Reading in the Rain

view of books in shelf
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Lyrics & Dirges at Pegasus Bookstore Downtown Berkeley was the best place to be on a stormy Wednesday evening. A huge thank you to series cofounder and host Sharon Coleman for setting the tone, which is always welcoming and encouraging of the writers and the audience.

Surrounded by books, writers and an appreciative audience was wonderful. Kimi Sugioka, Sara Mumolo, Joseph Lease took us on journeys of the heart and mind. What teachers and students need in public education, motherhood, loving friendship interrupted by death, and the wisdom of lizard in the face of law enforcement were some of the journeys we writers took with audience members.

Libraries and independent bookstores and the books they offer to us have been places of peace for me and I hope that they continue to be for as many of us as possible despite the current landscape of chaos, confusion and change.

I encourage you to visit and purchase used or new books and catch the annual calendar sale (one of my favorites) at Pegasus and attend a Lyrics & Dirges reading. You can find out about the February Lyrics & Dirges here You can find out more about Pegasus bookstores here

Long live Lyrics & Dirges and its cofounders and co-hosts Mk Chavez and Sharon Coleman and long live independent bookstores.

And if you haven’t yet purchased my book How it Happens, hop on over to the Nomadic Press website and do so here

Lyrics & Dirges at Pegasus Bookstore Downtown Berkeley on Wednesday 1/16/19

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My first reading of 2019 in one of my favorite series, Lyrics & Dirges, hosted and co-founded by Supreme Poetess Sharon Coleman. (Co-founder Mk Chavez is stirring up magic elsewhere this week.)

Lyrics&Dirges
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
7:30 pm
Pegasus Books Downtown
2349 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, California 94704
(510) 649-1320
Pegasus Books Downtown Berkeley

The Writers who will read:

Joyce E. Young
Sara Mumolo
Joseph Lease
Kimi Sugioka
Mia Ruiz

You won’t want to miss us – words, snacks, and books for sale. My poetry book “How it Happens”  will be available for your purchasing pleasure. Or, you can purchase it here

And did I mention there’s a bookstore cat who loves poetry and books? Well then, of course you must come!

 

Thank You – November Readings

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I want to thank those of you who have come out to support me at the Nomadic Press book launch in September and at the readings in October at Pandemonium Press at The Octopus Literary Salon, Literary Speakeasy at Lit Crawl, and the Bay Area Writing Project at Expressions Gallery. And a big, hearty thank you for buying my book How it Happens​ (Nomadic Press, 2018). 

It’s been wonderful to connect with you and to share community through words, laughter, sighs, reflection, and sometimes tears. I thoroughly enjoy continuing the oral tradition of poetry through readings and events.

I will be at two more readings this month, one on this coming Sunday, November 11th at Adobe Books in San Francisco, and the second on Monday evening November 19th in the Poetry Express series, Himalayan Flavors restaurant in Berkeley.

On Sunday, I will read at the Gears Turning reading series hosted by Kim Shuck, Poet Laureate of San Francisco. I will be reading with and meeting Lauren Ito and for the first time – looking forward to it.

I’m dedicating the Sunday reading to my mom who would have turned 93 on Sunday. She supported me and my writing and I am grateful for her in so many ways.

Gears Turning
Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative
3130 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Sunday, November 11, 2018
4-6 pm
Featured Writers: Lauren Ito, Joyce Young

Host: Kim Shuck, Poet Laureate of San Francisco

I will also be reading at the long running Poetry Express series in Berkeley on Monday, November 19, 2018 at 7 pm. I’m dedicating this reading to gratitude for life itself.

Poetry Express
Himalayan Flavors Restaurant
1585 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94703
Monday evening, November 19, 2018
7pm
Featured Writer: Joyce Young
Host: Bruce Bagnell

I hope to see you at one of these events, hope you’re enjoying reading How it Happens, and if you can’t make it, to a reading, be sure to send me good mojo and spread the word about the book.

To purchase How it Happens, click on Nomadic Press

The Octopus Literary Salon Wednesday 10/3/18

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I am on a roll with readings of late. And that’s a good thing because I really enjoy lit events – being featured, reading with other writers and being in the audience.

This week, I’ll be reading at:

Pandemonium Press Presents

Hot! New! Books!

Wednesday October 3, 2018 at 7:00 pm

The Octopus Literary Salon

2101 Webster Street

Oakland, CA

I’ll be featured with Mary Mackey, Kelly Landmine and Cassandra Dallett

I’d love to see you there!

There will be an open mic.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase as the venue is a café. Yum.

New Book. Who’s the lizard?

I really do like the cover of my new poetry chapbook “How it Happens, ” don’t you?

180909 How It Happens by Joyce Young Front Cover

A huge thank you to artist Arthur Johnstone and designer JK Fowler who is also the founder and Executive Director of Nomadic Press (publisher) for their beautiful work!

