatives, and the undeterred violence at home and abroad unleashed as a result of this special relationship.

shadow over palestineWhat has been said about upon signing the first U.S. arms agreement with Israel in 1962, John F. Kennedy assured Golda Meir that the United States had “a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East,” comparable only to that of the United States with Britain. After more than five decades such a statement might seem incontrovertible—and yet its meaning has been fiercely contested from the start.

A Shadow over Palestine brings a new, deeply informed, and transnational perspective to the decades and the cultural forces that have shaped sharply differing ideas of Israel’s standing with the United States—right up to the violent divisions of today. Focusing on the period from 1960 to 1985, author Keith P. Feldman reveals the centrality of Israel and Palestine in postwar U.S. imperial culture. Some representations of the region were used to manufacture “commonsense” racial ideologies underwriting the conviction that liberal democracy must coexist with racialized conditions of segregation, border policing, poverty, and the repression of dissent. Others animated vital critiques of these conditions, often forging robust if historically obscured border-crossing alternatives.

In this rich cultural history of the period, Feldman deftly analyzes how artists, intellectuals, and organizations—from the United Nations, the Black Panther Party, and the Association of Arab American University Graduates to James Baldwin, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Edward Said, and June Jordan—linked the unfulfilled promise of liberal democracy in the United States with the perpetuation of settler democracy in Israel and the possibility of Palestine’s decolonization.

In one of his last essays, published in 2003, Edward Said wrote, “In America, Palestine and Israel are regarded as local, not foreign policy, matters.” A Shadow over Palestine maps this jagged terrain on which this came to be, amid a wealth of robust alternatives, and the undeterred violence at home and abroad unleashed as a result of this special relationship.

What has been said about A Shadow over Palestine:

“In this remarkable work Keith P. Feldman shows us the prolific and intractable connections between the production of race in the United States and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, making a solid case for the relevance of Palestine to the ongoing assaults of racial capitalism in the United States. The tremendous result is no less than a reenvisioning of the antiracist and anti-imperialist solidarities of the past in the service of culling the potential solidarities of the future. A tour de force.”
—Jasbir Puar, Rutgers University

Keith P. Feldman is assistant professor of comparative ethnic studies and a core faculty member in the Program in Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Highway and the Wilderness: Dennis McNally and Jonah Raskin

An evening of discussion that centers around the ideas from two recently released books:

Dennis McNally celebrates the release of

On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

from Counterpoint Press

and

 

 

Jonah Raskin celebrates the release of

A Terrible Beauty

from Regent Press

discussion moderated by Peter Maravelis

On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reaches from the minstrel era to Bob Dylan.

Shortly before he published Walden; or Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau called “The library a wilderness of books.” He also noted that while Americans were “clearing the forest in our westward progress, we are accumulating a forest of books in our rear, as wild and unexplored as any of nature’s primitive wildernesses.” In A Terrible Beauty: The Wilderness of American Literature, Jonah Raskin takes a long close look at the forest of books that poets, novelists and essayists mapped and explored before and after Thoreau. The first work of cultural criticism to look back at writing in the United States from the perspective of the contemporary environmental crisis, Raskin offers insights for students, teachers and lovers of literature as well as for backpackers and hikers who have trekked across untrammeled forests, deserts and mountains.

Dennis McNally received his Ph.D. in American History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1977 for a biography of Jack Kerouac which was published by Random House in 1979 under the title Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America. He became the Grateful Dead’s authorized biographer in 1980 and the band’s publicist in 1984. In 2002, he published A Long Strange Trip/The Inside History of the Grateful Dead with Broadway Books, a division of Random House. It made the New York Times best seller list.

Jonah Raskin has taught American literature at Sonoma State University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook and as a Fulbright professor at the University of Antwerp and the University of Ghent in Belgium. The author of fifteen books, he earned his B.A. at Columbia College in New York, his M.A. at Columbia University and his Ph.D. at the University of Manchester, Manchester, England. He lives in northern California and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, The L.A. Times, The Nation, The Redwood Coast Review and Catamaran.

