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.

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 .

erica lewis and Rita Bullwinkel

City Lights welcomes erica lewis, reading from her new poetry collection, mary wants to be a superwoman, published by Third Man Books and Rita Bullwinkel, reading from her forthcoming work, Belly Up, (forthcoming from A Strange Object in May of 2018). http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100697260/Images/87286100697260L.jpg

About mary wants to be a superwoman, by erica lewis

Being of black, Native American, and white descent, poet erica lewis’ mary wants to be a superwoman recounts her family’s history, their voices within that history— especially the women on her mother’s side — and her friends’ complex history with race, gender, and class in America, what it means to live with your own history, dealing with a history that has been passed down, and how to move on from that history and its implications.
It is lewis’ take on revising the confessional while taking inspiration from her family’s own oral history. Each poem is also framed by phrases from the lyrics of Stevie Wonder’s Motown records, but the poems are not “about” the actual songs, but what is triggered when listening to or thinking about the music. What happens when you take something like a pop song and turn it in on itself, give it a different frame of reference, juxtapose the work against itself, against other pop music, and bring it into the present? mary wants to be a superwoman is the second book of the box-set trilogy; daryl hall is my boyfriend (Barrelhouse, 2015) is the first.

erica lewis lives in San Francisco where she is a fine arts publicist. In addition to mary wants to be a superwoman, books include the precipice of jupiter, camera obscura (both collaborations with artist Mark Stephen Finein), murmur in the inventory, and daryl hall is my boyfriend. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rita Bullwinkel is the author of the story collection Belly Up (forthcoming from A Strange Object in May of 2018). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, VICE, NOON and Guernica. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Drue Heinz Foundation and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Her story “Passing” was a finalist for The Conium Review’s Innovative Short Fiction Prize judged by Amelia Gray. Her story “In the South the Sand Winds are Our Greatest Enemy” was selected by Joyland Magazine as one of their top five favorite stories published in 2015. Both her fiction and her translation have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She lives in San Francisco. Visit:  http://ritabullwinkel.com

Third Man Books and Records: Where your turntable’s not dead, and your page still turns. Visit http://thirdmanbooks.com/.

Clark Coolidge

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100970840/Images/87286100970840L.jpgCity Lights presents Clark Coolidge reading from his poetry and celebrating the release of Selected Poems: 1962-1985 from Station Hill Press, edited by Larry Fagin.

Clark Coolidge is a revered figure in the world of American and world experimental poetry. SELECTED POEMS: 1962-1985 will be how Coolidge’s revolutionary early works will be read for generations to come. Lyn Hejinian writes, “Reading through the still incredible work collected in this exemplary SELECTED POEMS, I marvel all over again at the force of even the ‘smallest’ of Clark Coolidge’s poems. Coolidge’s sonic expertise has often been noted, and music—especially bebop and what has followed it—clearly has suggested to him ways to generate rhythmic clusters, to ride accelerations, to invent scales. No other poet ever has so exquisitely, and sometimes also turbulently, written sheer sonic wonder into poetry.” This volume includes an introduction by Bill Berkson, entitled “The Spools of Clark Coolidge,” recounting Coolidge’s coming up and influences as well as eloquently expressing the visionary nature of his poetic enterprise.http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Coolidge.jpeg

Clark Coolidge is the author of more than forty books, including SELECTED POEMS: 1962-1985, Space, Solution Passage, The Crystal Text, At Egypt, NOW IT’S JAZZ: WRITINGS ON KEROUAC & THE SOUNDS, THE ACT OF PROVIDENCE, and most recently 88 SONNETS and A BOOK BEGINNING WHAT AND ENDING AWAY. In 2011 he edited a collection of Philip Guston’s writings and talks for University of California Press. Initially a drummer, he was a member of David Meltzer’s Serpent Power in 1967 and Mix group in 1993-94. Currently he has returned to active drumming with Thurston Moore and the free jazz band Ouroboros.

Dean Rader

http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100790590/Images/87286100790590L.jpgCity Lights welcomes Dean Rader in celebrating the release of his new collection of poetry, Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry from Copper Canyon Press.

Wikipedia articles are never finalized. In Dean Rader’s energized and inventive new book, the poet considers identity of self and society as a Wikipedia page—sculpted and transformed by the ever-present push and pull of politics, culture, and unseen forces. And, in the case of Rader, how identity can be affected by the likes of Paul Klee’s paintings and the characters from the children’s stories about Frog and Toad. Rader’s cagey voice is full of humor and inquiry, warmly inviting readers to fully participate in thhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Dean.jpge creation.