My book baby is almost in my hands and it can soon be in yours as well. You can preorder signed or unsigned copies of my book here: HOW IT HAPPENS BY JOYCE E. YOUNG

The book launch will be on Saturday September 22, 2018 at 7 pm at the Oakland Peace Center, 111 Fairmount Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611. Come to the launch to hear some of what is inside the book cover. I may even reveal who the lizard is (smile).  You can purchase a copy there and I will gladly sign your book if you wish.

Some of my fellow Nomadic Press authors will read their work that evening, too. It’s going to be a fun time with words, writers, food, books and good mojo. You don’t want to miss this goodness.

 

 

Authors, Readers and Books

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The People’s Republic of Berkeley, my current home, is such a hodge-podge and mix-mash of people. I went to the Bay Area Book Festival this weekend and mingled in that hodge-podge and mix mash of people. And I heard authors of different genres, backgrounds, ages, geographical locations talk about their work and about writing in the context of a theme for each session. The sessions I attended were:

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz author of “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment” interviewed by T. J. Stiles – history and statistics on gun culture in America that were not entirely surprising, but still…damn. Here’s one: 1/3 of U. S. households have guns, yet there are 300 million guns owned privately in the country, so most of these households contain multiple guns as the U. S. population is about 300 million. Today a gun owner owns “an average of eight guns” according to Dunbar-Ortiz. This number is up from 112 million in the early 1970’s. Whaaat?

Robert Reich and guests in a panel discussion titled: “Income Inequality: A World Gone Mad, Mean and Immoral.” I won’t report back on that one as many are familiar with Reich’s videos do an excellent job of illustrating the not-normal that exists with the American almighty dollar(s).

Melissa de la Cruz, author of YA fantasy, History and Modern Life (also a former writer of the social lives of celebrity elite in New York for major magazines –glossies) interviewed by Jessica Lee. The woman is a highly imaginative, focused and prolific writer with a great sense of humor. Her output of books is stunning and she is still quite young. I loved it that she began writing one of her series of books because she missed New York. So, she created and wrote books about young society vampires. Isn’t that what you would do? Hmmm….I’m originally from Brooklyn, maybe I ought to think about an angle….(smile) Here is a link to Melissa’s web page: http://melissa-delacruz.com/ Her latest YA novel, a sequel titled “Love and War” continues the story of the love between Eliza and Alexander Hamilton.

Lidia Yuknavitch “On Fearlessness, Truth, and Misfits” was interviewed by Daphne Gottlieb. I loved Lidia’s discussion of connecting with her audience without a need to provide graphic descriptions of violent behavior and instances of sexual connections between characters. She goes for the emotional connection. I understood what she was talking about and I also know how difficult that is to do. I’m looking forward to doing more reading of her work. So far, I’ve only read essays, so I have a lot to choose from with her speculative fiction “The Book of Joan,” memoir “The Chronology of Water,” and novels “The Small Backs of Children” and “Dora: A Headcase.” Her most recent book is “The Misfit’s Manifesto.” I’m most interested in speculative fiction these days, so “The Book of Joan” it will most likely be.

Today’s panel was the most powerful session for me and seemed to touch the rest of the audience in the same way. Authors Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (A Kind of Freedom), Rodrigo Hasbún (Affections) and Madeleine Thien (Do not Say We Have Nothing )  were moderated by reviewer Mal Warwick in a panel titled: “Resist: Unlocking the Political Power of the Novel.” The authors’ answers to Mal’s questions were surprising, nuanced, thoughtful and interesting. By the way, Thien’s Tumblr for her novel is fantastic: http://donotsaywehavenothing.tumblr.com/

Margaret, Rodrigo and Maddie’s answers went deep and made me think about a lot of things personal/political as well as the inherent truth that the personal and the political are radically intertwined and that some of us are more aware of this than others. And at the same time, I think that in America many more have become aware of this truth or this living something. I still don’t know what to call it because it isn’t a thing, I don’t really think the word “fact” captures the reality, but it just is and there really isn’t a separation involved unless one is in extreme denial. And some are.

Added to the festival, I listened to an On Being podcast with Buddhist monk and writer Angel Kyodo Williams with host Krista Tippett yesterday, which I found riveting. Williams talked about being optimistic (herself) because all it would take would be a mass of people to do the inner work that would change individual and collective consciousness and shift inner and thus our outer reality. Here’s a link to the webpage for the podcast series: https://onbeing.org/

After taking all of these discussions in, I began to think about what makes something meaningful. I think that what is meaningful does not bloom and flower and grow with analysis. It just is. What is meaningful just is. And dissection, analysis and all of that stuff aren’t really necessary and is just a mental exercise designed to distract me and Lord knows whom else. And too much of it kills the spirit.

