Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun

City Lights welcomes Jennifer L. Shaw in conversation with Kit Schluter discussing the subject of the new book published by Reaktion Books Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun by Jennifer L. Shaw.

In the turmoil of the 1920s and ’30s, Claude Cahun challenged gender stereotypes with her powerful photographs, montages, and writings, works that appear to our twenty-first-century eyes as utterly contemporary, or even from the future. She wrote poetry and prose for major French literary magazines, worked in avant-garde theater, and was both comrade of and critical outsider to the Surrealists. Exist Otherwise is the first work in English to the tell the full story of Claude Cahun’s art and life, one that celebrates and makes accessible Cahun’s remarkable vision.

Jennifer L. Shaw embeds Cahun within the exciting social and artistic milieu of Paris between the wars. She examines her relationship with Marcel Moore—Cahun’s stepsister, lover, and life partner—who was a central collaborator helping make some of the most compelling photographs and photomontages of Cahun’s oeuvre, dreamscapes of disassembled portraiture and scenes that simultaneously fascinate and terrify. Shaw follows Cahun into the horrors of World War II and the Nazi occupation of the island of Jersey off the coast of Normandy, and she explores the powerful and dangerous ways Cahun resisted it. Reading through her letters and diaries, Shaw brings Cahun’s ideas and feelings to the foreground, offering an intimate look at how she thought about photography, surrealism, the histories of women artists, and queer culture.

Offering some of Cahun’s writings never before translated into English alongside a wide array of her artworks and those of her contemporaries, this book is a must-have for any fan of this iconic artist or anyone interested in this crucial period in artistic and cultural history.

Jennifer L. Shaw is professor of art history at Sonoma State University in California. She is the author of Reading Claude Cahun’s Disavowals and Dream States: Puvis de Chavannes, Modernism, and the Fantasy of France.

Kit Schluter is a writer and translator living in Mexico City. With Andrew Dieck and Francesca Capone, he edits O’clock Press. His writings have appeared in BOMB, Boston Review, Elective Affinities, Inpatient Press, and The Disinhibitor. He has translated the works of Enzio de Kiipt, Clamenç Llansana, Jaime Saenz, and Marcel Schwob. His latest translation is the forthcoming release from Wakefield Press of the novel by Marcel Schwob titled: The King In The Golden Mask.

David Brazil

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100348950/Images/87286100348950L.jpgCity Lights welcomes David Brazil as he celebrates the release of Holy Ghost (City Lights Spotlight No. 15), published by City Lights Books. David is joined by Julien Poirier. Garrett Caples, the Series editor, introduces the evening.

The third full-length collection from poet-scholar-activist David Brazil, Holy Ghost is a hymnal with secular burdens, poured from the mold of our actual life in common, sung against its limits. It seeks a way to find and build a soul together, and records the seekers’ findings along the way, proposing love as our common human denominator. A record of the author’s struggle to forge a relationship between two distinct vocations—one historical, as an activist (with Occupy Oakland, among other projects), and one spiritual, as he explores the path of radical Christian discipleship (in his life as a pastor)—Holy Ghost attempts to articulate an understanding of where class struggle meets the will of God.

David Brazil is a poet, translator, and novelist. His books include The Ordinary and Antisocial Patience. With Kevin Killian, he edited the Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945-1985. From 2008 to 2011 he published over sixty issues of the seminal TRY! magazine with Sara Larsen. David co-pastors a house church in Oakland and works for social justice with the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy. He’s a Scorpio.

Julien Poirier is a co-founder of Ugly Duckling Presse. He has taught poetry in New York City and San Francisco public schools and at San Quentin State Prison. Previous books include Way Too West (2015) and El Golpe Chileño (2010). City Lights Books recently published his poetry collection titled OUT OF PRINT, as volume 14 in the Spotlight Poetry Series.

Douglas Kearney

City Lights celebrates the release of Douglas Kearney’s collection of works, Buck Studies, from Fence Books. Douglas reads from the book in the Poetry Room.

