Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence (Beacon Press) | Mechanics' Institute

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Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence (Beacon Press)
An Evening of Readings and Panel Discussion

Edited by Brian Clements, Dean Rader and Alexandra Teague; Introduction by Colum McCann and Foreword by Gabrielle Giffords

Editors Dean Rader and Alexandra Teague are joined by acclaimed Bay Area poets and contributors Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, George Galvis, Pastor Michael McBride, and community leaders and advocates.

December 14, 2017 marks the 5th anniversary of the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Poet Brian Clements’s wife, a teacher there, survived that terrible day. Later, Clements had an idea for a poetry collection featuring poets and those most impacted by the crisis of gun violence in America. Dean Rader and Alexandra Teague were both working on a similar idea, and the three writers came together to edit this powerful collection.

Focused intensively on the crisis of gun violence in America, this volume brings together writing by some of our best-known poets. Each poem is followed by a response from a gun violence prevention activist, political figure, survivor, or concerned individual.


Moderator Dean Rader’s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was named by The Barnes & Noble Review as a Best Poetry Book of the year. Three new book projects—Suture, collaborative poems written with Simone Muench (Black Lawrence Press), Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon), and Bullets Into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, edited with Brian Clements & Alexandra Teague (Beacon)—all appeared in 2017. He writes regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, and The Kenyon Review. He is an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts and is a professor at the University of San Francisco.

Robert Hass served as poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007. He is the Distinguished Professor in Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include A Little Book on Form: An Exploration into the Formal Imagination of Poetry, What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, which won the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, Imagination, and the Natural World, and Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005, which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His deep commitment to environmental issues led him to found River of Words (ROW) , an organization that promotes environmental and arts education in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Brenda Hillman is the author of 10 collections of poetry, including Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (forthcoming from Wesleyan in 2018). Previous titles include Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2014, and Practical Water, which received the Los Angeles Times Prize for Poetry. She has also co-translated At Your Feet by Ana Cristina Cesar, forthcoming in 2018. With Patricia Dienstfrey, the collection The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood. She is the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry at St. Mary’s College.

In addition to her work as a freelance writer, editor, and translator, Jane Hirshfield has taught in the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars, at UC Berkeley, and at the University of San Francisco. She has been a visiting Poet-in-Residence at Duke University, the University of Alaska, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere, and has been the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. Her books of poetry include The Beauty: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), which was long listed for the National Book Award; Come, Thief (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011); After (HarperCollins, 2006); and Given Sugar, Given Salt (HarperCollins, 2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) is a native of San Francisco and has been active in ministry for over 20 years. He has served on a number of local and national task forces with the White House and Department of Justice regarding gun violence prevention, boys and men of color and police-community relationships. He is a regular guest on MSNBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera programs providing commentary for issues related to faith and racial justice. He is the lead Pastor at The Way Christian Center in Berkeley.

Alexandra Teague is the author of Mortal Geography, winner of the California Book Award for Poetry, and The Wise and Foolish Builders. Alexandra is an associate professor of poetry at the University of Idaho. 

​Mike McLively is senior staff attorney and director of Giffords Law Center’s Urban Gun Violence Initiative, where he oversees an effort to use policy mechanisms to support and promote evidence-based violence intervention strategies aimed at preventing gun violence in America’s most impacted communities. Mike authored Giffords Law Center’s groundbreaking 2016 report Healing Communities in Crisis and regularly speaks to state and local leaders on the need to address the day-to-day shootings that fuel America’s gun violence epidemic. He received his JD from the University of Virginia, where he served as an editor of the Virginia Law Review, and his BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photograph of Catherine StefaniCatherine Stefani is a City Hall veteran, gun violence prevention activist, and former prosecutor. Stefani has served as San Francisco’s County Clerk since 2016. She worked at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 2007-2016, for Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier and Mark Farrell. Previously she worked for San Jose Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, the California Department of Justice, and Speaker Herb Wesson of the California State Assembly. She was also a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County, where she argued 25 jury trials.  She is a leader and spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which aims to reform gun laws.

George Galvis, CURYJ Co-Founder and Executive Director, has for more than two decades promoted restorative justice and healing to address the violence plaguing Bay Area communities. Galvis holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies and a Master’s in City Planning from UC Berkeley where he was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow. He has been honored by the Bay Area News Group and Comcast as a “Hometown Hero” and is a 2013 recipient of the California Peace Prize from The California Wellness Foundation.

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