Hot Books Inaugural Party

City Lights celebrates an exciting new publishing venture!

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

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

Three new books are celebrated:

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

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

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

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

Rikki Ducornet

City Lights welcomes Rikki Ducornet, reading from her new novel Brightfellow published by Coffee House Press.

A feral boy comes of age on a campus decadent with starched sheets, sweating cocktails, ahttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100362450/Images/87286100362450L.jpgnd homemade jams. Stub is the cause of that missing sweater, the pie that disappeared off the cooling rack. Then Stub meets Billy, who takes him in, and Asthma, who enchants him, and all is found, then lost. A fragrant, voluptuous novel of imposture, misplaced affection, and emotional deformity.http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/rikki.jpeg

An artist and writer, Rikki Ducornet has illustrated books by Robert Coover, Jorge Luis Borges, Forrest Gander, and Joanna Howard. Her paintings have been exhibited widely, including, most recently, at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Salvador Allende Museum in Santiago, Chile.

Donna J. Haraway

City Lights Bookstore welcomes Donna J. Haraway in discussing the subject of her new book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene from Duke University Press.

In the midst ofhttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100312000/Images/87286100312000L.jpg spiraling ecological devastation, multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway offers provocative new ways to reconfigure our relations to the earth and all its inhabitants. She eschews referring to our current epoch as the Anthropocene, preferring to conceptualize it as what she calls the Chthulucene, as it more aptly and fully describes our epoch as one in which the human and nonhuman are inextricably linked in tentacular practices. The Chthulucene, Haraway explains, requires sym-poiesis, or making-with, rather than auto-poiesis, or self-making. Learning to stay with the trouble of living and dying together on a damaged earth will prove more conducive to the kind of thinking that would provide the means to building more livable futures. Theoretically and methodologically driven by the signifier SF—string figures, science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, so far—Staying with the Trouble further cements Haraway’s reputation as one of the most daring and original thinkers of our time.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Donna-and-Cayenne-crop.jpgDonna J. Haraway is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of several books, most recently, Manifestly Haraway. Professor Haraway is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies. She has recieved numerous awards including from the Society for Social Studies of Science and a J.D. Bernal Award. Dr. Haraway’s works have contributed to the study of human-machine and human-animal relations. Her work has sparked debates in primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology.

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.

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.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

City Lights welcomes Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, reading from and discussing his new book Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer’s Awakening from The New Press.

Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years during which he found his voice as a journalist, short story writer, playwright, and novelist just as colonial empires were crumbling and new nations were being born—under the shadow of the rivalries, intrigues, and assassinations of the Cold War.Birth of a Dream Weaver

Haunted by the memories of the carnage and mass incarceration carried out by the British colonial-settler state in his native Kenya but inspired by the titanic struggle against it, Ngũgĩ, then known as James Ngugi, begins to weave stories from the fibers of memory, history, and a shockingly vibrant and turbulent present.

What unfolds in this moving and thought-provoking memoir is simulhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/thiongo_ngugi_wa_daniel_anderson.jpgtaneously the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history, and the emergence of new histories and nations with uncertain futures.

One of the leading African writers and scholars at work today, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938. He is the author of A Grain of Wheat; Weep Not, Child; Petals of Blood; and Birth of a Dream Weaver (The New Press). He is currently distinguished professor in the School of Humanities and the director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine. He has been nominated for the Man Booker International Prize.

David Price

Author David Price discusses the subject of his new book, Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology from Duke University Press, at City Lights Bookstore

In Cold War Anthropology, David H. Price offers a provocative account of the profound influence that the American security state has had ohttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100627450/Images/87286100627450L.jpgn the field of anthropology since the Second World War. Using a wealth of information unearthed in CIA, FBI, and military records, he maps out the intricate connections between academia and the intelligence community and the strategic use of anthropological research to further the goals of the American military complex. The rise of area studies programs, funded both openly and covertly by government agencies, encouraged anthropologists to produce work that had intellectual value within the field while also shaping global counterinsurgency and development programs that furthered America’s Cold War objectives. Ultimately, the moral issues raised by these activities prompted the American Anthropological Association to establish its first ethics code. Price concludes by comparing Cold War-era anthropology to the anthropological expertise deployed by the military in http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/david-price.jpegthe post-9/11 era.

