Join us on Wednesday, May 10 at 7pm PT when Francesca Bell celebrates the release of her book, What Small Sound, with Benjamin Gucciardi and Amanda Moore at 9th Ave!
Masks Encouraged for In-Person Attendance
Or watch online
Praise for What Small Sound
"A moving and musical set of poetic works." —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Francesca Bell’s book What Small Sound is gorgeous, raw, and disarmingly honest beginning to end. Her poems encompass the scope of her life, her family’s life, plus her generous and empathetic assessment of the larger world. She writes of a struggle to be “normal” in the fiery, broken, unpredictable chaos she sees around her. With skill and passion, she speaks of love, of rape, of deafness, or of holding still for a tarantula, of why she doesn’t drink, of who left fingerprints on the bullets of the Las Vegas shooter, or of a mammogram that made her think of the Mars rover. Two quotes of hers from very different poems are unforgettable: “I can’t navigate to a life of before / and keep falling face-flat against after.” And still: “I want to feel what’s next / curled inside me, tight as fists.” Read this book. You will keep wanting to find what’s after, and you won’t forget any of it.—Susan Terris, author of Familiar Tense
Francesca Bell’s poems fish wonder and gratitude and eros from a world brushed by grief and illness and violence. I celebrate this poet’s tender commitments to remaining open, especially after loss and even when tragedy triggers an instinct to shelter or retreat. In this way, Bell turns our degrees of separation into songs for contact. The poetic praying found in What Small Sound feels like the grace our moment needs.—Geffrey Davis, author of Night Angler
About What Small Sound
With unwavering tenderness and ferocity, Bell examines the perils and peculiarities of womanhood, motherhood, and our difficult, shared humanity.
Francesca Bell’s second collection of poems, What Small Sound, interrogates what it means to be a mother in a country where there are five times as many guns as children; female in a country where a woman is raped every two minutes; and citizen of a world teeming with iniquities and peril. In poems rich in metaphor and music and unflinching in their gaze, Bell offers us an exacting view of the audiologist’s booth and the locked ward as she grapples with the gradual loss of her own hearing and the mental illness spreading its dark wings over her family. This is a book of plentiful sorrows but also of small and sturdy comforts, a book that chronicles the private, lonely life of the body as well as its tender generosities. What Small Sound wrestles with some of the broadest, most complicated issues of our time and also with the most fundamental issue of all: love. How it shelters and anchors us. How it breaks us and, ultimately, how it pieces us back together.
About the Writers
Francesca Bell is a poet and translator. Her debut collection, Bright Stain (Red Hen Press 2019), was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Julie Suk Award. Her work appears widely in literary journals, and she has received a Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle and an Honorable Mention in Nimrod's Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. Bell grew up in Washington and Idaho and did not complete middle school, high school, or college. She lives with her family in Novato, CA.
Benjamin Gucciardi is the author of the chapbook I Ask My Sister’s Ghost (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press). His poems have appeared in AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Harvard Review, New Ohio Review, Orion Magazine, Southern Indiana Review, and other journals. He has received BOOTH’s Prize for Unexpected Literature, the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize from Harpur Palate, the Trifecta Poetry Prize from Iron Horse Literary Review and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize, as well as awards and fellowships from the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, Jentel Foundation, PLAYA, and Artsmith. He also works with refugee and immigrant youth in Oakland, California, through Soccer Without Borders, an organization he founded in 2006.
Amanda Moore is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in journals and anthologies including Best New Poets, ZZYZVA, and Mamas and Papas: On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting; a poetry editor at Women’s Voices for Change; and a reader for VIDA Review and Bull City Press. She is also a high school English teacher and lives by the ocean in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco with her husband and daughter.
Francesca Bell's second collection of poems, What Small Sound, interrogates what it means to be a mother in a country where there are five times as many guns as children; female in a country where a woman is raped every two minutes; and citizen of a world teeming with iniquities and peril.
Winner of the 2020 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize
West Portal is the name of the neighborhood in San Francisco, California, where poet Benjamin Gucciardi grew up. It is also one of the names of the Pillars of Heracles—the entryway to the afterworld.
“A rare feat for any book of poems, let alone a debut, in that the lines, wrought with such deft precision and care, mark the sum total of a life richly lived and felt at the seat of poetry...These poems care, first and foremost, for what they write of and through, which is a much needed—yet increasingly rare—achievement.” -- Ocean Vuong