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: