Backyard #3: Green

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Green: This one is for the witchy, the newbies, the jealous, and the ill (or the merely ill-advised). This is a broad kind of theme, but it is springtime, and that means it is time for fresh adventures—no time to think this through. This work is right off the vine. Come out for poems about dark dirt and new seeds, outrageous love songs, and stories of being too young to know how much trouble you're in.

Readings by: 
Tantra Bensko 
Cassandra Dallett 
Henry Hoke 
Amos White

Gate opens at 4:30, readings commence at 5:00, eating and drinking of color-coordinated vitals to follow. Green attire encouraged. Bring out your St. Patrick's Day cast offs! Free, though donations of cash or beer will be accepted.

Reader Bios

Tantra Bensko, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, teaches fiction writing with UCLA X Writing Program, Writers College, and her own academy. Her latest book is a Slipstream novella from ELJ, Equinox Mirror, and her next book is a Science Fiction novel, Unside, from Driven Press. Her stories appear in magazines and anthologies such as Unlikely Stories, Camroc Press Review, Women Writing the Weird I and II, Surreal South, Triangulation: Parch, NonBinary Review and Birkensnake. She has won honors including the Academy of American Poets Award and the Iowa Journal of Literary Fiction Award, and runs the Everything Experimental Fiction resource site.

Cassandra Dallett occupies Oakland, CA. Cassandra writes of a counter culture childhood in Vermont and her ongoing adolescence in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been published widely online and in print magazines. Her work has appeared in Slip Stream, Sparkle and Blink, Out Of Our, Up The River, Hip Mama, and The Criminal Class Review, among many others. A full-length book of poetry 'Wet Reckless' is now available from Manic D Press.

Henry Hoke was a child in the south and an adult in New York and California. His work appears in Electric Literature, PANK, Gigantic, Birkensnake, Entropy, and is forthcoming in The Synchronia Project. His plays have been produced on the west coast and at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival and published by Snail Press. He co-created and directs ENTER>text, a living literary journal in Los Angeles. 3 years, a book about ENTER>text, is out now.

Amos White is an award winning American haiku poet and author, recognized for his vivid imagery and breathless interpretations. He was a Finalist in the NPR National Cherry Blossom haiku Contest 2013; and received First Place in "The Witt Literary Journal" Haiku Writing Contest. He is the author of the book, "The Sound of the Web: Haiku and Poetry on Facebook and Twitter" (CreateSpace, 2013).

Backyard #2: The Gentleman's Companion

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  • Sunday, January 18th
  • 4:30 pm
  • 917 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710 
    (Follow signs to back gate. Do not knock on front door.)
  • Free, though donations of cash or beer will be accepted.
  • Gate opens at 4:30, readings commence at 5:00, conspicuous consumption and rubbing of tweed-clad elbows follow. Ornate foods and surprising cocktails will be served.
  • Internet RSVP at:

The Gentleman's Companion is a two-book set my father gave me. First printed in 1939, and written by presumed gentleman Charles H. Baker Jr., the set bears the tagline "Around The World With Jigger, Beaker And Flask." One volume proclaims itself "An Exotic Drinking Book," the other "An Exotic Cookery Book." That second one is dedicated to the author's own digestive tract. Between (strong, strange, and often off-putting) recipes are accounts of the author's extensive travels; there are encounters with Hemingway and Faulkner, dangerous run-ins with natural forces in unfamiliar places, and a heavy dose of self-assured American imperialist racism.

Taking this nostalgic, offensive, and beguiling document as inspiration, this reading will explore the theme of gentlemen and what it might mean to share the company of one. What defines a gentleman—money, position, character? What becomes of the people the gentleman encounters, employs, or exploits? What happens when the gentleman leaves the manor and heads out into the delicate, complicated, and ungentle world?

Reader Bios

Liz Acosta is a pink haired feminist from Los Angeles who is currently terrorizing the streets of San Francisco with her refusal to let catcallers get away with being jerks. When she's not breathing fire, Liz likes to write about the struggle of learning to love again after the trauma of childhood abuse. Don't worry, she's not totally mopey though—she likes to ride her bike around the city pretending she's in the Death Star trench scene from "Star Wars" and she is almost exclusively powered by coffee and male tears.

