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.

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.

 

Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff appeared again at City Lights to speak about his new book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus and to answer questions on all things pertaining to the effect of technology on culture.

87286100320950LWhen protesters shattered the windows of a bus carrying Google employees to work, their anger may have been justifiable, but it was misdirected. The true conflict of our age isn’t between the unem­ployed and the digital elite, or even the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Rather, a tornado of technological improvements has spun our economic program out of control, and humanity as a whole—the pro-testers and the Google employees as well as the shareholders and the executives—are all trapped by the consequences. It’s time to optimize our economy for the human beings it’s supposed to be serving.

In this groundbreaking book, acclaimed media scholar and author Douglas Rushkoff tells us how to combine the best of human nature with the best of modern technology. Tying together disparate threads—big data, the rise of robots and AI, the increasing participation of algorithms in stock market trading, the gig economy, the collapse of the eurozone—Rushkoff provides a critical vocabulary for our economic moment and a nuanced portrait of humans and commerce at a critical crossroads.

Kristina Rizga

San Francisco author Kristina Rizga joins City Lights in discussion of her new book, Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph.

The United States has been on a century long road toward increased standardization in our public schools, which resulted in a system that reduces the quality of education to primarily one metric: standardized test scores. According to this number, Mission High is a “low-performing” school even though its college enrollment, graduation, attendance rates and student surveys are some of the best in the country.

The qualities that matterKristina Rigza the most in learning—skills like critical thinking, intellectual engagement, resilience, empathy, self-management, and cultural flexibility—can’t be measured by multiple-choice questions designed by distant testing companies, Rizga argues, but they can be detected by skilled teachers in effective, personalized and humane classrooms that work for all students, not just the most motivated ones.

Based on four years of reporting with unprecedented access, the unforgettable, intimate stories in these pages throw open the doors to America’s most talked about—and arguably least understood—public school classrooms where the largely invisible voices of our smart, resilient students and their committed educators can offer a clear and hopeful blueprint for what it takes to help all students succeed.

Kristina Rizga has been writing about youth and student issues for over a decade, most recently as an education reporter for Mother Jones. Her writing has been published in The Nation, The American Prospect, and Global Post, among other publications. Prior to Mother Jones, Rizga was the executive editor of WireTap, an award-winning political magazine for young adults. She is also co-founder and reporter at the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, based in her homeland, Latvia. She lives with her husband Mike Stern in San Francisco.

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

Jim Nisbet

Master of hardboiled fiction Jim Nisbet returns to City Lights to celebrate the paperback release of The Price of the Ticket.

Pauley’s done a few bad things in his life. He’s been around the block quite a few times, spending most of his life inside the block. But now, age 52, he’s got an honest job making high-class torture racks and other exquisite playthings for an S&M outfit in downtown San Francisco. His only real problem is he needs a new set of wheels and he’s going to pick one up today, a beat up Ford from one Martin Seam. Sometimes a ticket to Hell only costs $600 . . . nonrefundable, of course.

 

Jim Nisbet is the author of twelve novels and five books of poetry. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, shortlisted for the Hammett Prize, and published in ten languages. Visit his website at: http://noirconeville.com

What has been said about Jim Nisbet’s work:

“Nobody has Nisbet’s distinctive style, humor, and sheer craft . . . One of the finest masters of noir.” —Ken Bruen, author of The Guards

“Jim Nisbet has a voice so original . . . it might remind you of a younger Kurt Vonnegut.” —Chicago Tribune

“In the tradition of Jim Thompson and Damon Runyon, Nisbet is too good to miss.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Jim Nisbet—whose pen is mightier than a million swords—does it again.” –Michael Connelly

Speaking about The Spider’s Cage:

“An unheralded masterpiece of the noir genre. Everyone who loves Noir should read this brilliant book.” –James Ellroy

ZYZZYVA 30th Anniversary Party

Zyzzyva celebrates its 30th Anniversary at City Lights!

hosted by Laura Cogan and Oscar Villalon

with a special presentation by Octavio Solis, featured in the Zyzzyva Winter issue. Zyzzyva is publishing a piece of his called “Retablos,” vignettes of his youth in El Paso. Octavio will be offering a dramatic reading/performance of this work.

