Word to the Word: Books for the People

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The Howard Zinn Book Fair, a celebration of people's history past, present, and future will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 15 and 16 at City College of San San Francisco, Mission Campus from 10-6pm. (Courtesy: Howard Zinn Book Fair)

Remember Howard Zinn? The historian, activist and playwright died in 2010, but he left behind a powerful legacy — a way of thinking, writing and being that encourages people to think beyond the dominant narratives. Zinn would’ve encouraged those in the Bay Area to look beyond the tech-obsessed bubble, deeper into the margins, and to focus on people who exist in the spaces between and outside of history books. In an attempt to go beyond the world of start-ups, white men, instant gratification and Instagram, Zinn encourages us to think of the people.

With this in mind, we’ve collected some upcoming book events “for the people” -- to celebrate and give thanks for those who have paved the way forward:


Wednesday, Nov. 11: Queer Diaspora at Pegasus Books, Berkeley. Tanwi Nandini Islam  will read from her new novel Bright Lines. Islam, who started writing as a second grader in Missouri, says she “can't not write,” when there's a story or character she can't stop thinking about, “it's time to begin getting that on the page.”

Islam is on a national tour of 10 cities with her book, which was 10 years in the making. Bright Lines is an attempt to bring Bangladeshi stories to the forefront. “I think there's space for a novel that explores the lives of young, queer, diasporic people in the context of history, place, nature and war,” she says.


As author Genevieve Valentine says in her review, “Bright Lines at its best becomes just what it sets out to be: An understated queer coming-of-age, a study of how much work it is to be a family, and a snapshot of a disappearing Brooklyn, set against the ghosts of the past, and a search for home.”

Islam will be joined at Pegasus books with guest reader Nayomi Munaweera, author of the novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors. For a taste to get you pumped read this excerpt courtesy of Hyphen magazine.

Thursday, Nov. 12: Gay Poets Dead and Alive at The San Francisco Public Library. In this first of a two-part series, Gay Ancestors Project hosts "5+5 Gay Poets Dead and Alive." This event will feature five local poets -- Bruce Snider, Wonder Dave, Roberto F. Santiago, Joshua Merchant and Joe Wadlington -- reading their own work along with the poetry of five gay icons. The short series is organized and curated by Bob Guter, creator of the online Web zine Bent: A Journal of Crip/Gay Voices, and hosted by Baruch Porras-Hernandez, a San Francisco based writer, performer and storyteller.

Sunday, Nov. 15: Writing as Liberation at City College of San Francisco, Mission Campus. While there's a plethora of events during the Howard Zinn Book Fair, a few that are truly worth getting out of your pajamas for are “Not Your Bro” and “Creative Writing as Liberatory Education.”

WritersCorps writers-in-residence Sandra García Rivera, Annie Rovzar, and Harold Terezón will discuss how writing can be used as an educational tool. They will also share their teaching experiences, educational methods and using interactivity and non-traditional practices as way of teaching.


"Not Your Bro"The concept of masculinity is in a state of flux. Beyond manspreading and mansplaining, male-identified writers are “redefining, reclaiming, and remixing masculinity,” as the panel description says. The group features writers in the process of deconstructing their own internal patriarchy by asking difficult questions such as: What happens when we foster nurturing friendships with other men? Moderated by author and environmentalist Rebecca Solnit, panelists will include Joe Loya, author of The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber, slam-poet Wonder Dave, poet and filmmaker Joel Landmine and zine writer Tomas Moniz among others.

Image courtesy of the Jeff Sheng. His book, Fearless, featuring over 200 LGBT athletes is available at FearlessBookstore.com
Images courtesy of the Jeff Sheng. His book, Fearless, featuring over 200 LGBT athletes is available at FearlessBookstore.com

Tuesday, Nov. 17: Fearless Photography at Kissick Auditorium, Stanford University. As a graduate fellow in Sociology at Stanford, Jeff Sheng is a photographer and artist.   Much of his work has chronicled the 21st century LGBT rights movement. At this event, Jeff Sheng will talk about his new book, Fearless:  Portraits of LGBT Student Athletes. He’ll discuss some of the rationale behind photographing over 200 LGBT student athletes and the power of the image as a tool for social change. Sheng’s photograph’s have been show at over seventy venues, including college campuses as well as ESPN headquarters.

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