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One City One Book 2012

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

Aug. 27, 2012

San Francisco Public Library’s One City One Book 2012:

A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit

Kick-off Event – Party Like It’s 1906 – Sept. 7, 2012

This fall, the San Francisco Public Library is exploring local author Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster for our California Reads/One City One Book 2012 program.

Rebecca SolnitTo kick off the season, join the Library and The Green Arcade at the McRoskey Mattress Company (1687 Market St.) for a One City One Book launch party and celebration, Party Like It’s 1906, on Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. The event will feature music from the acclaimed Tammy Hall Trio, 1906-inspired bites (think oysters, sourdough bread and beer) and a talk by Rebecca Solnit, the author of 13 books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory.

Book coverIn 2012, as part of the 8th annual citywide book club program, the Library is participating in California Reads, a statewide reading and discussion program created by Cal Humanities in partnership with the California Center for the Book and supported by the California State Library. California Reads encourages Californians from all walks of life to participate in reading and discussion programs and related activities around the theme of democracy in 2012. San Francisco selected A Paradise Built in Hell because of its strong connection to the city and its exploration of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.

A Paradise Built in Hell explores our need for community and common purpose, which Solnit argues are fundamental to democratic forms of social and political life. Blending reportage and analysis, the book surveys natural and man-made disasters including the ’06 earthquake, the Halifax explosion of 1917, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the Sept. 11th attacks, and Hurricane Katrina.  Solnit takes a positive view of human behavior showing that disasters can actually create a sense of community and purposefulness. A community’s typical response to catastrophe is self-organization and mutual aid–truly democracy in action–with neighbors and strangers rescuing, feeding and housing each other.

From September through November, the Library will be offering a number of discussion groups, films, preparedness workshops and more events on the theme of the book, including an Oct.11 event at the Main Library, during which Solnit will be in conversation with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

Visit for more information about programs, book club discussion questions and more, and start reading the book now.

2012 Voter Empowerment Series

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

August 23, 2012

2012 Voter Empowerment Series

Presented by the San Francisco Public Library’s African American Interest Committee

President Barack Obama: Accomplishments, Criticism, Commentary

This panel discussion, moderated by former CBS/KPIX News Anchor Barbara Rodgers, will feature San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, author and media specialist J.R. Valrey, San Francisco State University Political Science Professor Robert C. Smith, London Breed, director of the African American Arts & Culture Complex, and a member of the Black Young Democrats Club of San Francisco. The candid and enlightening discussion will focus on President Obama’s first term in office, his relationship with Congress, the challenges of racism while in office and other key issues that President Obama has faced during his tenure. The discussion will be followed by a question and answer session. Voter regis­tration will be available beginning at 12 p.m. with the panel discussion beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 23, 2012, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, 1:30-4:30 p.m.


Films of a Movement

A screening of three films that highlight politics, history and the African American experience.

  • Freedom on My Mind (1994; 105 min.) 11:30 a.m.

Nominated for an Academy Award, winner of both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians awards for best documentary, this landmark film tells the story of the Mississippi freedom movement in the early 1960s when a handful of young activists changed history.

  • Chisolm ‘72: Unbought and Unbossed (2004; 76 min.)  1:30 p.m.

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm becomes the first black woman elected to Congress. In 1972, she became the first black woman to run for president. Shunned by the political establishment, she was supported by a motley crew of blacks, feminists, and young voters. Their campaign-trail adventures were frenzied, fierce and fundamentally right on.

  • By The People: The Election of Barack Obama (2009; 116 min.)  3 p.m.

Millions saw history made as Barack Obama took the podium on election night. But few witnessed his unguarded moments in the hours and days before he greeted the nation. This documentary includes never-before-seen footage of Obama behind the scenes, as well as interviews and candid moments with his family, senior campaign staff, volunteers, reporters, supporters and even opponents.