Joining Octavio will be two additional Zyzzyva authors, to be announced.

ZYZZYVA’s first issue was published in 1985, under founding editor Howard Junker. In 2011, Laura Cogan became ZYZZYVA’s first new editor in more than 25 years. She and Managing Editor Oscar Villalon make up ZYZZYVA’s editorial team.

The Zyzzyva publishing history is as illustrious as it is groundbreaking. This is the journal that first published Jim Gavin and Jill Soloway, F.X. Toole and Po Bronson—and introduced American readers to Haruki Murakami (in issue No. 13). Their list of contributors includes, among many others, Peter Orner, Kay Ryan, David Guterson, Tom Bissell, Tatjana Soli, Ron Carlson, Luis Alberto Urrea, Amy Hempel, D.A. Powell, Matthew Dickman, Herbert Gold, Daniel Sada, Adam Johnson, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Sandow Birk, Richard Misrach, Aimee Bender, Diego Enrique Osorno, Sherman Alexie, Daniel Handler, Adrienne Rich, Robert Hass, Czeslaw Milosz, Wanda Coleman, Raymond Carver, Tom Barbash, William T. Vollmann, Dagoberto Gilb, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ed Ruscha, Richard Diebenkorn, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert Creeley, and M.F.K. Fisher.

Every issue is a vibrant mix of established talents and new voices, providing an elegantly curated overview of contemporary arts and letters with a distinctly San Francisco perspective.

ZAP Comics Celebration

City Lights celebrated the release of The Complete ZAP Comics and ZAP Comics itself at a party on Jaunuary 22nd, 2015.

The Complete Zap Comix

from Fantagraphics

with Robert Williams, Victor Moscoso, and Paul Mavrides

discussion moderated by Gary Groth and Ron Turner

There scarcely was an underground comics world before Robert Crumb’s classic solo first issue of Zap in 1968. By Zap #2, he had begun assembling a Seven Samurai of the best, the fiercest, and the most stylistically diversified cartoonists to come out of the countercultural kiln. All of them were extremists of one sort or another, from biker-gang member Rodriguez to Christian surfer Griffin, but somehow they produced a decades-long collaboration: a mind-blowing anthology of abstract hallucination, throat-slashing social satire, and shocking sexual excess, that made possible the ongoing wave of alternative cartoonists like Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, and Charles Burns. The Complete Zap Comix collects every issue of Zap — every cover and every story, and even the Zam mini comic jam among the Zap artists — in a multi-volume, slipcased hardcover set. It will also include the 17th unpublished issue with work by Crumb, Moscoco, Wilson, Rodriguez, Shelton, Mavrides, and Williams. Plus, an introduction by founder R. Crumb and an oral history of Zap by Patrick Rosenkranz, and other exclusive bonus features and items TBA. Zap is the most historically and aesthetically important comics series ever published.

David Meltzer, Two-Way Mirror

City Lights celebrates the classic, Two Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook, published in its newest gift edition with a reading from prominent Beat Generation poet, David Meltzer.

Two Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook available here

published by City Lights Books

A classic book of poetics by a major Beat Generation poet, published in a beautiful new edition.

Rational and practical, a teaching tool and a guide to creativity that makes the perfect gift for poets at any stage of development.

