Armen Davoudian and John Shoptaw: A Dual East Bay Poetry Launch

May 7 2024 - 7:00pm

NOTE: This event was rescheduled; previous date was April 19th.

Join us on Tuesday, May 7th at 7pm at Pegasus Books Downtown as we celebrate the launch of new collections from two fantastic Bay Area poets: Armen Davoudian's The Palace of Forty Pillars from Tin House Books, and John Shoptaw's Near-Earth Object from Unbound Edition Press. Davoudian and Shoptaw will read from, discuss, and sign copies of their collections.

About the books:


-A San Francisco Chronicle and LitHub Best Book of Spring

-A Most Anticipated Book of the Season at The Rumpus, Publishers Weekly, and Autostraddle

-“Brilliant and deft and heartfelt.”―Richie Hofmann

Wry, tender, and formally innovative, Armen Davoudian’s debut poetry collection, The Palace of Forty Pillars, tells the story of a self estranged from the world around him as a gay adolescent, an Armenian in Iran, and an immigrant in America. It is a story darkened by the long shadow of global tragedies—the Armenian genocide, war in the Middle East, the specter of homophobia. With masterful attention to rhyme and meter, these poems also carefully witness the most intimate encounters: the awkward distance between mother and son getting ready in the morning, the delicate balance of power between lovers, a tense exchange with the morality police in Iran.

In Isfahan, Iran, the eponymous palace has only twenty pillars—but, reflected in its courtyard pool, they become forty. This is the gamble of Davoudian’s magical, ruminative poems: to recreate, in art’s reflection, a home for the speaker, who is unable to return to it in life.

NEAR-EARTH OBJECT by John Shoptaw - with Foreword by Jenny Odell

Near-Earth Object, Shoptaw explores the interactions, sometimes dark and sometimes joyful, between humans and the non-human natural world. Resisting the human exceptionalism that in its many forms can block imaginative access to the world, Shoptaw entertains the perspectives of a host of others: a cricket, a bat, a nuthatch, a carnival bear, a tree’s shade, cherubim, an asteroid, and Earth herself.

Of Near-Earth Object, Shoptaw said, “I take up difficult and painful topics such as global meltdown and animal abuse, without ever giving up either pleasure or hope. Here, I practice what I like to call a poetics of impurity. I am wary of absolutes, and attempt to make the best of things in the messy world of the relative, the partial, the gradual, and the mixed.”

Patrick Davis, publisher at Unbound Edition Press, said, “John’s remarkable work is formally attuned, entirely accessible, and urgently relevant. His ecopoetics, on full display in Near-Earth Object, propel a vital voice for our challenging times.”

About the poets:

Armen Davoudian has an MFA from Johns Hopkins University and is currently a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University. His poems and translations from Persian appear in Poetry magazinethe Hopkins Reviewthe Yale Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Swan Song, won the Frost Place Competition. Armen grew up in Isfahan, Iran, and lives in California.

John Shoptaw, a leading voice in ecopoetics, is widely published in literary journals and magazines, including Arion, Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and Poetry.  His first poetry collection, Times Beach (2015), won the Notre Dame Review Book Prize and the Northern California Book Award in Poetry.  Shoptaw is the author of On the Outside Looking Out: John Ashbery’s Poetry, the libretto for Eric Sawyer’s opera Our American Cousin (Boston Modern Orchestra Project), and a number of essays on poetry and poetics, including “Why Ecopoetry?” (Poetry). He teaches in the UC Berkeley English Department. 

Event address: 
2349 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
The Palace of Forty Pillars By Armen Davoudian Cover Image
ISBN: 9781959030362
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - March 19th, 2024

Event Category: 
Shattuck Location