Sept. 29, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Exhibit: November 4, 2008 Voting Series

A series of 15 gouache paintings by Santa Cruz artist Myra Eastman narrates the nation’s collective awakening during the Nov. 4, 2008 election. Eastman said: “People woke up and moved by the possibilities, they took action. People voted and polling sites became symbols of renewal.”
On view through Nov. 8, 2012, Main Library, Fifth Floor, Government Information Center, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco

Born Among Mirrors

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

August 22, 2012

Born Among Mirrors: Lebanon 50 Years After

Documentary Photographs from Lebanon on View
at San Francisco Main Library

Photo of Children Photographer Najib Joe Hakim turned his camera lens on his birthplace, Beirut, Lebanon, a country he hadn’t visited in 30 years. When he documents in his photographs is a poignant exploration of a people and a place, determined to exist, despite the wars and unrest that have ravaged Lebanon. The San Francisco Public Library is pleased to present the exhibition, Born Among Mirrors: Lebanon 50 Years After, which will be on view August 25 through Nov. 4, in the Main Library’s Jewett Gallery, 100 Larkin St., Lower Level, San Francisco.

In October 2006 Najib Joe Hakim visited his birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon. Three months had passed since the latest war with Israel had destroyed much of the country.  Hakim didn’t go to document the destruction: those images had made the nightly news ten times over. Instead, he went looking for what persisted in the land where he was born. Fifty years had passed since Hakim’s family left Lebanon for America, his parents as refugees from Palestine, he and his brother as babes-in-arms. Thirty years had passed since his last visit.  In that time, Lebanon had suffered a long civil war, several Israeli invasions, Syrian and Israeli occupation, rebuilding and re-destroying.

As the photographs illustrate, Hakim encountered what seemingly cannot be destroyed: the character of a resilient people who defied their savage and surreal world as they picked up the pieces, built devotional altars to their gods and heroes, and went about their routines—every cup of coffee enjoyed, every candle lit, every cigarette smoked, an affirmation of their will to survive. Like fishermen daily repairing their nets, the Lebanese were already rebuilding—yet again. Hakim found their undiminished resolve inspiring.

In honor of the exhibition, the Library will be hosting a gallery tour with Hakim on Sept. 19 and an Arab American literature event on Oct. 30. The exhibit and programs are co-sponsored by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, the Arab American Heritage Festival and the Arab Cultural and Community Center.

Related Programs:

Meet the Artist: Najib Joe HakimSept. 19, 6 p.m. Talk and Gallery Tour, San Francisco Main Library, Jewett Gallery, Lower Level, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco.

Arab American Literature – Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m., Palestine-American author Soha Al-Jurf discusses her book Even My Voice is Silence.  Main Library, Lower  Level, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco

Rock and Roll, Baby!

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

July 27, 2012

Rock and Roll, Baby!

San Francisco Public Library’s Tricycle Music Fest West Returns for Fourth Year

San Francisco Public Library presents eight free family rock concerts this summer and fall for its fourth year with the return of Tricycle Music Fest West. The festival kicks off Aug. 5 at the Mission Branch in partnership with Sunday Streets, rolls through neighborhood libraries, and concludes with a costume ball finale on Oct. 28 at the Main Library.

The Aug. 5 Sunday Streets Stage features the infectious tunes of Alison Faith Levy’s Big Time Tot Rock, magical melodies and heartbreaking harmonies of The Corner Laughers, zany antics of The Monkeybutts, and teen talents from the San Francisco Rock Project’s House Band.

Festival headliner Recess Monkey members are Seattle-based elementary school teachers by day, kindie-rockers by night. Noted as “…the heart of kids’ music today” by Zooglobble and described as “not only do the tunes fail to induce adult headaches, some even sound like the kind of retro hipster music you might hear in a Wes Anderson flick,” Time Out NY Kids. With Beatle-esque pop, charismatic shows, the most prolific trio in kids’ music take the stage in the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium on Sunday, Aug. 19. Festival closer Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam Band, appearing Oct. 28 at the Main Library, just had its album named one of the top cool kids albums by People magazine.

“San Francisco families love music and libraries. Tricycle is the perfect combination to showcase our libraries as magical family destinations. Four years later, I still beam watching families, friends and community experience the library in a new way,” said Christy Estrovitz, SFPL’s early literacy specialist.

