5 Questions for Julien Poirier, Author of Out of Print

Always a special nighOutOfPrintt when we celebrate one of our own publications at City Lights! Julien Poirier reads from his new poetry collection, Out of Print, No. 14 in the City Lights Spotlight Series, at our bookstore on Tuesday, April 19. Joining him is fellow Spotlight Series poet Elaine Kahn, author of Women in Public. Julien answered our 5 questions. More about him, and his answers, below.

Event: Tuesday, April 19th, 7:00PM. City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, 261 Columbus Ave., San Franicsco, CA 94133.

About Out of Print: 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’s poems calibrate the vernacular in a sublime mathematics of commonalities. The effect is that of feelings on the run, enunciated clearly. In a sudden down-draught–’You’re wind, you melt on my tongue’–he’ll take the contemporary love poem into new stretches of believability while knowingly calling to account the failings that, whether perennial or merely topical, hem round ourselves to disastrous effect. For, no mistake, Out of Print means business: a forceful wake-up call, allowing as how for this old world the time for meaningful action may well have run out and we’ve joined the fabled damned, lost but for such eloquence, affection, and mad, mad laughter in Hell’s despite.”–Bill Berkson

About Julien Poirier: Julien Poirier is the author of several poetry collections, including El Golpe Chileño (Ugly Duckling, 2010), Stained Glass Windows of California (Ugly Duckling, 2012), Way Too West (Bootstrap, 2015) and Out of Print (City Lights, 2016). In 2005, he published an experimental newspaper novel, Living! Go and Dream (Ugly Duckling). With Garrett Caples, he is the co-editor of Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New and Selected Poems by Frank Lima. 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, 2016). 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.

Julien Pic 1.14.12


City Lights: If you’ve been to City Lights before, what’s your memory of the visit? If you haven’t been here before, what are you expecting?

Julien Poirier: I remember meeting Dennis Hopper at City Lights in the early 90s, during the filming of a scene in Flashback. The store was full of booms and wires but still open for business. I was buying a book when Dennis Hopper walked through the front door in a buckskin hippie jacket and make-up. I said, “Dennis Hopper!” He said, “Hi.”

CL: If your book had a soundtrack, what would it sound like?

JP: Hopefully a little bit like Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music playing at a bar on the Coney Island boardwalk just as Joey Ramone walks in carrying a 45 of the Who’s cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave.”

CL: What’s the first book you actually finished reading?

JP: Ten Thousand Platypuses by Delouse and Grotty G.

CL: If you didn’t have your current job, what might you do?

JP: Brass rubbings of manholes.

CL: Name a few things you’d require if stranded on a desert island for an undefined period of time (and, yes, no wifi). 

JP: I would require only a brain control device whereby I could convince myself I was actually living in a thriving pitilessly inequitable metropolis with hanging gardens populated by golden leopards that you could also drink like milkshakes. A young Fidel Castro would be my best friend and we would overthrow Walt Disney Studios by traveling back in time in a Teflon cast of Jean Gabin’s larynx.


Out of Print is available now from City Lights dot com and everywhere else on April 19. It’s volume 14 in the City Lights Spotlight Seriers, spotlighting innovative American poetry from contemporary poets both new and established. For more about Julien’s upcoming Bay Area tour, go to his events page. For more events at City Lights, go to our complete calendar.

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