David H. Price is Professor of Anthropology at Saint Martin’s University. He is the author of Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists and Anthropological Intelligence: The Use and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War, both published by Duke University Press, and Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State.

Jeff Chang and Rebecca Solnit

City Lights welcomed Jeff Chang to celebrate the release of his collection of essays, We Gon’ Be Alright, published by Picador. He is in conversation with Rebecca Solnit about the book.

In these provocative, powerful essays acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100811750/Images/87286100811750L.jpghang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be) takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon‘ Be Alrigh links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.

JEFF CHANG is the author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and Who We Be: A Cultural Histhttp://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Jeff%20Chang.jpgory of Race in Post–Civil Rights America. He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and the winner of the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. He is the executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. Visit: http://cantstopwontstop.com/

Ralph Nader

City Lights Bookstore welcomes Ralph Nader for the release of his new book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think  published by City Lights Books. Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and executive director of City Lights, opens the event. Matt Gonzalez introduces Ralph who talks about the main thrust of his new book, namely what normal citizens can do, right now, to break through corporate power and make change happen.http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100290780/Images/87286100290780L.jpg

In Breaking Through Power, Nader draws from a lifetime waging—and often winning—David vs. Goliath battles against big corporations and the United States government. In this succinct, Tom Paine-style wake-up call, the iconic consumer advocate highlights the success stories of fellow Americans who organize change and work together to derail the many ways in which wealth manipulates politics, labor, media, the environment and the quality of national life today. Nader makes an inspired case about how the nation can—and must—be democratically managed by communities guided by the U.S. Constitution, not by the dictates of big businesses and the wealthy few. This is classic Ralph Nader, a crystallization of the core political beliefs and commitmImage result for ralph naderents that have driven his lifetime of advocacy for greater democracy.

Ralph Nader is a two-time Nieman Fellow who has been awarded for his political activism that focuses in the areas of consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. His work has been affected the passing of several pieces of legislation, such as  the Freedom of Information Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Whistleblower Protection Act. Nader was the subject of the documentary film, An Unreasonable Man, which showed at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006.

 

Ayize Jama-Everett

Author Ayize Jama-Everett was at City Lights in our Poetry Room for a celebration of the release of Ayize’s two newest books: Entropy of Bones and The Liminal War, published by Small Beer Press.

Ayize Jama-Everett was born in 1974 and raised in Harlem, New York. Since then he   ayize-jama-everett-author-photo-200x200has traveled extensively in Northern Africa, New Hampshire, and Northern California. He holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s in Divinity. He teaches religion and psychology at Starr King School for the Ministry when he’s not working as a school therapist at the College Preparatory School. He is the author of three novels, The Liminal People, The Liminal War, and The Entropy of Bones, as well as an upcoming graphic novel with illustrator John Jennings entitled Box of Bones. When not educating, studying, or beating himself up for not writing enough, he’s usually enjoying aged rums and practicing his aim.

Entropy

Entropy of Bones is a Liminal People novel. A young martial artist finds there is more to the world than she can kick, more than she can see. Chabi doesn’t realize her martial arts master may not be on the side of the gods. She does know he’s changed her from being an almost invisible kid to one that anyone — or at least anyone smart — should pay attention to. But attention from the wrong people can mean more trouble than even she can handle. Chabi might be emotionally stunted. She might have no physical voice. She doesn’t communicate well with words, but her body is poetry.

 

The Liminal War is a propulsive novel that starts with a kidnapping iLiminaln London and takes off running. Taggert is a man with a questionable past and the ability to hurt or heal with his thoughts alone. When his adopted daughter goes missing, he immediately suspects the hand of an old enemy. In order to find her, Taggert assembles a team of friends, family, and new allies who don’t quite trust he has left his violent times behind. But their search leads them to an unexpected place: the past.

Getting there is hard, being there is harder, and their journey has a price that is higher than any of us can afford.

Joseph Matthews

In this episode of LIVE! from City Lights, author Joseph Matthews reads from his new novel Everyone Has Their Reasons, published by PM Press.