Tricycle continues in September and October with neighborhood concerts with The Hipwaders, Charity Kahn, The Monkeybutts, Frances England, Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower, and more.  All branch concerts are head outside, weather permitting, except at the Main Library.  Skip the nap, grab your boogie shoes and join us. Tricycle Music Fest West is made possible thanks to the rock-star support from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Find the complete schedule, photos and more at

2012 Tricycle Lineup:

Alison Faith Levy’s Big Time Tot Rock, The Corner Laughers, The Monkeybutts, San Francisco Rock Project –  Aug. 5, 11:30 a.m.– 4 p.m., Mission Branch, Sunday Streets stage

Recess Monkey – Aug. 19, 3 p.m., Main Library

Charity Kahn, Sept. 15, 3 p.m., Ortega Branch Library

Alison Faith Levy’s Big Time Tot Rock, Sept. 29, 1:30 p.m.,  Mission Bay Branch Library

Frances England, Oct. 6, 3 p.m., Parkside Branch Library

The Monkeybutts, Oct. 13, 3 p.m., Visitacion Valley Branch Library

The Hipwaders, Oct. 20, 3 p.m., Bernal Heights Branch Library

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, and Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower, Oct. 28, 3 p.m., Main Library, Costume Ball Finale event

Alejandro Murguía Named SF Poet Laureate

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

July 27, 2012


Mayor Edwin M. Lee last night introduced Alejandro Murguía as the City’s 6th Poet Laureate, at Friends of the San Francisco Public Library’s third San Francisco International Poetry Festival kickoff event in Kerouac Alley.

Poet, editor, translator, literary organizer and educator, Murguía is the author of Southern Front (Bilingual Review Press) and This War Called Love: Nine Stories (City Lights Books), both recipients of the American Book Award. His most recent book of poems, Native Tongue (CC. Marimbo Press, Berkeley) was published in February 2012. His other books of poetry are Spare Poems (Luna’s Press, 2001) and Oracíon a la Mano Poderosa (Editorial Pocho-Che, 1972).

“I am thrilled to announce Alejandro Murguía as the new San Francisco Poet Laureate, a position that exemplifies San Francisco’s rich literary history and tradition,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Murguía, who founded the Mission Cultural Center, has been a champion of many local authors, artists, poets as well as a great contributor to the literary community in the City, and this honor is richly deserved.”

Murguía, a professor of Latino/Latina studies at San Francisco State University, is also the author of the non-fiction book, The Medicine of Memory: A Mexica Clan in California (University of Texas Press). The book draws on memories—his own and his family’s reaching back to the 18th century—to (re)construct the forgotten Chicano-indigenous history of California.

Born in California, Murguía has spent nearly his entire literary life in San Francisco. A long-time literary activist, he published first books by José Montoya, Roberto Vargas, Nina Serrano, Elias-Hruska-Cortes and raúlsalinas and edited Tin-Tan Magazine. He co-edited anthologies including Volcán: Poetry from Central America (City Lights Books, 1984) and Time to Greez! Incantations from the Third World (Glide Publications, 1974). As a translator, his projects have included Angel in the Deluge (City Lights Books, 1993) by Rosario Murillo.

A longtime literary organizer, in addition to participating in the San Francisco International Poetry Festival, Murguía organized the Flor Y Canto en el Barrio festivals in 2008 and 2011 and has been an active participant in Litquake since its inception.

As Poet Laureate, Murguía intends “to make San Francisco the poetic center of the Americas, a city where poetry, poetry readings and poetry workshops would blossom everywhere people work and gather, in schools and libraries, in detention centers so that hope might also spring from poetry, in government offices, the Board of Supervisors, even the Mayor’s office, because poetry demands an honest voice, expressed in clear language that is true to the word.”

About the San Francisco International Poetry Festival

Honoring our City’s great legacy of encouraging cross cultural dialogue, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library,  the Mayor’s Office of Protocol and Emeritus San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, present this landmark event that brings more than 18 poets from all around the world to San Francisco for free and open-to-the-public poetry and music.  The four-day festival kicks off Thursday, July 26 in Kerouac Alley in North Beach, followed by public poetry readings, translation workshops and children’s programs, on Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, in Civic Center Plaza and the San Francisco Main Library, and then concludes on Sunday, July 29 with the North Beach Poetry Crawl. More information at

The Plastic in Question

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

July 20, 2012

The Plastic in Question

Environmental Exhibit on View at the San Francisco Main Library

Image of plastics Since 1999 Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been visiting 1,000 yards of Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Sea Shore. They have walked this one remote beach hundreds of times to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. By carefully collecting and “curating” the bits of plastic, they fashion it into works of art. This artwork will be featured in the exhibit, The Plastic in Question which explores the ever-growing problem of plastic flowing into the waste stream. Sponsored by the Library’s Art, Music and Recreation Center and the Wallace Stegner Environmental Center, the exhibit opens tomorrow in the San Francisco Main Library’s First, Fourth and Fifth Floors, 100 Larkin St., and will be on view through October 11.

