Poetry as Protest: Karla Brundage, Arthur Kayzakian, Kim Shuck, Sara Borjas, Cyrus Sepahbodi, Linda Ravenswood, Charles Jensen & Sam Sax

The Booksmith

1727 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

From $5.00

Thu, July 11th, 2024 @ 7:00PM PDT

Booksmith is thrilled to host a group reading on the theme Poetry as Protest, featuring Karla Brundage, Arthur Kayzakian, Kim Shuck, Sara Borjas, Cyrus Sepahbodi, Linda Ravenswood, Charles Jensen & Sam Sax. We'll have their latest books for sale at the event, or you can preorder through the links below.


About Blood Lies: Race Trait(or) by Karla Brundage

In Blood Lies: Race Trait(or), Karla Brundage offers a thought-provoking journey through the intricate nuances of race, particularly the various facets of Blackness. This collection asks at what point does this mathematical inquiry become traitorous? She takes readers on an exploration of ancestry, unraveling the complex history behind terms like "mulatto," "octoroon," and "quadroon," while also delving into Brundage's personal experiences as a 21st-century woman.

With rich, at times brutally honest, lyricism and clever wordplay, Brundage examines the multifaceted nature of race, viewing it through the lenses of history, culture, sexuality, and politics. By the book's conclusion, "Blood Lies" challenges the conventional notion of race, illustrating that it's not simply a matter of bloodlines but a global phenomenon that encompasses the diverse dimensions of blackness, whiteness, and womanness.

Karla Brundage is an Oakland poet, editor, essayist and beach lover. A recipient of a Fulbright Teacher Exchange she spent a year teaching in Zimbabwe and three years in Côte d'Ivoire where she founded West Oakland to West Africa Poetry Exchange. Her books Swallowing Watermelons and Mulatta-Not So Tragic (co-written with Allison Francis) reflect on mixed race identity, single parenting, and living with epilepsy. In 2020, her poem Alabama Dirt was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has performed her work onstage and online, and has published both nationally and internationally.

You can order Blood Lies: Trait(or) here.


About The Book of Redacted Paintings, by Arthur Kayzakian

In The Book of Redacted Paintings, the narrative arc follows a boy in search of his father’s painting, but it is unclear whether the painting exists or not. The book, a poetry collection, is also populated by a series of paintings. Some are real, incomplete, and/or missing, while most are redacted from reality. The withdrawn paintings concept is the emotional arc of the book, a combination of wishing one could paint the pieces he/she/they envision and the feeling of something torn out of a person due to a traumatic upbringing. A sort of erasure ekphrasis, to foresee artwork that was never painted.

Arthur Kayzakian is the finalist for the 2023 Kate Tufts Award, and the winner of the 2021 inaugural Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is the recipient of the 2023 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He serves as the Poetry Chair for the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His work. has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, among others.

You can order The Books of Redacted Paintings here.


About Pick a Garnet to Sleep in by Kim Shuck

Pick a Garnet to Sleep in features poems of loss, of resistance to injustice, of celebration of the natural world, and of appreciation of art and poetry itself. Begun during the pandemic, this book ultimately is unified by hope.

Kim Shuck is solo author of 11 books, and involved in the editing of 11 more. Shuck served as the 7th Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Kim organizes and hosts from three to five poetry events each month. Her latest book is Pick a Garnet to Sleep In, from Scapegoat Press. Photo by Douglas A. Salin.

You can order Pick a Garnet to Sleep in here.


About Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff, by Sara Borjas

Winner of a 2020 American Book Award. Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff is a transgressive, yet surprisingly tender confrontation of what it means to want to flee the thing you need most. The speaker struggles through cultural assimilation and the pressure to act Mexican while dreaming of the privileges of whiteness. Borjas holds cultural traditions accountable for the gendered denial of Chicanas to individuate and love deeply without allowing one's love to consume the self. This is nothing new. This is colonization working through relationships within Chicanx families-how we learn love and perform it, how we filter it though alcohol abuse-how ultimately, we oppress the people we love most. This collection simultaneously reveres and destroys nostalgia, slips out of the story after a party where the reader can find God drunk and dreaming. Think golden oldiez meets the punk attitude of No Doubt. Think pochas sipping gin martinis in lowriders cruising down Who Gives a Fuck Boulevard.

Sara Borjas is a self-identified Xicanx pocha and a Fresno poet. Her debut collection, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff (Noemi Press, 2019) received a 2020 American Book Award. Sara was featured as one of Poets & Writers 2019 Debut Poets. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, Ragdale, CantoMundo, amongst others. Her poems can be found in Ploughshares, World Literature Today, The LA Times, AGNI, The Rumpus, and others. She believes that all Black lives matter and will resist white supremacy until Black liberation is realized. She teaches at California State University, East Bay and stays rooted in Fresno.

You can order Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff by Sara Borjas here.