At a time when the issues of identity, immigration, and class remain both universally  everyone_has_their_reasonsimportant and enormously controversial, Everyone Has Their Reasons is an accessible and captivating tale of one boy’s historically famous experience in the extraordinary setting of roiling pre-WWII Paris. On November 7, 1938, a small, slight 17-year-old Polish-German Jew named Herschel Grynszpan entered the German embassy in Paris and shot dead a consular official. Three days later, in supposed response, Jews across Germany were beaten, imprisoned, and killed, their homes, shops, and synagogues smashed and burned—Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Based on the historical record and told through his “letters” from German prisons, this novel begins in 1936, when 15-year-old Herschel flees Germany, and continues through his show trial, in which the Nazis sought to demonstrate through his actions that Jews had provoked the war. But Herschel throws a last-minute wrench in the plans, bringing the Nazi propaganda machine to a grinding halt and provoking Hitler to postpone the trial and personally give an order regarding Herschel’s fate.

Born in Boston and raised there and in California, Joseph Matthews was for a number of years a criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco, engaging in the criminal/political cases of anti–Vietnam War activists and Mission District barrio residents, defending prisoners during the California prison rebellions of the 1970s, serving as a public defender, and teaching at the law school of the University of California, Berkeley. He spent considerable time in Greece in the 1970s and 1980s, where his novel Shades of Resistance (1996) is set during the period of the military junta there. His other previous books are the short story collection The Lawyer Who Blew Up His Desk (1998) and the political analysis Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (2005, with Iain Boal, T.J. Clark, and Michael Watts).

Best Kept Secrets: The Fiction of Lucia Berlin

Join City Lights and the Book Club of California in an event that is described by editor Stephen Emerson as a “homecoming” for the late short-story writer Lucia Berlin, an evening celebrating Lucia’s life, work, and newly published collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. The event features readings by Gloria Frym, Barry Gifford, Alastair Johnston, August Kleinzahler, Jim Nisbet, and Michael Wolfe.

luciaA Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With her trademark blend of humor and melancholy, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday–uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Northern California upper classes, and from the perspective of a cleaning woman alone in a hotel dining room in Mexico City.
The women of Berlin’s stories are lost, but they are also strong, clever, and extraordinarily real. They are hitchhikers, hard workers, bad Christians. With the wit of Lorrie Moore and the grit of Raymond Carver, they navigate a world of jockeys, doctors, and switchboard operators. They laugh, they mourn, they drink. Berlin, a highly influential writer despite having published little in her lifetime, conjures these women from California, Mexico, and beyond. Lovers of the short story will not want to miss this remarkable collection from a master of the form.

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) was first published when she was twenty-four in The Atlantic Monthly and in Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford’s journal The Noble Savage. Berlin worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Her stories are culled from her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons, including as a high-school teacher, a switchboard operator, a physician’s assistant, and a cleaning woman.

Stephen Emerson is the editor of A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories of Lucia Berlin. He was her close friend and constant correspondent from soon after their first meeting in 1978. His own books include Neighbors (stories, Tombouctou) and The Wife (short novel, Longriver Books). His work has appeared in New Directions in Poetry and Prose, Hambone, and The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Emerson worked as an editor for many years and, later, toiled in what Elmore Leonard called “the advertising game.” He is now writing new stories steadily, but slowly.

Gloria Frym is the author of two short story collections—Distance No Object (City Lights) and How I Learned (Coffee House Press)—as well as many volumes of poetry, including Mind Over Matter and Any Time Now. Her book Homeless at Home received an American Book Award. She currently chairs and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at California College of the Arts. The True Patriot, a collection of her prose, is due out in Fall 2015.

Novelist, screenwriter, and poet Barry Gifford’s most recent books include The Up-Down, Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, Imagining Paradise: New & Selected Poems and The Roy Stories. His film credits include Wild at Heart, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, and City of Ghosts. His novel Night People was awarded Italy’s Premio Brancati, and he has received awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Gifford’s work appears in such magazines as The New Yorker, Punch, Esquire, La Nouvelle Revue Française, Film Comment, and Rolling Stone.

