City Lights celebrates the publication of
Notes from the Passenger
By Gillian Conoly
Published by Nightboat Books
This event will be both broadcast online and take place inside City Lights Bookstore located at 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco. Those of you who have registered for a virtual event will still be able to experience it on zoom. Facial covering is optional, but recommended. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. No registration required for the in-store event, Registration is however required to view the virtual portion of this program.
Sonically vivid, as empire and climate fall into catastrophe, these poems open portals where the living and the dead find one another in new communication.
From Shelley Memorial Award Winner Gillian Conoley, Notes from the Passenger reminds us how with increased gun violence, war, plague, white supremacy, we are no longer “in control.” We are no longer drivers; we are passengers—destination unknown. Arriving like missives from a bardic journey, these poems explore how system collapse has led to a new space-time continuum. These cinematic, linguistically vibrant poems seek new order beyond division, within catastrophe and joy, written on the edge of being. This is Gillian Conoly’s ninth collection.
Gillian Conoley is a poet, editor, and translator. Her collection, A LITTLE MORE RED SUN ON THE HUMAN: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, with Nightboat Books, won the 39th annual Northern California Book Award in 2020. Conoley received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and was also awarded the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Fund for Poetry Award. Conoley’s translations of three books by Henri Michaux, THOUSAND TIMES BROKEN, is with City Lights. Conoley has taught as a Visiting Poet at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Denver, Vermont College, and Tulane University. A long–time resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Conoley is currently Professor of English and Poet–in–Residence at Sonoma State University where she edits VOLT. Conoley has collaborated with installation artist Jenny Holzer, composer Jamie Leigh Sampson, and Buhto dancer Judith Kajuwara.
Praise for Notes from the Passenger
“Gillian Conoley’s Notes from the Passenger reads as if written “in an aura of intimacy,” intimacy with the daughter, the lover, the reader, the dead, and with the spirit, sometimes called God, sometimes called “the messenger.” In wide-open poems that expose the junk and the beauty of the material world, the violence and the grace within the social, Conoley embraces “mortality…with its rosy edge of want” while catapulting toward the infinite, what she calls the “next next world.” -Julie Carr
“Future twin of Saint Perpetua, Gillian Conoley is our timely passenger listening lustily for messages from perpetuity. In these vibrating, visionary poems, the dead speak as the future speaks and “at all times the time / between technologies drip[s].” Perpetual font of a “know-not” wisdom, Conoley channels data into myth and myth into an algorithm, gathering our resources so that we get ever-ready for what’s to come.” -Aditi Machado
“Gillian Conoley writes visionary Americana, her signature vernacular abstraction picking up lyric signals from the Invisible. Attuned to the intrinsic revelations of apocalypse, Notes from the Passenger registers the increased “vibratory qualities” of our especially troubled times. Written from within “the aura of intimacy awaiting the message/between birth and personhood,” a counterpoint to “death’s evensong,” these poems offer good company on our way to the Next, destination unknown. I wouldn’t want to travel with anyone else.” -Brian Teare
“Gillian Conoley is that rare poet that combines the sensibility of a phenomenologist with that of an archeologist. Alongside masters like Leslie Scalapino, Harryette Mullen, Susan Howe, Conoley omnivorously draws from compositional techniques of painting, cinematography, and music creation. Notes from the Passenger showcases Conoley’s uncanny ability to develop sub-topical themata into the grand themes that call to us in our historic epoch: What is true? What is agency? What, in fact, constitutes the living? -Rodrigo Toscano
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/