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Joseph Lease at City Lights Bookstore

In City Lights Bookstore, a quiet aura lingers inside the Poetry Room where, in a few moments, Joseph Lease will read from his new collection of poetry, The Body Ghost. His books are displayed on a small round table between a medium-sized podium and a rocking Poet’s Chair. In those silent moments, one could almost hear the voices escaping from the books lining the shelves all around the room. As people enter and take seats facing the podium, their enthusiastic conversations replace those lingering voices left behind by fellow poets. And when Joseph arrives, when he takes the podium and opens up the pages of his new collection, his voice rises and introduces the room to a new sound.

The Poetry Room is made for this moment. As Joseph reads his poems, his voice evokes rhythmic, urgent anthems conjuring a range of emotions that explore those caverns of the human condition, the ones experienced during life’s disorienting moments: death and mourning, profound love, and social constraints. The vulnerability between his words make room for a healing process. When Joseph reads his poem, "Rent is Theft," its title becomes a chant that emphasizes the space between social constraints and economic instability; his poem Night urges the necessity of speaking and being heard when caught up in a whirlwind of political and personal darkness; and The Body Ghost, broken up into three separate poems, underlines the common thread weaved throughout his collection, the search for a silver lining amongst hardships.

In the Poetry Room, Joseph leaves us with an evocative impression, not only in our minds but somewhere in our being; something there is stirring, healing.

The Body Ghost is Joseph Lease’s third poetry collection, amongst his other works are Testify and Broken World all published by Coffee House Press. As Peter Maravelis of City Lights Bookstore so precisely said, Joseph Lease is “one of our great literary treasures here in the Bay Area.”

Look for Joseph Lease’s The Body Ghost, coming June 5, 2018, and in Fourteen Hills Issue 24 forthcoming this Spring!

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