Dean Rader‘s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was named by The Barnes & Noble Review as a Best Poetry Book of the year. He was won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2016 Common Good Books Prize, judged by Garrison Keillor, and the 2015 George Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America, judged by Stephen Burt. He has written or co-edited three scholarly books and was the editor of the 2014 anthology 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry, which hit #1 on the Small Press Distribution Bestseller list. He writes and reviews regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and The Huffington Post. Two new collections of poetry appear in 2017: A book of collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench, entitled Suture (Black Lawrence Press) and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon).

Syria – Because We Come From Everything

The Poetry Society of America and City Lights Bookstore present SYRIA — Because We Come From Everything: The Poetics of Migration, a poetry reading and discussion as part of the Poetry Coalition’s 2017 programming with Jonathan Curiel, Jack Hirschman, and Jack Marshall . Twenty-two nonprofit poetry organizations from across the United States have formed a historic coalition dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. As its first public offering, throughout the month of March 2017, Poetry Coalition members will present multiple programs on the theme: Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem,  “Borderbus.” The Poetry Society in conjunction with City Lights present an evening that focusses on the Syrian refugee crisis. Poets Jack Hirschman and Jack Marshall, will read poems of theirs and others. Journalist Jonathan Curiel will join them in conversation.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Curiel.jpgJonathan Curiel is a San Francisco-based writer and journalist who has written widely about the Middle East, and has reported from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. His 2008 book, Al’ America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots won an American Book Award. He has been a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program fellow, a Thomson Reuters Foundation fellow at Oxford University, and a Fulbright Scholar at Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. A former staff writer with the San Francisco Chronicle, he has written about the arts for SF Weekly since 2010.

Jack Hirschman is the former Poet Laureate of the City of San Francisco, a poet’s phttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/JackHi.jpegoet, translator, and editor. His powerfully eloquent voice set the tone for political poetry in this country many years ago. Since leaving a teaching career in the ’60s, Hirschman has taken the free exchange of poetry and politics into the streets where he is, in the words of poet Luke Breit, “America’s most important living poet.” He is the author of numerous books of poetry, plus some 45 translations from a half a dozen languages, as well as the editor of anthologies and journals. Among his many volumes of poetry are Endless Threshold, The Xibalba Arcanehttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/JackMarshall.jpeg, and Lyripol (City Lights, 1976).

Born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents who emigrated from Iraq and Syria, Jack Marshall now lives in California. He is the author of the memoir From Baghdad to Brooklyn and several poetry collections that have received the PEN Center USA Award, two Northern California Book Awards, and a nomination from the National Book Critics Circle.

John Freeman 2

City Lights welcomes John Freeman in celebrating the release of Freeman’s: Family: The Best New Writing on Family, published by Grove Press. Joining him is essayist and journalist Garnette Cadogan.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/John-Freeman.jpgThe second issue of a new anthology from renowned literary critic John Freeman, featuring never-before-published stories, essays, and poetry by Claire Messud, Aminatta Forna, Marlon James, Alexander Chee, Aleksandar Hemon, Tracy K. Smith, and more.http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100333600/Images/87286100333600L.jpg

Freeman’s: Family is what the series reviewers are calling “bold” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and “refreshing” (Chicago Literati). Following a debut issue on the theme of “Arrival,” Freeman circles a new topic whose definition is constantly challenged by the best of our writers: family.

In an essay called “Crossroads,” Aminatta Forna muses on the legacy of slavery as she settles her family in Washington, DC, where she is constantly accused of cutting in line whenever she stands next to her white husband. Families are hardly stable entities, so many writers discover. Award-winning novelist Claire Vaye Watkins delivers a stunning portrait of a woman in the throes of postpartum depression. Booker Prize winner Marlon James takes the focus off absent fathers to write about his mother, who calls to sing him happy birthday every year. Even in the darkest moments, humor abounds. In Claire Messud’s home there are two four-legged tyrants; Sandra Cisneros writes about her extended family of past lovers; and Aleksandar Hemon tells the story of his uncle’s desperate attempt to remain a communist despite decades in the Soviet gulag.