Poet, performer, librettist, and educator, Douglas Kearney returns to City Lights presenting a performance of his poetry. Kearney’s works speak to those who are listening to what our living, material language has to say about race and history. At the hub of Buck Studies is a long mash-up of the stories of Herakles, the Greek bad-man, and that of Stagger Lee, the black bad-man. “Stagger Put Work In” examines the Twelve Labors Herakles performed to atone for murdering his family through Stagger Lee’s murder of black man Billy Lyons. What is enacted by this appropriation is an exhaustion of forms—gangsta rap and its antecedent, the murder ballad.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/DougKearney.jpgDouglas Kearney’s collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess and (Noemi Press, 2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection that Publisher’s Weekly called “an extraordinary book.” His third poetry collection, Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014) examines miscarriage, infertility, and parenthood and was a finalist for the California Book Award in Poetry. Cultural critic Greg Tate remarked that Kearney’s second book, National Poetry Series selection, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), “flows from a consideration of urban speech, negro spontaneity and book learning.” Someone Took They Tongues. (Subito Press 2016) collects several of his libretti, including one written in a counterfeit Afro-diasporic language. He was the guest editor for 2015’s Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan). He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Poetry, nocturnes, Pleiades, Iowa Review, Boston Review, and Indiana Review; and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Best American Experimental Writing, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, The Breakbeat Poets, and What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Poets in America. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts. Visit: http://douglaskearney.com/

Carey Perloff and Joshua Mohr

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100775260/Images/87286100775260L.jpgCo-presented by Litquake, and with a introduction from City Light’s publisher and executive director Elaine Katzenberger, City Lights welcomes Carey Perloff, the Artistic Director of A.C.T. to discuss Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater (published by the City Lights Foundation). Beautiful Chaos was chosen by the San Francisco Public Library as their One City One Book selection for Fall 2016! Carey is interviewed by novelist Joshua Mohr, whose most recent book is All This Life.
Perloff pens a lively and revealing memoir of her twenty-plus years at the helm, and delivers a provocative and impassioned manifesto for the role of live theater in today’shttp://www.citylights.com/resources/persons/17050.gif technology-infused world.

Perloff’s personal and professional journey—her life as a woman in a male-dominated profession, as a wife and mother, a playwright, director, producer, arts advocate, and citizen in a city erupting with enormous change—is a compelling, entertaining story for anyone interested in how theater gets made. She offers a behind-the-scenes perspective, including her intimate working experiences with well-known actors, directors, and writers including Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Robert Wilson, David Strathairn, and Olympia Dukakis.

Whether reminiscing about her turbulent first years as a young woman taking over an insolvent theater in crisis and transforming it into a thriving, world-class performance space, or ruminating on the potential for its future, Perloff takes on critical questions about arts education, cultural literacy, gender disparity, leadership and power.

Omar Musa

Omar Musa comes to City Lights to perform rhymes and then read from his novel, Here Come the Dogs, published by the New Press. Mighty Joe opens the show.

In small-town suburban Australia, three young men from three different ethnic backgrounds—one Samoan, one Macedonian, one not sure—are ready to make their mark. Solomon is all charisma, authority, and charm, a failed basketball player down for the moment but surely not out. His half-brother, Jimmy, bounces along in his wake, underestimated, waiting for his chance to announce himself. Aleks, their childhood friend, loves his mates, his family, and his homeland and would do anything for them. The question is, does he know where to draw the line?

Solomon, Jimmy, and Aleks are way out on the fringe of Australia, looking for a way in. Hip-hop, basketball, and graffiti give them a voice. Booze, women, and violence pass the time while they wait for their chance. Under the oppressive summer sun, their town has turned tinder-dry. All it’ll take is a spark.

As the surrounding hills roar with flames, the change storms in. But it’s not what they were waiting for. It never is.

Omar Musa is a Malaysian Australian rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. The author of Here Come the Dogs (The New Press), he has opened for Gil Scott Heron and performed at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City. He attended University of California, Santa Cruz. He has released three hip-hop albums and two poetry books, and he received a standing ovation at TEDxSydney at the Sydney Opera House.

