The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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False Starts: Aaron Shurin, Allison Cobb and Mg Roberts

7-9pm, readings start promptly at 7:30pm
$8 entry (no one turned away for lack of funds), free for members
Reserve seats: member login or guest registration

Aaron Shurin

What about those trees — cedars — so high — I mean what if I couldn’t, or they weren’t, you know, in the park where I’m so small, to see them streaking up, and all their strategies for anchoring and sponging sun — where I can be a watcher, so small in the shade — with their green-chambered hearts and their high-rising sap and the wind in my ears with my name on its wrists — so wide — What if that, What if those — where I slept outside under a canopy of breathing, it seemed — to be small in the fold while the giant old cedar stretched and creaked…

Allison Cobb
From “Nature poem”

I always only have that one snake word
to speak—bird a flash of reptile bones
pecking around inside me—all those
mobile mouths—the diaper with the Disney
princess on its ass—broken condom—
hypodermic—little seed burst
junk tree—filthy feet—here’s a picture
of your future, nature: I was raised
inside a lab to pipe your
organ out in your
last church, by which
I mean je suis the swollen
superfunded site
of total want

Mg Roberts
excerpt from Anemal Uter Meck

the book fell open at an obtuse angle:

within margins days fall
into a series of mistranslation

                                                                                                days fall                                                                                                                                    into living

misplace breath

Aaron Shurin is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, most recently Flowers & Sky: Two Talks, just out from Entre Rios Books, and The Skin of Meaning: Collected Literary Essays and Talks (University of Michigan Press, 2016). His writing has appeared in over forty national and international anthologies, from the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry to Italy’s Nuova Poesia Americana: San Francisco. His work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Gerbode Foundation. Shurin is the former Director of the MFA Writing Program at the University of San Francisco, where he is now Professor Emeritus.


Allison Cobb is the author of After We All Died (Ahsahta Press); Green-Wood (Factory School); Plastic: an autobiography (Essay Press EP series); and Born2( Chax Press). The poet Carolyn Forché calls After We All Died “inventive, visionary, hard-thought, and impossible to put down.” Cobb works for the Environmental Defense Fund and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-curates The Switch reading, art, and performance series.

Born in Subic Bay, Philippines, Mg Roberts is working hard on her bark. She is author of not so, sea (Durga Press, 2014) and Anemal Uter Meck (Black Radish, 2017). Her work has appeared in Anomaly, Web Conjunctions, Elderly and elsewhereShe co-edited the anthology Nests and Strangers: On Asian Women Poets (Kelsey Street Press) and is currently co-editing Responses, New Writing, Flesh; an anthology on the urgency of avant-garde writing written for and by writers of color. She lives in Oakland with her three daughters, two hens, one puppy, and very awesome cat.

False starts is curated by Steven Seidenberg
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Earlier Event: August 12
Other Forms of Light
Later Event: September 24
Stranded presents: Grouper / Sarah Davachi