Arts Listings

Books: PEN Oakland Awards Honor Many Voices

Tuesday November 28, 2006

PEN Oakland’s 16th Annual Josephine Miles Literary Awards and 10th Annual Literary Censorship Award will be presented this Sunday at the Oakland Public Library. 

The event, hosted by authors Tennessee Reed and Lucha Corpi, is free and includes reception and booksigning with the authors.  

In addition to the literary awards, a lifetime achievement award will be given to Joyce Jenkins, publisher of the Bay Area’s Poetry Flash, and a Censorship Award to author and television news journalist Bill Moyers. 

“We started these awards because we noticed that many of the literary awards were not multi-cultural and mainly were given to men, and we wanted our awards to represent the Bay Area,” said Kim McMillon, PEN Oakland board member. “Some of the best writing talent in the world comes out of the Bay Area, and especially Oakland, with Jack London, Ishmael Reed, Gertrude Stein and many other women writers and people of color.” 

The award-winning authors, who come from various parts of the country, were chosen by the PEN Oakland board. 

This year’s award winners include four books of poems: 

• Mona Lisa Saloy’s Red Beans and Ricely Yours, which chronicles the author’s life in the 7th Ward in downtown New Orleans; 

• Jennifer Bishop’s Remain; 

• Richard Silberg’s Deconstruction of the Blues, and; 

• A.D. Winans’ This Land is Not My Land, which presents a soldier’s-eye view of American imperialism in Panama. 

“There is a real strong emphasis on poetry this year,” McMillon said. “You always go to the bookstores and try to find poetry and hear that poetry doesn’t sell. We wanted to focus on poetry because it’s not about selling, it about representing American literature and the excellence of multi-cultural literature. It is about looking at what is happening in America and our place in the world. It is a really wonderful opportunity to say hello to a lot of different genres and look at how we feel about life here.” 

Other award winners this year include: 

• Dave Hilliard’s Spirit of the Panther, which examines the life of the cofounder and leader of the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton; 

•Gerald Haslam’s Valley, which explores racism and environmental issues in California’s Central Valley; 

• Mike Madison’s, Blithe Tomato, which offers a view of the food industry from the viewpoint of a small-scale farmer in the Sacramento Valley; 

• Eric Gansworth’s Mending Skins, a novel. 

Joyce Jenkins will be honored with the group’s first ever Pen Oakland Lifetime Achievement Award for her work on behalf of the local and national literary community through Poetry Flash.  

“I’ve known Joyce Jenkins for 12 years and I know how hard Poetry Flash struggles,” McMillon said. “It’s in our backyard and it’s the best place we have to know what’s going on in the poetry scene. It’s a beautiful publication and it’s a shame that something so beautiful has to struggle so hard.” 

PBS television journalist Bill Moyers will receive the PEN Oakland Censorship Award for his work through attacks on his objectivity on the PBS program “NOW with Bill Moyers.” 

PEN Oakland, a Bay Area Chapter of the International Organization of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists was founded in 1989. Josephine Miles, in whose honor organization’s literary awards are presented, was poet, critic, and professor of English at the UC Berkeley.  


PEN Oakland’s 16th Annual Josephine Miles Literary Awards and 10th Annual Literary Censorship Award will be presented Sunday, Dec. 3, from 2 p.m.–5 p.m. at the Oakland Public Library Main Auditorium, 125 14th St., Oakland. 





By Mona Lisa Saloy 


My Daddy 

loved three families 

ours was the second. 

He outlived two wives, 

buried them in a flow of 

tears and beer 

long as the Mississippi. 

Mostly, I remember lots of 

hugs and kisses, snuggling 

next to Daddy during the  

nightly news on TV after 

dinner daily, or him 

dancing with my dark chocolate Mother 

all night at the Autocrat Club 

on St. Bernard Avenue. 

On Fridays in season, we had crawfish 

by the pound, oyster loaves, or 

hot sausage sandwiches at Mulés Restaurant 

with draft beer we took home in 

a stainless steel pot that 

sealed like a canning jar. 

Springtime brought cawain, 

and daddy’s expert taking of its head, 

then gently removing the neck gland— 

a purple thing of poison if burst. 

He hung the headless turtle, it still 

kicking for three days on the wooden fence, 

even its head snapped for hours in the grass. 

Never lost a cawain, its 21 meat flavors tasting 

of beef, pork, fish, and then some. 

The turtle eggs, Mother’s favorite, promised 

youth, health, and sexy eyes, Daddy said. 

When he shooed aunts, uncles, and Mother 

out of the kitchen, he blended herbs for 

sauté and his special roux before stewing. 

Big Sunday breakfasts with galait— 

stove-top shortening bread—and homemade 

cocoa, omelets whipped just so, to let Mother  

sleep late 

then wake us for church. he wouldn’t come, 

just said “pray for me, and I’ll get to glory.” 

Go long so. 



From Mona Lisa Saloy’s Red Beans and Ricely Yours, recipient of a 2006 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award.