Peter Dale Scott

Peter Dale Scott discusses America’s “deep state,” that influences and opposes official U.S. policies and his book The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy.

from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

51tfV9CQVpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Prominent political analyst Peter Dale Scott begins by tracing America’s increasing militarization, restrictions on constitional rights, and income disparity since the Vietnam War. He argues that a significant role in this historic reversal was the intervention of a series of structural deep events, ranging from the assassination of President Kennedy to 9/11. He does not attempt to resolve the controversies surrounding these events, but he shows their significant points in common, ranging from overlapping personnel and modes of operation to shared sources of funding. Behind all of these commonalities is what Scott calls the deep state: a second order of government, behind the public or constitutional state, that has grown considerably stronger since World War II. He marshals convincing evidence that the deep state is partly institutionalized in non-accountable intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA, but it also includes private corporations like Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC, to which 70 percent of intelligence budgets are outsourced. Behind these public and private institutions is the traditional influence of Wall Street bankers and lawyers, allied with international oil companies beyond the reach of domestic law. With the importance of Gulf states like Saudi Arabia to oil markets, American defense companies, and Wall Street itself, this essential book shows that there is now a supranational deep state, sometimes demonstrably opposed to both White House policies and the American public interest.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley,PeterDale Scott is a leading political analyst and poet. His books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War, and American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (R&L). He has been awarded the Lannan Poetry Award. His website can be found at www.peterdalescott.net.

What has been said about The American Deep State:

The American Deep State encapsulates Peter Dale Scott’s decades-long research into the hidden aspects of American deep politics. The result is an unparalleled perspective on the real system of U.S. governance. His analysis is meticulous, masterful, and brilliant.

— Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Peter Dale Scott is our most provocative scholar of American power. Scott picks up where the pioneering C. Wright Mills left off, shining a light on the dark labyrinth of power—a shadow world that has only grown more arrogant and wedded to state violence since the days of the ‘power elite’ and the ‘military-industrial complex.’ There is no way to understand how power really operates without daring to follow Scott’s illuminating path through The American Deep State.

— David Talbot, Founder of Salon

Peter Dale Scott has pioneered the systematic study of the national security state and its hidden impacts on all areas of foreign and domestic policy. With this new book, Scott outdoes himself with a truly comprehensive birds-eye analysis of the increasing encroachment of the unaccountable ‘deep state’ into democratic politics through the postwar period until today, offering a window into a grim future if business-as-usual continues. This is a brilliant, incisive, must-read work for anyone who wants to understand the interplay between global capitalism, national security, and the dubious agendas of the most powerful yet secretive agencies of national governments and the complex network of vested criminal and corporate interests that drive them.

— Nafeez Ahmed, investigative journalist, the Guardian

Rebecca Solnit and Peter Turchi

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.

Carmen Boullosa

Carmen Boullosa in conversation with Scott Esposito, discussing her new book, Texas: the Great Theft, at City Lights Bookstore on February 12, 2015. Boullosa

Loosely based on the little-known 1859 Mexican invasion of the United States, Carmen Boullosa’s newest novel Texas: The Great Theft is a richly imagined evocation of the volatile Tex-Mex borderland, wrested from Mexico in 1848. Described by Roberto Bolaño as “Mexico’s greatest woman writer,” Boullosa views the border history through distinctly Mexican eyes, and her sympathetic portrayal each of her wildly diverse characters—Mexican ranchers and Texas Rangers, Comanches and cowboys, German socialists and runaway slaves, Southern belles and dance hall girls—makes her storytelling tremendously powerful and absorbing. With today’s Mexican-American frontier such a front-burner concern, this novel that brilliantly illuminates its historical landscape is especially welcome. Texas is Boullosa’s fourth novel to appear in English, her previous novels were published by Grove Press.

Carmen Boullosa is one of Mexico’s leading novelists, poets and playwrights. The prolific author, who has had literally scores of books, essays and dissertations written about her work, has been lauded by critics on several continents. “As playful as a mischievous Puck,” says Elena Poniatowska; she has “a heart-stopping command of language,” says Alma Guillermoprieto; “one of the most dazzling of Latin America’s new generation,” according to Publishers Weekly; “Mexico’s best woman writer,” wrote Roberto Bolaño.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Author and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discussed her new book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the Unites States, at City Lights Bookstore.