With outstanding, never-before-published pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from literary heavyweights and up-and-coming writers alike, Freeman’s: Family collects the most amusing, heartbreaking, and probing stories about family life emerging today.

devorah major

City Lights welcomes devorah major, who celebrates the release of her new book of poetry and then we became published by City Lights Books. http://www.citylights.com/resources/persons/4886.jpghttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100716460/Images/87286100716460L.jpg

devorah major is California born, San Francisco raised, granddaughter of immigrants, documented and undocumented, devorah major served as San Francisco’s Third Poet Laureate (2002-2006). She has published two novels, four poetry books and four poetry chapbooks, along with two young adult titles, and a host of short stories, essays, and individual poems published in anthologies and periodicals. Among her awards is a First Novelist award from the Black Caucus of the ALA and a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award. Along with composer Guillermo Galindo, major was given a commission by the Oakland East Bay Symphony to create Trade Routes, a symphony with spoken word and chorus that premiered in 2005. In June 2015 she premiered her poetry play Classic Black: Voices of 19th-Century African-Americans in San Francisco at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. She is currently the poet-in-residence at the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums and a Senior Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts. More info and writing can be found at www.devorahmajor.com.

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/

Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics

City Lights welcomes a live reading with writers from Tripwire, a journal of poetics with special guest CAConrad, joined by Kevin Killian, Juliana Spahr, Marianne Morris, & Lara Durback, along with painter Yuh-Shioh Wong, hosted by David Buuck.

Tripwire, a journal of poetics, is devoted to a counter-institutional exploration of radical and experimental modes of contemporary poetics, art, and cultural politics. The journal was founded in 1998 by Yedda Morrison and current editor Dahttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/CAConrad.jpegvid Buuck. Six issues were published between 1998-2002, with a special supplement published in September 2004 for the RNC protests in New York.

CAConrad is the author of seven books including ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave, 2014), A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon (Wave, 2012), The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009/Wave, 2010). A 2014 Lannan Fellow, a 2013 MacDowell Fellow,  a 2011 Pew Fellow, and a Headlands Art Fellow, he also conducts workshops on (Soma)tic poetry and Ecopoetics. Visit him online at: http://caconradbooks.blogspot.com/.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Buuk.jpegDavid Buuck lives in Oakland, CA. He is the founder of BARGE, the Bay Area Research Group in Enviro-aesthetics, and co-founder and editor of Tripwire, a journal of poetics. He has collaborated and performed with dancer/choreographer Abby Crain since 2010. An Army of Lovers, co-written with Juliana Spahr, was published in 2013 City Lights, and SITE CITE CITY was published by Futurepoem in fall 2014. Visit his PennSound page for audio, and go to the Buuck/BARGE blog for recent work and upcoming events.

Micah Ballard and Garrett Caples

Micah Ballard and Garrett Caples both read from their new poetry collections. Michael Ballard reads from Afterlives (from Bootstrap Press) and Garrett Caples reads from Power Ballads (from Wave Books).

Micah Ballard is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, including Vesper Chimes (Gas Meter, 2014), Waifs and Strays (City Lights Books, 2011), Parish Krewes (Bootstrap Press, 2009), Evangeline Downs (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), and Negative Capability in the Verse of John Wiehttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Ballard.jpgners (Auguste Press, 2001), as well as the collaborations Death Race V.S.O.P (with Cedar Sigo & Will Yackulic), Easy Eden (with Patrick James Dunagan), and Poems from the New Winter Palace (with Michael Carr). His third full-length collection, Afterlives, was just released by Bootstrap Press. He works at the University of San Francisco and with Sunnylyn Thibodeaux is the co-editor of Auguste Press and Lew Gallery Editions.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/caples_1024x1024.jpgGarrett Caples is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Power Ballads (Wave, 2016), Complications (Meritage, 2007), and The Garrett Caples Reader (Black Square, 1999).  He has also written a book of essays, Retrievals (Wave, 2014), and a pamphlet, Quintessence of the Minor: Symbolist Poetry in English (Wave, 2010). He’s also co-edited Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New and Selected Poems by Frank Lima (City Lights, 2016), Particulars of Place by Richard O. Moore (Omnidawn, 215), and The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (California, 2013).  He’s also an editor at City Lights, where he curates the Spotlight poetry series.

Justin Chin Tribute

City Lighhttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100047050/Images/87286100047050L.jpgts Booksellers celebrates the release of Justin Chin: Selected Works hosted by Jennifer Joseph with readings and remembrances by Kevin Killian, Rabih Alameddine, Henry Machtay, Larry-Bob Roberts, Thea Hillman, Maw Shein Win, Alvin Orloff , and Daphne Gottlieb.

