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Saturday, February 4th!


To Be Read in the Dark

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Another excellent coming together of words and music that featured Maxine Chernoff, Joseph Lease and Kirsten Valdez Quade, along with Elizabeth Costello, Stephanie Dodaro, Andrew Kenower and Nana Twumasi. And Julian Hoover played guitar and sang. Poems and stories, from Mystery Train to missed trains, it really was a special evening.

Something now about Maxine, Joseph and Kirstin:

Maxine Chernoff is the author of 6 books of fiction and 13 collections of poetry, most recently The Turning (Apogee Press), A House in Summer (Argotiste Press), To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn Press), and forthcoming from Shearsman in spring 2012 Without. With Paul Hoover she translated The Selected Works of Friedrich Hoelderlin, which won the 2009 PEN Translation Award. Her book of stories, Signs of Devotion, was a New York Times Notable Book of 1993. She edits New American Writing and chairs the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University. Of her poems, Donald Revell said, “…there is a rectitude so pure that it not only rights but literally delights the heart. Here, most tender is most true, and tenderness shines in the cadences, each of which is new, all of which attain to love.”

Joseph Lease’s critically acclaimed books of poetry include Testify (Coffee House Press), Broken World (Coffee House Press), and Human Rights (Talisman House, second edition forthcoming). Lease’s poems “’Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” and “Send My Roots Rain” have been selected for Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (Second Edition). “‘Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” was also selected for The Best American Poetry 2002. His poems have also been featured on NPR and published in The AGNI 30th Anniversary Poetry Anthology, Bay Poetics, No Gender, The Paris Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, and elsewhere. Marjorie Perloff wrote: “The poems in Joseph Lease’s Broken World are as cool as they are passionate, as soft-spoken as they are indignant, and as fiercely Romantic as they are formally contained. Whether writing an elegy for a friend who died of AIDS or playing complex variations on Rilke’s Duino Elegies (“If I cried out, / Who among the angelic orders would / Slap my face, who would steal my / Lunch money”), Lease has complete command of his poetic materials. His poems are spellbinding in their terse and ironic authority: Yes, the reader feels when s/he has finished, this is how it was—and how it is. An exquisite collection!” And Michael Bérubé called Broken World “remarkably inventive and evocative work from Joseph Lease, one of the finest poets writing today.”

Kirstin Valdez Quade is a Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University and a former Wallace Stegner and Truman Capote Fellow. She received her B.A. from Stanford and her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere.

Julian Hoover

Saturday, November 12th!

What a Night, What a Night

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Another fun evening, with such terrific music and stories and poems. If you were there you know. If you weren’t, well come next time, as one of the audience members said at the reception: What a remarkable coming together of talent, what a night, what a night.

We heard from Helen Benedict, Chella Courington, and Melissa Stein. As well, Matthew Clark Davison, José Luis Gutiérrez, and Teresa Walsh, who shared their work.

Samantha Boudrot played her guitar and sang and sang. New songs, old songs, please see the accompanying video (below) for some of what we heard.

And here’s something about Helen, Chella, and Melissa.

Helen Benedict is the author of five novels and five books of nonfiction. Her sixth novel, SAND QUEEN, set in the Iraq War, has just been published by Soho Press. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Women’s Review of Books, and in many other newspapers and magazines. She is a professor of journalism at Columbia University. Articles featuring Benedict and her work have appeared on BBC, NPR, Al-Jazeera and many other U.S. and international radio and television stations, and in Reuters, The New York Times, Huffington Post, In These Times, Ms. Magazine, the Italian Vanity Fair, UK Marie Claire, and numerous other print publications in the U.S. and abroad. More information about Helen Benedict can be found at her website,

Nominated for the 2009 Best of the Net Anthology and the 2009 Best New Poets (University of Virginia), Chella Courington teaches literature and writing at Santa Barbara City College. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, lo-ball, Gargoyle Magazine, Opium Magazine, Everyday Genius, and SmokeLong Quarterly. “Diana loved anything orange” was runner-up in The Collagist 2009 Flash Fiction contest. Her first chapbook was SOUTHERN GIRL GONE WRONG; her second chapbook, GIRLS & WOMEN, was released by Burning River in March; and her third chapbook, PAPER COVERS ROCK, will be released by Indigo Ink in September.

Melissa Stein’s poetry collection ROUGH HONEY won the 2010 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected by Mark Doty, and was published by American Poetry Review in association with Copper Canyon Press. Her poems have appeared in The Southern Review, New England Review, Best New Poets 2009, Harvard Review, North American Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She has received residency fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Foundation, and her work has won awards from Spoon River Poetry Review, Literal Latte, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, among others. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis, and is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.

Samantha Boudrot

Here Comes the Sun