RDOToday, in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized indigenous communities and nations comprising nearly three million people. These individuals are the descendants of the once fifteen million people who inhabited this land and are the subject of the latest book by noted historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the indigenous peoples was genocidal and imperialist—designed to crush the original inhabitants. Spanning more than three hundred years, this classic bottom-up history significantly reframes how we view our past. Told from the viewpoint of the indigenous, it reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the U.S. empire.

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay discusses her new book, Bad Feminist, at City Lights Book Store.

roxannegay Bad Feminist is a collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

Ken Knabb

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.

Editor Seth Perlow Discussing The Corrected Centennial Edition of Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein

The Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions just awarded Tender Buttons: The Corrected Centennial Edition its seal designating it an MLA Approved Edition. Congratulations to editor Seth Perlow!

Tender Buttons is the touchstone work of radical modernist poetry, the fullest realization of the turn to language and the most perfect realization of ‘wordness,’ where word and object are merged. For the centennial of this masterpiece, Seth Perlow has given us much the best edition of the poem, based on Stein’s manuscript and corrections she made to the first edition. Punctuation, spelling, format, and a few phrases are affected and most especially the change in the capitalization of the section titles. ‘The difference is spreading.'”—Charles Bernstein, University of Pennsylvania, author of Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions

“Happy 100th birthday, Tender Button. You are as explosive, tantalizing, and delicious as you were on the day you were born. Your birthday gift from Seth Perlow and Juliana Spahr is a beautiful new edition that will carry you into your next century, the best edition ever. Your birthday gift from all of us who love literature and culture is to buy this edition for ourselves and all our friends. Congratulations to all.”–Catharine R. Stimpson, Professor, New York University, and co-editor of the two-volume Gertrude Stein: Writings published by the Library of America

“The publication of an authoritative edition of Tender Buttons, with Stein’s hitherto unpublished corrections and editions, is a splendid way to celebrate the centennial of this influential modernist work. Scholars will benefit from the full documentation, and readers will appreciate its convenient format, which resembles the original publication.”—Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

“This radical multi-dimensional generative cubist text with the simplest words imaginable continues to alter and shape poetics into the post post modernist future. We have Gertrude Stein’s ‘mind grammar’ operating at full tilt, with unpredictability, wit and sensory prevarication. Look to the ‘minutest particulars,’ Blake admonished, and here she does just that: ‘it is a winning cake.’ Salvos to the editor and salient ‘afterword’ that give belletristic notes and political perspective as well. A unique edition.”—Anne Waldman, The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics

Seth Perlow is an Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma State University. His research and teaching focus on twentieth-century American literature, poetry and poetics, new media studies, and gay and lesbian literature. He earned a PhD in English at Cornell University.

 

Celebrating San Francisco Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia!

Stray Poems, Alejandro Murguia

City Lights Publishers is proud to publish Alejandro Murguia’s new book, Stray Poemsnumber six in our SF Poet Laureate Series! Here, Alejandro reads from this new collection of poetry, as well as from some older, rarer works.

About Stray Poems

The sixth volume of the San Francisco Poet Laureate Series, Stray Poems opens with Alejandro Murguía’s inaugural address, where he stipulates that as the city’s first Latino poet laureate he is accepting his post on behalf of his community. He goes on to provide a brilliant and impassioned poetic account of San Francisco’s Native and Latino literary history, stating, “So Latin America fused to the history of San Francisco, and vice versa—San Francisco fused to the memory of Latin America.”

What follows is a selection of Murguía’s recent work composed over the past twelve years.

These are poems of the 21st century, written in a combination of English and Spanish—the patois of contemporary America. Angry, rebellious, subversive, sentimental, hip, urban, local, global—these poems stray from academia, the status quo, patriotism—and even God—as all poetry must.

