Living Writers Series Spring 2017

The Lives Of Other Songs

Humanities Lecture Hall, 206

Thursdays, 5:20-6:50 PM

All Readings are Free and Open to the Public 

Contact: Christopher Chen (

April 13: Tongo Eisen-Martin

May 4: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa and Eric Sneathen 

May 11: Aisha Sasha John

May 18: Rosa Alcala

June 1: Laren Levin

June 8: UCSC Creative Writing Program, Undergraduate Student Reading

Co-sponsored by The Humanities Division, Porter College George Hitchcock Poetry Endowment, The Literature Department and Creative Writing Program, Chicano Latino Research Center, Literary Cultures/Sawyer Seminar, Latin American and Latino Studies, and The Bay Tree Book Store

  • Tongo Eisen-Martin

    Tongo Eisen-Martin

    Born in San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker, educator, and poet who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He has educated in detention centers from New York's Rikers Island to California's San Quentin State Prison. His work in Rikers Island was featured in the New York Times . He was also adjunct faculty at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. Subscribing to the Freirian model of education, he designed curricula for oppressed people's education projects from San Francisco to South Africa. 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. He uses his craft to create liberated territory wherever he performs and teaches. He recently lived and organized around issues of human rights and self-determination in Jackson, MS.

  • Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

    Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

    Poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s parents fled Tibet in 1959. Raised by her mother in Tibetan communities in Dharamsala, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, Dhompa earned a BA and an MA from Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks In Writing the Names (2000) and Recurring Gestures (2000). She has published the full-length collections Rules of the House (2002), In the Absent Everyday (2005), and My Rice tastes like the lake (2011), which was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year Award for 2012. Dhompa's non-fiction book based on her life is called A Home in Tibet (Penguin India, 2013).

    Fluent in several languages and dialects—including Tibetan, Hindi, and Nepali—Dhompa writes in English. Through innovative structures and schemas, her poetry articulates the nostalgia of displaced Tibetans, recording the memories of elders in Tibetan communities. In a Verse online review of In the Absent Everyday, Joshua Marie Wilkinson noted the “uncanniness (the familiar strangeness) of myriad lines which simultaneously do and do not cohere at once, which seems disparate and effortlessly linked at the same time.”

    Dhompa has received grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Galen Rowell Fund and has been a writing fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Hedgebrook. She is pursuing a PhD in Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

  • Eric Sneathen

    Eric Sneathen

    Eric Sneathen is a poet who splits his time between Oakland and Santa Cruz, where he is a PhD student. His writing has been published by Mondo Bummer, Elderly, and Faggot Journal , and he is the editor and organizer of Macaroni Necklace, a Bay Area–based DIY literary journal and reading series. SNAIL POEMS is his first book.

  • Aisha Sasha John

    Aisha Sasha John

    AISHA SASHA JOHN is a singing dancer-- and the author of the recently published I have to live. (McClelland & Stewart). Aisha’s previous poetry collection THOU (BookThug 2014) was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the ReLit Poetry Award. Later this spring, Aisha dances the aisha of oz at the Whitney Museum as part of the 2017 Whitney ISP exhibition. Aisha is trained in various Congolese and Ethiopian dances and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She was born in Montreal.


  • Rosa Alcala

    Rosa Alcala

    Rosa Alcalá is the author of a poetry collection Undocumentaries (Shearsman Books, 2010) and two chapbooks:  Some Maritime Disasters This Century (Belladonna, 2003) and  Undocumentary (Dos Press, 2008). Alcalá has also translated poetry by Cecilia Vicuña, Lourdes Vázquez, and Lila Zemborain, among others. Recent translations include Zemborain's  Guardians of the Secret (Noemi Press, 2009), and poems for  The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry (2009).

    She teaches in the Department of Creative Writing and Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

  • Lauren Levin

    Lauren Levin

    Lauren Levin is the author of THE BRAID (Krupskaya, 2016) and the forthcoming TWO ESSAYS (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018) as well as several chapbooks, including The Lens (Little Red Leaves, 2014) and Working (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). From 2011-2014, she co–edited the Poetic Labor Project. She grew up in New Orleans and lives in Richmond, CA with her family