Are you interested in literary events? If so, please sign up below to receive invitations to Moe’s Books special happenings.
Although reading is a solitary activity it can often lead to essential public discussion. For this reason, Moe’s began curating literary events in the late nineties. Since then the “basement series” has become an important part of Bay Area literary culture. Poets and novelists, activists and scholars have been invited to talk about their work. Please join us for a lively and thoughtful conversation in our enormous scholarly bookstore.
If you are an author who'd like to be considered for a reading, please email email@example.com.
All events, unless noted, start at 7:00pm
September 13: Victor Serge translator James Brook
Poet, editor, and professor Melba Joyce Boyd’s book, Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press, is a tribute to Dudley Randall (1914-2000) with whom she worked as an editor at Broadside Press and whose authorized biographer she became. Randall was poet laureate of Detroit, a civil rights activist, and a force in the Black Arts Movement. Two of his poems, one for the four little girls killed in the Alabama church bombing in Birmingham, one for the assassination of President Kennedy, were set to music by folk singer Jerry Moore in 1965. Randall published them as broadsides, so the press, publishing chapbooks that opened out the work of African American writers into the canon of American literature, was born. Boyd’s book, connecting politics and art with the wider struggles of black America in that era, is also a dialogue between poets and includes extensive interviews. She, herself, has published six books of poetry, edited an anthology of Detroit poetry, written scholarly books, and produced and directed a documentary film on Randall and the press.
M.L. Liebler is a celebrated poet, literary arts activist, and professor. Most recent of his many books of poetry is I Want to Be Once; others include The Moon a Box and Written in Rain: New and Selected Poems, 1985-2000. He’s edited many books, ranging across labor politics, music, and poetry, and his brand new one is Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip-Hop and Beyond, with a wide range of contributors, including Greil Marcus and Al Young.
Brian Jabas Smith’s debut book of fiction is Spent Saints & Other Stories. Jim Daniels says, “In these fine stories, Brian Smith’s direct, natural, story-telling voice rocks with the authority and grit of someone who’s been there and come back to tell the tale.” Smith is an award-winning journalist, first as a staff writer and columnist for the Phoenix New Times and then as an editor for the Detroit Metro Times. His earlier career was as a songwriter who fronted rock’n’roll bands. He’s written for many performers, including Alice Cooper.
Al Young, California Poet Laureate emeritus, is the author of poetry, novels, and memoirs. His most recent poetry collection is Something About the Blues; some forthcoming books are 22 Moon Poems, October Variations, and Love Offline.
This is the East Bay book launch for A Blaze in a Desert: Selected Poems by Victor Serge, translated and edited by James Brook (PM Press).
Victor Serge (1890-1947) played many parts, as he recounted in his indelible Memoirs of a Revolutionary. The son of anti-czarist exiles in Brussels, Serge was a young anarchist in Paris; a syndicalist rebel in Barcelona; a Bolshevik activist in Petrograd; a Comintern agent in Central Europe; a comrade of Trotsky's; a friend of writers like Andrei Bely, Boris Pilnyak, and André Breton; a prisoner of Stalin; a dissident Marxist in exile in Mexico . . .
Like Serge's extraordinary novels, A Blaze in a Desert: Selected Poems bears witness to revolutionary upheavals in Europe and the advent of totalitarian rule. Many of the poems were written during the "immense shipwreck" of Stalin's ascendancy. In poems datelined Petrograd, Orenburg, Paris, Marseille, the Caribbean, and Mexico, Serge composed elegies for the fallen -- as well as tributes to the living who, like him, endured prison, exile, and bitter disappointment in the revolutions of the first half of the twentieth century.
"Victor Serge was a major novelist, a revolutionary, and a historical witness, so it is perhaps not surprising that his poetry has been overlooked. But his poetry is for real. It is as grounded in specifics as you might expect from a fighter in some of the twentieth century's great struggles, and as visionary as you'd hope from a disciple of Rimbaud and a friend to the Surrealists. Reading it is like coming upon an unsuspected corridor in the house of literature. James Brook's lucid translation does it full justice."
--Luc Sante, author of The Other Paris
James Brook is a poet whose translations include works by Guy Debord, Henri Michaux, Gellu Naum, and Benjamin Péret. He is the principal editor of Resisting the Virtual Life (with Iain Boal) and Reclaiming San Francisco (with Chris Carlsson and Nancy J. Peters). The New York Times named his translation of Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Prone Gunman a Notable Book.