Justin Chin’s fearless and fierce voice was resolute in relating his worldview, whether directly or through metaphorical language. As a queer Asian American, born and raised in Southeast Asia within a devoutly Christian, ethnically Chinese family of medical professionals, Chin’s early life experience informed his writing and framed his point of view. In his literary works, the seemingly conflicted duality of existence is paramount: sacred and profane, saints and sinners, health and illness, hope and despair, life and death. His works also explore his experience of living with HIV, which progressed into AIDS in his final years.

This unique collection of Chin’s literary legacy will serve as both a primer for those new to his works, as well as a loving tribute by those writers who knew him and his work best. Notable literary figures pay tribute to the poet/writer with personal commentaries on works selected from his seven books.

Among many others, contributing writers include R. Zamora Linmark (Rolling the R’s), Michelle Tea (How To Grow Up), Timothy Liu (Don’t Go Back To Sleep), and Lois-Ann Yamanaka (Night at the Pahala Theatre).http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/JustinChin.jpg

Justin Chin (1969-2015) was the award-winning author of four poetry books, two essay collections, one book each of short fiction, and text-based performance art works. His writing appeared in literary magazines, including Beloit Poetry Journal, and anthologies, including American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon). He taught at UC Santa Cruz and at San Francisco State University. He was a recipient of fellowships and grants from the California Arts Council, Djerassi Foundation, Franklin Furnace Fund, PEN American Center, and PEN Center USA West, among others.

 

Brynn Saito, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Percival Everett

Percival Everett, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Brynn Saito celebrating the release of Saito’s new collection of poetry, Power Made Us Swoon (published by Red Hen Press), at City Lights.

A lyrical journey through family legacies, silenced histories, and the possibilities of transformation, guided by the ruthless, witty, and vulnerable voice of a mythic woman warrior.

Guided by the character of the Woman Warrior–witty, swift, and ruthless in her wonder–readers of Brynn Saito’s second collection of poetry travel the terrain of personal and historical memory: narrative poems about family, farming towns, and the bravery of girlhood are interspersed with lyric poetry written from the voice of a stone found in a Japanese American internment camp during the wartime incarceration. What histories can be summoned with poetry? What are the forces shaping an American life in the 21st century? Car accidents, patriarchy, and television fall under this poet?s gaze, along with the intergenerational reverberations of historical trauma. As with The Palace of Contemplating Departure, Saito’s first award-winning collection, Power Made Us Swoon strives for wonder and speaks–in edgy and vulnerable tones–of the fraught journey toward a more just world. “Learn to lie to survive,” sings the woman warrior, “Learn to outlast the flame / learn the art of surprise.”

Brynn Saito is the author of the poetry collection The Palace of Contemplating Desire, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award and forthcoming from Red Hen Press in March, 2013. Her poetry has been anthologized by Helen Vendler and Ishmael Reed; it has also appeared in Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Pleiades, and Drunken Boat. Brynn was born in the Central Valley of California to a Korean-American mother and a Japanese-American father. She received an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in religious studies from NYU. Currently, Brynn lives in the Bay Area and teaches in San Francisco.

Percival Everett is the author of fourteen novels and three collections of short fiction including re:f(gesture), published by Red Hen Press. He is the recipient of the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the PEN/Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature (for his 1996 story collection Big Picture) and a New American Writing Award (for his 1990 novel Zulus). He has served as a judge for, among others, the 1997 National Book Award for fiction and the PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1991. He currently teaches fiction writing, American studies, and critical theory  at the University of Southern California. He has worked as a musician, a ranch hand, and a high school teacher.

Maxine Hong Kingston is the aclaimed author of three novels and several works of non-fiction about the experiences of Chinese immigrants living in the United States. She is the winner of the National Medal of the Arts and was awarded the Northern California Book Award Special Award in Publishing for her anthology Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace.

Julien Poirier

Julien Poirier came to City Lights to celebrate the release of his latest poetry collection, Out of Print, No. 14 in City Lights Books’ Spotlight Poetry Series. He was joined by Elaine Kahn, author of Women in Public (No. 13 in the same series).

