Program Type: 
Community Engagement
YBCA:YOU Exclusive
Tea with Tea

a Monthly Book Club hosted by Michelle Tea

July 21, 2012
Youth Arts Lounge


YBCA:YOU Exclusive
Tea with Tea : a Monthly Book Club hosted by Michelle Tea
Youth Arts Lounge
Only available to YOUers. Not a YOUer? Learn how to become one »

This program and many other amazing events are FREE and exclusive to YBCA:You participants. Want to be a part of it? Find out more »

YOUers join nationally acclaimed and art-obsessed writer Michelle Tea for this high tea book club! Michelle Tea selects books to complement YBCA programs and facilitates a discussion while food artist Yasmin Golan curates a six-part tea service series! Get the book, read it, and bring your copy to this exclusive high tea book club for YOUers only!

Limited seats! Reserve your ticket now!

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  • The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination
    Oct 20, 2012 1:00pm – 3:00pm
    Youth Arts Lounge

    October’s book selection is Sarah Schulman's provocative new book, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination.

    Sarah Schulman is a playwright, novelist and journalist. Her plays include Carson McCullers (2002) and Manic Flight Reaction (2005), both produced at Playwrights Horizons, and the theatrical adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Enemies, A Love Story. She has written the novels The Child (2007), Shimmer (1998), Rat Bohemia (1995), Empathy (1992), People in Trouble (1990), After Delores (1988), Girls, Visions and Everything (1986), and The Sophie Horowitz Story (1984). Her nonfiction work includes STAGESTRUCK: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America (1998) and My American History: Gay and Lesbian Life During the Reagan/Bush Years (1994). She is one of two coordinators of the ACTUP Oral History Project and has received awards from the Guggenheim for Playwriting, the Fulbright for Judaic Studies, in addition to two American Library Association Book Awards (fiction and nonfiction) and three New York Foundation for the Arts fiction fellowships. She was also a finalist for the Prix de Rome. Ms. Schulman is currently a Professor of English at The College of Staten Island, CUNY, and an Associate at the Goddard College MFA program.

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Artist Bio

Michelle Tea
In 1994, Tea co-founded the legendary and long-running Sister Spit all-female open mics; from 1997 to 2003, Sister Spit conducted several national tours that called attention to the City’s emerging lesbian artists who performed to sold-out houses across America. Tea has published 5 novels, a book of poetry, numerous short stories, hundreds of Bay Area newspaper articles and has edited several anthologies on fashion, class, queer writing and personal narrative. Her novel Valencia won the 2000 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction, a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award for Literature, and the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation award for early-career female writers.

In May 2003, she founded queer literary organization RADAR Production, of which she is Artistic Director. Tea’s article “Transmissions from Camp Trans” was published in Best American Non-required Reading 2004, edited by Dave Eggers. In 2006, both the SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian’s reader polls named Tea the Bay Area’s best writer. Her most recent novel, Rose of No Man’s Land, has been translated into Italian. She has received four Individual Artist grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission. In addition to her prolific literary output, Tea has curated/or emceed more than 1000 Bay Area spoken word events over the past fourteen years that have enabled emerging queer writers and performers to reach audiences of a significant size.

In spring 2007, Tea re-launched Sister Spit: Next Generation, an all-gendered and trans-inclusive national tour that presents queer and queer-influenced artists before audiences in universities, art galleries, performance venues, bookstores and community spaces throughout North America.

Her 2009 article “The Gossip Takes Paris” was selected for Best Music Writing 2010 and, with The Gossip’s Beth Ditto, Michelle Tea wrote Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir (forthcoming on Spiegel & Grau.) Her upcoming books include a Young Adult fantasy and an apocalyptic romance tome.

Yasmine Golan
Yasmin Golan in an interdisciplinary culinary artist living in the Bay Area who studied history in university, then artisanal cooking at restaurants, before deciding to mix it up with art, literature, and delight. She can be found foraging, gardening, and beekeeping locally at




September’s Book Club selection is Zipper Mouth by Laurie Weeks.

In this extraordinary debut novel, Laurie Weeks captures the freedom and longing of life on the edge in New York City. Ranting letters to Judy Davis and Sylvia Plath, an unrequited fixation on a straight best friend, exalted nightclub epiphanies, devastating morning-after hangovers — Zipper Mouth chronicles the exuberance and mortification of a junkie, and transcends the chaos of everyday life.

"Laurie Weeks's Zipper Mouth is a short tome of infinitesimal reach, a tiny star to light the land."
— Eileen Myles, author of Inferno

"Brash, exuberant…recalls Naked Lunch and imparts a fresh, lyrical sympathy...Dreamy, impressionistic, and ecstatic love story.”
Publishers Weekly


About August’s book club pick, Zazen:
Somewhere in Della's consumptive, industrial wasteland of a city, a bomb goes off. It is not the first, and will not be the last. Reactions to the attacks are polarized. Police activity intensifies. Della's revolutionary parents welcome the upheaval but are trapped within their own insular beliefs. Her activist restaurant co-workers, who would rather change their identities than the world around them, resume a shallow rebellion of hair-dye, sex parties, and self-absorption. As those bombs keep inching closer, thudding deep and real between the sounds of katydids fluttering in the still of the city night, and the destruction begins to excite her. What begins as terror threats called in to greasy bro-bars across the block boils over into a desperate plot, intoxicating and captivating Della and leaving her little chance for escape. Zazen unfolds as a search for clarity soured by irresolution and catastrophe, yet made vital by the thin, wild veins of imagination run through each escalating moment, tensing and relaxing, unfurling and ensnaring. Vanessa Veselka renders Della and her world with beautiful, freighting, and phantasmagorically intelligent accuracy, crafting from their shattered constitutions a perversely perfect mirror for our own selves and state.