Cyrus Sepahbodi is an Iranian-American poet. He has many years of experience hosting poetry readings such as Lamplight Poetry, Valley Contemporary Poets, Verity Room Poetry Reading, and The Worst Poetry Reading. His poetry can be found in numerous publications, and he has performed widely throughout California, Michigan, Ohio, and New York. He is one of the co-founders of the literary organization Madmouth, a former CSUN slam team member, and a mentor to many student poets there. He lives with his wife Ruth & their cat Louis in Los Angeles.


About A Poem is a house by Linda Ravenswood

A poem is a house by Linda Ravenswood is a collection of poems to "remind you that you are history, embodied, a living tapestry of everyone who ever was and all they said and forgot and cherished. And wonder how the severed goat's head in the tree still sings-a reminder of what cannot be explained-even with all that history, cruelty, and beauty" (Brian Sonia Wallace, West Hollywood City Poet Laureate).

Linda Ravenswood is a poet and performance artist from Los Angeles. Recent books include - a poem is a house (Madville Press 2024), Cantadora –– letters from California (Eyewear London // the black spring press group 2023), The Stan Poems (pedestrian press 2022), and the forthcoming The 500//The End of Conquest (Alternating Currents Press 2025). Accolades include an Oxford Prize in Poetry (2023), The Edwin Markham Prize in Poetry (2023), a Gloucestershire Prize in Poetry (2023), The Arthur Smith Prize in Poetry (2022), finalist for The Porter House Prize in Poetry (2024), finalist for the Quarter After Eight Chapbook Prize 2024, finalist for the gunpowder Prize from Alta (2022), finalist for the Rachel Wetszeon Prize in Poetry (2022), 4 time Pushcart Prize nominee (2012, 2024, 2021, 2023), founder of The Poet Laureate program in Glendale California (2023). In 2018, Linda founded The Los Angeles Press to address the critical need for People of Colour, Women, and LGBTQIA+ in publishing.

You can order A poem is a house by Linda Ravenswood here.


About Splice of Life: A Memoir in 13 Film Genres by Charles Jensen

Movies and memory intersect in this compelling and unconventional memoir from queer writer, film aficionado, and Jeopardy! contestant Charles Jensen. Splice of Life follows Jensen from his upbringing and struggles with sexual awareness in rural Wisconsin to his sexual liberation in college and, finally, to the complex relationships and bizarre coincidences of adulthood. Exploring what it means to be male and queer, each essay splices together Jensen's lived experiences with his analysis of a single film. Deftly woven, Splice of Life shows us how personal and cultural memory intertwine, as well as how the stories we watch can help us understand the stories we all tell about ourselves.

Charles Jensen (he/him) wrote Splice of Life: A Memoir in 13 Film Genres, forthcoming in May 2024 from Santa Fe Writer’s Project. His most recent collection of poetry is Instructions between Takeoff and Landing. His previous books include two collections of poetry and seven chapbooks of cross-genre work. The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs designated him a 2019-2020 Cultural Trailblazer, and he is the recipient of the 2020 Outwrite Nonfiction Chapbook Award, 2018 Zócalo Poetry Prize, and an Artist’s Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, American Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner, Exposition Review, The Florida Review, and Passages North.

You can order Splice of Life: A Memoir in 13 Film Genres by Charles Jensen here.


About Pig by Sam Sax

This imaginative and singular poetry collection interrogates the broadest ideas surrounding the humble pig--farm animal, men/masculinity, police and state violence, desire, queerness, global food systems, religion/Judaism and law--to reimagine various chaotic histories of the body, faith, ecology, desire, hygiene, and power.

Sam Sax draws on autobiography and history to create poems that explore topics ranging from drag queens and Miss Piggy to pig farming and hog lagoons. Collectively, these poems, borne of Sax's obsession, offer a varied picture of what it means to be a human being. Delivered in a variety of forms, infused with humor, grace, sadness, and anger, Pig is a wholly unique collection from a virtuosic and original poet.

Sam Sax is the author of the poetry collections PIG (Scribner, 2023); bury it (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), winner of the James Laughlin Award; madness (Penguin, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series and selected by Terrance Hayes; and four chapbooks. They earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Texas at Austin. They have received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, and Stanford University. Sax is a two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion. They have won a Gulf Coast Prize, an Iowa Review Award, and an American Literary Award. Their poems have appeared in The New York TimesThe AtlanticGranta, and other journals. In 2018, sax was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. They currently work as a lecturer in the ITALIC Program at Stanford University.

You can order Pig by Sam Sax here.


Please note:

  • Our space is ample but limited: the best way to make sure you get a space is to reserve a spot with a ticket. If we've sold out of tickets, though, we have a limited number of seats set aside for walkups on the day of the event, first come / first served starting half an hour before showtime. Check in with a host when you arrive about availability and/or potential waitlist options.
  • We are happy to offer *signed copies* of the authors' books. Order through the links above or try your luck at the event.
  • Safety protocols are subject to change. If we feel it is not safe to gather, as the event gets closer, we will pivot to a virtual event and your registration will remain valid.
  • Questions? Accessibility requests? Write [email protected].


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No refunds or returns.

Cancellation Policy:

In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.

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The Booksmith
1727 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
415-863-8688