Since the very beginning, in 1953, City Lights has served as a literary meeting place, bringing people together through books. In both our bookstore and our publishing house, we have often been at the vanguard, discovering and championing innovative, unconventional voices and views. Over the years we’ve established City Lights as an enduring cultural hub, a center of gravity with a mission grounded in progressive ideals and aspirations. Our aim is to preserve this space and carry it forward, working together to help inspire a better, more humane and more intelligent world, one reader at a time.
Join us as we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of City Lights! We’ll be featuring historic talks, poetry readings, online panels and discussions, and much more as we celebrate throughout the year. Check out our calendar of events!
Live in Kerouac Alley
Have you ever wondered about the origins of City Lights? Did you know there were two court cases in addition to the famous HOWL trial? Ever wonder how Lawrence Ferlinghetti became a pacifist, and how that was reflected at City Lights? Learn about these and other intriguing areas of interest. Our longtime Events Coordinator, Peter Maravelis, will present a series of entertaining and informational talks, live and in person in Kerouac Alley (next to the bookstore, between our shop and Vesuvio Cafe). If you have ever wanted to know more about what makes City Lights what it is, this is your chance! Starting time is 1pm on the dates below—please note that seating will be very limited, so be sure to come early in case there’s a crowd!
SATURDAY, JULY 8, 1PM
SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 1PM
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1PM
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1PM
Live in Kerouac Alley
Join us as we gather some of the Bay Area’s best poets to help us celebrate! We’ll be hosting two star-studded events—with musical accompaniment TBA—in Kerouac Alley, right next to the bookstore. Both of these Sunday afternoon events are free and open to the public, but be advised that seating will be limited and only available on a first-come first-served basis.
SUNDAY, JULY 23, 1-5 PM
Emceed by Peter Maravelis, with readings by Josiah Luis Alderete, James Cagney, Meilani Clay, soledad con carne, Donna de la Perrière, Forrest Gander, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Juba Kalamka, Joseph Lease, DA Powell, Jenny Qi, Dean Rader, Barbara Jane Reyes, Kim Shuck, Maw Shein Win, and Matthew Zapruder. With musical accompaniment TBA.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 1-5 PM
Emceed by Peter Maravelis, with readings by Micah Ballard, Chris Carosi, Garrett Caples, Neeli Cherkovski, Gillian Conoley, Tiff Dressen, Nadia Elbgal, Agneta Falk Hirschman, Randall Mann, Alexandra Mattraw, Alejandro Murguía, Julien Poirier, Sam Sax, Janaka Stucky, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Michael Warr, Chun Yu, and more. With musical accompaniment TBA.
ANNIVERSARY PANELS AND DISCUSSIONS
Online Programming on Zoom Platform. Registration links to come!
For friends and fans both local and abroad, we’ve put together a series of online programs that will highlight some of the many dimensions of our legacy and will also give a glimpse of what we’re up to now and in the immediate future. All events will be presented live on Zoom, and advance registration is required.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 6PM PACIFIC TIME
Insurgent Beatitudes: The History of a Cultural Center
Moderated by David Ulin, with Elaine Katzenberger, Amy Scholder, Nancy Peters, and Paul Yamazaki.
City Lights was founded as a cultural hub, providing space and encouragement for a creative cross-pollination across the arts, as well as the realms of politics, philosophy, and social change. Here’s a chance to hear about our history from some of the folks who’ve made significant contributions over the years, working alongside Lawrence Ferlinghetti and beyond, guiding City Lights into its present and future.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 6PM PACIFIC TIME
Found in Translation: Adventures in Language
Moderated by Olivia E. Sears, with Gabriela Alemán, Dick Cluster, Gillian Conoloy, Elaine Katzenberger, Emilie Moorehouse, and Mark Schafer.
City Lights was conceived as an international project. From the very beginning, from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s own translations of Jacques Prévert, and on to some of the exciting authors City Lights publishes today, the world in translation has been at the core of the City Lights mission.
Co-sponsored by Center for the Art of Translation/Two Lines Press.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 6PM PACIFIC TIME
Writers and Musicians in Painterland: City Lights and the Mid-Century Art and Music Explosion
Moderated by Peter Maravelis, with Anastasia Aukman, Lewis Watts, Paul Yamazaki, and John Mathias, and others TBA.
City Lights has played a vital role in connecting the literary world to its creative counterparts. This is where artists crossed paths with poets and writers, who then, in turn, frequented the city’s jazz clubs and art galleries. These cultural junctions were places where the African American, Japanese, Filipino, Latino, and European communities came together, despite the prevailing segregation of the times. Here’s a chance to learn about City Lights’s deep connections to the mid-20th-century art and music scenes.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 6PM PACIFIC TIME
Voices To Listen To: A Discussion Among City Lights Authors
Moderated by Stacey Lewis, with mimi tempestt, Brandon Shimoda and Sesshu Foster
With a history dating back to 1955 and a catalog of well over 200 titles in print, our publishing mission remains what it has always been: to find and promote the powerful, non-mainstream voices in fiction, poetry, memoir, and literary translations, and to publish books on vital social and political issues. Join us to hear from some of the talented writers we’ve been working with: past, present and future!