Undisciplining the Fields: Major Jackson, reading and in conversation with Tonya M. Foster

The Poetry Center and City Lights Books co-present renowned poet Major Jackson, reading from his recent book, Razzle Dazzle: New & Selected Poems, and engaging in conversation with poet and scholar Tonya M. Foster. This event is the latest in Foster's series co-organized with The Poetry Center, Undisciplining the Fields, and takes place onsite at City Lights. The event will also be broadcast on zoom, details here. Please do join us. Please register online at Eventbrite for a free ticket.

Supported by the George and Judy Marcus Chair in Poetry, San Francisco State University.

VIDEO for this program will be posted after editing at Poetry Center Digital Archive.

Major Jackson is the author of six books of poetry, including Razzle Dazzle: New & Selected Poems (2023), The Absurd Man (2020), Roll Deep (2015), Holding Company (2010), Hoops (2006), and Leaving Saturn (2002), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. His edited volumes include: Best American Poetry 2019Renga for Obama, and Library of America’s Countee Cullen: Collected Poems. He is also the author of A Beat Beyond: The Selected Prose of Major Jackson edited by Amor Kohli. Jackson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review. He also is host of The Slowdown, a poetry podcast. More at majorjackson.com

Tonya M. Foster is the author of A Swarm of Bees in High Court (*belladonna, 2015) and is the George and Judy Marcus Endowed Chair in Poetry at San Francisco State. 

Undisciplining the Fields is a new conversation, reading (and sometimes performance) series that will invite writers, artists, filmmakers, and scholars from a range of fields to discuss and share their cross-disciplinary practices and thinking. Initiated by Tonya M. Foster, in collaboration with The Poetry Center, the series is envisioned as an unruly exploration of the ways that practice is developed and encouraged through interest, study, and accident; and of the ways that creativity motivates / instigates investigations of the possible.

Ed Roberson, a solo reading at McRoskey Mattress Co.

  • Mask requested for in-person attendance
  • Tune in to the video livestream

Join us as poet Ed Roberson returns to San Francisco from his home in Chicago, this time for a featured solo reading in the third-floor loft at McRoskey Mattress Co., on Market at Gough. The program is co-presented by The Poetry Center and The Green Arcade, in conjunction with Nion Editions, and with thanks to our host, McRoskey Mattress Co

This event is free and open to the public. 

Ed Roberson is the author of thirteen books of poetry, including MPH and Other Road Poems (Verge Books, 2021) and Asked What Has Changed (Wesleyan University Press, 2021). His most recent collection, Aquarium Works (Nion Editions, 2022), details his experiences as a diver and tankman at the Pittsburgh AquaZoo in the 1960s.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Roberson also worked in the area’s steel mills, in an advertising graphics agency, and as a research assistant in limnology, studying inland and coastal freshwater systems on trips to Alaska and Bermuda. He later led a career as a special programs administrator at Rutgers University.

A Chicagoan since 2004, Roberson has taught at Columbia College, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. He has also served as a Holloway Lecturer in Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a faculty member at the Cave Canem retreat for Black Writers. His many honors include the Jackson Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Roberson’s poetry is deeply informed by his engagement with the natural world, his interests in spirituality and visual art, and his lifelong travels, which include motorcycling across the United States and mountain climbing in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Andes.


Ed Roberson, reading with Michael Palmer for The Poetry Center: October 11, 2014

Black Freighter Press, a celebration: with Mahogany L. Browne, Christopher Malec, Josiah Luis Alderete, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and readings from the final book by the late Q.R. Hand Jr.

Watch the unedited video at YouTube before the finished program gets posted at Poetry Center Digital Archive

With emcee, Tonya M. Foster

Cosponsored by The Poetry Center and Black Freighter Press

This remote access event starts promptly at 7:00 pm Pacific Time and is free and open to the public. We welcome people with disabilities and want to do what we can to make the event accessible to you. *** Live captioning will be provided. *** Media captioning will be available after the event at our YouTube channel and at Poetry Center Digital Archive.

The program supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts

  • “Black Freighter Press publishes revolutionary books. We are committed to the exploration of liberation, using art to transform consciousness. A platform for Black and Brown writers to honor ancestry and propel radical imagination. We aim to create a world where the collective determines cultural reality.”

