poets, performers, and presenters
Robin Coste Lewis – keynote speaker
Coste Lewis is Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. She is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition, and VIDA. Lewis earned her MFA from NYU and has an MTS in Sanskrit and Comparative Religious Literature from Harvard Divinity School. Among other national and international fellowships and awards, she is a Cave Canem fellow and was awarded a Provost’s fellowship in the Creative Writing & Literature PhD Program at USC. She has been a finalist for the International War Poetry Prize, the National Rita Dove Prize, and semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/ Boston Review Prize and the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Prize. Lewis has taught at Wheaton College, Hunter College, Hampshire College and the NYU Low-Residency MFA in Paris. Born in Compton, California, her family is from New Orleans.
Kim Shuck is Poet Laureate of San Francisco. She is a Tsalagi (Cherokee)/Euro-American poet, author, weaver, and bead work artist who draws from Southeastern Native American culture and tradition as well as contemporary urban Indian life. Her collections include Clouds Running In, Rabbit Stories and Smuggling Cherokee. Shuck also teaches at the California College of Art, in the diversity department, and has taught at San Francisco State University. She has taught American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and was an artist in residence at the de Young Museum in June 2010 with Michael Horse.
Current Poet Laureate of Sacramento, Indigo Moor’s most recent book is In the Room of Thirsts and Hungers, published in July 2017. His anthology, Through the Stonecutter’s Window, won Northwestern University Press’s Cave Canem prize. His first book, Tap-Root, was published as part of Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Select Poetry Series. Three of his short plays, Harvest, Shuffling, and The Red and Yellow Quartet debuted at the 60 Million Plus Theatre’s Spring Playwright’s festival. His full-length stage-play, Live! at the Excelsior, was a finalist for the Images Theatre Playwright Award and has been optioned for a full-length film. Moor is resident artist as 916 ink and on the advisory board for the Sacramento Poetry Center. Winner of the 2005 Vesle Fenstermaker Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2008 Jack Kerouac Poetry contest. A few of Moor’s other honors include nomination to the 2009 Pushcart Prize and finalist finishes for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Crab Orchard First Book Prize, Saturnalia First Book Award, Naomi Long Madgett Book Award, and WordWorks Prize.
Marcelo Herndandez CastillO
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, translator, and immigration advocate. He is the author of Cenzontle, which was chosen by Brenda Shaughnessy as the winner of the 2017 A. Poulin, Jr. prize and will be published by BOA editions in March 2018. His first chapbook, DULCE, was chosen by Chris Abani as the winner of the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize and will be published by Northwestern University Press in the fall of 2018. His memoir, Children of the Land, is forthcoming from Harper Collins. He was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and immigrated at the age of five with his family to the California central valley. As an AB540 student, he earned his B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. He is a founding member of the Undocupoets campaign, which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first poetry book prizes in the country and was recognized with the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” award.
Judy Halebsky is the author of the poetry collections Sky=Empty, Tree Line and the chapbook Space/Gap/Interval/Distance. Fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center have supported her work. Her passions include the Moth-style storytelling and walking as a day-long activity. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Dominican University of California and lives in Oakland.
Straight Out Scribes (V.S. Chochezi and Staajabu)
Dr. V.S. Chochezi and Staajabu are a unique mother and daughter poetry team known as Straight Out Scribes. They are widely published, have received many honors and awards and have authored seven books of poetry and two CD compilations. Caledonia’s Daughters was published in early 2017. In addition to their writing and performance accomplishments, this mother/daughter poetic duo has produced and coordinated many consciousness-raising events and fund-raisers primarily on the West Coast since they first decided to make it their home in 1991. They are often referred to as activist poets and have spent the past 25+ years working on the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and the MOVE 9.
David Kipen and CYNTHIA HAVEN in conversation with Kim Culbertson:
What does it mean to be a Literary Citizen?
David Kipen is a Professor of Literature at UCLA, a literary critic, and former Literature Director of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). At the NEA he directed The Big Read, the largest literary program in US governmental history. Kipen has worked in journalism, government, film, television, online, radio, and nonprofit arts entrepreneurship. His reporting, reviews and essays appear in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Ozy.com and the San Francisco Chronicle. While at the Chronicle he wrote the magazine essay on screenwriters that became his first book, The Schreiber Theory: A Radical Rewrite of American Film History (Melville House). He currently lives in Los Angeles where, in addition to his teaching, he has founded Libros Schmibros, a community library in East Los Angeles.
