Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series presents the following readers on the theme Ignored September 13 at Studio 333 in Sausalito, 7-9pm. $5. A stellar night of readings with seven incredible authors? Now that’s something you can’t ignore!
David Booth is the author Peer Participation and Software, a book about crowd-sourcing and democracy (MIT Press, 2010). His fiction has appeared in many print and online journals, including Washington Square, The Missouri Review, and The Farallon Review. David was a creative writing instructor at the University of San Francisco for 10 years. He now teaches humanities at Gateway High School in San Francisco’s Fillmore District. He has just completed the first draft of a novel called “The History of Adoption” that explores child adoption and the teaching of literacy to adolescents in the United States.
Traci Chee is an always-writer and sometimes-teacher. She has a graduate degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University and is looking forward to earning her teaching credential. In recent years her work has been published in The Big Stupid Review and ABJECTIVE. Her collection of short stories Consonant Sounds for Fish Songs is forthcoming from Aqueous Books. She lives in Northern California, where she keeps a fast dog and a weekly blog. She likes fish and ships.
Lindsey Crittenden is the author of two books: The Water Will Hold You: A Skeptic Learns to Pray and The View From Below: Stories. Her personal essays—on everything from visiting a group of lifers at San Quentin to the pitfalls of too much California sunshine—have appeared in The New York Times, Image, Real Simple, Bon Appétit, East Bay Express, and Best American Spiritual Writing. Her fiction has won national awards and been published in Glimmer Train, Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, and other publications. She teaches writing at UC Berkeley Extension and through the Glen Online, blogs weekly, and is at work on a novel.
Erich Origen is a New York Times bestselling humorist. His first book, Goodnight Bush, which he co-created with friend Gan Golan,a bedtime story about the Bush Administration, became a breakout hit in 2008, and the book’s words were sung by jubilant choirs across the country. His second book (also created with Golan), The Adventures of Unemployed Man, a superhero parody about the economic crisis, was an international bestseller and one of the best-reviewed graphic novels of the year. The duo’s latest book is Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! Origen has a special connection to this book’s soul: His mother was a charter bus driver whose livelihood was devastated by Republican union-busting. He studied film and television at the University of Southern California, where he won the Bernard Kantor Award for Academic Excellence. You can follow his blog here.
Caroline Paul is the author of Fighting Fire, a memoir of her career as a San Francisco firefighter, and East Wind, Rain, an historical novel that takes place on the Hawaiian island of Niihau at the start of World War II. Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology will be published in April 2013.
Sarah Stone is the author of the novel The True Sources of the Nile and co-author of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, StoryQuarterly, The Future Dictionary of America, the Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers, Dedicated to the People of Darfur: Writings on Fear, Risk, and Hope, and A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft, among other places.She has taught in Seoul, in Bujumbura, at San Francisco State University, at the University of California, Berkeley, and in the MFA in Writing and Consciousness, first at New College of California and later at California Institute of Integral Studies. She teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.
Rebecca Wilson is the author of the memoir A House with No Roof —After My Father’s Assassination, A Memoir, (Counterpoint Press, 2011), with an introduction by Anne Lamott. She was born in San Francisco and raised in Bolinas, California. She graduated from Scripps Women’s College Phi Beta Kappa and traveled to Scotland on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. During her time in Scotland she published her first book, Sleeping with Monsters: Conversations with Scottish and Irish Female Poets.
Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series presents the following readers on the theme: Break April 12 at Studio 333 in Sausalito, 7-9pm. $5. Break: an interruption in continuity; a second chance. These seven authors will BREAK through what we think we know about this topic. Join us! And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter announcing upcoming readings each month. (We never share your email with anyone!)
Shannon Cain’s debut short story collection, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, is the recipient of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her stories have been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the O. Henry Prize, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. They have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The Colorado Review, the New England Review, American Short Fiction, Mid-American Review, and Southwords: New Writing from Ireland. She is the co-editor, with Lisa Bowden, of Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq (Kore Press, 2008) and co-adapter of Coming In Hot, the stage adaptation of the book. She is the Artist-in-Residence for the City of Tucson’s Ward One and the fiction editor for Kore Press. Her current creative project is Tucson, the Novel: An Experiment in Literature and Civil Discourse.