Praise for Two-Way Mirror:

“Reading Two-Way Mirror, I feel continually surprised, excited, alive. This book makes me want to make poems, and readers, beware: if you are not already a poet, this book could very well turn you into one.”––Matthew Zapruder, author of Sun Bear (Copper Canyon, 2015) and Why Poetry (Ecco Press, 2016)

“I know of no better amalgam of poetry & poetics & no better introduction to the ways in which poetry can emerge for us & lead us beyond ourselves & toward our own fulfillments. Meltzer’s grace of mind & the life of poetry that surrounds it make the case complete.”––Jerome Rothenberg

“A great book of learning from a lifetime’s thoughts of the poem. Ramble, scribble, tickle, lightbulb! Timely and highly worthwhile.”—Clark Coolidge

“Invaluable for anyone who reads or writes poetry, or has a restless desire of any kind, this wondrous, zany compendium gives us ‘a biography of poetry’ that directly enters our veins, bypassing all the crud and restoring our sense of the art, and David Meltzer is a champion of the impossible to have compiled it. Out of print since 1977, this new expanded edition is a gift of delight and wisdom––keep it in your bag by day and by your bed at night.”––Mary Ruefle

About the Author:

David Meltzer is a poet, novelist, editor, and musician. He has edited many anthologies, including SF Beat: Talking with the Poets. His last book is When I Was a Poet, Number 60 in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. Lawrence Ferlinghetti has called him “one of the greats of post-World War Two San Francisco poets and musicians.”

 

Peter Dale Scott

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

from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

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

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

What has been said about The American Deep State:

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

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

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

— David Talbot, Founder of Salon

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

— Nafeez Ahmed, investigative journalist, the Guardian

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.

Rad American Women A to Z Book Party!

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

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

This event was hosted by Michelle Tea!

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

The Baffler Party

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

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

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

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

The Ecstatic Writing of Qiu Miaojin

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

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

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

James Laughlin Double Feature

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

LaughlinAbout The Collected Poems Of James Laughlin:

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

About Literchoor Is My Beat:

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

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

Here On the Edge

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

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

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.

Sandip Roy and Davia Nelson of the Kitchen Sisters

Sandip Roy celebrates the release of his new book, Don’t Let Him Know, with Davia Nelson of the Kitchen Sisters and City Lights Book Store.

Moving from adolescent rooftop games to adult encounters in gay bars, from hair salons in Calcutta to McDonald’s drive-thrus in California, Don’t Let Him Know follows the trajectory of a family, the struggle between having what we want and doing what we feel we must – and the sacrifices we make for those we love. Tender, powerful, and beautifully told, Don’t Let Him Know marks the arrival of a brave new voice.Sandip

Sandip Roy is Senior Editor at the popular news portal Firstpost.com and blogs for the Huffington Post. He has been a longtime commentator on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio programme in the US, and has a weekly radio postcard for public radio in the San Francisco Bay Area. For years he was a radio host on KALW in San Francisco. He is also an editor with New America Media. Sandip has won several awards for journalism and contributed to various anthologies including Storywallah!, Contours of the Heart, Because I Have a Voice: Queer Politics in India, Out! Stories from the New Queer India, New California Writing 2011 and The Phobic and the Erotic: The Politics of Sexualities in Contemporary India. Sandip lives in Kolkata.

Richard Kenvin

Richard Kenvin celebrates the release of his new book, Surf Craft: Design and the Culture of Board Riding at City Lights Bookstore by reading the first two chapters and answering questions.

richard-kenvin-surfing-carl-ekstrom-surfboardIn his text, Richard Kenvin looks at the craft and design of surfboards from a historical and cultural perspective. He views board design as an exemplary model of mingei, or art of the people, and the craft philosophy of Soetsu Yanagi. Yanagi believed that a design’s true beauty and purpose are revealed when it is put to its intended use. In its purest form, the craft of board building, along with the act of surfing itself, exemplifies mingei. Surf Craft pays particular attention to Bob Simmons’s boards, which are striking examples of this kind of functional design, mirroring the work of postwar modern California designers.

Surf Craft is published in conjunction with an exhibition at San Diego’s Mingei International Museum.

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.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

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

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

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.

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.

Fridays @ Enrico’s: A Tribute to Don Carpenter

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

Hosted by Peter Maravelis/City Lights

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

About the panelists:

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

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

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

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

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