LIVE! From City Lights

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George Albon celebrates the release of his book, Lyric Multiples: Aspiration, Practice, Immanence, Migration (published by Nightboat), in conversation with Maxwell Shanley. Lyric Multiples comprises four essays written over the last decade. The subject is poetry but the essays range over such topics as the evolution of the human call, ascensional modes of thinking, pop songs, the built environment and its discontents, the post-punk moment, its fruitful aftermath, and much else. Throughout this book, Albon explores unencountered varieties of aesthetic experience and the contributions they make to an ideal of social interconnectivity. George Albon’s most recent books are Fire Break, winner of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Poetry in 2014, and Aspiration. He lives in San Francisco.
Juliana Spahr discusses her book, Du Bois’s Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment, published by Harvard University Press. In 1956 W. E. B. Du Bois was denied a passport to attend the Présence Africaine Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris. So he sent the assembled a telegram. “Any Negro-American who travels abroad today must either not discuss race conditions in the United States or say the sort of thing which our State Department wishes the world to believe.” Taking seriously Du Bois’s allegation, Juliana Spahr breathes new life into age-old questions as she explores how state interests have shaped U.S. literature. What is the relationship between literature and politics? Can writing be revolutionary? Can art be autonomous, or is escape from nations and nationalisms impossible? Spahr does not deny the exhilaration of politically engaged art. But her study affirms a sobering reality: aesthetic resistance is easily domesticated. Juliana Spahr is Professor of English at Mills College. She is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including The Winter the Wolf Came, Well Then There Now, and Response, winner of the National Poetry Series Award. She is also the editor, with Claudia Rankine, of American Women Poets in the 21st Century and received the O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Adam Hochschild discusses the subject of his new book, Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays, published by University of California Press. Adam Hochschild is a journalist and author who has written on issues of human rights and social justice. His books include the bestselling King Leopold’s Ghost. He has been a finalist twice for the National Book Critics Circle Award and once for the National Book Award. He has been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and is a two-time recipient of the Gold Medal of the California Book Awards.
City Lights presents Donald Nicholson-Smith and James Brook discussing the life and work of the seminal French crime writer, Jean-Patrick Manchette, celebrating the recent release of Ivory Pearl, published by New York Review Books. Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942–1995) was a genre-redefining French crime novelist, screenwriter, critic, and translator. Born in Marseille to a family of relatively modest means, Manchette grew up in a southwestern suburb of Paris, where he wrote from an early age. While a student of English literature at the Sorbonne, he contributed articles to the newspaper La Voie communiste and became active in the national students’ union. In 1961 he married, and with his wife Mélissa began translating American crime fiction—he would go on to translate the works of such writers as Donald Westlake, Ross Thomas, and Margaret Millar, often for Gallimard’s Série noire. In 1971 he published his first novel, a collaboration with Jean-Pierre Bastid, and embarked on his literary career in earnest, producing ten subsequent works over the course of the next two decades and establishing a new genre of French novel, the néo-polar (distinguished from traditional detective novel, or polar, by its political engagement and social radicalism). Manchette had been as equally influenced by the work of Guy Debord and the Situationists as he had by Dashiel Hammett. During the 1980s, Manchette published celebrated translations of Alan Moore’s Watchmen graphic novels for a bande-dessinée publishing house co-founded by his son, Doug Headline. In addition to Fatale, Ivory Pearl, and The Mad and the Bad, Manchette’s novels Three to Kill and The Prone Gunman, as well as Jacques Tardi’s graphic-novel adaptations of them (titled West Coast Blues and Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, respectively), are available in English.