Stan Goldberg is the author of Lessons for the Living: Stories of Forgiveness,Gratitude, and Courage at the End of Life, which received six national and international awards and was translated into Chinese, Indonesian, and Portuguese. He has published seven books, written numerous articles, and delivered more than 100 lectures and workshops throughout the United States, Latin America, Canada, and Asia on topics ranging from change, to flyfishing, to end of life issues. He is Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University, and devotee of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and Native American Flute. In 2009 he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Hospice Volunteer Association.
Leo Litwak’s novel Waiting for the News received the National Jewish Book Award and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. He has published two novels and two works of nonfiction. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Look Magazine, and Best American Short Stories. He is a recipient of John Simon Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and first prize in the 1990 O. Henry Prize Stories collection. Professor at San Francisco State University for more than thirty years, he lives in San Francisco.
Meredith Maran is a book critic, award-winning journalist, and the author of several bestselling nonfiction books including My Lie, Class Dismissed, and What It’s Like to Live Now. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, she reviews books for People, Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Boston Globe, and writes for a number of magazines. Since publishing a poem at age six in Highlights for Kids, she’s dreamed of publishing her first novel. A Theory of Small Earthquakes is it.
Sommer Schafer is a candidate in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. She lives in San Rafael and is currently working on two collections of stories: My Father’s Memoirs, about a family coming to terms with a father’s mental illness and subsequent death, and Hope, about the citizens of a small town in Alaska. You can read her first publication, “The Table,” forthcoming later this year in Barge Journal.
Linda Gray Sexton has published several widely acclaimed novels as well as two memoirs about her life and relationship with her mother, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Anne Sexton. Her first memoir, Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. Her recent memoir, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, is about her struggle with her own mental illness and the legacy of suicide left to her by her mother, who took her own life when Sexton was twenty-one. Unlike her mother’s story though, hers is a story of triumph. She lives in Northern California.
Mary Paynter Sherwin’s work has appeared most recently in The Midway Journal, Drash: Northwest Mosaic, and Unswept. She was also recently named one of the Northwest’s most innovative poets by Rattapallax. Mary is pursuing an MFA at Saint Mary’s College of California and lives in Oakland with her husband, David.
Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series presents the following readers on the theme: Vision February 9 at Studio 333 in Sausalito, 7-9pm. $5. Come see for yourself what all the rave reviews for the reading series have been about.
Marcus Banks finds himself at many literary gatherings. A blogger and critic, his book reviews have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Prick of the Spindle, and Rain Taxi. He has also published personal essays in Superstition Review, and from 2005-2007 was the technology columnist for the Gotham Gazette. You can follow his jottings at http://mbanks.typepad.com/.
Kirstin Chen is a 2011-2012 Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose
State University. She has won awards from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Emerson College. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, Pank, Juked, The Good Men Project, and others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best New American Voices anthology. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from Emerson College. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she is completing her first novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, set in her homeland of Singapore.
Nicole McFeely is the author of hundreds of bar napkin scribblings and countless other incoherent jottings. She has not written a book, won a grant, or enrolled in a graduate program but has plans to do perhaps two of these things in the next ten years. Destroyer of free time, she currently works as a bartender and freelance editor and serves as the Director of Outreach for Quiet Lightning and the Assistant Editor of Litseen.com. http://nicmcfeely.wordpress.com/
Chicken John is a Showman living in San Francisco. A contributor and instigator
with a long history of arranging Serendipity to accommodate Chaos when she comes to Destiny’s house for dinner. He is a documented confusionist. He is a qualified insultant. He also a mechanic and a writer. He owns a gigantic bus and an odd warehouse in San Francisco. In his spare time he enjoys longs walks off a short pier, underwater basket weaving, and writing dumb bios about himself. He would like you to buy his new book, The Book of the Is. http://chickenjohn.com/
Jacqueline Luckett is the author of the new novel, Passing Love. After wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and planning.’ Prayin’ and dreamin’ . . . just like that old Dusty Springfield song urges, Jacqueline Luckett finally put pen to paper and wrote, not one, but two novels. Jacqueline considers her novels great way to get a lot off her mind and to visit her favorite city, Paris. She travels frequently in search of another city that mesmerizes her as much as Paris, and is sure that when she finds it more story ideas will come her way.