The third full-length collection by Julien Poirier, Out of Print is a truly bicoastal volume, reflecting the poet’s years in New York as well as his return to his Bay Area roots. Consider it a meetinghouse between late New York School and contemporary California surrealism, a series of quips intercepted from America’s underground poetry telegraph, or an absurdist mirror held up to consumerist culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julien Poirier is the author of several poetry collections, including El Golpe Chileño (Ugly Duckling, 2010), Stained Glass Windows of California (Ugly Duckling, 2012), and Way Too West (Bootstrap, 2015) and Out of Print (City Lights). In 2005, he published an experimental newspaper novel, Living! Go and Dream (Ugly Duckling). He is also the editor of an anthology of writing by Jack Micheline, One of a Kind (Ugly Duckling, 2008), and a book of travel journals by Bill Berkson, Invisible Oligarchs (Ugly Duckling, 2015). A founding member of Ugly Duckling Presse Collective, Poirier edited the newspaper New York Nights from 2001 to 2006. He has taught poetry in New York City public schools and at San Quentin State Prison. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two daughters.

Interview with Julien Poirier

Poet Julien Poirier sits down with City Lights poetry editor Garrett Caples to discuss his beginnings as a poet, as well as read several selections from his latest poetry collection, Out of Print (published in City Lights Books’ Spotlight Poetry Series).

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.

Of Poetry and Protest

City Lights celebrates the release of Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, a stunning new anthology that illuminates today’s black experience through the voices of our most transformative and powerful African American poets. Michael Warr, one of the editors of the anthology, hosts the event, which features readings by Devorah Major, D. Scott Miller, and others.

Included in this extraordinary volume are the poems of 43 of America’s most talented African American wordsmiths, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poets Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as the work of other luminaries such as Elizabeth Alexander, Ishmael Reed, and Sonia Sanchez. Included are poems such as “No Wound of Exit” by Patricia Smith, “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen, and “Poem for My Father” by Quincy Troupe. Each is accompanied by a photograph of the poet along with a first-person biography. The anthology also contains personal essays on race such as “The Talk” by Jeannine Amber and works by Harry Belafonte, Amiri Baraka, and The Reverend Dr. William Barber II, architect of the Moral Mondays movement, as well as images and iconic political posters of the Black Lives Matter movement, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party. Taken together, Of Poetry and Protest gives voice to the current conversation about race in America while also providing historical and cultural context. It serves as an excellent introduction to African American poetry and is a must-have for every reader committed to social justice and racial harmony.

Michael Warr received a Creative Work Fund award for “Tracing Poetic Memory.” He is deputy director of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

 

Jack Hirschman & Mahnaz Badihian

City Lights hosts Jack Hirschman and Mahnaz Badihian for a bilingual reading of the love poems of Rumi, in Farsi and in English.

JackHirschmanJack Hirschman is the former poet Laureate of San Francisco, a translator, and editor. His powerfully eloquent voice has set the tone for political poetry in the US for decades. Since leaving a teaching career in the ’60s, Hirschman has taken the free exchange of poetry and politics into the streets where he is, in the words of poet Luke Breit, “America’s most important living poet.” He is the author of numerous books of poetry, plus some 45 translations from a half a dozen languages, as well as the editor of anthologies and journals. Among his many volumes of poetry are All That’s Left, Frontlines, Endless Threshold, The Xibalba Arcane, and Lyripol (City Lights, 1976). Hirschman is a founding member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco (RPB,2009), World Poetry Movement (WPM, Medellin, Colombia, 2011), and Member of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America (LRNA).

MahnazMahnaz Badihian is an Iranian born poet and translator whose work has been published into several languages worldwide, including Persian, Turkish, Italian, and Malayalam. She attended the Iowa Writer’s workshop with a focus on international poetry while practicing as a dentist in Iowa City. Her publications include two volumes of poetry in Persian and a best-selling translation of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions into Persian. Her first English language book is a critically acclaimed book of original English language poetry, From Zayandeh Rud to the Mississippi. She has an awarding winning selection of poetry (XIV Premio Letterario Internazionale Trofeo Penna d’Autore, Tornio) translated into Italian by Cristina Contili and Pirooz Ebrahimi. Currently, she resides in Northern California where she runs an online multilingual literary magazine, MahMag.org, in an effort to bring the poetry of the world together.

Frank Lima Tribute

City Lights celebrates the release of Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New and Selected Poems, a collection of Latino poet and visionary Frank Lima’s most celebrated work, along with previously unpublished material. The evening included readings of Lima’s poems from editors Garrett Caples and Julien Poirier, and other guest readers including Cedar Sigo, Joseph Lease, Jackson Meazle, Rod Roland, Brian Lucas, and Chris Carosi.
This event was recorded in the Poetry Room at City Lights – toward the end of the reading (recorded on Mardi Gras), a band can be heard playing down in Kerouac Alley, which certainly added to the evening!