Alastair Johnston co-founded Poltroon Press in Berkeley with the artist Frances Butler in 1975 to publish original works of poetry and fiction. He has written much of the literature on California printing history, as well as books on the history of typography. In 1983 Poltroon published Lucia Berlin’s Legacy, a story about a dipsomaniacal dentist and grandfather, later re-titled “Dr. H.A. Moynihan.” In 1988 they published Safe & Sound, her third collection of stories, illustrated by Butler. Berlin herself helped set the book on the Linotype machine and later delighted in referring to herself as a “tramp printer.”

August Kleinzahler’s most recent collections of poetry are Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Selected Poems), which won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, and Hotel Oneira, both from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. He is the author of two books of prose, Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained and Music: I-LXXIV. Kleinzahler also edited the Selected Poems of Thom Gunn (2009). He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books (where he’s written extensively about Lucia Berlin). In 2008, Kleinzahler won the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. He walks in beauty like the night .

Jim Nisbet, a long-time friend of Lucia Berlin and an avid fan of her stories, has published twenty books including Lethal Injection, widely regarded as a classic roman noir, and Laminating The Conic Frustum, his sole non-fiction title. Current projects include a fourteenth novel, You Don’t Pencil, and a complete translation of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.

Michael Wolfe writes poetry and prose and produces documentary films. Twice a recipient of the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, he was for many years the publisher of Tombouctou Books, a press based in Bolinas, California that published, among many other titles, Lucia Berlin’s second collection, Phantom Pain. His most recent book is a set of ancient Greek epitaphs in translation from Johns Hopkins University Press, Cut These Words into Stone. He lives with his wife in San Juan Bautista.

Praise for A Manual for Cleaning Women:

[Lucia Berlin] may just be the best writer you’ve never heard of . . . Imagine a less urban Grace Paley, with a similar talent for turning the net of resentments and affections among family members into stories that carry more weight than their casual, conversational tone might initially suggest . . . Berlin’s offbeat humor, get-on-with-it realism, and ability to layer details that echo across stories and decades give her book a tremendous staying power . . . [A Manual for Cleaning Women] goes a long way toward putting Berlin, who died in 2004, back in the public eye. – Publishers Weekly
Berlin’s literary model is Chekhov, but there are extra-literary models too, including the extended jazz solo, with its surges, convolutions, and asides. This is writing of a very high order. – August Kleinzahler on Where I Live Now, London Review of Books

This remarkable collection occasionally put me in mind of Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes, with its sweep of American origins and places. Berlin is our Scheherazade, continually surprising her readers with a startling variety of voices, vividly drawn characters, and settings alive with sight and sound. – Barbara Barnard on Where I Live Now, American Book Review
[The stories] are told in a conversational voice and they move with a swift and often lyrical economy. They capture and communicate moments of grace and cast a lovely, lazy light that lasts. Berlin is one of our finest writers and here she is at the height of her powers. – Molly Giles, San Francisco Chronicle on So Long

 

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

Nuruddin Farah

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

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

Rebecca Solnit and Peter Turchi

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

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

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.

James Lenfestey

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

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

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.

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

kate galered hen photoReading from her new poetry book, Kate Gale celebrates the release of The Goldilocks Zone (University of New Mexico Press) and Douglas Kearney reads from his new poetry collection Patter (Red Hen Press) and Peggy Shumaker reads from her book of poetry, Toucan Nest (Red Hen Press). Kate Gale is the managing editor for Red Hen Press, celebrating 20 years of nonprofit literary publishing.

Praise for Kate Gale:

“The clipped jumpy rhythm of these poems with their sudden bursts of syntax prove repeatedly that Kate Gale possesses a poetic tone and pace all her own. She is also refreshingly out of step with today’s poetry of self-absorption, for she is fascinated less by her ego than by the strange variety of the world around us.”—Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate

about Douglas Kearny’s Patter:

For a couple struggling with infertility, conception is a war against their bodies. Blood and death attend. But when the war is won, and life stares, hungry, in the parents’ faces, where does that violence, anxiety, and shame go? The poems in Patter re-imagine miscarriages as minstrel shows, magic tricks, and comic strips; set Darth Vader against Oedipus’s dad in competition for “Father of the Year;” and interrogate the poet’s family’s stint on reality TV. In this, his third collection, award-winning poet Douglas Kearney doggedly worries the line between love and hate, showing how it bleeds itself into “fatherhood.”