Carol Sheldon’s first novel, Mother Lode placed in the top five percent of Amazon’s International Breakthrough Novel Contest of 2011. She’s published two books of poetry. Her poetry can also be found in Robert Bly’s Great Mother Conference Anthology, Hot Flashes and Marin Poetry Anthology. Two of her plays, Sandcastles, and Lifelines were chosen for professional productions. Several other works have won awards. She holds an MA from University of Michigan, and teaches poetry, novel, and memoir writing classes. She also enjoys directing and acting, believing her experience on stage has informed her writing. http://carolsheldon.wordpress.com/
Susanna Solomon’s fiction has appeared in the online magazine Harlot’s Sauce
Radio, in print in Vintage Voices, West Winds Centennial, and the Point Reyes Light. Her fiction lately has been inspired by entries in the Sheriff’s Calls Section of the Point Reyes Light. She is at work on a short story collection and is polishing her first novel. In cafes all over Marin, in quiet corners, she is often visited by her characters Mildred and Fred, who not only have a lot to say about what they read in the paper, but about getting older, burglars in their backyard, and uncooperative lawn chairs.
Jon Wells is a designer, writer, and filmmaker living in Mill Valley. He Died All Day Long is his first novel. His design work has been recognized in venues such as the San Francisco Show, Addy Awards, Print Magazine books, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His first film, At the Epicenter of the Epidemic, documenting the HIV/AIDS crisis in Honduras, was shown at the Tiburon International Film Festival. He is a member of the Tuesday Night Writers and is a Squaw Valley Community of Writers alum.
It’s our last show of the year so we’ve got just the theme. That’s right: Last. Join us for the stellar line-up, at Sausalito’s Studio 333 at 7 PM, December 8, for books, beer, wine, and great stories. $5 gets you in the door.
Kate Asche, poet/essayist and creative writing teacher, is a graduate of the UC Davis Creative Writing Program. She was a finalist for the 2011 Audio Contest at The Missouri Review and has poetry forthcoming in Confrontation. She has received two Elliot Gilbert Prizes in Poetry and an Academy of American Poets Award, and is a trained facilitator in the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) Method. She coordinates The Tomales Bay Workshops at UC Davis Extension and volunteers regularly for the Sacramento Public Library, the Sacramento Poetry Center, and 916 INK, a local youth literacy organization inspired by 826 Valencia. Follow her and get the scoop on local writing events at her blog Kate’s Miscellany (click on her name.)
David Berkeley is called “a musical poet” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The singer/songwriter has recently penned a memoir entitled 140 Goats and a Guitar to accompany his fourth album, “Some Kind of Cure.” The book comprises 13 pieces that tell the stories behind the 13 songs on the album, and the concept is that a reader moves through the prose and music together. When he presents his book live, he performs the corresponding song following each excerpt. He’s been a guest on “This American Life;” has toured with artists including Don Mclean, Dido, Billy Bragg, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, Nickel Creek, and Ray Lamontagne; and maintains a near-constant tour schedule performing concerts all over the country.
Lynn Freed’s books include six novels, a collection of stories, and a collection of essays. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, Southwest Review, The Georgia Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Narrative Magazine, among others. She is the recipient of the inaugural Katherine Anne Porter Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a PEN/O. Henry Award, fellowships, grants and support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Born in South Africa, she now lives in northern California.
Cary Groner has worked as a journalist for more than two decades. In 2009, he earned his MFA from the University of Arizona, where he began writing short stories and worked on two novels. His stories have won numerous awards and appeared in venues that include Glimmer Train, American Fiction, Mississippi Review, Southern California Review, Tampa Review, and Sycamore Review. His debut novel, Exiles, won the Hackney Literary Award and was published by Spiegel & Grau / Random House this past June. Cary and his wife live in the San Francisco Bay area.
Faith S. Holsaert was active in the civil rights movement and co-edited the nonfiction book Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (University of Illinois Press, 2010). She has published fiction since 1979, in Fugue, Washington Review, Phoebe, The Long Story, Antietam Review and others. She has appeared online at the kingsenglish.org and mountainechoes.com. She received her MFA in fiction from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. For many years, she lived in West Virginia where she raised her son and daughter. She lives in Durham, NC with her partner, with whom she shares seven grandchildren. She is working on her third novel.
