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festival passes:
$45 general
$30 PCSJ members
and students
(discounted from $55 if
you attend all events)


workshops:
register for each
in descriptions

festival venues:
all online for 2020

previous festivals
2016
2017
2018
2019




Poetry Center San José presents
the 2020 San José Poetry Festival

The sixth annual San José Poetry Festival will celebrate our community's diverse cultural heritage with a range of topics and literary styles reflected in performances and workshops.

readings, performances, and workshops:
September 8 through 13, 2020

all online this year! full festival passes here:

 

event schedule:
all events included in festival pass!

Well-RED featuring Michelle Lin, Ellery Akers, Donnelle McGee
Tuesday, September 8, 7pm
co-presented with Works/San José
$15 general, $10 members of PCSJ or Works and students

Michelle Lin is a poet, community arts organizer, and author of A House Made of Water (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). As NorCal Regional Co-Chair for Kundiman and co-curator of Kearny Street Workshop's reading series, she creates loving spaces centering Asian Pacific American writers and writers of color. She works in fundraising at RYSE, a liberatory safe space created by and for youth of color. Michelle received her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh’s and her BA from UC Riverside's Creative Writing program. Recent work can be found in TAYO Literary Magazine, The Margins, Asian American Literary Review, and more.

Ellery Akers is the author of three poetry books, most recently, Swerve: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance. She’s won thirteen national writing awards, including an Independent Publisher Book Award and The Poetry International Prize. Her poetry has been featured on National Public Radio and American Life in Poetry and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, and The American Poetry Review. She’s also the author of a children’s novel, Sarah’s Waterfall. Among her honors are fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Ucross Foundation, and Headlands Center for the Arts. Also an artist and naturalist, Akers lives in Marin County and teaches private poetry workshops.

Donnelle McGee is the author of GHOST MAN, a novel (Sibling Rivalry Press), SHINE, a novella (Sibling Rivalry Press), and NAKED, a collection of poetry (Unbound Content). He earned his MFA from Goddard College. He is a faculty member at Mission College in Santa Clara, California. His work has appeared in Controlled Burn, Colere, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Home Planet News, Iodine Poetry Journal, Permafrost, River Oak Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Willard & Maple, among others. He also serves as the Lead Poetry Editor for Clockhouse. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

 

An evening with Sabrina Benaim
Wednesday, September 9, 7pm
$15 general, $10 members of PCSJ and students

Sabrina Benaim is a 32-year-old poet, storyteller, and workshop facilitator. She is one of the most-viewed spoken word poets of all time and is author of the bestselling collection of poetry Depression and Other Magic Tricks. Her videos have reached over 100 million people. Sabrina has toured Australia, the UK, Canada, and the USA with her live shows, which are poetry readings gone electric. While the subject matter can veer into difficult territory, it is with truth and from experience that Sabrina is able to navigate through her mental illness journey with a wild sense of humor and frank discussion to leave her audience feeling comforted and uplifted. She has been a guest on CBC’s q with Tom Power, has written for SONY, ESPNW, and made her television debut writing and voicing a national commercial for the 2016 Olympics. Sabrina believes in breaking down stigma around mental illness, women helping women, and ghosts. She will accept any invitation to dance.

 

Open Mic & Friends
with host Mighty Mike McGee

Thursday, September 10, 7pm
free/donations

Mighty Mike McGee is a well-traveled funny hobo-poet from San José, California. He/They are the first and only poet to win both the 2003 National Poetry Slam Grand Championship and the 2006 Individual World Poetry Slam Grand championship. McGee is a co-founder of the live spoken word groups Tons of Fun University (TOFU) with Shane Koyczan and C.R. Avery. He also co-founded The Whirlwind Company with Mindy Nettifee, Brian S. Ellis, and Jon Sands, and the Poetry Revivals with Dan Leamen, Derrick Brown, Buddy Wakefield and Anis Mojgani. McGee was appointed Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) for 2018 and 2019. Their first collection of humor and poetry, In Search of Midnight, is available through Write Bloody Publishing. McGee can be found somewhere between San José and Vancouver, B.C. as often as possible. Visit mightymikemcgee.com for poetry and more.

