City Lights at the Bay Area Book Festival

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The 2nd annual Bay Area Book Festival (or as we call it, BABF) is on June 4 & 5, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Berkeley. Last year was a pretty spectacular event and this year seems even better. City Lights Publishers will have a booth on “Radical Row” (on Allston between Milvia & Shattuck) alongside our friends at AK Press, Counterpoint/Soft Skull, Last Gasp, Moe’s Books, Small Press Distribution, PM Press, ZYZZYVA, and many others. Come and hang out with us.

We’ll have all of our new publications on sale for 30% off, as well as tote bags, bookmarks, and bumper stickers. Go here for the list of great authors participating, here for the festival map, and keep your eye on the BABF Twitter account for updates.

There are also a handful of City Lights authors taking part in panel discussions and performances at the book fair. Here are the ones you’ll need to check out.


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1. Thursday, June 2 at 7:30PM – SOLD OUT

Location: San Francisco Chronicle Stage at the Freight & Salvage

Event: “An Evening with Saul Williams”

Who: Saul Williams, Chinaka Hodge, Black Spirituals

Details: Feature presenter Saul Williams has shared his music and spoken word performances in over 30 countries, with invitations from world-class venues such as the White House, the Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center, The Louvre, The Getty Center, and Queen Elizabeth Hall. At Berkeley’s own San Francisco Chronicle Stage at the Freight & Salvage, hack into Williams’ mind as he navigates “poetry as design,” performing selections from two dynamic new works: US(a.) and Martyr Loser King. Also featured in performance are avant-garde explorative jazz musicians, Black Spirituals, and Oakland based poet, screenwriter, curator, and educator, Chinaka Hodge.


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2. Saturday, June 4 at 10:00AM

Location: BAMPFA – Barbro Osher Theater

Event: “Subversive Speculative Fiction”

Who: Jewelle Gomez, Ayize Jama-Everett, Carter Scholz, and Johanna Sinisalo, moderated by Charlie Jane Anders

Details: Science fiction and fantasy have always upset the status quo by presenting alternative visions of the past, present, and future. Meet five fabulous (literally) and subversive writers who deploy stories of science, technology, and magic to turn the way you have been thinking upside-down.


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3. Saturday, June 4 at 5:00PM

Location: San Franicsco Chronicle Stage at the Freight & Salvage

Event: “Juan Felipe Herrera: U.S. Poet Laureate”

Who: Juan Felipe Herrera

Details: Come listen to a poetry reading featuring one of the most unique and generous figures in contemporary American literature, current U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Our first Chicano poet to hold this prestigious post, Herrera is credited by the New York Times as inventing “a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual too.”


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4. Sunday, June 5 at 1:30PM

Location: San Francisco Chronicle Stage at the Freight & Salvage

Event: “Be the Revolution: Mona Eltahawy interviewed by Chinaka Hodge

Who: Mona Eltahawy, interviewed by Chinaka Hodge

Details: Assaulted after Tahrir Square, Egyptian feminist and journalist Mona Eltahawy comes to us from Cairo with a call for revolution. That call is not merely for liberation for women in the Middle East—though Eltahaway articulates that—but for all people who are silenced, imprisoned, or shamed. Chinaka Hodge—spoken word poet, screenwriter, and more—embodies speaking truth to power. Witness an amazing conversation between two women of color who are not afraid to say what they think.


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5. Sunday, June 5 at 5:00PM

Location: Brower-Goldman Theater

Event: “Disruptors: Writing for Social Change”

Who: Rebecca Solnit, Aya de Leon, and Julia Serano, moderated by Chinaka Hodge

Details: In business, disruption speaks to radical change. Similarly, literary disruptors are those writers whose words and ideas spark radical reactions and create game-changing conversations. In this panel, four change-makers come together in conversation about why and how they disrupt, exploring why this orientation to writing effects tangible change.










BONUS: Sunday, June 5 at 7:00PM

Location: BAMPFA – Barbro Osher Theater

Event: And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead Screening and Conversation

Who: Justin Desmangles, devorah major, and Al Young

Details: Perhaps no American poet has been so reactive to, and beaten by, his times as Bob Kaufman (1925–1986). In North Beach among the Beats he was a street poet in the oral tradition, always on the outside; in Paris, he was the Black American Rimbaud. Even his FBI file credited him a “smooth talker.” Like his hero Charlie Parker, he lived in “that jazz corner of life,” and Billy Woodberry (“Bless Their Little Hearts”) organizes his beautiful, soulful, picture-filled film on Kaufman in clear riffs and natural strains as they emerge from the telling of an uncompromising life of provocation and poetry.



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