Cynthia Haven has written for The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and World Literature Today. Her work has also appeared in Le Monde, La Repubblica, Die Welt, Zvezda, Colta, Zeszyty Literackie, The Kenyon Review, Quarterly Conversation, The Georgia Review, and Civilization. She has been a Milena Jesenská Journalism Fellow with the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna, as well as a visiting writer and scholar at Stanford’s Division of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures and a Voegelin Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Peter Dale in Conversation with Cynthia Haven was published in London, 2005. Her Czeslaw Milosz: Conversations was published in 2006; Joseph Brodsky: Conversations in 2003; An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czeslaw Milosz was published in 2011 with Ohio University Press / Swallow Press. Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard has just been published by Michigan State University Press.
Kim Culbertson is the author of young-adult fiction. Her books include Songs for a Teenage Nomad and Instructions for a Broken Heart, Catch a Falling Star, The Possibility of Now, The Wonder of Us and The Liberation of Max McTrue. Among her awards are a Booklist Top Ten Romance Title for Youth in 2011, the 2012 Northern California Book Award for YA Fiction, and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year in 2017. She publishes under Sourcebooks and Scholastic and lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter.
Neeli Cherkovski in conversation with Bill Gainer
Neeli Cherkovski is author of Animal (1996), Leaning Against Time (2005), From the Canyon Outward (2009), and The Crow and I (2015). He is coeditor of Anthology of L.A. Poets (with Charles Bukowski) and Cross-Strokes: Poetry between Los Angeles and San Francisco (with Bill Mohr). He has published bilingual editions in Austria, Mexico, and Italy. A facsimile edition of one of his notebooks was published by Viviani Edizione in Verona, Italy. Cherkovski’s biographies include Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski, as well as the critical memoir Whitman’s Wild Children. His latest book is Elegy for my Beat Generation, published by Lithic Press in early 2018. His papers are held at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Cherkovski received the 2017 Jack Mueller Poetry Prize awarded at the Jack Mueller Festival in Fruita, Colorado. He has lived in San Francisco since 1974.
Bill Gainer is known for the openness of his confessional poetry and as one of the founding contributors to the modern movement of "After Hours Poetry." Gainer says, "My poetry is written with an economy of words. I believe that the strongest way for poetry to achieve its goal, to express an emotion or feeling, is through the minimal poem." Gainer has contributed to the literary scene as a writer, editor, promoter, publicist and poet. He was a co-founder and board member of the long-running Nevada County Poetry Series. Gainer has read and worked with a wide range of poets and writers, including readings on KUSF with Punk-Rocker Patti Smith and performances with former California Poet Laureate, Al Young. Gainer is nationally published and continues to be a sought-after reader.
Daniel Reeves in conversation with Luanne McKinnon
Daniel Reeves is a pioneer of Video Poetics, a category of experimental video art. Verses of Denise Levertov, César Vallejo, Federico García Lorca, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Allen Ginsberg, among other world poets, as well as Reeves’ own poetry, have been used throughout his oeuvre. Amida (1983), inspired by Japanese Haiku, “…reveals spiritual emanations in a series of highly concrete images and moments that treat poetry as a form of revelation.” His engagement as a young Marine in Vietnam motivated Smothering Dreams, which garnered three EMMY Awards. Recipient of a John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship; and a First Prize award at the Sundance Film Festival, his works have been viewed worldwide including the TATE Liverpool; Harvard University; Edinburgh International Film Festival; and Documenta 7. The videos reside in over thirty cinematic arts collections including the Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum; Museo Reina Sofia; the Louvre; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
E. Luanne McKinnon is an independent scholar and arts writer. Her essays often include poetry to accentuate word-and-image realms. In Corps Exquis: Fragments from a History of the Human Form, ca 1585-2006, for example, thirty-two works on paper including Cézanne, Basquiat, and Nevelson are coupled with poems by Simic, Milosz, Gluck, and Levertov, among others. As a modernist art historian specializing in American and European art of the late 19th and 20th centuries her work has focused upon abstraction and the spiritual in art. McKinnon’s doctoral dissertation, “Picasso’s Guernica in the Shadow of Incandescence” has been described as a “lucid and extraordinary exploration of how beauty can come from tragedy.” She is the author of several artist monographs; exhibition catalogs, including Rockefeller’s Picassos; and, Eva Hesse Spectres 1960 (Yale University Press). She served as the director of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College; and the University of New Mexico Art Museum.
