Monday, March 26, 2012

Click here for the schedule for the LA Times Festival of Books in April.

On Saturday, April 21, I'll be on a panel with Henri Cole, Bruce Smith, and Carl Phillips in the morning; I'll be reading from THE PUBLIC GARDENS: POEMS AND HISTORY in the afternoon. (The book is going into its second printing--please ask your local public or school or college library to order a copy from Baker & Taylor, Small Press Distribution, or other booksellers.)

Lots of other great things on the program on both days of the festival. Check it out.

                                                        LA Times Festival of Books

Hecho in other former colonies

Friday, March 16, 2012

Love and Work (bio)


LINDA NORTON is the author of The Public Gardens: Poems and History (Pressed Wafer, 2011; introduction by Fanny Howe), a hybrid work of poetry and memoir and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry. She is also the author of two chap-books, Hesitation Kit (EtherDome, 2007) and Dark White (Omerta, 2019). WiteOut: Love and Work, a memoir with poems), published by Hanging Loose Press, is now available.

Norton's poems, essays, collages, and interviews have appeared in many magazines and in several anthologies. In 2014, Irish writer Dermot Healy chose her memoir "Pearl Paint" (part of Wite Out) for inclusion in the annual Fish anthology (published in Cork, Ireland).

Norton grew up in 
Boston and spent many years in New York. She has lived in Oakland, California, for more than twenty years. In 2017, she became a dual citizen of Ireland/EU and the U.S.A.

She works as a writing consultant for labor organizers in the Unite Here LEAD Project. She is also an instructor at SFSU, where she received her MFA in 2018, and a columnist at SFMoMA’s Open Space.

Starting with jobs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Yale University Press, Norton has had a long career in book publishing, archives, libraries, and an oral history center. At the University of California Press, in the New York office, she was publicist for books by Oliver Sacks, William Finnegan, Robert Creeley, and many other authors. In Berkeley as an acquisitions editor, she founded the New California Poetry series with Calvin Bedient, Robert Hass, and Brenda Hillman, and published books by Rebecca Solnit, Lyn Hejinian, Alan Lomax and Jelly Roll Morton, Wallace Stevens, Theresa Cha, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Janet McDonald, Carlo Rotella, Fanny Howe, Yunte Huang, Harryette Mullen, Donald Allen, and many other authors in a variety of fields.

In 2014 Norton's visual art (a series of collages called “Dark White”) was exhibited, with a grant from the US Embassy in Dublin, at the 
Dock Arts Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon, Ireland. Her collages have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly and other magazines, and on the covers of books by Claudia Rankine, Julie Carr, and other poets. She is also a lyricist, registered with ASCAP. "Landscaping for Privacy" and “Wet Psalm,” her collaborations with composer Eve Beglarian, are available on iTunes, etc., and on CD. Norton’s interview with Belgarian is on the Herb Alpert Award site.

Norton was a resident at the 
Guthrie Centre in Ireland in 2015 and at the Lannan Foundation in Marfa, Texas, in the summer of 2002. In 2014, she was awarded a William Dickey Fellowship at San Francisco State University and a Creative Work Fund award. In 2018, Norton was awarded a Ucross Foundation residency (with a Whiting Foundation travel grant) in Wyoming.

She has given talks and has been a guest writer at the Oakland Book Festival, Brown University (in C. D. Wright’s class), Harvard, UC Riverside (Fred Moten’s class), SFSU and CCA, the Athenian School, the Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, the LA Times Book Festival, Moe's Books, the SoundEye Festival in Cork, the American Literature Association (Amiri Baraka Society) and many other places. She has conducted interviews for NPR's Storycorps Griot series and has an IMDB credit for her work as a researcher and writer for a documentary about the Alley, Oakland's last remaining piano bar.

From reviews of The Public Gardens: Poems and History

A memoir of place (Boston, New York, Oakland and San Francisco) and of the commons—gardens and libraries, streets and subways, marriage and family—and a hybrid work of poetry and prose, The Public Gardens is a documentary (with lyrics) of a life lived in, around, and for books. 

EILEEN MYLES: "The Public Gardens is a brilliant, wonderful book, a sort of a wild institution, intense and readable. Linda Norton looks at the world like a dog who likes to tear apart couches—repressed but not for long. Though full of shame, this book is shameless. A life is freely divulged as are the multitude of homeopathic bits from the author's reading list. The overall experience of moving through The Public Gardens’s shuttling prose and poetry is quietly breathtaking. I have felt and learned much from this book! Her 'Gardens' are both organized and entirely disorderly—anything and anyone from any point in history might saunter through, and that's the meaning of public, isn't it? I find myself loving this writer's mind, light touch, and generous heart and I, reader, didn't want to go when it was done. My bowl is out. More!"

FANNY HOWE: “Have you ever heard Dinah Washington sing ‘This Bitter Earth’? Have you ever seen the movie by Charles Burnett called Killer of Sheep? This little book, The Public Gardens, conjures up the experience of that movie and that song, the fate of families and neighborhoods in 20th-century America. Although the title of the book shows that its ultimate point of reference is Boston, the work inside travels through New York and Oakland. Part poetry, part notebooks, it is a model of the camera made human, made humanist, a part of arm, leg, hand, a moving-picture taker pregnant with literature. What she sees, we have all seen and passed by. But she has paused to note it. 

“Steeped in the language of Scripture and Emerson, the poetry here is fresh and wild, cultivated and desperate. Linda is Sicilian but everything in her is modern. She hates what she loves. This makes her lonely, inspired, uprooted, still hunting, and blissed out whenever possible. She documents her losses and loves, both as a free person and a mother, and every word she writes has the bittersweet taste of Dinah Washington."

PATRICK JAMES DUNAGANGalatea Resurrects “She looks back on her personal history with tough self-reckoning which she then crystal cuts to near sparkling perfection. Her bearing down on experience to yield the truths of life lived has no fluff.  . . . Norton shares her losses: at the death of brother, the unfolding of her marriage, historical readings/visions of society in her visits home to family in Boston, and finally her relocation to California for work. She's found what abides is observing moments of one's life, being aware of what's happening as it happens. There's joy to be found round daily business.” 

ELIZABETH ROBINSON, Otis Review “Norton’s rejoinder to suffering, shame, loss, and the drudge of economic necessity is to encounter the world with a keen interest that is by turns plaintive and robustly humorous. . . . Right inside [the] gap of transition and loss, Norton locates a site of empathy and mystery.”

STAN MIR, Jacket2 “[Norton] prefers the communal to the individual, a preference that provides shelter to work without the burden of attention. Without a doubt, this communal impulse shapes the interrogative quality of Norton’s writing . . . Norton’s skillful writing in her journals shows the complexity of the AIDS legacy, and more acutely, how layered Norton’s difficult memories are concerning her family. The ability to weave these layers as honestly as Norton does in The Public Gardens is rare. How often is one willing to look hard at one’s family and milieu, write about them, and then publish it? Certainly, there are acres of memoirs published every year that proclaim penetrating introspection, but few are as probing as Norton’s.

“It’s startling how continually aware Norton is of her past, and impressive to see her determination to help shape a life that’s distinct to [her daughter], perhaps one less burdened by class anxiety and built-in Catholic guilt. The care that Norton takes with each of her subjects in The Public Gardens — the feminine, art making, and family life to name a few — ought to have much influence on her audience . . . Her book is an achievement built on her years of quietly working in the background, which is to say this book is a testament to patience.”


The Public Gardens went through three printings and appeared three times on Small Press Distribution’s bestseller list. In 2012, it was one of five finalists, along with books by Carl Phillips and Dawn Lundy Martin, for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry (though it’s half prose). John Keene wrote about The Public Gardens (and excerpts from Wite Out) on his blog. C. D. Wright included a quote from the title poem, “The Public Gardens,” in her last book of poems/essays.
BOSTON, city of poets
including BILL CORBETT.
Read Sebastian Smee's profile of "The Man Who Nourished Boston's Literary Scene"