Past Events

Oakland Book Festival 2016 Opening Gala

Friday, May 20th, 2016, 7pm - 10pm
Starline Social Club
2236 MLK Jr Way
Oakland, CA 94612

Please join the OBF staff and participating authors for our opening night gala on Friday, May 20th, at the Starline Social Club.

All proceeds from this event will support the Festival—keeping it free and open to the Oakland community. Funds will also help us bring out-of-town authors to the event, fund our youth programming, feed our day-of staff and volunteers, and build a robust website where we can share our panels digitally with the world at large.


Does the Secret Mind Whisper?: Celebrating Bob Kaufman, Poet

Monday, April 11th, 2016, 4pm
San Francisco Public Library
Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

An evening of poetry and music hosted by the Before Columbus Foundation, the Oakland Book Festival, and the African-American Center of the San Francisco Public Library.

The life and legacy of Bob Kaufman, one of the most innovative and exciting voices in American poetry of the late 20th century, is celebrated by a gathering of formidable talents. 

Anne Waldman, a towering presence in international arts and letters, one of the pre-eminent poets of our times, will be joined by African-American surrealist poet, playwright, and essayist Will Alexander, presenting original work as well as classics from Kaufman himself. 

Collaborating with both Waldman and Alexander will be multi-instrumentalists David Boyce on saxophones and Kevin Carnes on drums and various percussion. Boyce and Carnes have been among the most fertile and imaginative improvisers in the world of the legendary Broun Fellinis.

An (April) Fools' Open House and Indiegogo Launch

Friday, April 1st, 2016, 5pm - 9pm
Oakland Book Festival Offices
2301 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA

Join us at Oakland Book Festival Headquarters for a cocktail to celebrate the launch of a new Festival season and our $25,000 Indiegogo Campaign. Meet the founders and organizers, and find out more about how you can get involved at this year's event.

Fashion: An evening of song, dance, and performance inspired by the 2015 Fall issue of Lapham’s Quarterly

Saturday, November 14th, 2015, 8pm
Starline Social Club
2236 MLK Jr Way
Oakland, CA 94612

Join Lapham's Quarterly for a gorgeous supper club style cabaret at the Starline Social Club. Sit and sip cocktails as you watch the "Fashion" issue of Lapham's Quarterly come to life through songs, readings, and dance. Not only will the performers be in costume, everyone is encouraged to come dressed as their favorite historical fashionista, or embody the era of your choice: France in the 1920s, New York in the 1940s, Venice in the 1700s, Morocco in the 1960s.

WATCH the Italian Futurists, Angela Carter, Coco Chanel, David Bowie, and Sappho bring to life the art and literature of fashion.
JOIN Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Kafka as they create tableaux vivants, moving images, and poses plastiques from the history of clothing, manners, and style.
MEET the Brothers Grimm, John Waters, Hera, Aphrodite, and Homer in costume and on the runway.
DRESS UP in something based on one of the readings or images from the "Fashion" issue of Lapham’s Quarterly and receive free admission.
RESERVE a booth for dinner or a cocktail table for this unforgettable, one-night-only Schönheitsabend.

“A person who sees only fashion in fashion is a fool.” 
—Honoré de Balzac, 1830

The Oakland Book Festival presents Before Columbus in Oakland: A Harvest of Multicultural Literature

Thursday, April 30th, 2015, 7pm
Laurel Book Store
1423 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

Justin Desmangles and Greil Marcus discuss multicultural literary work focused on the Bay Area and the role of the Before Columbus Foundation in its cultivation. Join us for what promises to be a vibrant and provocative discussion of our region's fertile and imaginative literary culture.

Justin Desmangles is Chairman of the board of directors of the Before Columbus Foundation. He is the creator of the critically acclaimed radio program “New Day Jazz,” now in its thirteenth year. His poetry and journalism have appeared in AmerarcanaBlack Renaissance NoireDrumvoices Revue, and Konch. He presently is collaborating with Roscoe Mitchell and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, as librettist, for an opera on the life of poet Bob Kaufman. 

Greil Marcus was born in San Francisco and lives in Oakland.  He is the author of Mystery Train (1975), Lipstick Traces (1989), and most recently The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs (2014).  Forthcoming this fall are Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations  and Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns 1986-2014.  With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America (2009).

Reading Oakland

Thursday, March 5th, 2015, 7pm
Cafe Van Kleef
1621 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94612

The Oakland Book Festival is thrilled to announce its launch event, Reading Oakland, to be held at Cafe Van Kleef on Thursday, March 5th at 7pm. This event will serve as a preamble to the Festival itself: free and open to the public, dedicated to the cultural commonwealth, and in celebration of Oakland’s rich history and sparkling promise. 

Short excerpts from literature set in and about Oakland will be read by Bay Area writers Vikram Chandra, Nayomi Munaweera, and Gary Kamiya and by representatives of the Festival's partnering institutions: Desley Brooks, City Councilmember; Zac Unger, Vice President of the Oakland Firefighters, Local 55; and C. J. Hirschfield, Executive Director of Fairyland. The readings will last for 45 minutes; the staff and supporters of the Oakland Book Festival will be there until the kind proprietors of Van Kleef throw us out. Don’t forget to tip your bartender!

We sincerely hope that you can join us as we inaugurate the Oakland Book Festival: Read. Debate. Celebrate.


Lead Image: VietNam War Protests, Lake Merritt Park, 1965. Courtesy of the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.