 

San José Poetry Festival 2020 Keynote:
An Evening with Juan Felipe Herrera and Friends
with Arlene Biala and Janice Lobo Sapiago

Friday, September 11, 7pm
$15 general, $10 members of PCSJ and students

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012-2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Every Day We Get More Illegal; Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. His book Jabberwalking, a children’s book focused on turning your wonder at the world around you into weird, wild, incandescent poetry, is forthcoming in 2018. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

more info at blueflowerarts.com/artist/juan-felipe-herrera/

Arlene Biala (she/her) is a Pinay poet born in San Francisco and raised in the South Bay. She has been participating in poetry performances and workshops for over 30 years and was the 2016-2017 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. She is the author of several collections of poetry: bone, continental drift and her beckoning hands, which won the 2015 American Book Award. Her latest book, one inch punch, was published in January 2019. She is ready for November. She is also ready for LitLumpiaFest4 as soon as the Universe gives us her blessing.

Janice Lobo Sapigao (she/her) is a daughter of immigrants from the Philippines. She is the author of two books of poetry: microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2016), and like a solid to a shadow (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2017 by way of Nightboat Books). She was named one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Women to Watch in 2017 by KQED Arts. She was a VONA/Voices Fellow and was awarded a Manuel G. Flores Prize, PAWA Scholarship to the Kundiman Poetry Retreat. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Skyline College, the 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, and a Poet Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets.

 

Veterans of Life Write Poetry Reading
featuring Amy Meier, Nick Butterfield, Carol Couglin, G. Craige Edgerton, Emilio Gallegos, Jeffrey Leonard, Doug Nelson, Bill Noyes, and Carol Steele

Saturday, September 12, 5pm
$10 general, $5 members of PCSJ and students

Nick Butterfield "It's not the world that changes us, it's everything else." "A true bibliography is dying of a thousand lives. a thousand times a day." Served in the USN-R from 1983- 1993, and active duty during Operation Desert Storm/Shield 1990-1991. Nick has been working as a Family Practice Nurse Practitioner for 20 years with the Homeless Project and Gardner So. County Community Clinic in Gilroy. Nick has participated in three anthologies sponsored by Poetry Center San Jose and help co-facilitate the VeteransWrite group that meets at MLK library at SJSU for the last four years.

Carol Coughlin was born in Germany to an American Army man she never knew; her mother, a young German woman. Raised by her grandmother on stories and poems, she moved to the U.S. at age 9 with her mother and adopted father, an Air Force man.

G. Craige Edgerton came to San Jose in 1976 from Austin Texas. He has worked as a small retail business owner; self- employed financial planner; a financial consultant for Wells Fargo; and the Executive Director for the Silicon Valley Land Conservancy. He retired in 2017 and now is an avid amateur naturalist having led many nature hikes throughout the south bay. He is also a Marine Corp combat veteran from Vietnam having served as an artillery forward observer with an infantry company. He has recently taken up writing and now has 14 poems, a short story about his return from Vietnam and is working on his autobiography.

Emilio Gallegos is a United States Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, a Purple Heart recipient, and a single father of two. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from SJSU, with a concentration in creative writing, and has previously worked in leadership with a men’s ministry group, while simultaneously directing a youth ministry team. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing at California College of the Arts, and serves as a Vet Connect Peer Leader on the San Jose State campus. He has been invited to numerous high school campuses to speak and share his military and writing experiences, continues to work as a guest presenter each semester to an upper division Psychology class at San Jose State University, and progressively pursues personal healing through writing.

Jeffrey Leonard served in the U.S. Army between 1966-1968. Drafted out of San Jose State, he trained as a 11C40, leaving the service as an E-5. He is a 12th generation descendant of men who have served in every major conflict dating back to pre-Revolutionary America. A survivor of the Vietnam Era, he is drawn to the stories of the returning soldiers and how their lives unfold after they remove the uniform.

Amy Meier grew up in New York City and now lives in San Jose, CA. In 2015 Amy founded VeteransWrite, currently meeting once a month in the San Jose State University Dr. Martin Luther King library. She has been published in Caesura, Porter Gulch Review and online in Portside.

Fifty years after serving in Vietnam Doug Nelson is still trying to deal with the dissonance that comes with helping his country to be wrong. In 2007, Santa Clara County offered him a way to deal with Vietnam, assisting veterans with disability claims. His friends in the Willow Glen Poetry Project and in VeteransWrite are his mentors and muses.

Bill Noyes, now past 70 years, is a retired TIG welder of thirty years now focused on creative pursuits such as photography and writing. As a Vietnam war veteran he continues to seek understanding of his war experiences so he can properly communicate those lessons to younger audiences. He is the illustrator of his daughter's book, Cooking With Kinders, and is currently writing his first novel.

Carol Steele Not a veteran, my parents both were in the Army during World War II. I married a Vietnam veteran and we had a daughter. For twelve years my grandson has been in the Army. My poetry is about the family experience having a soldier serving during a time of war.

 

Small Press Fair Featuring "Words for the Earth"
Sunday, September 13, 1pm-3pm
free/donations

Small press representatives and readings, featuring a panel of Lucille Lang Day, Jade Bradbury, Tobey Hiller, and Lisa Rosenberg discussing ecopoetry, with Mighty Mike McGee hosting.

Words for the Earth: Poetry, Ecology, and Environmental Action
The four panelists are poets whose work includes ecopoetry that is rooted in biology and addresses urgent environmental issues. They will discuss the definition of an ecopoem, what inspires them to write ecopoetry, and what they see as the relationship between ecopoetry and environmental activism. They will also read ecopoems, talk about writers at the forefront of environmental writing whose work they admire, and tell about their own process for writing ecopoems.

Lucille Lang Day (moderator) is coeditor of Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2018) and the author of ten poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently Becoming an Ancestor and Dreaming of Sunflowers: Museum Poems. She is also a coeditor of Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California and the author of two children's books and a memoir. Her poems, essays, and short stories have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, and her many honors include the Blue Light Poetry Prize, two PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Awards, and ten Pushcart Prize nominations.

Jade Bradbury is the author of In the Willing Dirt (Purple Passion Press, 2019). Her poems have been published in Poetry on the Move (2013), Song of Los Gatos, Poems of the Gem City (2014), The Literary Nest, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (2015), (AFTER)life, Poems and Stories of the Dead (2015), Spring Mother Tongue (2017), Caesura/Arrival (2019), and Celebrate Creativity, A Cupertino Community Anthology (2020). Other writings have been published in newspapers, magazines, books, and online publications.

Tobey Hiller writes poetry and fiction. She is the author of four books of poems: Crossings, Certain Weathers, Aqueduct and most recently, Crow Mind (June 2020). She is also author of Charlie's Exit, a novel, and a number of writings about literature and psychology. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including Askew, Ambush Review, Canary, Sisyphus, MusePie Press's Shotglass Journal, Mediterranean Poetry, and Milkweed Chronicle, as well as five anthologies, most recently Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California and The Wild (Marin Poetry Center, 2019). Her poetry has won magazine awards; her fiction has been short-listed for three prizes.

Poet and recovering engineer Lisa Rosenberg is the author of A Different Physics, winner of the Red Mountain Poetry Prize. She holds degrees in physics and creative writing, and worked for many years in the space program. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, she served as the 2017/2018 Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, California. Lisa's poems explore shared territory in arts and sciences, and the drive to question inherited models. She was recently named a MOSAIC Fellow with Sangam Arts, and will be a 2020 Djerassi Resident in Scientific Delirium Madness.

 

 

San José Poetry Slam featuring Yesika Salgado
Sunday, September 13, 6:30pm sign ups, 7pm slam
free/donations

Yesika Salgado is a Los Angeles based Salvadoran poet who writes about her family, her culture, her city, and her fat brown body. She has shared her work in venues and campuses throughout the country. Salgado is a 2017 and 2018 National Poetry Slam finalist. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Teen Vogue, Univision, Vibe Magazine, Huffington Post, CNN, NPR, TEDx, and many digital platforms. She is an internationally recognized body- positive activist and the writer of the monthly column Suelta for Remezcla. Yesika is the author of the best-sellers Corazón, Tesoro, and Hermosa, published with Not a Cult.

 

poetry workshops:
register individually!

Workshop: Sandbox Writing
with Sabrina Benaim

Saturday, September 12, 9am-12pm
$30 general, $25 members of PCSJ and students

"I once heard this quote that went something like, if you want to build a sandcastle, first you need to fill a sandbox with sand." Consider this workshop a metaphorical sandbox building, where we will be generating writing through several timed exercises and then creating one poem (sandcastle) out of them.

