SAN FRANCISCO — “Uncommon Ground: BIPOC Journeys to Creative Activism,” edited by Shizue Seigel, will be published this month by Peace Press.

The 284-page book contains prose, poetry and visual art by 22 leading Bay Area writers and artists of color responding to these questions:

• What inspired you to pursue art, creative writing, and activism?

• What are cultural, spiritual and community values?

• What sustains your creative practice in turbulent times?

Contributors: Faith Adiele, Salma Arastu, Adrian Arias, Avotcja, Lorraine Bonner, Karla Brundage, Charles Dixon, Rafael Jesús González, Mark Harris, C.K. Itamura, Tehmina Khan, Tureeda Mikell, Josué Rojas, Wanda Sabir, Shizue Seigel, Sriram Shamasunder, MD, Kim Shuck, Kimi Sugioka, Elizabeth Travelslight, Twin Walls Mural Company (Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong), André Le Mont Wilson.

Contributors drew from roots in Native America, Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Muslim world. They wrote from lived experience as teachers, journalists, poets, muralists, physicians, culture bearers, and survivors of poverty, cancer, sexual abuse, and multi-generational trauma. The breadth and depth of their experience brings authenticity and humanity to issues of equity and engagement. They create not just for themselves but to inspire others.

Shizue Seigel

“60% of Bay Area residents are people of color. We feed, care for, educate, illuminate and inspire, yet remain overlooked,” says Seigel, whose Japanese American family lost everything to World War II incarceration.

“This book is emblematic of the struggles, triumphs, and the work we carry on our backs as Brown and Black creatives in this time and place. As essential as the act of breathing, it needs to sit prominently on your table.” — Truong Tran, “Book of the Other,” 2022 American Book Award

Upcoming Events

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2 to 4 p.m.: Book launch at San Francisco Public Library Koret Auditoruium, 39 Grove St., San Francisco, featuring 14 writers and artists.

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 7 to 9 p.m.: Bird & Beckett, 653 Chenery St., San Francisco. Readings by Avotcja, Tehmina Khan, Shizue Seigel and Elizabeth Travelslight.

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2 to 4 p.m.: Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St., Suite 290, Oakland. Readings, art slideshow and interactive creative writing. Sponsored by Eastwind Books and UC Berkeley.

Wednesay, Nov. 9, 6:30 to 9 p.m.: Medicine for Nightmares, 3036 24th St., San Francisco. Readings, art and open mic with Avotcja, Mark Harris, C.K. Itamura, Tehmina Khan, Tureeda Mikell, Josue Rojas, Sriram Shamasunder, Shizue Seigel, Kimi Sugioka, and Josiah Luis Alderete.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7 to 8:30 p.m.: Green Apple on the Park, 1231 9th Ave., San Francisco. Readings by Faith Adiele, Karla Brundage, Shizue Seigel and Elizabeth Travelslight.


About the Editor: Shizue Seigel, founder/director of Write Now! SF Bay, is a third-generation Japanese American writer, visual artist and community activist. Her work is informed by life experiences segregated Baltimore, occupied Japan, Skid Rows, and sharecropping camps, corporate advertising, and needle exhanges. A Jefferson Award winner and VONA/Voices fellow, she has helped tell community stories for 25 years, working with public housing residents, the unhoused, formerly incarcerated Japanese Americans, and emerging and established BIPOC writers and artists.

Her seven books include “In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment,” “My First Hundred Years: The Memoirs of Nellie Nakamura,” and five Write Now! anthologies. Her poetry and prose have been widely published. Her papers are archived at the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, UC Santa Barbara.

“At the heart of Shizue’s work is a deep commitment to creating communities of truth telling, liberation, and connection. She is tireless in creating spaces where creativity and connection can be nurtured and supported.”  — Sandra Bass, Ph.D., UC Berkeley associate dean of students and executive director of the Public Service Center

Write Now! SF Bay, estabished in 2015 for and by people of color, builds multicultural solidarity though writing workshops, readings, exhibitions, and publication opportunities for writers and artists of color. It brings together established and emerging writers/artists across race, class, age, and other barriers. The diversity of its work reflects the complex realities of local people of color. Over 500 writers and artists have participated in Write Now!’s programs through the San Francisco Public Library, community partners, and independent bookstores.

Write Now! SF Bay anthologies include:

• “Essential Truths: The Bay Area in Color,” with 130 contributors reflecting the vitality of Bay Area communities of color (2021)

• “Civil Liberties United,” including poetry, essays, street murals and art of 100 writers of color reflecting on the vital necessity of civil liberties for all (2019)

• “Endangered Species, Enduring Values,” featuring 70 writers and artists of color with dynamic prose, poetry and artwork reflecting heritage and spirituality (2018)

• “Standing Strong! Fillmore and Japantown,” celebrating the enduring spirit of African-American and Japanese American communities in San Francisco’s Western Addition (2016)

Write Now! is fiscally sponsored by Intersection for the Arts and supported by the California Arts Council, Literary Arts Emergency Fund and National Book Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Art and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Past funders include Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Academy of American Poets, California Humanities, Center for Cultural Innovation, and Community Vision.

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