From the New York Times—

Reinaldo Arenas, an exiled Cuban writer who was suffering from AIDS, committed suicide in 1990 in New York. This was a dramatic ending to a dramatic life, the final flight of someone who was always escaping -- first from abandonment and neglect as a child, later from stark poverty and finally from sexual and political persecution. Arenas was jailed several times in Cuba by Fidel Castro's Government and had his manuscripts confiscated often. Once he was locked up on a vague morals charge and subjected to countless indignities and cruelties, including torture. He arrived in the United States during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, the headlong flight from Cuba of more than a hundred thousand people, which Arenas describes vividly in his memoir, "Before Night Falls."

Before Night Falls is an autobiography that covers the span of Arenas's life, from early childhood to his suicide letter blaming Castro for all of his calamities, including his death. It is an absorbing book, with the fascination one finds in stories by survivors of death camps or in lives of the saints. Arenas is betrayed by friends, spied on by fellow writers working for state security, beaten by lovers and jailers, coerced into signing vile confessions, forced to labor in stifling cane fields and compelled to "reform" sexually and politically. He is such a pariah that he must seek escape in the most spectacular ways, from an attempt to swim across Guantanamo Bay to reach the United States naval base there to braving the Florida Straits in an inner tube. All his tries are thwarted by vigilant authorities and informers. Once, fleeing the police, he hides for weeks in Lenin Park, a Communist theme park on the outskirts of Havana. There he spends his time writing the first version of these memoirs (his manuscript is later confiscated) and reading Homer, a flight from reality that necessarily ends every day as night falls (hence the title of his book). To lure people into turning him in, the police announce that a C.I.A. agent and rapist is on the loose. Arenas is careful not to be seen by anyone, but is eventually caught and barely saved from a lynch mob. In episodes such as these Arenas appears as a kind of Jean Valjean, and his book reads like a romantic adventure novel.



From San Francisco Chronicle
For a man who relishes his reputation as the Pope of Trash, John Waters has a strikingly catholic set of interests. In his freewheeling new book, Role Models, the writer-director of such gleefully tasteless films as Pink Flamingos, Pecker, and Polyester, as well as the original Hairspray, praises the thorny novels of Ivy Compton-Burnett, decodes drawings by the abstract artist Cy Twombly, celebrates Tennessee Williams, and pleads for the beleaguered cause of psychotherapy.

"I believe in the talking cure and you should, too," writes Waters. "Freud was right about a lot of stuff but these days insurance companies won't even pay for therapy."

Fans of Waters eager for a lowbrow fix need not despair. Some of the best material in Role Models is devoted to gay pornography, the grittiest bars and bar owners in his hometown of Baltimore, the Manson family, and the sort of disarmingly unfiltered confessions that capture Waters' singular blend of weirdness and guileless honesty.

Read more »



Henrietta Lacks was a poor black woman diagnosed with cervical cancer in Baltimore in 1951. Admitted to the segregated, 'colored' wing of John Hopkins for treatment, a tissue sample was taken without consent. This tissue sample went on to become the first 'immortal' cell line – a cell sample that reproduces endlessly, something that scientists had been trying to create in culture for quite some time. Named 'Hela,' the cell line made careers and spawned a million-dollar industry; it was an instrumental tool in curing polio, has been important component of cancer research, and is still alive today, crucial to science.

Rebecca Skloot, a young science writer, had been haunted by the origin of the Hela cell line ever since first learning of itin school. Who was Hela? Where did these cells come from? Why didn't anyone know? The writer set out to learn everything she could about this woman, and the resulting book, ten years in the making, is an epic story of medical ethics, scientific miracles, racial exploitation in America, a history of cell culture quackery, and a look at the legacy of poverty in poor black communities today. Reading like a mystery, a historical novel and a family drama, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks takes the reader into the Lacks’s own life, beginning with her roots on a tobacco plantation in Maryland, and into the life of her family – most compellingly her stressed-out, paranoid, intensely passionate youngest daughter, who never knew her mother. You’ll watch the history of modern medicine unfold before your eyes through the lens of Hela, a cell line that replicates so aggressively it has contaminated every other cell bank on the planet.

Taking us from the ‘50s – when Henrietta danced to jukeboxes and doctors injected uninformed volunteers with cancer – to today, when Henrietta's descendants struggle in poverty and ill health and doctors can and do take tissue samples from patients without their knowledge, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a compulsively readable piece of non-fiction that reads like a novel, and asks as many questions as it answers. Best get reading – we are going to have a lot to talk about!"

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Lam Research

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

Community Engagement and Youth Education Programs are made possible in part by:
The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Sato Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Panta Rhea Foundation, The Kimball Foundation, U.S. Bank, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Special Innovation Projects in 12-13 supported, in part, by generous grants from:
Association of Performing Arts Presenters and MetLife Foundation All-In: Re-imagining Community Participation Program, and EmcArts’ Innovation Lab for Museums in partnership with AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums and MetLife Foundation