Praise for Alejandro Murguía & Stray Poems:

“In the city of poets, Murguía has become the activist voice of refugees and exiles—as so many of us are, even as natives—at the center of the Americas. Disguised by its sensuous intimacy, soothing and ennobling, his is a poetry that arms the resistance.”—Dagoberto Gilb, author of The Magic of Blood

“Poet, teacher, publisher, lover, literary guerrilla—Alejandro Murguía is a San Francisco treasure. And I’m not saying this because he knows where to find the best pozole. Although he does.”—Jack Boulware, Litquake co-founder

“The powerful stream of rich, diverse Spanish spoken in the United States by millions of Latinos from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, has rushed into the huge river of the English tongue in such a way that a language and a literature have been born from those troubled waters, exploring multiple alternatives and choosing many paths. These Stray Poems from Alejandro Murguía speak with all those voices, crossing linguistic borders and really going out of the way to deviate from the standard path and let the multiracial and multicultural, all-embracing Latino beat flow into the heart of English.”—Daisy Zamora, The Violent Foam

“Murguía with a tango unleashed, a city on fire, a rendezvous of homage, manifesto, revenge and transcendence—he is alone, without a face, yet recognizable in every body that swims through the under-streets of the City, of Paris, of Havana, of bombed-out-Here’s-and-There’s and the stripped down body of all of us. No stones are left unturned; hypnotic, alarming, ‘melodramático,’ rough-lovin’, unkempt, ‘dangerous,’ and ready to battle at the center of the scorched core. ‘I didn’t cheat,’ one poem admits. He is on trial—fire-spitter and disassembler of cultural falsifications, in ‘strange’ and romantic moods, the poems scatter truth and aim and blow and burn and rise unto the flagless sky—’. . . a country of oceans and mountains.’ Murguía gets there. Alone, because few embark on that voyage. An astonishing, brutal nakedness. Love, that is. No book like it. An unimaginable heart of and for the peoplea ground-breaking prize.”—Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of California

An Evening with Robert Jensen, Arguing for Our Lives

An Evening with Robert Jensen,

Arguing for Our Lives

We live in a time when public discourse is more skewed than ever by the propaganda that big money can buy, with trust in the leadership of elected officials at an all-time low. The “news” has degenerated into sensationalist sound bites, and the idea of debate has become a polarized shouting-match that precludes any meaningful discussion.

It’s also a time of anxiety, as we’re faced with economic and ecological crises on a global scale, with stakes that seem higher than ever before. In times like these, it’s essential that we be able to think and communicate clearly.

In this lively primer on critical thinking, Robert Jensen attacks the problems head-on and delivers an accessible and engaging book that explains how we can work collectively to enrich our intellectual lives. Drawing on more than two decades of classroom experience and community organizing, Jensen shares strategies on how to challenge “conventional wisdom” in order to courageously confront the crises of our times, and offers a framework for channeling our fears and frustrations into productive analysis that can inform constructive action.

Jensen connects abstract ideas with the everyday political and spiritual struggles of ordinary people. Free of either academic or political jargon, this book is for anyone struggling to understand our world and contribute to making it a better place.

Finn Brunton Discusses SPAM: A Shadow History of the Internet

The vast majority of all email sent every day is spam, a variety of idiosyncratically spelled requests to provide account information, invitations to spend money on dubious products, and pleas to send cash overseas. Most of it is caught by filters before ever reaching an in-box. Where does it come from? As Finn Brunton explains in Spam, it is produced and shaped by many different populations around the world: programmers, con artists, bots and their botmasters, pharmaceutical merchants, marketers, identity thieves, crooked bankers and their victims, cops, lawyers, network security professionals, vigilantes, and hackers. Every time we go online, we participate in the system of spam, with choices, refusals, and purchases the consequences of which we may not understand. This is a book about what spam is, how it works, and what it means. Brunton provides a cultural history that stretches from pranks on early computer networks to the construction of a global criminal infrastructure. The history of spam, Brunton shows us, is a shadow history of the Internet itself, with spam emerging as the mirror image of the online communities it targets. Brunton traces spam through three epochs: the 1970s to 1995, and the early, noncommercial computer networks that became the Internet; 1995 to 2003, with the dot-com boom, the rise of spam’s entrepreneurs, and the first efforts at regulating spam; and 2003 to the present, with the war of algorithms — spam versus anti-spam. Spam shows us how technologies, from email to search engines, are transformed by unintended consequences and adaptations, and how online communities develop and invent governance for themselves.