Chinaka Hodge

City Lights celebrates the release of Chinaka Hodge’s Dated Emcees, published by City Lights Books (Sister Spit Imprint). She is joined by Tongo Eisen-Martin & RyanNicole, performing to a standing-room only crowd in the main room.

Chinaka Hodge came of age along with hip-hop—and its influence on her suitors became inextricable from their personal interactions. Form blends with content in Dated Emcees as she examines her love life through the lens of hip-hop’s best known orators, characters, archetypes and songs, creating a new and inventive narrative about the music that shaped the craggy heart of a young woman poet, just as it also changed the global landscape of pop.

Chinaka Hodge is a poet, educator, playwright and screenwriter originally from Oakland, California. When not educating or writing for the page, Chinaka rocks mics as a founding member of a collaborative hip hop ensemble, The Getback. Her poems, editorials, interviews and prose have been featured in Newsweek, San Francisco Magazine, Believer Magazine, PBS, NPR, CNN, C-Span, and in two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry.

Born in San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker, educator, and poet who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He has educated in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California’s San Quentin State Prison. His work in Rikers Island was featured in the New York Times. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. He uses his craft to create liberated territory wherever he performs and teaches. He recently lived and organized around issues of human rights and self-determination in Jackson, MS.

RyanNicole is an artist, actress, activist, athlete and world-renown MC & Poet whose lyrical prowess has been exploited on international stages and web platforms, garnering fans in the thousands across the globe. Her musical compositions include a solo mixtape, entitled Dis’Onance and several collaborative efforts with her group Nu Dekades and other artists. RyanNicole has performed with a wide array of artists and persons of influence, most notably President Barack Obama.

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/

Stars Seen in Person: A Tribute to John Wieners

City Lights celebrates the life and work of renowned 20th-century American poet John Wieners with readings from the newly released Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals by John Wieners (published by City Lights) and Supplication: Selected Poetry of John Wieners (published by Wave Books). Guest readers Garrett Caples, Michael Seth Stewart, Micah Ballard, Cedar Sigo, Duncan McNaughton, Bill Berkson, and surprise guest reader Diane Di Prima, gather in City Lights’ stuffy basement to share some of Wieners’ most loved pieces and to pay tribute to a master of the form who truly went under-appreciated.

WienersA contributor to Donald Allen’s seminal New American Poetry anthology, John Wieners was on the periphery of many of the twentieth century’s most important avant-garde poetry scenes, from Black Mountain and the Boston Renaissance to the New York School and the SF Renaissance. Having achieved cult status among poets, Wieners has also become known for the compelling nature of his journals, a mixture of early drafts of poems, prose fragments, lists, and other fascinating minutiae of the poet’s imagination. Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals of John Wieners collects four of his previously unpublished journals from the period between 1955 and 1969. The first journal depicts a young, openly gay, self-described “would-be poet” dashing around bohemian Boston with writer and artist friends, pre-drugs and pre-fame. By the last book, decimated by repeated institutionalizations (the first for drug-related psychosis, the rest the consequence of the first) and personal tragedies, Wieners is broken down and in great pain, but still writing honestly and with detail about the life he’s left with. These journals capture a post-war bohemian world that no longer exists, depicted through the prism of Wieners’ sense of glamour.

John Wieners studied with Charles Olson at Black Mountain College, and later edited the small magazine Measure. He lived for a year and a half in San Francisco, where he wrote his breakthrough book, Hotel Wentley Poems (1958). In the early seventies he settled into an apartment on Boston’s Beacon Hill, where he lived and wrote until his death in 2002.

Michael Seth Stewart lives in New York City. He recently earned his PhD, editing the complete letters of John Wieners. He teaches literature and film studies at Hunter College. He also edited The Sea Under the House: The Correspondence of John Wieners and Charles Olson (Lost & Found).