V. Vale and Mindaugis Bagdon in conversation with City Lights events director Peter Maravelis discussing William S. Burroughs’ “The Revised Boy Scout Manual” An Electronic Revolution, edited by Geoffrey D. Smith and John M. Bennett with an afterward by V. Vale, and published by Ohio State University Press. The Revised Boy Scout Manual was a work Burroughs revisited many times, but which has never before been published in its complete form. Based primarily on recordings of a performance of the complete piece found in the archives at the OSU libraries, as well as various incomplete versions of the typescript found at Arizona State University and the New York Public Library archives, this lost masterpiece of satiric subversion is finally available in its entirety. V. Vale is a counterculture writer and publisher and the sole proprietor/founder of RE/Search Publications. He published part of Burroughs’ “The Revised Boy Scout Manual” in 1982 in RE/Search #4/5: William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Throbbing Gristle. Mindaugis Bagdon is a cinematographer, film historian, and creator of the seminal film on the first generation of the San Francisco punk scene titled LOUDER, FASTER, SHORTER.
City Lights celebrates the release of Preserving Fire: Selected Prose by Philip Lamantia, edited by City Lights’s own Garrett Caples and published by Wave Books. Readings by Will Alexander, Micah Ballard, James Brook, Chris Carosi, Steve Fama, Brian Lucas, and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux. Preserving Fire recounts the life and thought of Surrealist, Beat Generation, and San Francisco Renaissance poet Philip Lamantia through his fugitive prose works. Ranging from poetry to politics to mythology to dance, from manifestos to travelogues to wartime declarations of conscientious objection, these writings—expertly collected by Garrett Caples—offer a dynamic picture of Lamantia’s multifaceted intellectual life and the artistic movements he helped shape. Philip Lamantia (1927–2005) was an influential Surrealist, Beat, and San Francisco Renaissance poet. He is the author of many books, including Erotic Poems, Touch of the Marvelous, Meadowlark West, Tau and Journey to the End, and The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia.
John Freeman in conversation with Jaime Cortez and Rebecca Solnit, celebrating the release of FREEMAN’S LITERARY JOURNAL: POWER ISSUE, published by Grove Press. Co-presented by Litquake. From the voices of protestors to the encroachment of a new fascism, everywhere we look, power is revealed. Spouse to spouse, soldier to citizen, looker to gazed upon, power is never static: it is either demonstrated or deployed. Its hoarding is itself a demonstration. This thought-provoking issue of the acclaimed literary annual Freeman’s explores who gets to say what matters in a time of social upheaval.
The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University and New York Review Books in conjunction with City Lights present an afternoon with Darius James celebrating the eagerly awaited re-release of his seminal novel Negrophobia: An Urban Parable, introduction by Amy Abugo Ongiri, published by New York Review Books. Darius James is a writer and spoken-word performance artist. He is also the author of That’s Blaxploitation!: Roots of the Baadasssss ‘Tude (Rated X by an All-Whyte Jury); Voodoo Stew; and Froggie Chocolate’s Christmas Eve. His writing has appeared in multiple publications, including The Village Voice, Vibe, and Spin, and he is the co-writer and narrator of the 2012 film The United States of Hoodoo. He makes his home in Connecticut.
City Lights Books celebrates the release of Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary (published by Haymarket Books) with book editors Mateo Hoke and Taylor Pendergrass, and special guests Alexa Gelbard and Mohammed “Mike” Ali. Six by Ten explores the mental, physical, and spiritual impacts of America’s widespread embrace of solitary confinement, as told through the first-person narratives of individuals subjected to solitary confinement, family members on the outside, and corrections officers. Mateo Hoke is writer, journalist, and co-editor of Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation. Taylor Pendergrass is a lawyer and activist focused on criminal justice reform. He currently works for the American Civil Liberties Union. Mohammed “Mike” Ali grew up in the Bay Area after his family immigrated to the United States from Fiji. Growing up romanticizing gang life, he escalated through youth detention, jails, and prisons before landing in solitary in a private immigration detention facility in Arizona. Voice of Witness is nonprofit that advances human rights by amplifying the voices of people impacted by injustice. We explore urgent and underrepresented human rights issues and force space for marginalized voices to be heard and seen through our two core programs: (1) Our oral history book series, which illuminates firsthand accounts of injustice, and (2) Our education program, which brings these stories and ethics-driven oral history methodology to classrooms and communities across the U.S.