 

Protégé of Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, and Allen Ginsberg, the streetwise Puerto Rican/Mexican poet Frank Lima was tfrank limahe only Latino member of the New York School during its historical heyday. Born in Spanish Harlem in 1939, he endured a difficult and violent childhood, discovering poetry as an inmate of the juvenile drug treatment center under the tutelage of the painter, Sherman Drexler, who introduced him to his poet friends. Rubbing shoulders with everyone from Edwin Denby and Joe Brainard to Jasper Johns and the de Koonings, Lima appeared in key New York School anthologies and published two collections of his own with prominent publishers. In the late seventies, Lima left the poetry world to pursue a successful career as a chef, and though he rarely published, and his work fell out of circulation, he continued to write a poem a day until his death in 2013.

Incidents of Travel in Poetry is a landmark re-introduction to the work of this major Latino American poet. Beginning with poems from Inventory (1964), his installment in the legendary Tibor de Nagy poetry series, Incidents includes selections from Lima’s previous volumes, tracing his development from his early snapshots of street life to his later surrealist-influenced abstract lyricism. The bulk of the collection comes from his later unpublished manuscripts, and thus Incidents represents the full range of Lima’s work for the first time. Edited by poets Garrett Caples and Julien Poirier, and including a biographical introduction.

Barbaric, Vast & Wild

City Lights celebrated the release of Poems for the Millennium, Volume 5: Barbaric Vast & Wild: An Assemblage of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present, with an event featuring readings by editor Jerome Rothenberg, joined by guest readers Jack & Adelle Foley, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, & Julie Rogers.

BARBARICBarbaric, Vast & Wild is a continuation and a possible culmination of the project that began with Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred in 1968 and led to the first four volumes of Poems for the Millennium in the 1990s and 2000s. In this new and equally groundbreaking volume, Rothenberg and John Bloomberg-Rissman have assembled a wide-ranging gathering of poems and related language works, whose outside/outsider and subterranean/subversive positions challenge some of the boundaries to where poetry has been or may be practiced, as well as the form and substance of the poetry itself. It also extends the time frame of the preceding volumes in Poems for the Millennium, hoping to show that, in all places and times, what the dominant culture has taken as poetry has only been part of the story.

Divided into four “books” – Visions, Voices, Extensions, and Performances – Barbaric Vast & Wild brings together on a global and historical scale – from the paleolithic caves to the immediate present – works from the hieratic and sacred to the mundane and the radically transgressive and politically subversive. The range here is enormous: Egyptian pyramid texts, biblical prophecies, pre-Socratic poet-philosophers, Buddhist wanderers and “divine madmen,” along with poems and related language works from dialects and “nation languages,” thieves’ cants and other argots or vernaculars, working class and lumpen poetries, popular and newspaper poetry, sermons and rants, glossolalia and glossographia, slogans, graffiti, private writings (journals and diaries) or semi-private (correspondence, blogs, or social-networkings), and the “art of the insane” (Art Brut) that marked the early turning of avant-garde artists and poets to the idea of an “outside” poetry and art.  The work as a whole may be taken as another step toward what the editors have called an “omnipoetics” and an “anthology of everything.”

Edward Hirsch

Poet and author Edward Hirsch shares selections from Gabriel: A Poem, his landmark work celebrating and mourning his late son, whose explosive presence and misadventurous life shines through every line of Gabriel.

Never has there been a book of poems quite like Gabriel, in which a short edward-hirschlife, a bewildering death, and the unanswerable sorrow of a father come together in such a sustained elegy. This unabashed sequence speaks directly from Hirsch’s heart to our own, without sentimentality. From its opening lines—”The funeral director opened the coffin / And there he was alone / From the waist up”—Hirsch’s account is poignantly direct and open to the strange vicissitudes and tricks of grief. In propulsive three-line stanzas, he tells the story of how a once unstoppable child, who suffered from various developmental disorders, turned into an irreverent young adult, funny, rebellious, impulsive. Hirsch mixes his tale of Gabriel with the stories of other poets through the centuries who have also lost children, and expresses his feelings through theirs. His landmark poem enters the broad stream of human grief and raises in us the strange hope, even consolation, that we find in the writer’s act of witnessing and transformation. It will be read and reread.