Luanne McKinnon and her husband, Daniel Reeves, live near Nevada City overlooking the South Yuba River valley; and in the Périgord region of southwestern France.
Charles Entrekin's most recent works include The Art of Healing, a transformative poetic journey (Poetic Matrix Press, 2016); Portrait of a Romance, a love story in verse (Hip Pocket Press, 2014). Charles is a founder and managing editor of The Berkeley Poets Cooperative and The Berkeley Poets Workshop & Press, and co-founder/advisory board member of Literature Alive! in Nevada County, California. He is co-editor of the e-zine Sisyphus, a magazine of literature, philosophy, and culture; and managing editor of Hip Pocket Press.
Gail Entrekin is a poet, editor, publisher, teacher, quilt maker and hiker. Books of her poems include John Danced (1988), You Notice the Body (1998), Change (Will Do You Good) (2005), which was nominated for the Northern California Book Award, and Rearrangement of the Invisible, (2012). Her newest collection, The Art of Healing, written with her husband, Charles Entrekin, was published in 2016.
Mel Pryor was named in Robert Peake’s annual Huffington Post blog as one of "Five British Poets to Watch" in 2017 and will join us from the UK. Her pamphlet, Drawn on Water, and her first full collection, Small Nuclear Family, are both published by Eyewear. Small Nuclear Family was chosen by Bel Mooney as a Daily Mail Christmas book of the year and the TLS described it as “a remarkable debut.” Her work has been published in The Rialto, Acumen, The Compass, Banshee, South Bank Poetry, POEM, Mslexia and in the anthologies The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear), Writing Motherhood (Seren) and The Caught Habits of Language (Donut Press). She won the 2008 Essex Poetry Prize, the 2013 Ware Sonnet Prize, and placed second in the 2013 Mslexia Poetry Competition. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Live Cannon International Poetry Competition, and won the prestigious Philip Larkin Poetry Prize. Her work has been performed at the Greenwich Theatre London and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Molly Fisk is Poet Laureate of Nevada County and author of the poetry collections, The More Difficult Beauty and Listening to Winter, and the essay collections Houston, We Have a Possum; Using Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace; and Blow-Drying a Chicken. Her radio commentary, “Observations from a Working Poet,” has aired weekly in the News Hour of KVMR-FM Nevada City, CA since 2005. Fisk has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She’s the Poet Laureate of KVMR and Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah, teaches writing to cancer patients, and works as a life coach in the Skills for Change tradition.
Kirsten Casey has been a poet teacher with California Poets in the Schools for over a decade. She is working as a lead for Nevada County Arts Council on Dream A Difference, a new international poetry program piloting in two of California’s most remote schools. Dream A Difference connects our students with children in hospices and refugee camps in Uganda and Bangladesh through poetry, song and prayer. She published a collection of original poetry, Ex Vivo: Out of the Living Body (Hip Pocket Press) in 2012, and trusts the next one doesn’t take 20 additional years to produce.
Sands Hall - emcee
Sands Hall is the author of a memoir, Flunk. Start and a novel, Catching Heaven, which was a Willa Award Finalist for Best Contemporary Fiction, and a Random House Reader’s Circle selection. She is also the author of a book of writing essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer’s Craft. She teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, the Community of Writers, Squaw Valley, and is a Teaching Professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Hall lives in Nevada City.
A key priority for Sierra Poetry Festival is that our youth have an opportunity to grow and thrive – either through poetry recitation or through the simple enjoyment of listening to poetry read by some of our most eminent poets. Our youth can enjoy mainstage readings, attend workshops, and participate in the free fringe festival poetry pop-up events that take place all the way through National Poetry Month. Our festival tickets for youth are offered free of charge.
POETRY OUT LOUD & NCSA – Finalists and selected participants from schools across Nevada County and beyond
DREAM A DIFFERENCE – Dream a Difference is an international poetry project connecting schools in the Western world with others in Syria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Jordan, Palestine, Malaysia and Zimbabwe. Nevada County Arts Council is partnering with Twin Ridges Schools District to coach children in poetry at Washington and Grizzly Hill Schools, which will be the first schools in the US to participate. These students will form part of a global community of young people who are gaining awareness and learning empathy for the way others live and, in the spirit of sharing the poetry they write in the form of song and recitation, will share their own experience of life in rural California.