Jonathan Keats discusses art forgeries throughout the ages

Jonathan Keats came into City Lights Books to read from Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age (Oxford University Press).

According to Vasari, the young Michelangelo often borrowed drawings of past masters, which he copied, returning his imitations to the owners and keeping originals. Half a millennium later, Andy Warhol made a game of “forging” the Mona Lisa, questioning the entire concept of originality.

Forged explores art forgery from ancient times to the present. In chapters combining lively biography with insightful art criticism, Jonathon Keats profiles individual art forgers and connects their stories to broader themes about the role of forgeries in society. From the Renaissance master Andrea del Sarto who faked a Raphael masterpiece at the request of his Medici patrons, to the Vermeer counterfeiter Han van Meegeren who duped the avaricious Hermann Göring, to the frustrated British artist Eric Hebborn, who began forging to expose the ignorance of experts, art forgers have challenged “legitimate” art in their own time, breaching accepted practices and upsetting the status quo. They have also provocatively confronted many of the present-day cultural anxieties that are major themes in the arts. Keats uncovers what forgeries–and our reactions to them–reveal about changing conceptions of creativity, identity, authorship, integrity, authenticity, success, and how we assign value to works of art. The book concludes by looking at how artists today have appropriated many aspects of forgery through such practices as street-art stenciling and share-and-share-alike licensing, and how these open-source “copyleft” strategies have the potential to make legitimate art meaningful again.

Forgery has been much discussed–and decried–as a crime. Forged is the first book to assess great forgeries as high art in their own right.

Jonathon Keats is a critic, journalist and artist. He is the art critic for San Francisco Magazine, and has contributed art criticism to Art & Antiques, Art + Auction, Art in America, ARTnews, Artweek, and Salon.com. His arts writing has also appeared in Wired Magazine, ForbesLife Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. He is most recently the author of Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology (OUP). His conceptual art has been exhibited at venues including the Berkeley Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, and the Wellcome Collection. He is represented by the Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. Visit www.modernisminc.com

David Calonne discussing his new book Charles Bukowski (Critical Lives Series)

David Calonne came into City Lights Bookstore to discuss his new book Charles Bukowski (Critical Lives Series) (Reaktion Books) on December 4, 2012. 

Charles Bukowski (Critical Lives Series)

Poet, short-story writer, and novelist Charles Bukowski (1920–94) was once called by Time a “laureate of American lowlife.” In this new interpretation of his life and work, David Stephen Calonne examines the creation and originality of Bukowski’s writings through the lens of his colorful life, the literary traditions that influenced him, and his unique place in world literature.

Calonne describes how Bukowski, who was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States at the age of three, was influenced by German literary and intellectual traditions. He shows how the writer’s traumatic childhood—his abusive father, social withdrawal, and early introduction to alcohol—influenced the themes and content of his work. Calonne also explores several unknown pieces of fiction and poetry from the early years of Bukowski’s career, as well as his major works—including Post Office and the poetry volumes published by Black Sparrow Press—and biographical films such as Barfly. Comprehensive but concise, Charles Bukowski will find a wide audience in fans of this prolific, influential figure and provide a valuable introduction to his new admirers.

David Stephen Calonne is the author of William Saroyan: My Real Work Is Being and Bebop Buddhist Ecstasy: Saroyan’s Influence on Kerouac and the Beats, and he has edited several Bukowski titles, including Absence of the Hero: Uncollected Stories and Essays, Vol. 2: 1946-1992, More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, and  Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944-1990.

Excerpt From West Coast Reviewing Panel

National Book Critics Circle in conjunction with City Lights and Litquake presents a panel discussion at City Lights Bookstore revolving around the world of West Coast reviewers, on October 9th, 2012.