Viewers of the exhibit are often surprised that this colorful stuff is the thermoplastic junk of our throwaway culture. As Lang and Selby have deepened their practice they’ve found, like archeologists, that each bit of what they find opens into a pinpoint look at the whole of human culture. Each bit has a story to tell.

For the exhibit, Lang and Selby are posing five important questions about the pervasive role plastic has come to play in contemporary life. In vitrines and display boards they will explore questions such as:

  • Where is “away,” as in, “throw away”?
  • What’s the true cost of plastic?
  • Where did this plastic come from and how did it get to the beach?
  • What’s love got to do with it?
  • What to do about the problem of plastic pollution?

Viewers to the exhibition will be encouraged to take personal responsibility for their daily use of plastic, bringing “refuse” into the conversation about reduce, reuse, recycle. For more information about the exhibit, visit

Related Program:

Film Screening: Bag ItThe documentary film follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics.

Aug. 23, 5:45 p.m., Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library

Film Screening: One Word: Plastics Panel discussion with artists Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, Michael Stewart from Surfriders, and Susan Freinkel, the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story; moderated by Daniella Dimitrova Russo, co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Sept. 27, 6 p.m., Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library


Note to Editors: More images available upon request

San Francisco International Poetry Festival

Poetry Stamp

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

Katie Ambellan
(415) 626-7512 ext: 123;

July 12, 2012

**Photos available upon request**


A Cornucopia of Stylish Events Awaits Poets and Their Admirers throughout the Weekend

Add Another Stamp to Your Poetry Passport this July 26-29th, 2012

San Francisco, CA—Celebrate the creative spirit at the third San Francisco International Poetry Festival, July 26—29, 2012. Presented by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, the Mayor’s Office of Protocol, the San Francisco Public Library and Emeritus San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, the landmark event brings more than 18 poets from all around the world to San Francisco for free and open-to-the-public poetry and music.

The four-day poetry extravaganza begins on Thursday, July 26, 2012 with a kick-off party hosted by Jack Hirschman, legendary Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Library Luis Herrera at Kerouac Alley in North Beach. The party features an introduction of participating poets and performances and readings by former Modern Lovers musician Jonathan Richman, former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzales and more.

Additional Festivities include:

  • Friday lunch-time poetry reading in the Civic Center Plaza
  • Outdoor poetry & performances on Saturday in Civic Center Plaza
  • Poetry Crawl in North Beach
  • Youth poetry, Translation Workshops, Beat poetry lectures and more.

The San Francisco International Poetry Festival boasts a truly international group of poets from Iraq to Columbia. The festival honors our City’s great poetic legacy and encourages cross-cultural dialogue.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit

Check out the lineup of wonderful poets appearing at this year’s festival:


Amiri Baraka (USA)

Antoine Cassar (Malta)

Sasha Pimentel Chacon (Philippines)

Neeli Cherkovski (USA)

Carla Badillo Coronado (Ecuador)

Agneta Falk (Sweden/USA)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (USA)

Heinz D. Heisl (Austria)

Jane Hirshfield (USA)

Jack Hirschman (USA)

Yahia Lababidi (Egypt)

Dunya Mikhail (Iraq)

Alejandro Murguia (USA/Mexico)

Sandro Sardella (Italy)

Joachim Sartorius (Germany)

Matt Sedillo (USA)

Marie Silkeberg (Sweden)

Antonieta Villamil (Columbia)

CALENDAR EDITORS: International Poetry Festival Schedule

Thursday, July 26th

7:00—9:00 p.m.

Kerouac Alley, North Beach district

Official Kick-Off Party, hosted by Jack Hirschman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Librarian Luis Herrera. Introduction of festival poets and jazz concert, featuring Neeli Cherkovski, Matt Gonzalez and Jonathan Richman (Modern Lovers musician) and a special appearance by the Magnetic Poets.

Friday, July 27th

Noon—1:30 p.m.

Civic Center Plaza

Main poetry readings by Jack Hirschman, Antonie Cassar, Matt Gonzales, Agneta Falk and Alejandro Murguia.

1:45—4:30 p.m.