City Lights welcomes multi-media conceptual artist, writer and activist John Sims to celebrate the release of his video poem chapbook, A Blazing Grace and the AfroDixieRemixes: The San Francisco Session. Joined by Terry Blackhawk, Sylvia L. Blalock, Drew Dellinger, and Tongo Eisen-Martin. The AfroDixie music project confronts the song “Dixie” – the anthem of the Confederacy subversively by remixing, remapping and cross-appropriation with a collection of 14 tracks of Dixie in the many genres of black music: Spiritual, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Funk Calypso, Samba, Soul, R&B, House, Hip Hop. To critically engage this project with both historical and current social- political-cultural themes, the artist has been hosting listening sessions around the country, inviting poets, artists, scholars, activist and community members to respond to the music. This session has visited Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Bowery Poetry Club. Special guest poets/writers and performers in the Bay Area were invited to respond to the various tracks for this performance. This sound performance is a part of the artist’s 16-year multi-media project, Recoloration Proclamation, a 16-year multimedia project which explores the complexity of identity, cultural appropriation/remixing, white supremacy, visual terrorism in the context of Confederate iconography and African-American culture. This system of works features recolored Confederate flags, a noose hanging installation in Gettysburg, a 13 southern states Confederate flag funeral, videos, site specific performances, a play, a documentary film, the music project AfroDixieRemixes, the annual Burn and Bury Confederate Flag Memorial and most recently the outside performance and Kennedy Museum exhibition of The Proper Way to Hang to a Confederate Flag at Ohio University. John Sims, a Detroit native, is a multi-media conceptual artist, writer and activist creating projects spanning the areas of installation, text, music, film, performance and large scale activism. His main projects are informed by mathematics, the politics of sacred symbols/anniversaries and the agency of poetry. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News, USA Today, NPR, The Guardian, and more.
Léonora Miano in conversation with City Lights events coordinator Peter Maravelis celebrating the release of her book, Season of the Shadow, published by Seagull Press. Co-presented by the Cultural Services of the Consul General of France. This powerful novel presents the early days of the transatlantic slave trade from a new perspective: that of the sub-Saharan population that became its first victims. Cameroonian novelist Léonora Miano presents a world on the brink of disappearing—a pre-colonial civilization with roots that stretch back for centuries. One day, a group of villagers find twelve of their people missing. Where have they gone? Who is responsible? A collective dream, troubling a group of mothers in a communal dwelling, may have some of the answers, as the women’s missing sons call to them in terror; at the same time, a thick shadow settles over the huts, blocking out the light of day. It is the shadow of slavery, which will soon grow to blight the whole world. Miano renders this brutal story in deliberately strange, dreamlike prose, befitting a situation that is, on its face, all but impossible for the villagers to believe. Léonora Miano is a Cameroonian writer who lives in France. She is author of seven novels and two collections of essays. Season of the Shadow is her second book to be translated into English; her debut novel, Dark Heart of the Night, won the prix Femina when it was published in French in 2013.
Forrest Gander and Jonathan Santlofer celebrate the release of their two books: Be With, by Forrest Gander, published by New Directions & The Widower’s Notebook: A Memoir by Jonathon Santlofer, published by Penguin. Conversation moderated by Susan Steinberg. A conversation about how loss and grieving can give rise to creativity and then healing.
City Lights presents Ken Knabb, leading translator of Guy Debord and the Situationist International, discussing the situationists’ key influence on the nationwide May 1968 revolt in France, and how that astonishing social eruption remains relevant to our present-day world. Ken Knabb is a writer, translator, and radical theorist, known for his translations of Guy Debord and the Situationist International. His own English-language writings, many of which were anthologized in Public Secrets (1997), have been translated into over a dozen additional languages. He is also a respected authority on the political significance of the anarchist poet and essayist Kenneth Rexroth. His other translations include Guy Debord’s film scripts (Complete Cinematic Works), Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, and Ngo Van’s In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary. Knabb’s own writings include leaflets, comics, pamphlets and articles on Wilhelm Reich, George Brassens, and Gary Snyder.
