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California poetry has looked to the future, as well as to its complex past and the present, as a way of understanding our place at the edge of the continent. California is about the magic of the land and the promise of possibility— yet the question remains, for whom? Seven contemporary California poets celebrate the diverse poetry of seven distinguished California writers, hoping to provide a lens through which to experience these visions of a life lived in the harsh clarity of a Western light.

Featuring Douglas Kearney reading Charles Bukowski; Victoria Chang reading Diane Di Prima; Brendan Constantine reading Wanda Coleman; Brynn Saito reading  Adrienne Rich; Kim Dower reading Gertrude Stein; Amy Gerstler reading Czeslaw Milosz; and Blas Falconer reading Juan Felipe Herrera.

Amy Gerstler

Amy Gerstler is a writer of poetry, nonfiction and journalism. Her book Dearest Creature was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. Her previous twelve books include Ghost Girl, Medicine, Crown of Weeds (California Book Award), Nerve Storm, and Bitter Angel (National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry.) She was the 2010 guest editor of the yearly anthology Best American Poetry. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, several volumes of Best American Poetry and The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry. She currently teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the University of California at Irvine. Scattered at Sea, a book of her poems, is forthcoming in 2015.

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang’s third book of poems, The Boss, published by McSweeney’s, won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award. Her other poetry books are Salvinia Molesta and Circle. She has also published a children’s picture book, Is Mommy?. She lives in Southern California.

Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine’s work has appeared in FIELD, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, Zyzzyva, and Ninth Letter, among other journals. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (2011) and Calamity Joe (2012). He has received grants and commissions from the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches poetry at the Windward School and regularly offers classes to hospitals, foster homes, & with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.

Kim Dower

Kim Dower is the City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood. Author of three collections of poetry — Air Kissing on Mars, Slice of Moon, and Last Train to the Missing Planet, her poems also appear in several anthologies including Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Beyond Baroque Books, as well as journals including Rattle, Barrow Street, Ploughshares, and Garrison Keillor’s, The Writer’s Almanac. Kim teaches the workshops Poetry and Dreaming and Poetry and Memory at Antioch University.

Blas Falconer

Blas Falconer is the author of A Question of Gravity and Light and a coeditor of two essay collections, The Other Latino: Writing Against a Singular Identity and Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange and a Tennessee Individual Artist Grant, his poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Crab Orchard Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and Puerto del Sol. He is the Coordinator for the Creative Writing Program at Austin Peay State University and the poetry editor at Zone 3 Journal/ Zone 3 Press.

Doug Kearney

Douglas Kearney’s collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess and (2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection. His third poetry collection, Patter (2014) examines miscarriage, infertility, and parenthood. Kearney’s second book, The Black Automaton (2009) was a National Poetry Series selection. A collection of opera libretti—Someone Took They Tongues—is forthcoming. He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Poetry, nocturnes, Pleiades, Iowa Review, Boston Review, and Indiana Review; and various anthologies. He teaches at CalArts.

Brynn Saito

Brynn Saito is the author of The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award from Red Hen Press and finalist for the 2013 Northern California Book Award. Her second collection, Power Made Us Swoon, will be published in 2016. Brynn co-authored a chapbook, with Traci Brimhall, titled Bright Power, Dark Peace. Her work has been anthologized by Helen Vendler and Ishmael Reed; it has also appeared in such journals as Virginia Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, and Poetry Northwest. Born in Fresno, CA, Brynn now lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.

  • Where can I find podcasts and videos of ALOUD programs?

    Podcasts and videos from our programs are available free online at our growing Media Archive. Visit the archive at lfla.org/media-archive to explore hundreds of podcasts and videos spanning 20+ years of ALOUD’s history bringing authors, artists, and t thinkers to the Los Angeles Public Library.