MK Chavez is the author of Virgin Eyes (Zeitgeist Press) Visitation, Next Exit #9 (with John Sweet) and Pinnacle (Kendra Steiner Editions.) Recent and upcoming work can be found in Eleven Eleven, This is Poetry, Culture Magazine and Zone 3. She has been a fellow at Squaw Valley Writers Conference, Antioch Writers Workshop and VONA. She is co-founder/co-curator of the Berkeley based monthly reading series Lyrics & Dirges and one of the organizers of the Berkeley Poetry Festival.

Peter Tieryas Liu is the author of Watering Heaven (Signal 8 Press, 2012), and Bald New World (Perfect Edge Books, June 2014). Bald New World was recently nominated for the Folio Prize, listed as one of Buzzfeed's 15 Highly Anticipated Books of 2014, and was one of the Best Books of Summer 2014 from Publisher Weekly in a star review. He has a variety of work published in places like the Evergreen Review, Gargoyle, Indiana Review, Kyoto Journal, New Letters, and ZYZZYVA. He has also worked as a technical writer for LucasArts, the gaming division of LucasFilm.

Joe Trinkle lives in Philadelphia. He attended Kutztown University of Pennsylvania for Writing and was a founding member of the Allentown Writers Workshop. His work has appeared in places such as Pear Noir!, Birkensnake, Atticus Review, The Bygone Bureau, Crack the Spine, New Fraktur Arts Journal, and elsewhere.

Backyard #1: All Hallows Edition

Published on .

  • Sunday, October, 26th
  • 4:30 pm
  • 917 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710 
    (Follow signs to back gate. Do not knock on front door. The front house is inhabited by ancient monsters performing terrible, inscrutable rites).
  • Free, though donations of cash, food, or drink will be accepted.
  • Gate opens at 4:30, readings commence at 5:00, eating of autumnal food, drinking of mulled things, and a thinning of the veil between this world and the next to follow.
  • Costumes thoroughly encouraged.

A cool breeze is blowing through the backyard fig tree and there are finally whispers of rain. It seems the perfect time for a reading. Fiction, poetry, possibly some ghosts and ghouls.

Readings by: 
Tantra Bensko 
Benny Lichtner 
Andrew Touhy 
Serena Toxicat 
And songs by Deborah Steinberg

Reader and musician bios:

Tantra Bensko teaches fiction writing through UCLA X Writing Program and her own academy, with a class starting Oct. 27 online about writing Fabulist fiction genres. She has classes in Berkeley at Alchemy as well, thanks to Villagecraft. She has books, next one out being a Slipstream novella from ELJ in December, and a couple hundred narratives in magazines and anthologies.

Benny Lichtner likes writing, as well as listening to and making music and sound, especially the kind of sounds that might result from reading out loud, or to yourself. Or especially sounds that make you want to think about their relationship to language. He also likes collaborating with other people to make things, especially as a way of empathizing with them. He's recently been reading a lot of comic books.

Deborah Steinberg is a writer and singer from the Bay Area. From 2000-2007, she lived in Bordeaux, France, where she released two indie folk albums, Lines (2004) and Iconography of the Outlaw (2007), on French label Odette Productions. She toured throughout France with her band under the name Dáborah, and toured with French singer/songwriter Jon Smith as a vocalist and keyboardist. After returning to the U.S., from 2008-2011, Deborah wrote lyrics and sang for the San Francisco trio Backlit—an experimental project billed as "Portishead meets Chopin over a bottle of bourbon." Since 2008, Deborah has sung in the San Francisco women's vocal ensemble Conspiracy of Venus, where she proudly holds down the bass lines as a member of the Alto 2 section.

Andrew Touhy, a recipient of the San Francisco Browning Society's Dramatic Monologue Award and Fourteen Hills' Bambi Holmes Fiction Prize, is also a nominee for inclusion in Best New American Voices. His stories appear in New England Review, Conjunctions, New American Writing, New Orleans Review, The Collagist, Colorado Review, Eleven Eleven, and other literary journals. He teaches fiction at The Writing Salon in San Francisco and Berkeley, and lives in Oakland with his wife and child.

San Francisco-born and bred Serena Toxicat scratches out dark fiction, lyrics, plays and poetry in English and in French. She sings in a black catwave band called Protea, and her parallel recording projects include Starchasm. A working actor, model, and NLP life coach, Toxicat leads a sketchy life and delights in showing her paintings, doing LGBT and feline stuff, traveling and collecting tattoos. A priestess in the Fellowship of Isis, Serena is a psychic reader and healer. She lived 8 years in Paris and recently traveled to Egypt, where she recorded vocals in the King's Chamber. Information about her new book, Ghost(s) in Bones, can be found here: