5 Questions with Dean Rader, Author of Self-Portrait As Wikipedia Entry

Very excited to welcome Dean Rader to City Lights this Tuesday, April 4th. He’ll be reading from his brand new collection of poetry, Self-Portrait As Wikipedia Entry, published by Copper Canyon Press. He answered our 5 questions! More about Dean, and his answers, below.

The Event: Tuesday, April 4th at 7:00PM. 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133.

About Self-Portrait As Wikipedia EntryWikipedia articles are never finalized. In Dean Rader’s energized and inventive new book, the poet considers identity of self and society as a Wikipedia page—sculpted and transformed by the ever-present push and pull of politics, culture, and unseen forces. And, in the case of Rader, how identity can be affected by the likes of Paul Klee’s paintings and the characters from the children’s stories about Frog and Toad. Rader’s cagey voice is full of humor and inquiry, warmly inviting readers to fully participate in the creation.

About Dean Rader: Dean Rader’s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was named by The Barnes & Noble Review as a Best Poetry Book of the year. He was won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2016 Common Good Books Prize, judged by Garrison Keillor, and the 2015 George Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America, judged by Stephen Burt. He has written or co-edited three scholarly books and was the editor of the 2014 anthology 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry, which hit #1 on the Small Press Distribution Bestseller list. He writes and reviews regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and The Huffington Post. Two new collections of poetry appear in 2017: A book of collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench, entitled Suture (Black Lawrence Press) and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon).


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?

Dean Rader: I have been to City Lights a number of times; in fact, I’ve read at City Lights on two other occasions, but always with other poets. My first time was with Matthew Dickman and Robin Ekiss, and it was one of my all-time favorite events, in part because I had a big bushy beard. I consider the Poetry Room at City Lights one of the great sacred spaces in San Francisco. So, to be having my book release party there is an honor (though I will not be bearded).

CL: What’s the first book you read & what are you reading right now?

DR: The first books I remember reading were Frog & Toad and The Pokey Little Puppy. I’m still grappling with Frog and Toad, as some people know. Right now, I’m reading Bolaño’s 2066, and W. S. Merwin’s lovely new book, Garden Time.

CL: Which 3 books would you never part with?

DR: Wallace Stevens, Collected Poems; Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems (Mitchell translation); and probably some book of visual art, like Matthew Gale’s Paul Klee: Making Visible.

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

DR: It does! You can listen to it here. I’d love to know what people think.

CL: If you opened a bookstore tomorrow, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?

DR: Oh man! That question! My wife and I have fantasized about opening a bookstore/art gallery in the Richmond District, but that may just be a fantasy. San Francisco is the only place I want to live, and there are already great bookstores here (even in the Richmond–it’s hard to beat Green Apple). But, I’d probably want to open a bookstore near the ocean and serve really good wine and beer and coffee. I would get all of my poet friends to inscribe their books with funny creative notes. Those, and wine, would be our bestsellers.


See Dean read from his new collection of poetry, Self-Portrait As Wikipedia Entry, this Tuesday, April 4th at City Lights Bookstore (in the Poetry Room of course). Get the book direct from Copper Canyon, from City Lights, or at your local independent bookseller. More about Dean at his official site.

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