Notable San Francisco: 5/17–5/23

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If you can make only one event this week, don’t miss the Oakland Book Festival on Sunday, 5/21. This all-day festival features more than 100 writers, 50 panels, and lots of tabling and networking. And, The Rumpus will be there!

Wednesday 5/17: Rakesh Satyal (Lambda Award winner for Blue Boy) reads from his new novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name. Free, 7:30 p.m., Booksmith.

Gordon Ball reads from his new collection of short stories from Red Mountain Press, On Tokyo’s Edge. A close colleague of Allen Ginsberg’s for many years, collaborating as editor on some of Allen’s journals and lectures, and amassing a famous collection of photographs, Professor Ball now teaches English at the Virginia Military Institute. Do you think that’s an interesting and unlikely juxtaposition? Me, too. Perhaps you can ask him about it. Free, 7 p.m., City Lights Bookstore.

Thursday 5/18: Fourteen Hills releases Issue 23.2, with featured readers Jen Sullivan Brych, Sylvia Chan, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Tiffany Higgins, Lorraine Lupo, and Andrew Murphy.

In Oakland, there is a panel discussion with for Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, with Lauren Groff, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Anthony Marra. Free, 7 p.m., Diesel, A Bookstore.

I admit to being a huge fan of Brian Laidlaw. This singer/songwriter/poet from the San Francisco Peninsula is a big talent. He’ll be appearing under the auspices of the Marin Poetry Center at the Falkirk Cultural Center in the wilds of Marin County, along with Alaskan poet/musician Ken Waldman. 7:30 p.m., $3–$5, Falkirk Cultural Center.

Friday 5/19: Uptown Fridays presents Denise Benavides and Trey “Drow Flow” Amos. $5-$25 donation requested (no one turned away for lack of funds), 7 p.m., Nomadic Press Uptown.

Jennifer Finney Boylan reads from her new novel, Long Black Veil. Free, 7 p.m., Books, Inc. Opera Plaza.

Saturday 5/20: Revolutionary Poets Against Fascism stand up in the Mission as they present the second in a series of events in shared solidarity, declaring “All Are Welcome Here!” This is quite a lineup of talent, including two San Francisco Poet Laureates: Alfredo Gomez, Mauro Fortissimo, Alejandro Murguia (SF Poet Laureate), Jack Hirschman (SF Poet Laureate Emeritus), Chitto Cuellar, Maurissa Thompson, Dottie Payne, Mahnaz Badhihian, Rosemary Manno, David Kubrin, Francisco Orrego, and Sarah Menefee. It’s not just a reading; it’s a movement. Free, 6:30 p.m., Alley Cat Books.

Oakland Book Festival private reception and opening night party. Meet and mingle with some of the writers who will be participating in the Festival, including Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Danielle Allen, Jeff Chang, Arlie Hochschild, Sheryl Oring, Mistah F.A.B, Wendy Brown, Ishmael Reed, Laura Albert, and Anthony Marra. $125 (includes private reception), $10 (public party only, beginning at 8 p.m.). 6:30 p.m.–10 p.m, Starline Social Club.

Sunday 5/21: Today is The Oakland Book Festival! The festival lasts for seven hours, features fifty events, and includes one hundred writers—and it’s all free! There will be an incredible lineup of writers, panel discussions, lots of book tables, and general intellectual excitement focused on the theme of “Equality and Inequality.” Free, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Oakland City Hall.

The Rumpus is hosting a featured panel at the festival, “Leadership and the Literary Community,” moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Marisa Siegel. Panelists: Samantha Giles, Anisse Gross, Trisha Low, Medeya Ocher, and Arisa White. Free, 12:30 p.m., Dalziel Building, The Oakland Book Festival.

Monday 5/22: Bay Area Generations presents edition #45 on the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge, featuring the usual intergenerational pairs of readers. #45 is guest curated by Teri Lee Kline. Readers TBA. $7–10, 6:30 p.m., Hotel Rex.

Amber Flame launches her debut poetry collection, Ordinary Cruelty. Poet Arisa White will also be a featured reader for this event. Free, 7:30 p.m., The Booksmith.

Tuesday 5/23: Madison Smartt Bell reads and signs his new novel, Behind the Moon. Free, 7 p.m., Diesel, A Bookstore.

LGBTQ Pride Readings presents Peter Gajdics reading from his memoir, The Inheritance of Shame, just published by Brown Paper Press. The book records Gajdics’s experience of six years undergoing “gay conversion” therapy. Also reading will be Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award Winner Anne Raeff. Free, 7–8 p.m., Dog Eared Books in the Castro.

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This week we offer a double theatre recommendation: two plays based on ancient myths, and they are all Greek to me! Each of the plays offers a twist on Greek tragedy. In San Francisco, you’ll find Twins, written and directed by Stuart Bousel. Twins tells the story of twin deities, Artemis and Apollo, who kill the children of the mortal Queen, Niobe, after she insults their mother. In Berkeley, there is Edward King, written and directed by Gary Graves. Edward King is a modern take on Oedipus Rex. Both playwrights have used outrageously comic approaches to tell stories which are ultimately anything but funny, and both succeed in presenting highly original results that will make you laugh, make you think, and send you away satisfied. For further information on Twins, click here. For further information on Edward King, click here. You’ll be happy to geek on the Greeks when the quality is this fine.

For coverage of the Bay area theatre scene, visit TheatreStorm.

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Evan Karp and Rebecca Samuelson of Litseen present video of this week’s featured local author, Lark Omura. Read an interview here.

And here’s video of one of last week’s SF Notables, Sarah Ladipo Manyika.

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If you have a Bay Area event listing you’d like us to consider for Notable SF, please contact [email protected] as far in advance as possible, and include the date of the event in the subject line.

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Logo art by Max Winter.


Charles Kruger is a Bay area arts practitioner known as "The Storming Bohemian." He tries to do as much as he can. More from this author →