Moderated by John McMurtrie of the San Francisco Chronicle, with Julie Cline of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Isaac Fitzgerald of The Rumpus, Dean Rader, columnist for San Francisco Magazine and Huffington Post, and Daniel Levin Becker of The Believer

Three decades ago, most book reviewing was done by local reviewers writing for local papers who picked books of national interest, but also books that spoke to the places they lived. As newspapers have shrunk or collapsed and online reviews have grown, how has book reviewing changed? Four west coast reviewers from both print and online venues  discuss their experiences supporting literary culture today. Julie Cline of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Isaac Fitzgerald of The Rumpus, Dean Rader, columnist for San Francisco Magazine and Huffington Post, and Daniel Levin Becker of The Believer will join in a panel moderated by the San Francisco Chronicle’s book editor, John McMurtrie

JOHN MCMURTRIE is book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. His
writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, and the
Boston Globe.

JULIE CLINE is Senior Nonfiction Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books. A California native, she lives in LA’s Echo Park.

ISAAC FITZGERALD has written for The Bold Italic, McSweeney’s, Mother Jones, and The San Francisco Chronicle. He is the managing editor of The Rumpus.

DEAN RADER’S Works & Days won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize, and he appears in the 2012 Best American Poetry. He writes and reviews regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle and The Huffington Post.

DANIEL LEVIN BECKER is reviews editor of The Believer. His first book, Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature, was published by Harvard University Press in April 2012.

The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature. The NBCC was founded in April 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, with founding members John Leonard, Nona Balakian, and Ivan Sandrof intending to extend the Algonquin round table to a national conversation. The NBCC gained 501(c)(3) status in October 2006, and in 2010 received an NEA grant to support the website and its literary blog, Critical Mass. The National Book Critic Circle Awards are issued each March and honor the best literature published in the United States in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. These are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves. Visit: bookcritics.org

City Lights would like to thank Tess Taylor and Oscar Vilallon for their hard work in making this evening a reality.

ZYZZYVA Fall Release Celebration

The ZYZZYVA fall release celebration was held September 30th, 2012 at City Lights.

hosted by Oscar Villalon, Laura Cogan

with readings by Judy Halebsky, Jesse Nathan, Joel Streicker

“The one journal I read cover to cover as soon as it arrives—ZYZZYVA is that smart, that brilliantly curated”—Junot Diaz

In its Fall issue, the venerated San Francisco literary journal expands on its mission of publishing work from the West Coast’s best writers and artists and translators. An “Expats” section features poetry and nonfiction from Luis Alberto Urrea, Edie Meidav, Dagoberto Gilb and John Freeman—all writers who can claim roots on this side of the country. And the stunning photographs of rising international talent (and Bay Area resident) Lucas Foglia are featured.

For its Fall release celebration at City Lights, ZYZZYVA will present readings from contributors Jesse Nathan, Joel Streicker, and Judy Halebsky. Pick up a copy, have some wine, and enjoy some wonderful writing. Hosted by ZYZZYVA Editor Laura Cogan and Managing Editor Oscar Villalon.

Judy Halebsky’s book of poetry “Sky=Empty” won the New Issues Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a California Book Award. Her most recent volume is the chapbook “Space/Gap/Interval/Distance” (Sixteen Rivers Press).

Jesse Nathan is an editor at McSweeney’s and is a doctoral student in English literature at Stanford.

Joel Streicker received a 2011 PEN American Center Translation Fund Grant to translate Samanta Schweblin’s story collection Pájaros en la boca. His translation of acclaimed Colombian writer Tomas Gonzalez’s story “Victor Comes Back” appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue.

visit: http://www.zyzzyva.org/

Chris Kraus celebrates Summer of Hate at City Lights Bookstore

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100616650/Images/87286100616650L.gifChris Kraus came to City Lights Bookstore to celebrate the release of Summer of Hate (Semiotext(e) Books).

Waking up from the chilling high of a dangerous sex game, art world insider Catt Dunlop travels to Albuquerque from her home in LA. It’s summer, 2005. While Catt’s stated goal is to reinvest some windfall real estate gains, she’s secretly seeking escape from her niche in the insular cosmopolitan bubble she’s strived so hard to attain. In Albuquerque, she meets Paul Garcia, a recently sober ex-con who has just served sixteen months in prison for defrauding Halliburton Industries, his former employer, of $873. Deprived on the most cellular level of knowledge and hope, Paul makes plans, with Catt’s help, to attend UCLA. But then he’s arrested in Arizona on a 10-year old bench warrant. Caught in the nightmarish Byzantine world of American justice, Catt and Paul’s empathic idyll of saving each other’s lives seems cursed to dissolve.