Nick Krieger is the author of the memoir Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender. His writing has earned several travel-writing awards, has been published in multiple travel guides, and has appeared in numerous outlets including The Rumpus, Town & Country, 365Gay, and Original Plumbing. He is passionate about activism through art, creative self-expression, and queering all that he can. He holds an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.
Dean Rader‘s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize. It is also a finalist for the 2010 Bob Bush Memorial First Book Award and it is the winner of the 2010 Writer’s League of Texas Poetry Prize. His poem “Ocean Beach at Twilight: 14″ was named one of the Best Poems of 2010 by Verse Daily. He is currently curating a new blog called 99 Poems for the 99 Percent. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco, where he won the 2010/2011 Distinguished Research Award.
Ian Tuttle is the author of StretchyHead – Fictional Stories in Real Places. His toy camera photography has been exhibited internationally and he got admitted to business school by quoting Samuel Becket. He believes that you can tell a lot about a person from a short bio, and suspects most of it will be your own projection. But isn’t that the aim of literature? To hang a screen for your projections?
She is the author of To Have Not, which was named one of five “Best Memoirs of 2010” by SheKnows.com. It’s a true story of growing up poor in San Francisco in the 1970s, getting a scholarship to an Ivy League college, and discovering what it really means to have and have not. The former Senior Editor of Body+Soul magazine, she is now the book reviewer for Good Housekeeping and a freelance writer, editor, and writing teacher. Her articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Utne Reader, Glimmer Train Stories, Fiction, Poets & Writers, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Health, and more. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, once for Best American Essays, and was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation food writing award, among other honors. She lives in Petaluma and surfs in Bolinas.
Here’s a hot-off-the-presses Q & A with Frances.
What was or is one of the trickiest things about writing memoir for you?
The hardest part about turning my life into a book was finding the through line, the main story. I’d written a series of essays, each about one aspect of my coming of age–money, sex, school, drugs. Then I put those essays together into a book manuscript, and called it “Every Girl Has Her Story.” I still love that title, and hope to use it somewhere, but the book got rejected by several dozen publishers, in part because it lacked a cohesive narrative. So I had to return to the material and answer the classic question, “What’s this story about?” At first, I had no answer; in fact, I put the project away for a year, because I could conceive of no other way of presenting it than in essays. Eventually I went back to it and saw that there was a through line of poverty, both a literal and a figurative sense of un-entitlement. Then I had to tear the book apart and rebuild it, deconstructing each essay, and organizing the events by chronology rather than theme. That was hell. But it taught me this: sometimes, you have to just walk away; and sometimes you have to push. I had to do both in order to figure out my story and how best to tell it.
Did you always know that you would tell your story/stories via memoir, or had you considered fictionalizing your material?
I never wanted to write about myself, in memoir or in thinly-veiled fiction. I started out writing pure fiction, and had stories published in GlimmerTrain, Fiction, and other journals. The real joy of fiction for me was being able to make up things that were very different from my own life. My stories were often about middle-aged men—somehow I felt old and jaded even in my twenties. But someone in a writers’ group, the novelist Ann Harleman, had heard me refer to bits of my life, and encouraged me to write about it. I sure hope I can still write fiction, because I’m pretty sick of writing about myself. And when I write fiction again, it probably will be about middle -aged men, or some other population that is very unlike me.
What have been the reactions of your family members to your memoir?
They don’t say much, and, except for one of my two brothers, I’m not sure they’ve read it. I did give them all a pre-press manuscript and asked them to tell me if there was anything that bothered them. But no one spoke up. I think my mom feels criticized, and I think my dad fears being criticized, and that’s why he won’t read it. And though my goal is not to criticize them, I understand that feeling. It seems natural for a parent to feel guilty or ashamed if something bad happened to their child while on their watch. But really, my intention is not to blame them but to understand me. And we’re all still talking to each other, and passing the ham at Christmas, so I think I did OK.
Assuming you got or get stuck sometimes, what methods do you have for getting unstuck?
It gets back to knowing when to push hard and when to walk away to let time, serendipity, mood changes, and the unconscious work their magic.
What are you working on now?