The Poetry Center, in conjunction with Black Freighter Press—newly launched by San Francisco’s recently-named Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and Alie Jones—presents a celebration of this welcome Bay Area-based poetry press. Featured will be Mahogany L. Browne, Christopher Malec, and Josiah Luis Alderete, reading from their new works, with Tongo Eisen-Martin reading from the final book of late poet Q.R. Hand. They’ll be joined by special guest Alie Jones during the conversation following their readings, along with emcee, Tonya M. Foster.

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer, and educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club, Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC, and Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College, Browne is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to JusticeWoke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books), Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books), and the young-adult coming-of-age novel in verse, Chlorine Sky (Crown Books, 2021). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign), and as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first book of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children. Black Freighter Press brought out the collaborative limited edition book Wash the Dead, “an investigation of the mass incarceration pandemic through the eyes of its survivors, and a culminating response to the space Art for Justice Fund has cultivated for these difficult conversations,” featuring the work of artist Russell Craig and Browne’s writings. Some copies remain for sale from Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. More here.

Christopher Malec was recently named the Luis Hernandez Florida Prison Poet Laureate by Exchange for Change, in collaboration with O, Miami Poetry Festival. Responsibilities of the Laureate include writing commissioned poems for special occasions and events; promoting the work of other inmates; and acting as a representative for the incarcerated voice. Malec’s work has been commissioned by the University of Arizona’s Art for Justice project, and Black Freighter Press will bring out his first book, Pendulum Under a Dead Clock, in 2021. Listen to his work here.

Josiah Luis Alderete’s Baby Axolotls & Old Pochos is just out from Black Freighter Press. These poems hold space inside a colonized time and place we can still recognize as San Francisco.” Aldete is a full-blooded Pocho Spanglish speaking poeta from La Area Bahia. He began to write poetry in the kitchen of his Mama’s Mexican restaurant, began performing his work in the Mission District of San Pancho at Cafe Babar back in the ’90s, and was a founding member of word troupe The Molotov Mouths. He is also a radio insurgente whose stories have appeared on KALW’s “Crosscurrents" and whose show “The Spanglish Power Hour” aired on KPFA. Alderete curates and hosts the (pre-pandemic) Latinx reading series SPEAKING AXOLOTL in Oakland.

Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. A finalist for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize for his book in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, Heaven Is All Goodbyeswhich received the California Book Award and American Book Award, he is also author of someone’s dead already (Bootstrap Press), Waiting Behind Tornadoes for Food (Materials, UK), and the forthcoming Blood on the Fog, due from City Lights as Pocket Poets No. 62 in September 2021. Eisen-Martin was the Poetry Center’s inaugural Mazza Writer in Residence in Fall 2017. A native of San Francisco, he is co-founder and editor of Black Freighter Press and San Francisco’s eighth Poet Laureate.

Q.R. Hand Jr. (1937–2020) was a beloved poet, community mental health care worker, and longtime presence in the Mission District, has come to San Francisco from New York City in 1960 at age 23. Along with giving hundreds of readings, he worked with performance poetry and music group WordWind Chorus with late poet Reginald Lockett, Brian Auerbach, and poet-musician Lewis Jordan. Hand published three books of poems: i speak to the poet in man (1985), how sweet it is (1996), and whose really blues (2008). Black Freighter Press will bring out his final book, Out of Nothing, in Spring 2021. Q.R. Hand Jr. read his work for The Poetry Center two times, in 1983 (with Genny Lim and Juan Felipe Herrera) and in a solo reading in 2012. Read Clara-Sophia Daly’s illuminating obituary for the Mission Local here.

Alie Jones is a self-care advocate, writer, and Creole mermaid. Currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing and Literature at Mills College, she is the founder of Bodacious Bombshells, a wellness-focused art collective based in Oakland. Her work on Black Mental Health and self-care has been featured on AfropunkxoNecole, and Medium.com. Alie is the host of the podcast called Chit Chat with Aliecat, exploring self-care practices and journeys of self-love in the community. She is co-founder and director of Black Freighter Press.

Photos of Mahogany L. Browne and Q.R. Hand Jr.


Visit and order from Black Freighter Press

“Q.R. Hand Jr., a poet of jazz-like verses, dies at age 83,” Clara-Sophia Daly for Mission Local, January 18, 2021

”Unity and Struggle: A collective inaugural address,” with San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and family, sponsored by San Francisco Public Library, Wednesday April 21, 2021, 6:00 pm