Local Lit | February’s top literary picks

Robert Hass at Morrison Library, UC Berkeley | Feb. 6

Hustle over to Lunch Poems, the long-running lunchtime program founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass. The former U.S. Poet Laureate (1995-97) will present his latest collection, Summer Snow: New Poems (HarperCollins). While continuing to serve at Cal as Distinguished Professor in Poetry and Poetics, Hass has multitasked; producing a sweeping ode to California landscapes and the seasonal changes in life, nature, and more. Infinitely readable, deeply emotional but never overblown, an opportunity to hear Hass read his poetry in person is not to be missed. An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the date as Feb. 3.

Feb. 6 @ 12:10 pm, Free, Morrison Library, UC Berkeley, 2000 Carleston Street, Berkeley, http://lunchpoems.berkeley.edu, 510-642-3671

Annie Barrows at A Great Good Place for Books | Feb. 7

Beloved in the Bay Area and far beyond, Annie Barrows, author of the hit children’s series Ivy + Bean, arrives at the cozy Montclair bookstore with pizza and her new book, The Best of Iggy. Not just kids, but adults will thrill at the adventures of the central character, Iggy Frangi, a boy who’s not a bad kid…or if he is, he’s not sorry! The rewards in a young rascal’s escapades run parallel to Barrows’ biography. An added bonus, Barrows (co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), never hesitates to share personal anecdotes.

Feb. 7 @ 7:00 pm, A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland, books@ggpbooks.com, 510-339-8210

Ellen Bass, Jane Hirshfield and Marie Howe at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley | Feb. 15

It’s not every day that rescuing and reading go hand in hand. But when three contemporary poets acclaimed for their deeply humanitarian writing join their voices in pursuit of social justice to read their works, lives are saved. The event supports girls of the V-Day Safe House in Narok, Kenya. With donations directed to the Safe House Education (S.H.E.) Fund for Maasai Girls, Bass, Hirshfield and Howe bring awareness to the young women’s plight — and help raise funds to support their college, university or trade school education. Often first in their families to receive upper-level education, the girls represent a generation of hope, liberation from misogyny and mutilation, and change. Kim Rosen, Founder and Executive Director of the S.H.E. Fund and poet will also be speaking at the event.

Feb. 15 @ 7:00 pm, $30, The S.H.E. Fund, Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington, 415-250-9786, www.shecollegefund.org

Octavio Solis/Word for Word at Z Space | Feb. 19 – Mar. 15

For the uninitiated, Word for Word is a performing arts company that stages literary works, both fiction and nonfiction. This month features a new production of author and playwright Octavio Solis’ coming of age memoir, Retablos. Worth the trek over the bridge and outside of our East Bay comfort zones, the show includes selected chapters from Solis’ account of life as a “skinny brown kid” in El Paso in the 60’s and 70s, capturing the complexity of living on a border. The borders are not just geographic but cultural, economic, class, race, generational and language as well. Funny, troubling, touching and relatable, ticket buyers might note a special night scheduled for Feb. 27, when the performance is followed by a conversation with Solis moderated by writer and Tribal Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Greg Sarris.

February 19 – March 15, $20-63, Word for Word/Octavio Solis at Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco, 4156260453, http://www.zspace.org/retablos-word-for-word

John Sayles at Moe’s Bookstore | Feb. 25

Join author, screenwriter, actor and feature film director John Sayles for a reading and discussion of his latest book, Yellow Earth. Pitting the forces of Big Oil, law enforcement and Native Americans against each other, the novel zeroes in on protagonist Harleigh Killdeer, chairman of the Three Nations’ Tribal Business council and hired by Three Nations Petroleum Company. The struggle is set just prior to the real life stormy protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota. With a filmmaker’s keen timing evidenced in his award-winning films (Matewan, Eight Men Out, Passion Fish, Lone Star and others) and a fine hand for prose (prior books have been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Critics’ Circle Award), expect a satisfying, lively conversation.

Feb 25 @ 7 p.m., free, Moe’s Bookstore, 2476 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 849-2087, moesbooks.com

Constance Hale of Lit Starts at A Great Good Place for Books, Feb. 27

Featured in a Piedmont Exedra article earlier this year, please note the return of Writer’s Grotto for a workshop at A Great Good Place for Books. Practicing the Craft: 

Write Character, Dialogue and Action will be led by Constance Hale and Dorothy Hearst. Writer Grotto leaders issue prompts during the interactive series that includes voluntary readings of the exercises and lots of laughter and encouragement to continue. Lit Starts’ newest book, Writing Memoir, is available for order.

Feb. 27 @ 7 p.m., Free, A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland, books@ggpbooks.com, 510-339-8210

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