Interview with Julien Poirier

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

Tanwi Nandini Islam

Author Tanwi Nandini Islam joins Achy Obejas in conversation at City Lights to celebrate the release of her critically-acclaimed debut novel, Bright Lines, published by Penguin Books.

For as long as she can reTanwimember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder in the aftermath of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Ella came to Brooklyn to live with the Saleem family: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their daughter, Charu, from whom she couldn’t be more different. Ella has never felt entirely comfortable in her own body, and spends hours tending the garden behind the Saleems’ brownstone.

When Ella returns home from college one summer, she is surprised to discover Charu’s friend Maya—a local Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her 87286100954240Mbedroom. The two grow close, and suddenly Ella is forced to come to terms with her sexuality and the increasingly blurry line between friendship and love.

As the girls harbor their secrets, Anwar—owner of a popular neighborhood apothecary—has his own, one that threatens his thirty-year marriage. When tragedy strikes and the Saleems are blamed, it nearly tears apart the family. Ella, Charu, Anwar, and Hashi travel to Bangladesh to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer, multimedia artist, and founder of Hi Wildflower Botanica, a handcrafted natural perfume and skincare line.  Her writing has appeared in Elle, Fashionista.com and Billboard. A graduate of Vassar College and Brooklyn College’s MFA program, she lives in Brooklyn.

Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins, Days of Awe and three other books of fiction. Her poetry chapbook, This is What Happened in Our Other Life, was both a critical favorite and a best-seller. She edited and translated, into English, Havana Noir, a collection of crime stories by Cuban writers on and off the island. Her translation, into Spanish, of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao / La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Óscar Wao was a finalist for Spain’s Esther Benítez Translation Prize from the national translator’s association. She is currently the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, CA, where she lives with her wife, Megan Bayles, and their son Ilan.

Interview with David Stephen Calonne

City Lights sits down for a one-on-one interview with David Stephen Calonne, editor of the recently released The Bell Tolls for No One, a book of previously uncollected pulp fiction from Charles Bukowski, published by City Lights.

From the self-illustrated, unpublished work written in 1947 to hardboiled contributions to 1980s adult magazines, The Bells Tolls for No One presents the entire range of Bukowski’s talent as a short story writer, from straight-up genre stories to postmodern blurring of fact and fiction. An informative introduction by editor David Stephen Calonne provides historical context for these seemingly scandalous and chaotic tales, revealing the hidden hand of the master at the top of his form.

Born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he would eventually publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose. He died of leukemia in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994.

David Stephen Calonne is the author of several books and has edited three previous collections of the uncollected work of Charles Bukowski for City Lights: Absence of the Hero, Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, and More Notes of a Dirty Old Man.

Interview with Elaine Kahn

Elaine Kahn discusses her new book, Women in Public, and reads two poems in an interview with City Lights.

Elaineandthesea smllrIn 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. In this interview, Eliane discusses her writing process, the inspiration behind her poems, and reads from her book.

A Conversation Between John Coletti and Garrett Caples

John Coletti talks to Garrett Caples about his book, Deep Code.17053

Garrett Caples is the editor of the City Lights Spotlight Series, of which Deep Code is the 12th edition.

In this interview, John Coletti reads the poem “Gasoline: Toys” from the collection and talks about the story behind its composition. The two discuss the difference between the form in this new collection and his last book, Mum Halo, and much more.

An Interview with Catherine Wagner

Catherine Wagner performing at City Lights.

Editor of the City Lights/Spotlight Poetry series Garrett Caples interviewed poet Catherine Wagner before her reading at City Lights at the end of October. She finishes her tour in New York on Dec. 12th at the Poetry Project.

They discussed performance and poetry, connecting with an audience, and the theory of William Blake’s “the bounding line,” which Wagner cites as the inspiration for her newest poetry collection Nervous Device.

“Wagner’s fourth collection contains poems of memory and dark artifice. She writes with an obscure, magnetic lens… the linguistic tightness of these poems are highlights of Wagner’s collection.”—Publisher’s Weekly

Nervous Device is such a smart book. You never know where the poems are going to take you, or when some startling, often cringe-making image or thought will intrude. Unable to settle into a comfortable rhetorical space, these poems reject simple claims to knowing something or doing right or changing the world. Rather, they move like an erratic insect stuck in a language bell jar. Brilliant, and disturbing.”—Jennifer Moxley

“Nervous device, the human machine, palpitating inside its own little bounding lines. These poems do everything the human device does, vibrating like an electrified tornado inside a glass jar, and make this reader profoundly alive to huge swathes of being. There is no machine for mastering the self (yet), but there are Cathy Wagner’s poems.”—Eleni Sikelianos

“The poems in Nervous Device resonate with a knowing nod to time and the difficulty and struggle of being sentient and intimate—of loving while being human. This is poetry connectivity: sexy, poignant, knowing. And the poems here make me feel possible.”—Hoa Nguyen

In Nervous Device, Catherine Wagner takes inspiration from William Blake’s “bounding line” to explore the poem as a body at the intersection between poet and audience. Using this figure as a model for various sexual, political, and economic interactions, Wagner’s poems shift between seductive lyricism and brash fragmentation as they negotiate the failure of human connection in the twilight of American empire. Intellectually informed, yet stubbornly insistent on their own objecthood, and taking a bewildering variety of forms, the poems of Nervous Device express a self-conscious skepticism about the potential for human connection even as they maintain an optimistically charged eroticism.