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Marcus Books fundraiser: Daveed Diggs, Robin Coste Lewis and Danez Smith!

May 8, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm PDT

A fundraiser for Marcus Books, oldest Black bookstore in the US. With Daveed Diggs, Robin Coste Lewis, Danez Smith, Chinaka Hodge and more!

About this Event

It’s a tough time for local bookstores, what with the social distancing and the sheltering in place. So we’re raising funds to help local Bay Area bookstores stay in business, with a series of fundraisers. This time, we’re doing a poetry reading, featuring Daveed Diggs, Robin Coste Lewis, Danez Smith, Chinaka Hodge, Tongo Eisen-Martin and more poets TBA. It’s a fundraiser for Marcus Books!

The performers

Daveed Diggs is an actor, singer, producer, writer, and rapper. He is the vocalist of the experimental hip hop group Clipping. Diggs originated the role of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the 2015 musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda which he won a Grammy and Tony for. He also cowrote, produced, and stars in the film Blindspotting. And he is starring in Snowpiercer, the upcoming TNT series based on the movie of the same name.

Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (2015), the winner of National Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition, and VIDA. Lewis earned her MFA from NYU’s Creative Writing Program where she was a Goldwater fellow in poetry. She also earned a MTS degree in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from Harvard Divinity School. She is a Cave Canem fellow and was awarded a Provost’s fellowship in the Creative Writing & Literature PhD Program at USC. Other fellowships and awards include the Caldera Foundation, the Ragdale Foundation, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Can Serrat International Art Centre in Barcelona, and the Summer Literary Seminars in Kenya. She was a finalist for the International War Poetry Prize, the National Rita Dove Prize, and semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review Prize and the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Prize.

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of “Homie” (Graywolf Press, 2020), “Don’t Call Us Dead” (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and “[insert] boy” (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

Chinaka Hodge is a poet, educator, playwright, and screenwriter from Oakland. She received her BA from NYU’s Gallatin School, and studied Writing for Film and Television at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts MFA program. Chinaka has served as Educator, Program Director and Associate Artistic Director at Youth Speaks/The Living Word Project, she is a Senior Fellow at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and serves on the Advisory Board at Marin Headlands Center for the Arts. Chinaka has been recognized as a Glide Legacy Gala Honoree, an Oakland Indie Award winner in the category of Oakland Soul, one of Diablo Magazine’s 40 under 40, and one of KQED’s Women to Watch. Her 2016 book of poems, Dated Emcees, won Northern California Independent Booksellers Association’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Northern California Book Award. Chinaka is currently working as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Her credits include Jason Katims’ RISE, TNT’s highly anticipated SNOWPIERCER and Steven Spielberg’s Apple+ project, AMAZING STORIES.

Originally from San Francisco, 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. His book titled, “Someone’s Dead Already” was nominated for a California Book Award. His latest book “Heaven Is All Goodbyes” was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award.

The beneficiary

Marcus Books is the oldest independent Black bookstore in the country. The bookstore’s founders, Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson met at Tuskegee University which they both attended. In 1946 Julian started Success Printing Co. in the Fillmore District of San Francisco and in 1960, the two founded Marcus Books (named after political activist and author Marcus Garvey). Together — and through both the publishing press and bookstore — they fiercely advocated for Black history, exchange, and knowledge of self. They published now canonical books (that had before their resurrection gone out of print) and work by independent authors, poets, and artists. Marcus Books is an institution where those who have written books, produced visual work and more can see themselves on a shelf, wall or counter surrounded by other Black makers.

Alongside Marcus Books’ legacy of Black publishing is an investment in nourishing Black readership, no matter what age. Generations of families have grown up in the store: the student coming to find course material, our incarcerated brothers and sisters writing to put in book orders, the parents who bring their children to the store much like their parents did for/with them. World renowned author or prophetic local poet, elder or toddler, Marcus Books has provided something for you.

At Marcus Books “Black” is not a subject, a single month, or a niche; it is the universe. “Black” is not just history; it is the present and the future.

Every penny you spend on this event will directly to Marcus Books.

How does it work?

We use the conferencing system Zoom. After you sign up you’ll get an email with the Zoom access code—it’ll be described as “links for this event are available.” (Check that Eventbrite is using your current email address.) You don’t have to join with video, but it’s nice to see faces.