Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics

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

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

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

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

Micah Ballard and Garrett Caples

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

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

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

Justin Chin Tribute

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

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

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

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

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

 

Brynn Saito, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Percival Everett

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julien Poirier

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Interview with Julien Poirier

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

Chinaka Hodge

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

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

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

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

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

Frank Lima Tribute

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


 

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

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

Barbaric, Vast & Wild

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

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

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

Edward Hirsch

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

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

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

Barbara Jane Reyes and Kathleen Weaver

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

about Barbara Jane Reyes’ To Love as Aswang:

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

 

about Kathleen Weaver’s Too Much Happens:

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

 

About the poets:

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

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

Third Man Books Celebration

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

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

ThirdManBooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Women In Public Book Party

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

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

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

George Herms

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

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

Wave Books Party

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

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

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

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

Praise for Kate Gale:

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

about Douglas Kearny’s Patter:

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

about Toucan Nest:

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

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

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

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

ZYZZYVA Presents: Tess Taylor and D.A. Powell

In an evening graciously hosted by ZYZZYVA, who recently published their 100th issue, Tess Taylor and D. A. Powell sat with a small group in the poetry room of City Lights to read some of their own poems. Taylor read excerpts from her latest collection, The Forage House, published last year by Red Hen Press, while Powell read a mixture of some of his favorite past poems.

The Forage House is at once a sensuous reckoning with an ambiguous family history and a haunting meditation on national legacy. In it, the speaker unravels a rich and troubling history. Some of her ancestors were the Randolph Jeffersons, one of Virginia’s most prominent slaveholding families. Some were New England missionaries. Some were dirt-poor Appalachians. And one was the brilliant, controversial Thomas Jefferson. Shuttling between legend and story, history and family tale, these poems visit cluttered attics, torn wills, and marked and unmarked graves. Many of the poems were written while Tess was in residence at Monticello, in dialog with and working alongside historians and archaeologists there. Based in years of research and travel, these poems form a kind of lyric journalism, collaged from tantalizing fragments. The Forage House explores how we make stories, and how stories—even painful ones—make us.

Tess Taylor has received writing fellowships from Amherst College, The American Antiquarian Society, The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The International Center for Jefferson Studies, The Headlands Center for the Arts, and The MacDowell Colony. Her chapbook, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland and published by the Poetry Society of America, and her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New Yorker. Her essay, “The Waste Land App” published in The Threepenny Review, won a 2013 Pushcart Prize. She currently reviews poetry for NPR’s All Things Considered and teaches writing at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in El Cerrito, California. Her book of poems, The Forage House, is published by Red Hen Press.

D. A. Powell is the author of five collections, including Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. His honors include the Kingsley Tufts Prize in Poetry and an Arts & Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Critic Stephen Burt, writing in the New York Times, said of D. A. Powell: “No accessible poet of his generation is half as original, and no poet as original is this accessible.”  A former Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University, Powell has taught at The University of San Francisco, Columbia University, The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Davidson College. He lives in San Francisco. Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys is Powell’s fifth collection of poems.

Oscar Villalon is the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews appear on NPR.org and KQED’s “The California Report.” He is the Managing Editor of ZYZZYVA.

ZYZZYVA publishes the best prose, poetry, and visual art produced by West Coast writers and artists—along with the occasional piece from east of California. Since 1985, they’ve published such writers as Sherman Alexie, Raymond Carver, Aimee Bender, Po Bronson, F.X. Toole, Haruki Murakami, Richard Rodriguez, and Daniel Handler; poets such as Kay Ryan, Adrienne Rich, Matthew Zapruder, Czeslaw Milosz, W.S. Di Piero, and Francisco X. Alarcon, and have featured work from such artists as Ed Ruscha, Sandow Birk, Laurie Anderson, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud. Visit: www.zyzzyva.org

Interview with Eric Baus

Eric Baus stopped by City Lights to talk about his new poetry book, The Tranquilized Tongue

We celebrated the release of The Tranquilized Tongue, the latest in the City Lights Spotlight Poetry series! The Tranquilized Tongue is the 11th installment in the City Lights Spotlight Series, which brings attention to established and up-and-coming innovative American poets.TranquilizedTongue

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

Five Questions with Eric Baus

Praise for The Tranquilized Tongue:

“The poems comprising The Tranquilized Tongue propose a unique blend of Persian miniature and habanero pepper. The book is aburst with unremitting predication, each poem a merciless thought machine.”—Nathaniel Mackey

“For over a decade now, Eric Baus has been one of the leading practitioners of a new kind of poem, one that draws as equally on the legacy of surrealism, the nouveau roman, and even the language poets, as it does on the Deep Listening practice of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier’s forays into resonant sound, the films of Charles and Ray Eames, and the voiceover of Sir David Attenborough narrating our insect and animal worlds. The Tranquilized Tongue speaks to us in a music capable of condensing geologic time into that of a microtonal interval: weird, warped, a little wobbly on its newly-hatched legs, this is a book where the word The will follow you like a gosling.”—Noah Eli Gordon

“Special objects in our multiple world–from eggs to kings, from bees to caskets, from wings to statues–spawn themselves with other teeming objects in a fertile generation of aphoristic actions calmed by the clarity of prose poems framed as linked short stories. The scintillating tensions between febrile nouns, adjectival properties, and active claims all in their phonemic bliss create an elegant surrealism charged with the primary mystery of Baus’s lexicon.”—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of Drafts

Eric Baus and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux

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

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

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

Graywolf Press Poetry Tour visits City Lights

On February 5, 2013, Graywolf Press Poetry Tour visited City Lights with readings by D. A. Powell (Useless Landscape), Mary Szybist (Incarnadine) and Dobby Gibson.
Graywolf Press was founded in Port Townsend, Washington, in 1974 by Scott Walker. Graywolf’s first publications were limited-edition chapbooks of poetry, which were printed on a letterpress and hand sewn by Walker and his colleagues. Over the years Graywolf has expanded its list to include novels, short stories, memoirs, essays, as well as poetry. The Press has discovered and/or promoted such writers as Elizabeth Alexander, Mary Jo Bang, Charles Baxter, Sven Birkerts, Robert Boswell, John D’Agata, Percival Everett, Nuruddin Farah, Tess Gallagher, Albert Goldbarth, Linda Gregg, Eamon Grennan, Tony Hoagland, Jane Kenyon, William Kittredge, Don Paterson, Per Petterson, Carl Phillips, Salvatore Scibona, Vijay Seshadri, William Stafford, David Treuer, and Brenda Ueland. Today, Graywolf is considered one of the nation’s leading nonprofit literary publishers.

Dobby Gibson is the author of Skirmish and Polar, both of which were finalists for the Minnesota Book Award. Polar also won Alice James Books’ Beatrice Hawley Award. Gibson has recieved fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and two Pushcart Prize nominations.

D. A. Powell is the author of Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He teaches at the University of San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area.

 

Mary Szybist is the author of the poetry collection, Granted.  She was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and in 2009, she won a Witter Bynner Fellowship. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in the Iowa Review and Denver Quarterly and was featured in Best American Poetry (2008). She is an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon.