Cullen Purser giving a talk on the craftsman’s dilemma.
SATURDAY, MARCH 2ND
Lithic Book Club: Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya (discussion) | 2pm
Join us for a discussion about Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya!
ABOUT SENSELESSNESS — A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army’s massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including the testimonies of the survivors. The writer’s job is to tidy it up: he rants, “that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger.” Mesmerized by the strange Vallejo-like poetry of the Indians’ phrases (“the houses they were sad because no people were inside them”), the increasingly agitated and frightened writer is endangered twice over: by the spell the strangely beautiful heart-rending voices exert over his tenuous sanity, and by real danger―after all, the murderers are the very generals who still run this unnamed Latin American country.
ABOUT HORACIO CASTELLANOS MOYA — Horacio Castellanos Moya is a writer and a journalist from El Salvador. For two decades he worked as the editor of news agencies, magazines and newspapers in Mexico, Guatemala and his own country. He has published eleven novels, five short story collections and two essay collections. His novels have been translated into eleven languages; six of them (Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in El Salvador, The Dream of My Return, Senselessness, The She-Devil in the Mirror, Dance with Snakes, and Tyrant Memory) are available in English. Currently he teaches creative writing and media in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa.
FRIDAY, MARCH 8TH
Mathias Svalina, Bailey Pittenger & Kim Nuzzo
(literary) | 7pm
ABOUT MATHIAS SVALINA — Mathias Svalina is the the author of five books, including “Destruction Myth,” “Wastoid,” and the recently released “The Wine-Dark Sea.” His poems and short fiction have been widely published and anthologized, including recently in New American Stories (Vintage Contemporaries). He is an editor for the small press Octopus Books.
Since 2014 he has run a Dream Delivery Service and has delivered dreams in Richmond, Tucson, Marfa, New Orleans, Chicago, Boulder and beyond. Svalina literally writes individual dreams for subscribers and delivers them, on a bicycle in the middle of the night, to their homes. He will also mail them if the subscriber is out of range. Check out his website here: www.dreamdeliveryservice.com.
ABOUT BAILEY PITTENGER — Bailey Pittenger lives most of her life between Appalachia and Deep South. She has an MA in English from Wake Forest University and an MFA in prose from the University of Notre Dame. Her work can be found in Denver Quarterly, Gigantic Sequins, Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy, and elsewhere. She is currently a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Denver.
ABOUT KIM NUZZO — Kim Nuzzo is a poet, actor and visual artist living in Fruita, Colorado. He is the founder of the Aspen Poets’ Society and author of the book, Holyfunk. Nuzzo, a resident actor with Zephyr Stage, performed Walt Whitman in the play, Multitudes. He has performed many roles for Hudson Reed Ensemble, as well as King Hamlet in TRTC’s acclaimed production of Hamlet. You can check out his work at http://heartofeverything.blogspot.com/?view=classic
FRIDAY, MARCH 15TH
Whose Story Is This? with Stephen Trimble & Charlie Quimby (literary) | 7pm
Whose Story is This? with Stephen Trimble and Charlie Quimby
Friday, March 15th at 7pm
Authors Stephen Trimble, recently named one of Utah’s 15 Most Influential Artists, and local novelist Charlie Quimby will meet at Lithic Books for a conversation about the power and peril of writers using personal material in their work.
In “Whose Story is This?” they will share the choices and concerns that arise when they draw upon experiences of others, including family, marginalized people or litigious public figures
Trimble’s most personal book, LEAVE ME ALONE FOREVER, reconstructs his brother’s tragic story, traces the currents of community and family that shaped their mother, and searches for the empathy he never felt as a youth. Trimble’s journey of self-discovery will resonate with all readers who have a family member or friend touched by mental illness. He also continues to draw on his lifelong relationship with the Colorado Plateau, most tellingly in Bargaining for Eden.
Quimby’s novels draw from his experiences growing up on the Western Slope as well as his father’s suicide and his volunteer work with the homeless community. His novel-in-progress was inspired by real person who has a reputation for sending lawyers and investigators after people he feels have wronged him.
STEPHEN TRIMBLE was a park ranger at Arches and Capitol Reef national parks in his twenties and has since published 25 books. He received the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for photography and conservation and a Wallace Stegner Centennial Fellowship at the University of Utah Tanner Humanities Center. In 1995, Trimble co–compiled with Terry Tempest Williams the landmark book of advocacy, Testimony: Writers of the West Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness—the model for Red Rock Stories. He has taught writing in the University of Utah Honors College and makes his home in Salt Lake City and in Torrey, Utah.
CHARLIE QUIMBY’s debut novel, Monument Road, was an Indie Next pick, a Booklist Editors’ Choice 2013 and a Reading the West finalist. Of his follow-up novel, Inhabited, a Publishers Weekly starred review said: “his skillful and delightful turns of phrase make reading this evocative novel a pleasure.” He’s at work on a third novel also set in Colorado and mulling a nonfiction project that allows people experiencing homelessness to tell their own stories.
Before turning to fiction, he was an award-winning writer and marketing agency owner who co-authored Planning to Stay, a guide for how residents can shape development in their communities. His nonfiction has appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, High Country News Writers on the Range, the Harvard Business Review and Across the Great Divide blog, where he tells stories about home and homelessness. A native Coloradan and adopted Minnesotan, he and his wife, writer Susan Cushman, make home in both places.
SATURDAY, MARCH 23RD
A Lawrence Ferlinghetti Reading in Honor of His 100th Birthday (poetry) | 2pm
From the Poetry Foundation’s website:
As poet, playwright, publisher, and activist, Lawrence Ferlinghetti helped to spark the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s and the subsequent “Beat” movement. Like the Beats, Ferlinghetti felt strongly that art should be accessible to all people, not just a handful of highly educated intellectuals. His career has been marked by its constant challenge of the status quo; his poetry engages readers, defies popular political movements, and reflects the influence of American idiom and modern jazz. In Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Poet-at-Large,Larry Smith noted that the author “writes truly memorable poetry, poems that lodge themselves in the consciousness of the reader and generate awareness and change. And his writing sings, with the sad and comic music of the streets.”
Ferlinghetti was essential to the establishment of the Beat movement. His City Lights bookstore provided a gathering place for the fertile talents of the San Francisco literary renaissance, and the bookstore’s publishing arm, the “Pocket Poets” series, offered a forum for Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Patchen and Gregory Corso. As Smith noted in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, “What emerges from the historical panorama of Ferlinghetti’s involvement is a pattern of social engagement and literary experimentation as he sought to expand the goals of the Beat movement.” Smith added, however, that Ferlinghetti’s contribution far surpasses his tasks as a publisher and organizer. “Besides molding an image of the poet in the world,” the critic continued, “he created a poetic form that is at once rhetorically functional and socially vital.” Ferlinghetti himself alleges that he never wrote “Beat” poetry. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle reporter Heidi Benson, Ferlinghetti explained why he preferred the term “wide-open”: “Wide-open poetry refers to what Pablo Neruda told me in Cuba in 1950 at the beginning of the Fidelista revolution: Neruda said, ‘I love your wide-open poetry.’ He was either referring to the wide-ranging content of my poetry, or, in a different mode, to the poetry of the Beats…”
Ferlinghetti was born Lawrence Monsanto Ferling. His father, an Italian immigrant, had shortened the family name upon arrival in America. Ferlinghetti discovered the lengthier name and took it as his own when he was an adult. Ferlinghetti had a tumultuous youth, parts of which were spent in France, a state orphanage in New York, and in the mansion of the wealthy Bisland family in Bronxville, New York. Young Ferlinghetti endeared himself to the Bislands to such an extent that when his aunt, their governess, disappeared suddenly, he was allowed to stay. Ferlinghetti’s formal education included the elite Riverdale Country Day School, Mount Hermon, a preparatory academy in Massachusetts, and the University of North Carolina where he majored in journalism and worked with the student staff of the Daily Tarheel. Upon graduating, he joined the U.S. Navy. After his discharge Ferlinghetti took advantage of the G.I. Bill to continue his education. He received his master’s degree from Columbia University in 1948, and completed his doctoral degree at the University of Paris in 1951.
Ferlinghetti left Paris in 1951 and moved to San Francisco. In 1953 he joined with Peter D. Martin to publish a magazine, City Lights. In order to subsidize the magazine, Martin and Ferlinghetti opened the City Lights Pocket Book Shop in a neighborhood on the edge of Chinatown. Before long the City Lights Book Shop was a popular gathering place for San Francisco’s avant-garde writers, poets, and painters. “We were filling a big need,” Ferlinghetti told the New York Times Book Review. “City Lights became about the only place around where you could go in, sit down, and read books without being pestered to buy something. That’s one of the things it was supposed to be. Also, I had this idea that a bookstore should be a center of intellectual activity; and I knew it was a natural for a publishing company too.”
In addition to his new career as an entrepreneur, Ferlinghetti was busy creating his own poetry, and in 1955 he launched the City Lights Pocket Poets publishing venture. First in the “Pocket Poets” series was a slim volume of his own, Pictures of the Gone World. In Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Smith observed that, from his earliest poems onwards, the author writes as “the contemporary man of the streets speaking out the truths of common experience, often to the reflective beat of the jazz musician. As much as any poet today he…sought to make poetry an engaging oral art.” Such sentiments found an appreciative audience among young people of the mid-twentieth century who were agonizing over the arms race and cold war politics. By 1955 Ferlinghetti counted among his friends such poets as Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, and Philip Whalen, as well as the novelist Jack Kerouac. Ferlinghetti was in the audience at the watershed 1955 poetry reading “Six Poets at the Six Gallery,” at which Ginsberg unveiled his poem “Howl.” Ferlinghetti immediately recognized it as a classic and offered to publish it in the “Pocket Poets” series. The first edition of Howl and Other Poems appeared in 1956 and sold out quickly. The second shipment of the book—seized by U.S. customs, then released—occasioned the infamous “Howl” trial when the San Francisco Police Department arrested Ferlinghetti on charges of printing and selling lewd and indecent material. Ferlinghetti engaged the American Civil Liberties Union for his defense and welcomed his court case as a test of freedom of speech. Not only did he win the suit on October 3, 1957, he also benefitted from the publicity generated by the case. The case was vital in energizing the San Francisco renaissance and Beat cause, establishing definite principles to the various movements’ often disparate aims.
For Ferlinghetti, these “principles” included redeeming poetry from the ivory towers of academia and offering it as a shared experience with ordinary people. In 1958 New York’s New Directions press published Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind, a work that has since sold well over one million copies in America and abroad. In Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Smith suggested that the poems in A Coney Island of the Mind demonstrate the direction Ferlinghetti intended to go with his art. The poet “enlarged his stance and developed major themes of anarchy, mass corruption, engagement, and a belief in the surreality and wonder of life,” he wrote. “It was a revolutionary art of dissent and contemporary application which jointly drew a lyric poetry into new realms of social—and self-expression. It sparkles, sings, goes flat, and generates anger or love out of that flatness as it follows a basic motive of getting down to reality and making of it what we can.” Smith concluded: “ There are some classic contemporary statements in this, Ferlinghetti’s—and possibly America’s—most popular book of modern poetry. The work is remarkable for its skill, depth, and daring.”
Two collections of Ferlinghetti’s poetry provide insight into the development of the writer’s overarching style and thematic approach: Endless Life: Selected Poems (1981) and These Are My Rivers: New and Selected Poems, 1955-1993 (1993). The poems in Endless Life reflect the influences of e. e. cummings, Kenneth Rexroth, and Kenneth Patchen and are concerned with contemporary themes, such as the antiwar and antinuclear movements. John Trimbur in Western American Literature noted that Ferlinghetti writes a “public poetry to challenge the guardians of the political and social status quo for the souls of his fellow citizens.” Joel Oppenheimer praised the poet in the New York Times Book Review, contending that Ferlinghetti “learned to write poems, in ways that those who see poetry as the province of the few and the educated had never imagined.” Ferlinghetti focuses on current political and sexual matters in These Are My Rivers (1993). As Rochelle Ratner noted in Library Journal, the poems are experimental in technique, often lacking common poetic devices such as stanza breaks, and they appear in unusual ways on the page, “with short lines at the left margin or moving across the page as hand follows eye.” Yet, Ashley Brown commented in World Literature Today, “Ferlinghetti writes in a very accessible idiom; he draws on pop culture and sports as much as the modern poets whom he celebrates.” Ratner averred that “Ferlinghetti is the foremost chronicler of our times.” Indeed, the collection shows “Ferlinghetti still speaking out against academic poetry just as he did when the Beat Movement began,” remarked Varner in Western American Literature.“Ferlinghetti, always the poet of the topical now, still sees clearly the 1990s,” the critic added.
Drama and fiction have also proved a fertile ground for Ferlinghetti. He has carried his political philosophies and social criticisms into experimental plays, many of them short and surrealistic. Ferlinghetti’s first novel, Her (1960) is an autobiographical, experimental work that focuses on the narrator’s pursuit of a woman. Though the novel received very little critical comment when it was published, Ferlinghetti next novel, Love in the Days of Rage (1988), won wide-spread acclaim. The chronicle of a love affair between an expatriate American painter named Annie, and a Parisian banker of Portuguese extraction named Julian, the novel takes place against the backdrop of 1968 Paris, during the student revolution that took place during that year. Alex Raksin, discussing Love in the Days of Rage in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, praised the work as an “original, intense novel” in which Ferlinghetti’s “sensitivity as a painter…is most apparent.” Patrick Burson, critiquing for the San Francisco Review of Books, explained that the book challenges the reader on several stylistic levels as it attempts to mirror the anarchistic uprising of ‘68 which briefly united intellectuals, artists, and proletariats in common cause.”
Ferlinghetti continues to operate the City Lights bookstore and travels frequently to give poetry readings. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited in San Francisco galleries; his plays have been performed in experimental theaters. He also continues to publish new poetry, including the 1997 collection A Far Rockaway of the Heart, which is to some degree a follow-up to A Coney Island of the Mind. In 2001 he published two books: How to Paint Sunlight: Lyric Poems and Others, 1997-2000 and San Francisco Poems.Poetry as Insurgent Art was published in 2005. The “collection of remarks, aphorisms and exhortations about the nature and purpose of poetry began in the late 1950s,” according a review in Publisher’s Weekly. The reviewer thought, however, that fans of Ferlinghetti are sure to find “reason and justice in these eternal verities, couched in up-to-date lingo.” The New York Times Book Review correspondent Joel Oppenheimer cited Ferlinghetti’s work for “a legitimate revisionism which is perhaps our best heritage from those raucous [Beat] days—the poet daring to see a different vision from that which the guardians of culture had allowed us.” As New Pages contributor John Gill concluded, reading a work by Ferlinghetti “will make you feel good about poetry and about the world—no matter how mucked-up the world may be.”
FRIDAY, APRIL 5TH
You Are Not Alone: A Reading Dedicated to the Awareness of Mental Illness featuring Sandra Eisenberg, Erica Kitzman & Carol Welch
(reading) | 7pm
An evening of readings dedicated to the topic of mental illness. For anyone whose life has been affected by any form of mental illness, whether directly or by relationship. For anyone who is interested in destigmatizing mental illness. A safe place to have a voice. It is time for the uncloaking to begin in our community. Following the presenters there will be an open reading. You are not alone.
ABOUT SANDRA EISENBERG — Sandra Eisenberg is a teacher, writer, and former mental health worker. She has survived both brief and lengthy psychiatric hospitalizations as well as suicide attempts. Finding her voice through the written word is her powerful tool as she lives with the impacts of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Sandra hopes to use her writing to raise awareness about mental health issues and to destigmatize mental illness.
ABOUT ERICA KITZMAN — Erica Kitzman is a writer, researcher, and postvention policy activist. She is an advent of bibliotherapy-read and written, as a mode of resilience building, which she which she employs on her personal journey through PTSD and anxiety. Erica leads memoir to fiction workshops by request.
ABOUT CAROL WELCH — Carol Welch is a writer and teacher of BioSomatics. Carol is passionate about the understanding of movement as medicine and being a facilitator of that experience. She has traveled internationally teaching people to empower themselves by learning how to listen to the innate wisdom of their bodies and all that has to offer. Carol is also passionate about the written word.
Lithic Bookstore & Gallery
138 S. Park Square #202
Fruita, CO 81521