Kraus’ 1997 debut novel I LOVE DICK was hailed by Rick Moody as “one of the most important literary events of the past two decades,” and has become a cult classic. New York Times critic Holland Cotter has called her “one of our smartest and most original writers on art and culture.” In SUMMER OF HATE, Kraus turns her attention to the glaring disparities in expectations and consciousness that have come to define American life.

Baudrillard meets Breaking Bad in Catt’s stark and bleakly hilarious descent into an underclass world of born-again Christianity, self-help, and crack.

Chris Kraus is the author of the trilogy I Love Dick, Aliens & Anorexia and Torpor, and two books of art criticism, most recently Where Art Belongs.  Summer of Hate is her fourth novel.  Chris teaches at European Graduate School and lives in LA, where she is a co-editor of Semiotexte.

 

 

 

Labor Fest at City Lights Bookstore!

Writers, organizers, and activists Stewart Acuff and Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz met at City Lights Bookstore, July 8, 2012, to celebrate the 18th annual LaborFest! Local poet, activist, and organizer Alice Rogoff hosted the event.

LaborFest was established in 1994 to institutionalize the history and culture of working people in an annual labor cultural, film and arts festival. It begins every July 5th, which is the anniversary of the 1934 “Bloody Thursday” event. On that day, two workers Howard Sperry and Nick Bordoise were shot and killed in San Francisco. They were supporting the longshoremen and maritime workers strike. This incident brought about the San Francisco General Strike which shut down the entire city and led to hundreds of thousands of workers joining the trade union movement.

The Organizing committee of LaborFest is composed of unionists and unorganized workers, cultural workers and supporters of labor education and history. We encourage all unions not only to support us with endorsements and contributions but also to include activities about their own union members, their history and the work that they do.

LaborFest San Francisco supports the establishment of LaborFests around the country and internationally. There are now LaborFests in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, every December. Laborfests have also taken place in Buenos Aires, Argentina and El Alto, Bolivia. In April of this year, the first LaborFest in Capetown, South Africa took place. In May, there were LaborFests in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey. The need to build local, national and international solidarity is critical, if labor is going to face the challenges it faces on all fronts. LaborFests help bring our struggles together in art, film and music.

Stewart AcuffStewart Acuff is the Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and has been a labor organizer for more than 30 years. He writes and speaks extensively and has written articles for the Atlanta Constitution, Labor Research Review, In These Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy and Focus Magazine, Labor Studies Journal, New Labor Forum and several Georgia newspapers. He also has written essays in Which Way for Organized Labor? (edited by Bruce Nissen) and Organizing for Justice in Our Communities (edited by Immanuel Ness and Stuart Eimer). He is the co-author with Dr. Richard Levins of Getting America Back To Work.

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz is an educator, feminist activist, writer, and life-long activist. She has produced many scholarly books and articles, and has published three memoirs, Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie (1997); Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960–1975 (2002); and Blood on the Border (2005), which is about what she saw during the Nicaraguan Contra war against the Sandinistas in the 1980s. Outlaw Woman won recognition from the Organization of American Historians as a 2003 finalist for the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award in the field of American civil rights struggles. Her writing has also appeared in Monthly Review, The Nation, and on the CounterPunch website.

Alice Rogoff is a local poet, activist, and organizer. She has served on the Labor-Fest organizing committee since its inception as one of its key organizers. She has been published in the literary magazines Pudding Magazine, Borderlands (Texas Poetry Review), BEAT, Poetrymagazine.com, and the North Coast Literary Review, and in the anthologies It’s All Good by Manic D Press and The View from Here by Street Sheet. Her poetry book MURAL won the 2004 Blue Light Press 2004 Book Award Contest. She is a member of the Authors Guild, Northern California Media Workers Guild (CWA), Academy of American Poets, IWW, Workmen’s Circle and Amnesty International. She co-edited two anthologies for Noe Valley Poets and This Far Together for the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, as well as being an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal since 1984.