Main Library, Koret Auditorium

Main poetry readings by Joachim Sartorius, Scott Thompson, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Antonieta Villamil, Barbara Paschke, Jane Hirshfield, Dunya Mikhail and Kareem James Abdul-Zeid.

Book Sales/Signings at Readers Bookstore at the Main (30 Grove St. Main Library).

Saturday, July 28th

Noon—5:00 p.m.

Civic Center Plaza

Main poetry readings by Jack Hirschman, Yahia Lababidi, Marie Silkeberg, Agneta Falk, Matt Sedillo, Sandro Sardella, Bobby Coleman, Sasha Pimentel Chacon, Ataol Behramoglu, Mark Kockinos, Heinz Heisl, Scott Thompson, Carla Badillo Coronado, Jessica Loos and Amiri Baraka.

Book Sales/Signings at Readers Bookstore at the Main (30 Grove St. Main Library).

Sunday, July 29th

North Beach Poetry Crawl

11:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m.

Emerald Tablet (80 Fresno St. @ Columbus Ave.)

Poetry readings from Amiri Baraka (USA), Sandro Sardella (Italy) and Aggie Falk (Sweden/USA).

1:00—2:30 p.m.

Emerald Tablet (80 Fresno St. @ Columbus Ave.)

Poetry readings from Dunya Mikhail (Iraq), Yahia Lababidi (Egypt), Joachim Sartorius (Germany) and Sasha Pimentel Chacon (Philippines).

2:00—3:30 p.m.

Live Worms Gallery (1345 Grant Ave. @ Green St.)

Beat Poetry Lecture, featuring Gerd Holzheimer. Sponsored by the Goethe Institut.

3:00—4:30 p.m.

Emerald Tablet (80 Fresno St. @ Columbus Ave.)

Translation Workshop and panel moderated by Judy Bernhard, featuring translation specialists and authors including, John Curl and more.

4:00—5:15 p.m.

Kerouac Alley, North Beach district

Poetry readings from Carla Badillo Coronado (Ecuador), Heinz D. Heisl (Austria) and Alejandro Murguia (USA/Mexico).

5:30—6:45 p.m.

Emerald Tablet (80 Fresno St. @ Columbus Ave.)

Poetry readings from Marie Silkeberg (Sweden), Antoine Cassar (Malta) and Matt Sedillo (USA).

5:30—7:00 p.m.

Kerouac Alley, North Beach district

Poetry readings from Antonieta Villamil (Columbia) and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade.

7:00—8:00 p.m.

Kerouac Alley, North Beach district

Closing celebration featuring all participating poets.

**Please note: Schedule is subject to change. Please call 415-626-7500 or check the website, to confirm dates and times.

Kalligraphia 13

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

June 14, 2012



Triennial Calligraphy Exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco — The public will have a rare chance to view contemporary calligraphy during Kalligraphia 13, on display in the San Francisco Public Library’s Skylight Gallery from June 16 through August 26, 2012. The exhibition will feature work by members of the Friends of Calligraphy (FOC), a non-profit Bay Area group founded in 1975, with nearly 500 members worldwide. A summer-long series of programs is scheduled to accompany Kalligraphia 13. On Saturday, July 21, FOC members will lead a Gallery Walk & Talk through the exhibition in the Skylight Gallery from 2 to 4 p.m. Free demonstrations of the art and craft of calligraphy featuring noted Bay Area scribes will be held on other Saturdays in June, July, and August from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Latino-Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Lower Level.

This year marks the thirteenth time since 1976 that FOC has produced the Kalligraphia exhibition — a colorful, non-juried show highlighting a wide range of calligraphic techniques, from traditional methods dating back to the Middle Ages to contemporary pen and abstract brushwork. On view will be original works — including broadsides, manuscripts books, and three-dimensional pieces.

The Friends of Calligraphy is an internationally known guild whose membership includes some of the most highly regarded lettering artists in the world. Committed to furthering the art of beautiful writing, FOC sponsors a year-round program of workshops and lectures for its members, as well as classes for beginners, which are held at Fort Mason and are open to the public. The guild also publishes an illustrated journal, Alphabet, and a quarterly newsletter for its members. For more information, visit

The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern Book Arts and Special Collections Center of the San Francisco Public Library. The Center houses highly esteemed collection, including the Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book, The Richard Harrison Collection of Calligraphy and Lettering, and the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor. For viewing hours and more information about the exhibition and demonstrations, please contact the Book Arts & Special Collections Center at (415) 557-4560.