City Lights welcomes Margaret Randall celebrating the release of Time’s Language: Selected Poems (1959-2018) from Wings Press. Opening statement by Kate Hedin, publisher at Wings Press. Margaret Randall is a feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist. Born in New York City in 1936, she has lived for extended periods in Albuquerque, New York, Seville, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua. Shorter stays in Peru and North Vietnam were also formative. In the turbulent 1960s she co-founded and co-edited EL CORNO EMPLUMADO / THE PLUMED HORN, a bilingual literary journal which for eight years published some of the most dynamic and meaningful writing of an era. From 1984 through 1994 she taught at a number of U.S. universities. She was privileged to live among New York’s abstract expressionists in the 1950s and early ’60s, share the rebellion of the Beats, participate in the Mexican student movement of 1968, live in Cuba during the second decade of that country’s revolution (1969-1980), reside in Nicaragua during the first four years of the Sandinista project (1980-1984), and visit North Vietnam during the heroic last months of the U.S. American war in that country (1974).
Ingrid Rojas Contreras celebrating the release of her debut novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, published by Doubleday. Joining her to read from the book are special guests Nancy Jooyoun Kim,  Juliana Delgado Lopera, and Baruch Porras-Hernandez. A mesmerizing debut set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar’s violent reign about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, Guernica, and Huffington Post, among others. She has received fellowships and awards from The Missouri Review, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, VONA, Hedgebrook, The Camargo Foundation, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. She is the book columnist for KQED Arts, the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate.
City Lights presents Tosh Berman, author of TOSH: Growing Up In Wallace Berman’s World, in conversation with Natalia Mount, chief curator at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, CA. Tosh Berman is a Los Angeles-based writer, poet, and avant-garde publisher, notably of TamTam Books. TOSH is a memoir of growing up as the son of an enigmatic, much-admired, hermetic, and ruthlessly bohemian artist during the waning years of the Beat Generation and the heyday of hippie counterculture. A critical figure in the history of postwar American culture, Tosh Berman’s father, Wallace Berman, was known as the “father of assemblage art,” and was the creator of the legendary mail-art publication Semina. Wallace Berman and his wife, famed beauty and artist’s muse Shirley Berman, raised Tosh between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and their home life was a heady atmosphere of art, music, and literature, with local and international luminaries regularly passing through. TOSH takes an unflinching look at the triumphs and tragedies of his unusual upbringing by an artistic genius with all-too-human frailties, against a backdrop that includes The T.A.M.I. Show, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Easy Rider, and more. With a preface by actress/writer Amber Tamblyn (daughter of Wallace’s friend, actor Russ Tamblyn), TOSH is a self-portrait taken at the crossroads of popular culture and the avant-garde. The index of names included represents a who’s who of mid-century American—and international—culture.
Ana Raquel Minian discussing the subject of her new book Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration from Harvard University Press. Ana Raquel Minian is Assistant Professor of History and of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University. In the 1970s the Mexican government acted to alleviate rural unemployment by supporting the migration of able-bodied men. Millions crossed into the United States to find work that would help them survive as well as sustain their families in Mexico. They took low-level positions that few Americans wanted and sent money back to communities that depended on their support. But as U.S. authorities pursued more aggressive anti-immigrant measures, migrants found themselves caught between the economic interests of competing governments. The fruits of their labor were needed in both places, and yet neither country made them feel welcome.
Richard Rhodes discussing the subject of his new book ENERGY: A Human History, published by Simon and Schuster. Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes reveals the fascinating history behind energy transitions over time—wood to coal to oil to electricity and beyond. Richard Rhodes is the author of numerous books and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He graduated from Yale University and has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Appearing as host and correspondent for documentaries on public television’s Frontline and American Experience series, he has also been a visiting scholar at Harvard and MIT and is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Visit his website: RichardRhodes.com
City Lights presents Gabriela Alemán, speaking alongside special guests Mauro Javier Cardenas and Dick Cluster to celebrate the release of her newest book Poso Wells. Opening statement by City Lights Publisher/Executive Director Elaine Katzenberger. Poso Wells is published by City Lights Books and translated by Dick Cluster. This is celebrated Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán’s first work to appear in English: a noir, feminist eco-thriller in which venally corrupt politicians and greedy land speculators finally get their just comeuppance! Gabriela Alemán, based in Quito, Ecuador, has played professional basketball in Switzerland and Paraguay and has worked as a waitress, administrator, translator, radio scriptwriter, and film studies professor. She received a PhD at Tulane University and holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature from Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. Her literary honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006; member of Bogotá 39, a 2007 selection of the most important up-and-coming writers in Latin America in the post-Boom generation; one of five finalists for the 2015 Premio Hispanoamericano de Cuento Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) for her story collection La muerte silba un blues; and winner of several prizes for critical essays on literature and film. Her other books include the short story collections, Maldito corazón, Zoom, Fuga permanente, and Álbum de familia; her novels in Spanish include Body Time, Poso Wells, and Humo. Her stories have appeared in anthologies in French, English, Chinese, Hebrew, and Serbo-Croatian. This is her first full-length work to appear in English.
