From Collective Isolation: Poetry in Response to the Pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic has put BAMPFA’s long-running poetry reading series on hold, we’re presenting some of our favorite poets from the last few years of the series online, reading recent work that speaks to our current moment of isolation.

Sunnylyn Thibodeaux reads “Notes from the Fire Escape”

Sunnylyn Thibodeaux is the author of four books of poetry, including The World Exactly (forthcoming from Cuneiform Press), as well as more than a dozen small books and pamphlets.

MK Chavez reads “The Great Mother”

MK Chavez is the award-winning author of Mothermorphosis, Dear Animal, and Virgin Eyes. She is cofounder and curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and codirector of the Berkeley Poetry Festival.

Tongo Eisen-Martin reads “I Do Not Know the Spelling of Money” and “The Chicago Prairie Fire”

Tongo Eisen-Martin was born in San Francisco and earned his MA at Columbia University. He is the author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes (City Lights, 2017), which received an American Book Award and a California Book Award, was named a National California Booksellers Association Poetry Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2018.

Maw Shein Win reads “Quiver, fern,” “Stranger,” “The Parlors,” and “The Soft Part of the Brain”

Maw Shein Win's poetry books include Score and Bone (Nomadic Press) and Invisible Gifts: Poems (Manic D Press). Her second full-length poetry collection Storage Unit for the Spirit House will be published by Omnidawn in Fall 2020. "Quiver, fern" was published in MiGoZine.

Josiah Luis Alderete reads “somos . . .”

Josiah Luis Alderete is a full blooded Pocho Spanglish speaking poeta from La Area Bahia who curates and hosts the Latinx reading series Speaking Axolotl on the third Thursday of every month in Oakland. Alderete’s book of poems Baby Axolotls y Old Pochos is forthcoming this year from Black Freighter Press.

Michal “MJ” Jones reads “Gone” and “Unnamed”

Michal “MJ” Jones is an emerging poet, musician, parent, and earth visitor living in Oakland. Jonesis the community engagement fellow in the MFA in Poetry program at Mills College, where they focus on curating workshops for trans and gender-nonconforming writers.

Raina León reads “For Aurélia on the 16th day of self-isolation, March 28, 2020”

Raina J. León is an associate professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California. Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She is a founding editor of the Acentos Review.