After the perennially slack month of August, September is full of literary events worth checking out that range from the SF Zine Fest and annual San Francisco Public Library Book Sale to storytelling series, out of town author appearances, and readings at such places as the SF Zen Center and the SF Conservatory of Flowers. Below is a detailed Top 10 list, in chronological order, with some additional notables too good to exclude.
Thursday, Sept 1 The Poetry Center presents David Meltzer and Special Guests: Poems, toasts & salutes from David Meltzer's friends & fellow poets, followed by Meltzer, with live improv by 'ambient drone... myth-jazz" poet-band Cloud Shepherd. Meltzer recently published When I Was A Poet (City Lights), "a spiritual assessment of the meaning of a lifetime spent writing poetry" (Meridian Gallery, 535 Powel St, 7:30pm, $10; $5 seniors/students/low income).
Saturday and Sunday, Sept 3-4 10th Annual San Francisco Zine Fest: A celebration of small-press publishing, from zines and comics to art books and more, Zine Fest is a vital showcase of the diversity, creativity, and exuberance of the small-press movement. Exhibitors range from established small-press publishing houses to first time self-publishers/creators (San Francisco County Fair Bldg., 1199 9th Ave @ Lincoln Way, Golden Gate Park, 11am-6pm, Free).
Monday, Sept 5 Quiet Lightning presents: The Greenhouse Effect, v.2: For this second installment of the 3-part series, the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers and Quiet Lightning are hosting a Labor Day potluck picnic just SE of the Dahlia Garden, with free food and music preceding the submission-based, no-introductions readings -- a high-energy double-set mashup of all forms of writing (100 John F. Kennedy Dr, Golden Gate Park, music @ 5pm, readings @ 7:30pm, $5 suggested for readings).
Thursday, Sept 8 Why There Are Words: Longing: A center for the North Bay literary scene, this monthly series is intimate despite the grandiosity of Studio 333. Readers this month reflect the diversity and talent of the series: an international-bestselling, first-time novelist translated into 15 languages, a short story writer/memoirist, an NEA Fellow, a PEN USA Literary Award Finalist, a journalist-cum-novelist, and a fiction writer whose work deals with "the cataclysmic effects of historic and social upheaval on the lives of ordinary people" (333 Caledonia St, Sausalito, 7pm, $5).
Friday, Sept 9 RADAR Lab Showcase: Every year, this nonprofit takes a group of writers and artists on a 10-day retreat to Mexico, where they write and talk about art with other writers. Having just returned, RADAR will present a group of this year's artists who will share their experiences along with some of the work they've accomplished. Hosted by Michelle Tea and Ali Liebegott (Dolores Park Cafe, 501 Dolores St, 7pm, $5-$10).
Friday, Sept 9 All Over Coffee series and the recent collection thereof, Everything Is Its Own Reward, Madonna will present his work and talk about his fascinating process at the tranquil Zen Center. This is a combination not to be missed (300 Page St, 7:30p).
Saturday, Sept 10 Babylon Salon: This quarterly, rollicking reading series is always intimate, held in the basement of the swank Cantina. This year's Fall installment should be especially powerful, featuring poet and musician Kim Addonizio, who also plays one mean harmonica, and ZYZZYVA founder and author of the new novel of ideas, An Old Junker, Howard Junker, with other readings... and a magician (Cantina, 580 Sutter St, 7pm, Free).
Sunday, Sept 11 THIRTEEN WAYS Poetry Reading: Based on the famed Wallace Stevens poem, this writing group -- though the members have changed -- has been meeting regularly since 1987. That's almost a quarter of a century! Each member will read for 7-8 minutes, and though I only know one of the members of this group, I know that a) they have only done one public reading in the past 9 years and b) Melissa Stein deserves your attention (The Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., 4pm, Free).
Wednesday, Sept 21 The Booksmith presents Neal Stephenson: Whether reimagining the past (The Baroque Cycle), inventing the future (Snow Crash), or both (Cryptonomicon), #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Stephenson is continually rocking the literary world. His new book, REAMDE, included with all tickets, is a high-stakes, sci-fi thriller (Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., doors @ 6:30pm, show at 7:30, $47.50-$56.00).
Wednesday-Sunday, Sept 21-25 The 47th Annual Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Big Book Sale: Featuring over 500,000 books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, vinyl and other forms of media, 10,000 boxes of materials, 50+ categories and over 400 volunteers, everything is $4 or less and items on Sunday are $1! All proceeds benefit literacy programs for children, teens and adults (Fort Mason Center's Festival Pavilion, Marina Boulevard, hours vary, Free).
Thursday, Sept 8: Poetry Flash presents Zara Raab & Keith Ekiss: These two much-lauded poets will read together at Moe's Books in Berkeley.
Thursday, Sept 8: Porchlight kicks off its 10th season: Teaming up with the SF Maritime National Park Association and the National Park Service, this special rendition of the popular storytelling series will be held at the SF Maritime Museum and has the theme: "Stories by the Sea."
Thursday, Sept 8: More Notes of a Dirty Old Man: The uncollected columns of Charles Bukowski will be presented by Editor David Calonne at City Lights.
Saturday, Sept 10: Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts: This marathon of beat-style performances continues to attract attention, and includes music, and an open mic at the Art House Gallery in Berkeley.
Monday, Sept 12: The Rumpus: Let's Talk About Us: Always entertaining, this monthly show features readings -- Michelle Tea and Susan Straight this month, amongst others -- and a musical guest.
Wednesday, Sept 14: Andrew Sean Greer at Center for the Literary Arts: This exceptional San Jose University program kicks off its Fall season with a reading by the beloved author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli.
Friday, Sept 16: The Bold Italic, Issue #1 Print Release Party: For the first time, local magazine The Bold Italic, which features dispatches by passionate, salient locals, goes analog.
Saturday, Sept 17: The Sit-Down Readers' Theatre presents Mark Twain's Diaries of Adam and Eve: Attendees can listen to or participate in the reading of some of Twain's works (imagine), and are encouraged to bring their favorites along.