Advance praise for Stars Seen in Person:

“Like Rimbaud in Season in Hell, or Baudelaire with Intimate Journals, there’s an unguarded spark and trust in John Wieners because impulse and imagination reign supreme. In 1955 he writes, “I shall try the only true thing I want to do. I shall go to my poems.” Predating The Hotel Wentley Poems, moving through Ace of Pentacles, and ushering us into his life before Nerves, Stars Seen in Person further illuminates John as our future/former best unkept secret.”––Micah Ballard

“Thanks to Michael Seth Stewart’s editorial legerdemain, at long last we have the magnificent John Wieners here before us, in his full undressed splendor: poet, stargazer, philosopher, shaman, flâneur, survivor. His journals––an inspiring monument, filled with taut provocations and purple illuminations––are valuable as cultural history, as lyric performance, as uninhibited autobiography, and as a motley, genre-defying epitome of gesamtkunstwerk aesthetic possibilities that seem as fresh and enticing as anything being dreamt up today.”––Wayne Koestenbaum

Freedom Voices Press 25th Anniversary Party

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.

Bill Berkson

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

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.

Women In Public Book Party

City Lights celebrated the release of Women In Public, No. 13 in the City Lights Spotlight Poetry Series, on March 10, 2015 where Elaine Kahn was joined by Ali Warren, author of Here Comes the Warm Jets (City Lights Spotlight No. 10) to read several of their poems.87286100973590L

In Women in Public, the debut full-length collection by poet/musician Elaine Kahn, personal philosophies and collective admissions are put through the corporeal grinder, harnessing the sensual as a medium for the cerebral in order to negotiate the “feminine condition” of being simultaneously othered and consumed.

By turns seductive and self-deprecating, Women in Public navigates a world where the erotics of the body and mind do battle against the constructs that would demean and define them, using lyric, fragment, humor, and repetition to create a space flexible enough to hold the many contradictions of reality. Where expectations and desires can be piled too easily upon the body, Kahn digs in her heels, writing in attempt to liberate physical form from society’s confines.

George Herms

George Herms celebrates the release of his new book, The River Book, at City Lights Bookstore with a guest appearance by Diane di Prima.

The River Book is thgeorge-herms-the-river-book-2(1)e first-ever comprehensive publication on acclaimed and pivotal California assemblage artist George Herms (born 1935). The handsome, two-volume slipcased book covers his earliest works from the 1960s, through his influential assemblages from the 1970s to today, as well as his work on such films as Easy Rider, his set designs for poet and playwright Michael McClure and dancer/choreographer Fred Herko, and his fascinating collaborations with, among others, Diane di Prima and Wallace Berman, for his LOVE Press series of hand-printed books. Interspersed throughout are comments by Herms on various works and on his creative ethos. Also included is a trove of never-before-seen archival photographs of Herms’ friends, such as Wallace and Tosh Berman, Fred Herko, Diane di Prima, Kirby Doyle and Ray Johnson, as well as of Herms himself. A bonus DVD showcases the entirety of Herms’ opera The Artist’s Life. Renowned art critic Dave Hickey provides an insightful look at the artist and his milieu, and the artist himself offers witty and informative text throughout. This is truly an essential book for anyone interested in California art, the Beats, avant-garde theater and film, and fine-art printing.

Wave Books Party

Hosted by Wave Books Editor at Large Matthew Zapruder, with authors Garrett Caples, Anthony McCann, Hoa Nguyen, Cedar Sigo, & Rachel Zucker reading from their recent books published by Seattle-based poetry publishing house Wave Books.slideshow_3

Wave Books is an independent poetry press based in Seattle, Washington, dedicated to publishing exceptional contemporary poetry, poetry in translation, and writing by poets. The press was founded in 2005, merging with established publisher Verse Press. By publishing strong, innovative work in finely crafted trade editions and hand-made ephemera, we hope to continue to challenge the values and practices of readers and add to the collective sense of what’s possible in contemporary poetry.

William Vollmann

VollmanGhost StoriesWilliam Vollmann reads from his new collection of short stories, Last Stories and Other Stories.
His first novel in nine years, published by Viking Press, comprises numerous ghost stories linked together by themes of love, death and the erotic. In this reading session set in the Initiation Chamber and Library of Lodge No. 15 of European Oddfellows, Vollmann reads Widow’s Weeds, a story about Weneke Lea McLeod.