Contemporary Japanese Crafts Exhibit

May 2, 2012

Contact: Steve Goldman
(415) 356-2464;

The Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco and the Japan Foundation, in cooperation with the San Francisco Public Library present…

Contemporary Japanese Crafts Exhibit

WHEN: Saturday, May 12, 2012 through Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WHERE: San Francisco Public Library
International Center, 3rd Floor
100 Larkin St. San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 557-4400

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public.

ABOUT: Contemporary Japanese Crafts Exhibit:

Picture of Japanese craftAn exhibit featuring examples of original works by contemporary Japanese artists displaying a wide variety of crafts including ceramics, dyed fabrics and lacquer ware. Although many of the pieces display a creative fusion of Japanese and Western artistic traditions, the theme and sensibility underlying these works is Japanese.

For more information on this exhibit please contact Steve Goldman at the Consulate General of Japan at: 415-356-2464.

Oakland and San Francisco Announce First Annual Youth Poet Laureate Competitions

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282;

April 26, 2012

Cities of Oakland and San Francisco Announce First Annual Youth Poet Laureate Competitions

The Cities of Oakland and San Francisco are each about to gain new, young, and articulate representatives. For the first time ever, the Oakland Public Library and San Francisco Public Library, in partnership with Youth Speaks (the country’s leading nonprofit presenter of spoken word performance, education and youth development programs), are staging competitions that will result in two Youth Poet Laureates, one from each city. The winners will each be honored with $5,000 in scholarships and the opportunity to officially represent their communities through poetry, media, and public appearances. The search for talented young writers (age 13-18) begins Sunday, April 1 – just in time for National Poetry Month – when judges will begin accepting submissions. The deadline for all submissions is May 15. Finalists will be announced in early July, and the winners will be announced in September. (See below for submissions guidelines.)

Through a competitive process judged by local leaders and celebrity authors (including renowned artists Arisa White and Marc Bamuthi Joseph), the Youth Poet Laureate initiative will celebrate exceptional teen poets who represent the best of the Bay Area. The winning poet in each city will receive a $5,000 educational scholarship and will serve as an ambassador for arts, education and youth expression during a year of public service and academic enrichment, including publication of their work in an anthology.

Oakland-based poet Arisa White (author of Hurrah’s Nest, 2012) is one of several acclaimed writers volunteering to judge the competition. “As a poet who believes in the transformative and healing power of poetry, it is necessary for me to support young people being active and influential citizens through their writing,” said White, who was recently featured on hip-hop mogul Jay-Z’s website. “I’m excited to be a part of this project, because it celebrates and honors young people and their perspective, their stories, their voices, their creative minds, and their ability to influence the communities around them.”

“Young writers today are at a crossroads,” said project coordinator Amy Sonnie, Teen Outreach Librarian of the Oakland Public Library. “Dwindling budgets for school arts and library media centers send mixed messages about the value of art and literacy, even as state academic guidelines taut the importance of 21st century learning. The Youth Poet Laureate competition is for young people who write to send their own message, their own way. This first-of-its-kind contest celebrates the hard work of young poets who turn to paper and pen, the microphone and even YouTube to speak their truth and make us think deeply about our world. The Bay Area has long been home to this kind of young talent. Now, we invite those honest, brave, original voices to apply and win the top literary honor in their city.”

Youth, parents and teachers can learn more and apply online at: To be eligible, finalists must be 13-18 years old and a current resident of the city for which they apply.
Help sessions for applicants will be held in late April and early May. For more information contact Amy Sonnie at 510-238-7233.

The competition is supported by a broad coalition of fifteen partner agencies across the Bay Area:

  • Oakland Public Library
  • San Francisco Public Library
  • Youth Speaks
  • Oakland Unified School District
  • San Francisco Unified School District
  • Oakland School of the Arts
  • 826 Valencia
  • SF WritersCorps
  • Youth Radio
  • Streetside Stories
  • Write-to-Read and Alameda County Library
  • ProArts Gallery
  • San Francisco Department of Children Youth and Families
  • Mills College Community Teaching Project
  • Generations Literary Journal

Note: Partner agencies are available for on-camera interviews. Audio PSAs will also be available.