Edward Hirsch is the acclaimed author of numerous books of poetry including: For The Sleepwalkers, Wild Gratitude, The Night Parade, Earthly Measures, On Love, Lay Back the Darkness, Special Orders, and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems. He is also the author of five prose books, including A Poet’s Glossary, Poet’s Choice, How To Read A Poem And Fall In Love With Poetry, Theodore Roethke’s Selected Poems, The Making Of A Sonnet: A Norton Anthology. He also edits the series “The Writer’s World” for Trinity University Press. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He is currently president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Barbara Jane Reyes and Kathleen Weaver

There’s no better way to kick off the new year with a poetry reading here. City Lights’ first event of 2016 featured guest appearances by two poets, Barbara Jane Reyes and Kathleen Weaver, sharing selections from To Love as Aswang: Songs, Fragments, Found Objects and Too Much Happens: Poetry.

about Barbara Jane Reyes’ To Love as Aswang:

To Love AsThe Philippine aswang is a mythic, monstrous creature which has, since colonial times, been associated with female transgression, scapegoating, and social shaming, known in Tagalog as hiya. In the 21st century, and in diaspora, she manages to endure. Barbara Jane Reyes’s To Love as Aswang, the poet and a circle of Filipino American women grapple with what it means to live as a Filipina, or Pinay, in a world that has silenced, dehumanized, and broken the Pinay body. These are poems of Pinay tragedy and perseverance, of reappropriating monstrosity and hiya, sung in polyphony and hissed with forked tongues.

 

about Kathleen Weaver’s Too Much Happens:

Too MuchAfter years of translating and presenting other writers, Kathleen Weaver has now produced a collection of her own poems, Too Much Happens, a collection that mingles personal and major social concerns in an attempt to give voice to a sense of increasing fear for a cherished world in crisis. Catastrophic wars, child soldiers, dried lake beds, the relentless onslaught of bad news. “What shall we do with what we know?” Too Much Happens poses a question for which no answer is clear in a world skirting a perilous edge.

 

About the poets:

Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, the Philippines, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. To Love as Aswang is her fourth full-length collection of poetry. She is the author of the poetry collections Gravities of Center (2003), Poeta en San Francisco (2005), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Diwata (2010). Her work explores a variety of cultural, historical, and geographical perspectives. In Poeta en San Francisco Reyes employs English, Spanish, and Tagalog to create a devastating portrait of her hometown. Craig Perez noted in a Rain Taxi review that “throughout Poeta, we witness the intersecting trajectories of body, self, culture and city.” In a review for Bluefifth, Nicole Cartwright Denison commented that by “drawing heavily upon inspiration from Filipino creation myths, along with multiple biblical and classical allusions … Poeta en San Francisco transforms her hometown into the broader world teeming with struggle, with life wasted and wanted, with hope leaking from the edges.” With her husband, the poet Oscar Bermeo, Reyes co-edits Doveglion Press, which publishes political literature. She has taught creative writing at Mills College and Philippine studies at the University of San Francisco.

Kathleen Weaver studied at the University of Edinburgh and as a Ford Fellow in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. As a graduate student she was part of a women’s group devoted to translating women poets, work that led to her co-edit The Other Voice: Twentieth Century Women Poets in Translation and Penguin Book of Women Poets. She has translated poetry and book length works from Spanish. Her biographical study of Magda Portal, Peruvian Rebel: The World of Magda Portal, was nominated for a Northern California Book Award. She lives in Berkeley.

Third Man Books Celebration

City Lights in conjunction with Litquake and Third Man Books present an evening packed with poetry and music, featuring readings by poets Sampson Starkweather, Paige Taggart, Janaka Stucky, Salena Godden, hosted by master of ceremonies Chet Weise, and with a special guest appearance by Ginny Stanford.

Third Man Books (the publishing imprint of Jack White’s Third Man Records) was at City Lights during Litquake to launch two new titles: PAIN: The Board Game by Sampson Starkweather and Hidden Water by Frank Stanford. Sampson Starkweather will be reading along with fellow TMB authors Paige Taggart and Janaka Stucky; editor Chet Weise will also be reading excerpts from Stanford’s work.

ThirdManBooks

Third Man Books and Records: Where your turntable’s not dead, and your page still turns. Visit http://thirdmanbooks.com/.

Sampson Starkweather is the author of PAIN: The Board Game forthcoming from Third Man Books in 2015, and The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press. His most recent chapbooks are Flowers of Rad by Factory Hollow Press, Flux Capacitor, a collaborative audio poetry album from Black Cake Records, and Until the Joy of Death  Hits, pop/love GIF poems forthcoming from Spork Press. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. Read his poems here.