William T Vollmann is an award winning novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, essayist, and painter. He is the author of ten novels, four short story collections, nine works of non-fiction, and numerous limited special editions. His novel Europe Central won the 2005 National Book Award.


Interview with Lenelle Moïse

Lenelle Moïse stopped by the City Lights office shortly before her reading at the bookstore. She sat down and talked about her new book Haiti Glass as well as how she wrote the book, how she came to know the Sister Spit group, and more.

lenelle

Praise for Haiti Glass:

Haiti Glass is a magnificent collection of poetry and prose. Part mantra, part lamentation, part prayer, this incredible book puts us wholly in the presence of an extraordinary and brave talent, whose voice will linger in your heart and mind long after you read the last word of this book.”—Edwidge Danticat

Lenelle Moïse

City Lights is proud to be celebrating the release of:

Haiti Glass

by Lenelle Moïse

The latest poetry cohaitillection in the City Lights/Sister Spit series, edited by Michelle Tea!

Haiti Glass is a thunderstorm of poetics, politics, and art which delve deep into the language of life and present a dual portrait: one of a Haitian immigrant living within a suburban landscape in Boston and one of an artist pulled by both pop culture and the devastating effects of society. Moise’s poetry breathes into itself and expresses a multitude of emotions and observations that drape even the worst scenario’s in a blanket of strong poetic verse.

Haiti Glass is a magnificent collection of poetry and prose. Part mantra, part lamentation, part prayer, this incredible book puts us wholly in the presence of an extraordinary and brave talent, whose voice will linger in your heart and mind long after you read the last word of this book.”—Edwidge Danticat

A Tribute to Peter Orlovsky

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

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.

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.

Red Hen Press Presents: Kate Gale, Douglas Kearney, and Peggy Shumaker

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.

ZYZZYVA Presents: Tess Taylor and D.A. Powell

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

Matthew Zapruder

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.

Eric Baus and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux

TranquilizedTongueWe celebrated the release of Eric Baus’s latest poetry collection, The Tranquilized Tongue, on Tuesday, June 10th, with a special reading from the author himself. Listen to his reading, as well as a reading from Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Live from City Lights!

In the tradition of French poets like Francis Ponge, Pierre Reverdy, and René Char, The Tranquilized Tongue offers a series of prose meditations in the form of surrealist declaratives, each sentence unfolding like an alchemical riddle in which sounds, images, and figures appear, dissolve, and re-emerge to offer a glimpse of a complex unconscious roiling below the surface of everyday reality. Sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a sentence, occasionally just a fragment, each poem in The Tranquilized Tongue is a portal to new perspective on the everyday materials of reality as constituted through language itself. The postmodern classicism of language poetry meets the modernist romanticism of surrealism to startling effect in Baus’s cabinet of curiosities. The eleventh volume of the City Lights Spotlight Poetry Series, The Tranquilized Tongue places Baus alongside such contemporary purveyors of the marvelous and speculative as Andrew Joron and Will Alexander.

Eric Baus was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1975. He is the author of The To Sound, selected by Forrest Gander for the Verse Prize (Wave Books, 2004), Tuned Droves (Octopus Books, 2009), and Scared Text, selected by Cole Swensen for the Colorado Prize for Poetry (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011). He is a graduate of the MFA program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as well as the PhD program in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Denver. With Andrea Rexilius, he co-edits Marcel Chapbooks. He lives in Denver.

Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics 40th Anniversary Party

Jack Kerouac SchoolWe were proud to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at City Lights. It was fantastic night of readings from JKS faculty and guests who have taught in their summer writing program.

City Lights celebrates Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics 40th anniversary.

Hosted by Andrea Rexillus. With readings by Robert Gluck, Juliana Spahr, Cedar Sigo, Eric Baus, Michelle Naka Pierce, and Chris Pusateri.

Founded in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, as part of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s 100-year experiment, the Jack Kerouac School continues to honor its historical roots while bringing forward new questions that both invigorate and challenge the current dialogue in writing today. This event will celebrate Naropa’s 40th year and will feature readings by JKS faculty and renowned guests who have taught in the Summer Writing Program.

http://www.naropa.edu/academics/jks/