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Lunch Poems

All Readings from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. on the First Thursday of the Month
Admission Free • Morrison Library in Doe Library • UC Berkeley
For directions to Doe Library please check the campus map. (lower right corner)

Series Kick-Off, 09.01.05 | Zack Rogow, 10.06.05 | Al Young, 11.03.05

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 12.01.05 | Saskia Hamilton, 02.02.06 | Mary Karr, 03.02.06

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, 04.06.06 | Ko Un 04.25.06 | Student Reading, 05.04.06

webcast View last year's series

September 1, 2005


Distinguished faculty and staff from a wide range of disciplines read and discuss a favorite poem. This year's participants: Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, Beth Burnside (Molecular and Cell Biology), Kevis Goodman (English), Janette Hernandez (Education), Shayee Khanaka (Library, Middle Eastern Collection), Genaro Padilla (Vice Chancellor), Gary Sposito (ESPM), George Strait (Public Affairs), and Jonathan Thomas (Library).

Zack Rogow

October 6, 2005


Zack Rogow is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Greatest Hits: 1979-2001, published by Pudding House Publications. Rogow co-founded the Lunch Poems series ten years ago, and served as its coordinator from 1996-2005. Rogow's recent project, The Face of Poetry from UC Press, features poems and photographs from past Lunch Poems readings. David St. John writes of the collection: "The Face of Poetry offers a luminous and complex portrait of American poetry at the height of its powers." Rogow is the editor and artistic director of Two Lines: A Journal of Translation and teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at California College of the Arts. His poetry spans a wide range of styles, from dramatic monologue, to personal, to lyric form.

Al Young

November 3, 2005


California Poet Laureate Al Young has created a profound and enduring body of work that represents our time. Young's numerous publications in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and for the stage and screen explore the American, human condition through the lens of the individual voice. Ray González writes that Young "paints a picture of who we are as a nation and how our complexity takes us beyond national borders as members of a global literary community." Originally born in Mississippi, Young resides in Berkeley.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

December 1, 2005


A prominent figure in the wide-open poetry movement of the 50s, Ferlinghetti gave voice to a generation that changed the face of poetry forever. Challenging the elite's definition of art and the artist's role, Ferlinghetti founded City Lights Bookstore, providing a meeting place for writers, artists, and intellectuals for over a half century. Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind continues to be the most popular poetry book in the United States. His most recent work, Americus Book I was published by New Directions in 2004.

Saskia Hamilton

February 2, 2006


"Saskia Hamilton is not a quiet poet, just an extremely subtle and fierce one. There is a quality of spiritual stubbornness and astonishing resilience that courses through even her briefest utterances," writes Jorie Graham of Hamilton's body of work. Her most recent publication, Divide These, was published in 2005 by Graywolf Press. She is also the author of As for Dream (2001), and the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell (2005). She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York.
Mary Karr

March 2, 2006


Mary Karr's work has been deemed "hardboiled, hardedged, hardbitten" by Poetry. Her allure is a gripping combination of savvy intelligence and an utter refusal for sentimentality. Karr is the author of four volumes of poetry including the forthcoming Sinners Welcome (Harper Collins, 2006), and the memoir, The Liars' Club. The recipient of numerous grants including The Whiting Writer's Award, an NEA, and a Guggenheim, Karr teaches at Syracuse University and lives in New York City.

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

April 6, 2006


Born in Beijing, China, but raised in Massachusetts, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge molds language with seemingly effortless beauty and grace that invites the reader on a journey between worlds. Among many other awards and distinctions, Berssenbrugge has received two NEA Fellowships and two American Book Awards. She has published three books of poetry, and Hiddenness, a collaboration with Richard Tuttle. Her selected poems, I Love Artists, is forthcoming from UC Press (April, 2006). She lives in New Mexico.

Ko Un

Lunch Poems Special Reading

April 25, 2006

Ko Un
Ko Un, the preeminent Korean poet of the twentieth century, embraces Buddhism with the versatility of a master Taoist sage. A beloved cultural figure who has helped shape contemporary Korean literature, Ko Un is also a novelist, literary critic, ex-monk, former dissident, and four-time political prisoner. His verse--vivid, unsettling, down-to-earth, and deeply moving--ranges from the short lyric to the vast epic and draws from a poetic reservoir filled with memories and experiences ranging over seventy years of South Korea's tumultuous history from the Japanese occupation to the Korean war to democracy. His new collection, The Three Way Tavern, is a sampling of his poems from the last decade of the twentieth century, offering in deft translation (by Richard Silberg and Claire You), as lively and demotic as the original, the off-beat humor, mystery, and mythic power of his work for a wide audience of English-speaking readers. It showcases the work of a man who Allen Ginsberg has called "a magnificent poet, a combination of Buddhist cognoscente, passionate political libertarian, and naturalist historian," who Gary Snyder has said is "a real-world poet!" who "outfoxes the Old Masters and the young poets both," and who Lawrence Ferlinghetti has described as "no doubt the greatest living Korean Zen poet today."

May 4, 2006


One of the year's most vibrant events, the student reading includes winners of the following prizes: Academy of American Poets, Cook, Rosenberg, and Yang, as well as students nominated by Berkeley's creative writing faculty.

For more poetry events on the UC Berkeley campus, please see the web page of the Holloway Series.

For more information or to be added to our mailing list, or for feedback regarding this series, please email:

Support for this series is provided by Mrs. William Main, the Library, the Morrison Library Fund, the dean's office of the College of Letters & Sciences, and the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities. These events are also partially supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant from The James Irvine Foundation, and the Cal Student Store.