There is so much that is meaningful just because it is. Meaningful like call and response, like singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Anybody Turn Me Around” as loud as I can in the car as I drive to work, James Brown singing “Get on the Good Foot,” that moment when Aretha threw her fur coat off her shoulders while singing Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center Honors for Carole King, The Stylistics singing “Betcha By Golly Wow,” and Sam Cooke singing “A Change is Gonna Come.” And hip shakin’ and singin’ along to (y)our own rhythms with no interference.

Not sure what brought this on, but I think it was listening to writers talk bout the work of writing, the work of living. The work is inextricably connected and all part of the one to many of us who write.

How can I separate myself from my writing, from the act of writing? I can’t, writing is part of my life, part of me and has been for a very long time. I am glad that so many younger writers are as invested in writing as I and those of my generation have been. I’m glad that they feel the urgency to give their voices wings. The work continues, the voices rise, the circle opens and new voices enter the choir. Good. Deep gratitude for this cycle that continues.

 

Director of Talent for the Electorate

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Since last week’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony the question of whether Oprah is going to run and/or is qualified to run for and become president has been tossed around, and around. And today, the Washington Post has an in depth article with her photo and the headline “Our Next President?”

I am not sure whether Oprah wants to sacrifice her life to run for office or endure the accelerated aging that happens to every person who takes that office. Have you noticed the way that the weight of the job begins to appear on all of our former presidents’ faces? It seems that one cannot really take the job lightly if one has a true understanding of its depth and heft. It is indeed a big job.

This is not a comparison of presidencies. It is also not an endorsement of Oprah for a presidential campaign. And it is not an opinion piece on whether I think she should run for office.

After Oprah’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. de Mille award, last week at the Golden Globes and the reaction the power of that speech has evoked in so many people, I have been thinking about what I know of Oprah, through her former network television show, her acting roles, her film television producing, her philanthropy, her interviews, and her documented conversations with others.

Oprah could bring a multitude of experience to the presidency if she did indeed decide to run a campaign for and become the next commander in chief. It’s important to expand on the “We don’t need another celebrity” that I’ve been seeing and hearing in the media and on social media. For me that phrase indicates shallow thinking and a habit of making women one dimensional and therefore invisible. The irony of that is not wasted on me.

Although I’m not Oprah’s close personal friend and I have never worked directly with her, I can see that there is a lot more to her than just “a celebrity.” And I would go so far as to say that many who contributed to social media discussions and others who saw Oprah’s speech on the Golden Globe Awards last week were blown away by the power of her delivery and of her words but they can’t consciously articulate what that being blown away has evoked in them. Waking up to something one has been blind to isn’t always easy.

So, I’m going to take on the role of “Director of Talent for the Electorate” and share some of what I see as being Oprah’s qualifications for a job that requires intelligence, good judgment, a high degree of interpersonal skills, the ability to interact and communicate extremely well with people across cultures, experience dwelling in the public eye, which includes media scrutiny, interest in and work toward the common good, and more.

Here are just a few of Oprah’s qualifications:

Oprah’s interpersonal skills are not only top-notch; she has honed them and held multiple positions that have allowed her to further develop them since the mid 1970’s. These positions have been: news anchor, actress, talk show host, producer, media conglomerate owner, philanthropist, and boarding school founder.

She is highly intelligent and thinks outside of the box.

She can deliver focused, clear speeches that contain an explicit main point and sub points.

She is well connected across many demographics, nationally and internationally

She has experience interacting with people from all walks of life from interviewing them as a talk show host, building and hiring staff for her school in South Africa, mentoring young people, hiring and managing staff of her company and its many projects.

She is patriotic, as she is on board with what America could be if it lived up to the ideals and values espoused in its constitution, its amendments and enacted laws.

She has maturity on her side as she’s been around the block a few times professionally and personally, and she is about to turn 64. Although age is a protected category in most hiring situations, when one is applying for the position of POTUS, the age of a candidate is public information.

She is a woman. It’s clear that we need more female leadership in our local, state and federal governments. Women tend to think of the future, of children and of legacies that will be left to their children and to children in general. Women tend to consider these things whether they are parents or not.

So it seems to me that there is a lot more to Oprah than the title “celebrity” suggests. I haven’t even mentioned the social issues her work has uncovered and made part of the global conversation. Her talk show and the issues that it focused on did have a majority female studio and broadcast audience and my guess is that her work on OWN is currently followed mostly by women (and probably a smaller male audience). That speaks volumes as I see it, because the issues and problems that we face as a world can and will only be addressed through the awareness and work of fully conscious women and their male allies.

We currently have and we will have a lot to clean up and make right for many decades to come. Anyone who is still indulging in staring at her or his navel need not apply to the work of turning things in this country and in the world toward a more humane direction.

That is, if any of us are still around to do the work.