Paige Taggart is a Northern Californian and currently resides in Brooklyn. Want For Lion is her first full-length collection. Her second book Or Replica will be published by Brooklyn Arts Press. She is the author of 5 chapbooks: Last Difficult Gardens (Horse Less Press),  DIGITAL MACRAMÉ (Poor Claudia) Polaroid Parade (Greying Ghost) and The Ice Poems (DoubleCross Press), and forthcoming I am Writing To You From Another Country; Translations of Henri Michaux (Greying Ghost Press). She earned her MFA from the New School and was a 2009 NYFA fellow. She works as a full-time jewelry production manager & additionally makes her own jewelry. Read some of her poems here.

Janaka Stucky is the author of The Truth Is We Are Perfect and the Publisher of Black Ocean as well as the annual poetry journal, Handsome. He is also the author of two chapbooks: Your Name Is The Only Freedom and The World Will Deny It For You. His poems have appeared in such journals as Denver Quarterly, Fence and North American Review, and his articles have been published by The Huffington Post and The Poetry Foundation. He is a two-time National Haiku Champion and in 2010 he was voted “Boston’s Best Poet” in the Boston Phoenix. His website here.

Born in 1948, Frank Stanford was a prolific poet known for his originality and ingenuity. He has been dubbed “a swamprat Rimbaud” by Lorenzo Thomas and “one of the great voices of death” by Franz Wright. He grew up in Mississippi, Tennessee, and then Arkansas, where he lived for most of his life and wrote many of his most powerful poems. Stanford died in 1978. He authored over ten books of poetry, including eight volumes in the last seven years of his life.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

City Lights founder and prolific poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti appears in person to celebrate the release of his long-anticipated new book, Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010. Lawrence and editors Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson read choice excepts from this extraordinary volume, which provides a panoramic portrait of art and life across the twentieth century, from Mexico to Morocco, Paris to Rome, and beyond. Ferlinghetti closes the evening reading his poem, “At Sea,” dedicated to Pablo Neruda. This event was packed, thanks to all who came out.

Over the course of an adventured-filled life, now in its tenth decade, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been many things: a poet, painter, 87286100431850Lpacifist, publisher, courageous defender of free speech, and owner of San Francisco’s legendary City Lights bookstore. Now the man whose A Coney Island of the Mind  became a generational classic reveals yet another facet of his manifold talents, presenting here his travel journals, spanning over sixty years. Selected from a vast trove of mostly unpublished, handwritten notebooks, and edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson, Writing Across the Landscape becomes a transformative work of social, cultural, and literary history.

Beginning with Ferlinghetti’s account of serving as a commanding officer on a Navy sub-chaser during D-Day, Writing Across the Landscape dramatically traverses the latter half of the twentieth century. For those only familiar with his poetry, these pages present a Lawrence Ferlinghetti never before encountered, an elegant prose stylist and tireless political activist who was warning against the pernicious sins of our ever-expansive corporate culture long before such thoughts ever seeped into mainstream consciousness.

Yet first and foremost we see an inquisitive wanderer whose firsthand accounts of people and places are filled with pungent descriptions that animate the landscapes and cultures he encounters. Evoking each journey with a mixture of travelogue and poetry as well as his own hand-drawn sketches, Ferlinghetti adopts the role of an American bard, providing panoramic views of the Cuban Revolution in Havana, 1960, and a trip through Haiti, where voodoo and Catholicism clash in cathedrals “filled with ulcerous children’s feet running from Baron Hunger.” Reminding us that poverty is not only to be found abroad, Ferlinghetti narrates a Steinbeck-like trip through California’s Salton Sea, a sad yet exquisitely melodic odyssey from motel to motel, experiencing the life “between cocktails, between filling stations, between buses, trains, towns, restaurants, movies, highways leading over horizons to another Rest Stop…Sad hope of all their journeys to Nowhere and back in dark Eternity.”

Particularly memorable is his journey across the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1957, which turns into a Kafkaesque nightmare in which he, lacking a proper visa, is removed from a Japan-bound freighter and forced back across the Russian steppe to Moscow, encountering a countryside more Tolstoy than Khrushchev, while nearly dying in the process. Readers are also treated to glimpses of Ezra Pound, “looking like an old Chinese sage,” whom Ferlinghetti espies in Italy, as well as fellow Beat legends Allen Ginsberg and a dyspeptic William S. Burroughs, immured with his cats in a grotto-like apartment in London.

Embedded with facsimile manuscript pages and an array of poems, many never before published, Writing Across the Landscape revives an era when political activism coursed through the land and refashions Lawrence Ferlinghetti, not only as a seminal poet but as an historic and singular American voice.

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