There’s a novel, if I want to get back to fiction. But the safer book (as in I know how to do it and I think it will interest people) is about surfing. I started surfing at age 36, and then, seven years later, I broke my neck surfing, so the thing that made me feel most fully alive nearly killed me. People are always so intrigued by the surfing, and I’m jotting down notes for a first-person look though the mystique of this sport and subculture.
What did you teach yourself by writing this book?
I learned how to write a long story. I’d written short all my life–essays, short fiction–and loved the short form for its poetic economy. So I had to learn how to write a book-length story, with more subthemes and threads winding in and out of the main points.
Any advice for aspiring memoirists? Or writers seeking to be published today?
Writers, write! Just keep practicing, honing, speaking on paper; that’s how you discover your voice, your story, your urgency. Publishing is harder than ever today, but at the same time new opportunities (blogs, print-on-demand) are opening up. But none of them will matter if you’re not writing regularly, finding your stories and learning how to best tell them.
What question would you have liked to have been asked? with answer, please!
What’s the biggest wave you ever surfed?
Oh, that would be the 8 -footer down in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, that I finally made after crashing over the lip a dozen times.
Come out and hear Frances Lefkowitz read and ask her your own questions, Feb. 10, 7 PM, Studio 333, 333 Caledonia St., Sausalito.
Join us November 11 at Studio 333 7 PM when the following authors will read from their work on the theme of “journey.” ($5) Come early — seats fill up fast; bring money for beverages and for authors’ books.
Zoe FitzGerald Carter is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and has written for numerous publications including The New York Observer, Premiere, Salon, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Imperfect Endings is her first memoir. It won first place in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association’s literary contest and was a finalist at The San Francisco Writer’s Conference. It was excerpted in O magazine and is a Barnes & Nobel Discover Great New Writer’s pick. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters and is currently at work on a novel.
Thaisa Frank has written three books of fiction, including A Brief History of
Camouflage and Sleeping in Velvet (both with Black Sparrow Press, now acquired by David Godine). She has co-authored a work of nonfiction, Finding Your Writers Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction, which is used in MFA programs. Her novel Heidegger’s Glasses is coming out this fall with Counterpoint Press. Foreign rights have been sold to Holland, Norway, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Brazil and Poland. She has taught in the graduate programs at San Francisco State, the University of San Francisco, been on the staff of various summer writing workshops, and written essays, including a recent Afterward in Viking/Penguin’s new edition of Voltaire.
Mimi Herman is the author of The Art of Learning (NC Arts Council), and has published poetry, stories and articles in magazines and newspapers throughout the country. She is the North Carolina Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, and an associate editor for Teaching Artist Journal. She has worked as an arts and education consultant since 1990, engaging over 25,000 students and teachers with writing residencies, as well as providing extensive professional development for teachers and teaching artists. She has an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Mimi does her own carpentry and plumbing, and can milk a cow and a goat, though not at the same time.
Skip Horack is the author of the story collection The Southern Cross and
the novel The Eden Hunter. He is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford, where he was also a Wallace Stegner Fellow. A native of Louisiana, and a graduate of Florida State University, he now lives in the Bay Area.
Meredith Maran is an award-winning journalist and the author of ten books, most recently My Lie: A True Story of False Memory (September 2010), featured on The Joy Behar Show, multiple NPR programs, and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, People, Salon, More Magazine, among others. Her work also appears in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines including People, Self, Family Circle, More, Mother Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, and Salon.com. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, she lives with her wife in Oakland, California.
Cary Tennis graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in literature
and journalism and entered the masters program in creative writing at San Francisco State, where he passed his orals (Wallace Stevens, William Faulkner and Vladimir Nabokov) and had his creative thesis approved but got distracted and never actually got the degree. He formed a band called the Repeat Offenders, worked as a rock journalist for the SF Weekly and generally tried to live out some idiosyncratic version of the poet and fiction writer as brilliant urban scold throughout most of the 80s. Salon hired him in 1999 as a copy editor; in 2001 he took over the advice column from Garrison Keillor and has been writing that ever since. He also runs a small publishing house, organizes writing retreats, and conducts weekly writing workshops. His latest book is Since You Asked: The Best of Salon.com’s Cary Tennis.