about Toucan Nest:

“This is a book of burnished, lapidary attention. Its poems—vibrant with seeing, quickened with sound-work, subtled by insight—peel open landscapes both outer and inner. The costs of our human presence and extractions are in these pages, but also the radiant return of human awareness. Toucan Nest is a unique account of encounter, imaginative inquiry, and expansion.”—Jane Hirshfield”

Dr. Kate Gale is Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review and President of the American Composers Forum, LA.  She serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America.  She is author of five books of poetry and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, with composer Don Davis. The Goldilocks Zone is available from the University of New Mexico Press, February 2014.

Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. It was also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in 2010. His third collection is Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014). He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Coat Hanger award, and fellowships at Idyllwild and Cave Canem. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts.

Peggy Shumaker is Alaska State Writer Laureate. Her previous book of poems is Gnawed Bones. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Toucan Nest, her most recent collection, grew from an eco-arts writing workshop in Costa Rica. Professor emerita from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publishers of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press.

Celebrating San Francisco Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia!

Stray Poems, Alejandro Murguia

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

About Stray Poems

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

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

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

Praise for Alejandro Murguía & Stray Poems:

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

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

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

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

Ben Marcus in conversation with Daniel Levin Becker

From one of the most innovative and vital writers of his generation, an extraordinary collection of stories that showcases his gifts—and his range—as never before.

In the hilarious, lacerating “I Can Say Many Nice Things,” a washed-up writer toying with infidelity leads a creative writing workshop on board a cruise ship. In the dystopian “Rollingwood,” a divorced father struggles to take care of his ill infant, as his ex-wife and colleagues try to render him irrelevant. In “Watching Mysteries with My Mother,” a son meditates on his mother’s mortality, hoping to stave off her death for as long as he sits by her side. And in the title story, told in a single breathtaking sentence, we watch as the narrator’s marriage and his sanity unravel, drawing him to the brink of suicide.

As the collection progresses, we move from more traditional narratives into the experimental work that has made Ben Marcus a groundbreaking master of the short form. In these otherworldly landscapes, characters resort to extreme survival strategies to navigate the terrors of adulthood, one opting to live in a lightless cave and another methodically setting out to recover total childhood innocence; an automaton discovers love and has to reinvent language to accommodate it; filial loyalty is seen as a dangerous weakness that must be drilled away; and the distance from a cubicle to the office coffee cart is refigured as an existential wasteland, requiring heroic effort.
In these piercing, brilliantly observed investigations into human vulnerability and failure, it is often the most absurd and alien predicaments that capture the deepest truths. Surreal and tender, terrifying and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers.

Celebrating the Release of Alexander Cockburn’s A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture with Daisy Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

celebrating the release of

A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture

by Alexander Cockburn

Daisy Cockburn (daughter of the late political commentator Alexander Cockburn) and Counterpunch cofounder Jeffrey St. Clair pay tribute to one of the most influential journalists of our time. Alexander Cockburn’s writing stems from the best tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Menchken and Tom Paine. Colossal Wreck, his final work, finished shortly before his death in July 2012, exemplifies the prodigious literary brio that made Cockburn’s name.

Whether ruthlessly exposing Beltway hypocrisy, pricking the pomposity of those in power, or tirelessly defending the rights of the oppressed, Cockburn never pulled his punches and always landed a blow where it mattered. In this panoramic work, covering nearly two decades of American culture and politics, he explores subjects as varied as the sex life of Bill Clinton and the best way to cook wild turkey. He stands up for the rights of prisoners on death row and exposes the chicanery of the media and the duplicity of the political elite. As he pursues a serpentine path through the nation, he charts the fortunes of friends, famous relatives, and sworn enemies alike to hilarious effect.

This is a thrilling trip through the reefs and shoals of politics and everyday life. Combining a passion for the places, the food and the people he encountered on dozens of cross-country journeys, Cockburn reports back over seventeen years of tumultuous change among what he affectionately called the “thousand landscapes” of the United States.

visit: http://www.counterpunch.org/

Finn Brunton Discusses SPAM: A Shadow History of the Internet

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