Daegan Miller discussing the subject of his book This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent from University of Chicago Press. Working in a tradition that stretches from Thoreau to Rebecca Solnit, Miller offers nothing less than a new way of seeing the American past—and of understanding what it can offer us for the present . . . and the future.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Thi Bui, and Meron Hadero celebrate the new anthology The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen, from Abrams Image. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer), and contributors Thi Bui (The Best We Could Do) and Meron Hadero present/read from The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives. Edited by Nguyen, himself a refugee, The Displaced brings together a host of prominent refugee writers from around the world to explore and illuminate their experiences. The Displaced is an indictment of closing our doors and a powerful look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of asylum. The publisher will donate 10 percent of the cover price of this book, a minimum of $25,000 annually, to The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief, and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict.
William Middleton in conversation with City Lights’ Paul Yamazaki discussing the subject of his new book Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil published by Alfred Knopf. (recorded in the City Lights Publishing office) City Lights celebrates the first and definitive biography of the celebrated collectors Dominique and John de Menil, who became one of the greatest cultural forces of the twentieth century through groundbreaking exhibits of art, artistic scholarship, the creation of innovative galleries and museums, and work with civil rights.
R.O. Kwon in conversation with Oscar Villalon (managing editor of ZYZZYVA) celebrating her debut novel, The Incendiaries, published by Riverhead. Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, Time, Parade, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, PBS, Vulture, Buzzfeed, BookRiot, PopSugar, Refinery29, Bustle, The Rumpus, Paste, and the BBC. “A shocking novel of violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea.” R. O. Kwon is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Her writing is published or forthcoming in The Guardian, Vice, Buzzfeed, Time, Noon, Electric Literature, Playboy, and elsewhere. She has received awards from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Omi International, the Steinbeck Center, and the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony. Born in South Korea, she has lived most of her life in the United States.
Curtis White reading from his new novel Lacking Character, published by Melville House. The man Paul Auster called “a master of bewitchments” and a founder of the Fiction Collective returns to the novel after twenty years. In the spirit of “transcendental buffoonery,” Curtis White’s return to fiction is fun in the extreme. The story begins when a masked man with “a message both obscure and appalling” appears at the door of the Marquis claiming a matter of life and death, declaring, “I stand falsely accused of an atrocity!”
Sesshu Foster reads from City of the Future & Max Yeh reads from Stolen Oranges, both published by Kaya Press. Founded in 1994, Kaya Press has established itself as the premier publisher of cutting-edge Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic writers in the United States. Their diverse list of titles includes experimental poetry, noir fiction, film memoir, avant-garde art, performance pieces, “lost” novels, and everything in between. Kaya and its authors have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the Gregory Kolovakas Prize for Outstanding New Literary Press, the American Book Award, the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, the PEN Beyond Margins Open Book Prize, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Award, and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize. Their books have become cornerstone texts in American Studies and Asian American Studies curricula at major universities throughout the country.
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Podcast Details

Created by
City Lights Books
Podcast Status
Hiatus/Finished
Started
Mar 24th, 2016
Latest Episode
Jul 26th, 2019
Release Period
Weekly
Episodes
151
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour
Explicit
Yes
Order
Episodic

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