Kaya Press @ City Lights
Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 7:00 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

 

Sesshu Foster reads from City of the Future

Max Yeh reads from Stolen Oranges

about City of the Future

Twenty-one years after Kaya Press first published Sesshu Foster's City Terrace Field Manual, a powerful collection of prose poems that map the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Foster's childhood, comes a new collection of poetry and prose that takes on gentrification, modernization and globalization, as told from the same corner of this rapidly changing metropolis.

These poems are, in the poet's words: "Postcards written with ocotillo and yucca. Gentrification of your face inside your sleep. Privatization of identity, corners, and intimations. Wars on the nerve, colors, breathing. Postcard poems of early and late notes, mucilage, American loneliness. Postcard poems of slopes, films of dust and crows. Incarceration nation 'Wish You Were Here' postcards 35 cents emerge from gentrified pants. You can’t live like this. Postcards sent into the future. You can’t live here now; you must live in the future, in the City of the Future."

Poet, teacher, and community activist Sesshu Foster grew up in in East Los Angeles. He earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and returned to LA to continue teaching, writing, and community organizing. His first collection of poetry, City Terrace Field Manual (1996), celebrates the neighborhood Foster grew up in. He has said that representing his community as one of his central tasks. He is the author of American Loneliness: Selected Poems (2006). His third collection of poetry, World Ball Notebook (2009), won an American Book Award and an Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. Foster is the author of the novel of speculative fiction Atomik Aztex (2005), which won the Believer Book Award and imagines an America free of European colonizers. Foster’s work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry (2000), Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (2008), and State of the Union: 50 Political Poems (2008). He co-edited the anthology Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry (1989). Foster has taught in East LA for 25 years as well as at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts, Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Pomona University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in Los Angeles.

about Stolen Oranges

A Chinese American historian discovers six anonymous documents in Spanish and Chinese in places ranging from the archives of Imperial China to a rare book shop in Mexico City and constructs a hitherto unknown correspondence between the Chinese Ming Emperor Wanli and Miguel Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. Difficulties in translation and the years-long, perilous voyages undertaken by conscripted letter couriers highlight the intensive labor and sheer serendipitous luck required to make this seemingly impossible 17th-century exchange possible. This reimagined history brings together the disparate histories of the Emperor, Cervantes, and the historian, united through time by their deep interest in literature, philosophy, politics, and the burden of demented mothers. As he did in his acclaimed previous novel, The Beginning of the East, Yeh continues to remap literary conventions. Layering documentary evidence, conflicting translations, and cultural contexts, Yeh sends ripples through the idea of historical fiction in the vein of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. Described as "a writer on a rampage, with an appetite for history," by E.L. Doctorow, Yeh’s Stolen Oranges reimagines the relationships of the past and the present.

Max Yeh, described as "a writer on the rampage" by E.L. Doctorow, is the author of The Beginning of the East (FC2, 1992). He was born in China, educated in the United States and has lived in Europe and Mexico. He has taught at the University of California, Irvine, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and New Mexico State University. He lives in the New Mexico mountains with his wife and daughter, where he works on a wide range of subjects including literary theory, linguistics, art history and science.

Founded in 1994, Kaya Press has established itself as the premier publisher of cutting-edge Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic writers in the United States. Their diverse list of titles includes experimental poetry, noir fiction, film memoir, avant-garde art, performance pieces, "lost" novels, and everything in between. Kaya and its authors have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the Gregory Kolovakas Prize for Outstanding New Literary Press, the American Book Award, the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, the PEN Beyond Margins Open Book Prize, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Award, and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize. Their books have become cornerstone texts in American Studies and Asian American Studies curricula at major universities throughout the country.