• Jewelle Gomez. photo: Irene Young

  • James Cagney

    James Cagney

  • Teya Schaffer

    Teya Schaffer

Berkeley Poetry Festival: Lifetime Achievement Celebration

Berkeley Poetry Festival presents its 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award to Jewelle Gomez. Gomez will read, accompanied by poets James Cagney and Teya Schaffer.

Jewelle Gomez, poet, playwright, and novelist, was born in Boston and has lived in the Bay area since 1993. She’s the author of eight books, including four collections of poetry and the cult classic lesbian vampire novel, The Gilda Stories, which has been in print for more than thirty years and was the winner of two Lambda Literary Awards. She received a Bram Stoker Legacy Award from the Horror Writers Association in 2021.

The former president of the San Francisco Library Commission, she was the Executive Director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University, where she expanded the public programming to include artists such as the performance group Pomo Afro Homos and previous San Francisco Poet Laureate, Jan Mirikitani. She was playwright in residence at the New Conservatory Theatre Company (SF) where she was commissioned to create three plays. Her poems have been translated into Polish, German, Japanese and French.

She retired from thirty years in philanthropy after serving on the staffs of: the New York State Council on the Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and Horizons Foundation. She’s also served on funding panels for local projects such as the Just City Fund, an East Bay/Akonadi funding initiative. She was on the founding boards of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

James Cagney’s second poetry collection, Martian: The Saint of Loneliness is the winner of the 2021 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. His first, Black Steel Magnolias In The Hour Of Chaos Theory, won the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award in 2018. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2022, Alta Magazine, and the anthology Beat Not Beat.

Teya Schaffer is a Jewish feminist of the secular persuasion. Author of two books A Ritual of Drowning: Poems of Love and Mourning and The Silent Poems, her work has appeared in anthologies including Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Politics of the Heart: A Lesbian Parenting Anthology. Her writing balances on an acceptance and rejection of life as it is.

Event Accessibility

If you have any questions about accessibility or require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact us at bampfa@berkeley.edu or call us at (510) 642-1412 (during open hours) with as much advance notice as possible. More information on accessibility services.