An Evening of Poetry with Tess Taylor and John Shoptaw

May 28 2024 - 7:30pm


Graphic colage on green background with portraits of Tess Taylor and John Shoptaw with image of their books, Leaning Toward Light (Taylor) and Near Earth Object (Shoptaw)

Join us on Tuesday, May 28th at 7:30pm at Pegasus Books on Solano to celebrate an evening of poetry with acclaimed East Bay poets Tess Taylor and John Shoptaw. Each deeply engaged in the poetry of the natural world and the climate crisis, Taylor and Shoptaw will read from, discuss, and sign copies of their books.

Tess Taylor is the editor of the lauded 2023 anthology Leaning Toward Light: Poems for Gardens and the Hands that Tend Them, and the author of five poetry collections including Rift Zone (Red Hen Press, 2020).  John Shoptaw is the author of Times Beach (Notre Dame Press, 2015). His second collection, Near-Earth Object, is newly out this spring from Unbound Edition Press.

Pegasus is thrilled to welcome these two longtime friends of the store for a special springtime evening of poetry, conversation, and community.

More about the poets:

Tess Taylor’s body of work deals with place, ecology, memory and cultural reckoning. She’s published five celebrated poetry collections: The Misremembered World, The Forage House, and Work & Days, one of the NY Times best poetry books of 2016. 

Some of her celebrated work is actually about El Cerrito and the East Bay—  she is also the author of Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange, and Rift Zone, one of the Boston Globe’s best books of 2020.  And— a lifelong gardener who has done youth garden programming, farming and even worked at Chez Panisse— she recently published the anthology Leaning Toward Light: Poems for Gardens and the Hands that Tend Them, a collection of contemporary gardening poems for an era of climate crisis. In 2024-2025 she will serve as the Poet Laureate of El Cerrito California. She lives and raises four chickens, two children, and artichokes on the sidewalk media strip just down the street in El Cerrito. 

John Shoptaw was raised in “Swampeast” Missouri and currently lives in the East Bay, where he teaches poetry and ecopoetry in UC Berkeley’s Department of English. His first poetry collection, on the Mississippi River floodplain, Times Beach, won the Notre Dame Review Book Prize and the Northern California Book Award in Poetry. His poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He is also the author of the essays “Why Ecopoetry?” (Poetry Magazine) and “The Poetry of our Climate” (American Poetry Review). His new poetry collection, Near-Earth Object, with a foreword by Jenny Odell, is just out from Unbound Edition Press.

About the books:

LEANING TOWARD LIGHT: Poems for Garden & the Hands That Tend Them, edited by Tess Taylor

Much like reading a good poem, caring for plants brings comfort, solace, and joy to many. In this new poetry anthology, Leaning Toward Light, acclaimed poet and avid gardener Tess Taylor brings together a diverse range of contemporary voices to offer poems that celebrate that joyful connection to the natural world.

Several of the most well-known contemporary writers, as well as some of poetry’s exciting rising stars, contribute to this collection including Ross Gay, Jericho Brown, Mark Doty, Jane Hirshfield, Ada Limón, Danusha Laméris, Naomi Shihab Nye, Garrett Hongo, Ellen Bass, and James Crews. A foreword by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, reflective pauses and personal recipes from some of the contributing poets, along with original, whimsical illustrations by Melissa Castrillon, and a ribbon bookmark complete this stunning, hardcover gift format.

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.”

Event address: 
Pegasus Books
1855 Solano Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707
Event Category: 
Solano Location