Sabrina Benaim is a 32-year-old poet, storyteller, and workshop facilitator. She is one of the most-viewed spoken word poets of all time and is author of the bestselling collection of poetry Depression and Other Magic Tricks. Her videos have reached over 100 million people. Sabrina has toured Australia, the UK, Canada, and the USA with her live shows, which are poetry readings gone electric. While the subject matter can veer into difficult territory, it is with truth and from experience that Sabrina is able to navigate through her mental illness journey with a wild sense of humor and frank discussion to leave her audience feeling comforted and uplifted. She has been a guest on CBC’s q with Tom Power, has written for SONY, ESPNW, and made her television debut writing and voicing a national commercial for the 2016 Olympics. Sabrina believes in breaking down stigma around mental illness, women helping women, and ghosts. She will accept any invitation to dance.

 

Workshop: To the Heart
with Yesika Salgado

Saturday, September 12, 12pm-2:30pm
$30 general, $25 members of PCSJ and students

Attendees will be guided through a step by step process of writing a poem. We will explore imagery and the five senses as poetic devices that help us get to the heart of our story, allowing our work to become more honest, relatable, and transformative.

Yesika Salgado is a Los Angeles based Salvadoran poet who writes about her family, her culture, her city, and her fat brown body. She has shared her work in venues and campuses throughout the country. Salgado is a 2017 and 2018 National Poetry Slam finalist. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Teen Vogue, Univision, Vibe Magazine, Huffington Post, CNN, NPR, TEDx, and many digital platforms. She is an internationally recognized body- positive activist and the writer of the monthly column Suelta for Remezcla. Yesika is the author of the best-sellers Corazón, Tesoro, and Hermosa, published with Not a Cult.

 

Workshop: Beginning to Become
with Janice Lobo Sapigao and Karla

Sunday, September 13
Admission Free, specifically for BIWOC/NBPOC youth writers and readers

Current Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Janice Lobo Sapigao and Karla Santiago-Reyes lead a workshop specifically for BIWOC/NBPOC youth writers and readers. This workshop will be held on Zoom and will open up 15 minutes prior so that folks can get comfortable. Please have writing utensils and any snacks or beverages handy. This workshop is expected to run more than two hours. Ticket registration is required for all attendees.

Janice Lobo Sapigao (she/her) is a daughter of immigrants from the Philippines. She is the author of two books of poetry: microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2016), and like a solid to a shadow (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2017 by way of Nightboat Books). She was named one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Women to Watch in 2017 by KQED Arts. She was a VONA/Voices Fellow and was awarded a Manuel G. Flores Prize, PAWA Scholarship to the Kundiman Poetry Retreat. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Skyline College, the 2020-2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, and a Poet Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets.

Karla is a first-gen, Brown Immigrant Woman from Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico. I am the eldest daughter to a mixed-status family, where learning more about my gender identity and sexuality was scary and unwelcomed, challenging my elders was unheard of, and adulting was something I've done since I learned to speak English. I found myself and developed my voice through reading and writing, learning to love myself, and feel confident to critique the racist, capitalist society we survive. Transferring from San Jose City College, I am now studying Sociology and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Santa Cruz. I like to consider myself an eager student of the world. My interests include: gardening, scrolling through twitter, thinking about abolition, and connecting more with my ancestors.

 

Workshop: All Your Own: Finding a Distinctive Poetic Voice
with David Perez

Sunday, September 13, 3:30pm-6:30pm
$30 general, $25 members of PCSJ and students

There's the poetry people like, then there's the poetry they remember. Being memorable is about more than quality. It's a curious amalgam of relentless honesty, funky word choice, faith in the reader, and the courage to take a few risks. In this workshop we'll discuss examples of some unmistakable voices in poetry and do some exercises that will help you write in ways that are more unmistakably "you."

David Perez served as the 2014-2016 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. He is a recipient of the Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship for Literary Art; a repeat guest on the NPR storytelling series, Snap Judgment; and author of the poetry collection,"Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse" from Write Bloody Publishing.

 

San José Poetry Festival 2020 is presented by Poetry Center San José and is sponsored in part by: Festival and Cultural Affairs grants from the City of San José; a grant from SVCreates, in partnership with the County of Santa Clara and the California Arts Council; funding from Poets & Writers; co-sponsorship from Works/San José, and with support from Anne & Mark's Art Party, and The Center for Literary Arts. We would like to acknowledge and offer our deepest gratitude to our originally booked live venues for this festival: the Art Boutiki, Books Inc., Caravan Lounge, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Forager, History/San José, Recycle Bookstore, and Works/San José.