"Everything Faces All Ways At Once" Release Party Recap, Now With Video!

Since Zulema Renee Summerfield has such a long-winded name, I'm going to refer to her as ZRS for the remainder of this blog-post. And if the remainder of this blog-post feels like a recurring set of acronym-plugs, trust your powers of observation because you aren't imagining it (how shameless of me). Oh, and since I haven't mentioned it yet, WE ALL HAD AN AWESOME NIGHT LAST THURSDAY at Space Gallery. Thank you to everyone who came to see ZRS read from her debut collection Everything Faces All Ways At Once (otherwise known as EFAWAO) published by Fourteen Hills Press. (If you missed out, copies are available at Small Press Distribution. If you want to read coverage of the event in Golden Gate [X]Press, check it out here.)

The book is amazing. For those of us who went to the book release before seeing its contents, we were blown away. Buy one today. Yoko Ono herself added visual cleavage to the event space (her sexy posters hung on the walls everywhere). It also made for a funny, anecdotal conversation-topic throughout the evening.

For example, ZRS has a section on her website that says, "Yoko Ono called." When Zulema rose to the mic, she explained that this is an ongoing fiction of hers. Within her hopeful logic, she feels that by saying it, it will happen. So in order to somehow make this phone-call manifest and get an endorsement to happen, you can send Yoko's fan-club a message. Let them know that ZRS, a unique and noteworthy author, would like to connect and to make Ono's acquaintance.

The warm-up readers included none other than DWL (D.W. Lichtenberg) and PO (Peter Orner). How did Zulema get these famous authors to come and join her, and why? DWL was last year's Michael Rubin Book Award Winner for his book of poetry, The Ancient Book of Hip. PO has been not only a creative writing mentor of ZRS's at San Francisco State University, he was written in, as a character-of-sorts to several of the "dreams" in ZRS's book, EFAWAO. He is also the author of Esther Stories and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo.

Here are video excerpts of their warm-up readings:

ZRS's book, EFAWAO is filled with Fictions and Dreams (F&Ds). This might make you inquire, what isn't made of these things? Well, for example, a sandwich is not only made of F&Ds, it is also made of two similar outer parts containing an inner part. This book keeps to the realm of F&Ds. One of her stories included a visual cue to incorporate a pun that appeared in the text: "Impaired" vs. "Im-PEAR-ed." This particular "fiction" involved a pear-truck driver.

Because I know I'm leaving a lot to the imagination, I've included a few video excerpts to help you see how exceptional the work really is:

ZRS had many of her friends and family members in the audience, including people who have greatly missed her presence in the community of San Francisco since she moved to Canada.

Among them were her best friend, who helped her with book-signings, and her father, the dignified man with the pipe in his mouth. In addition, each and every member of the 14 Hills staff attended, as well as former staff members. In fact, a whole slice of the Bay Area literary community came to celebrate. Space Gallery catered to the crowd with a lovely selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Next on our calendar is the release party for Fourteen Hills Vol. 17, Issue 1. Save the date of December 16, and join us at Coffee Bar at 7 pm. There will be comedy. There will be drinks and readings. There may even be Brian Boitano. You won’t want to miss it.

-Erica Eller, Fourteen Hills staff


Space Gallery + Book Release + Two Fabulous Readers + Yoko Ono (?)

It’s November 4, and Fourteen Hills is throwing a righteous party. The celebration is in honor of Zulema Renee Summerfield’s new book Everything Faces All Ways at Once. Every year, one promising writer from San Francisco State University is chosen for the Michael Rubin First Book Award, published by Fourteen Hills Press. This year the honor goes to a collection that resists all labels other than "awesome."

If you happen to be on the fence about coming to the Space Gallery tonight (for any inadequate excuses like the onset of winter encouraging your already hermit-like, antisocial tendencies) there are an overwhelming number of reasons you should motivate.

First of all, you get a copy of a remarkable book and get to support an emerging writer’s success, which is win/win. Zulema describes her award-winning work as “a collection of flash fiction and dreams.”

"One minute they're sporting monocles...and the next they're drunk and rowdy and throwing patio furniture off the roof...but in this and all things, they seek the nature of truth" quotes contest judge Terese Svoboda. Everything Faces All Ways at Once is an utterly fresh, unpredictable tour de force.

There is also much speculation about the involvement of Yoko Ono. Conspiracy theories revolve around Yoko’s interest in blurbing the book and other matters of manifestation that you will only find answers to at the release party. For background on the unique relationship between writer and artist, check out Zulema’s website to learn about her quest to get in contact with Yoko.

Then there’s the venue, the Space Gallery. If you have been, you need no further explanation. If not, do not miss this opportunity to check out a landmark of San Francisco culture. There is plenty of room, a bar downstairs, and the perfect space to host literary events and parties. Last year we held the release party here for D.W. Lichtenberg’s debut collection The Ancient Book of Hip. Needless to say, everyone had a great time, and copies of Lichtenberg’s sold-out collection are now a much coveted, hard-to-come-by commodity.

Last, and certainly not least, the aforementioned D.W. Lichtenberg (2009 Michael Rubin Book Award winner) will be making a guest appearance at tonight’s event. D.W., or Dan as we know him, is the current managing editor of La Petite Zine and is “excited to pass the torch to Zulema.”

Interesting, fun, and good-looking people, exploring the power of positive thinking, will gather tonight at the Space Gallery. Who knows, maybe even Yoko will drop by.

Space Gallery. 1141 Polk St. 7pm. Join us. RSVP on Facebook.

-Kelly McNerney, Fourteen Hills staff


10 Questions for Zulema Renee Summerfield, the 2010 Michael Rubin Book Award Winner

Although she recently moved to Vancouver, author Zulema Renee Summerfield will be back in San Francisco this Thursday Nov. 4 to celebrate the release of her debut collection, Everything Faces All Ways at Once. Join us at 7 pm at the Space Gallery on Polk Street to pick up a copy of her book and hear selections from this new work from Fourteen Hills Press.

To prepare for the big event, we asked Zulema a few questions about her past, her dreams, and the realities of being a Canadian. Enjoy.

1. How did you get your fantastic name?

Ninth-grade Spanish class, baby! The teacher was handing out Spanish names and I said "What do you have that starts with a 'Z'?" I used it as a nickname for a long time and after a while it just kind of stuck. I actually prefer it over my legal name now.

2. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in good ol' Redlands, California. A nice little town. My parents split up when I was young, and I quickly gained a whole slew of new family members -- step-folk and siblings. I wrote my first story when I was fourteen, about a girl who lives on a planet with no rain. Her only recourse in this dry land is to listen to her rainstick. Pretty lame. I think I stole the idea from Ray Bradbury. So thank you, Ray Bradbury. Thank you.

3. Tell us about your manuscript, the 2010 Michael Rubin Book Award winner.

Everything Faces All Ways at Once: Fictions and Dreams came in fits and starts over the past two or three years. I took a flash fiction course with Barbara Tomash as an undergrad at SF State and it changed my life. (If it's being offered and you can take it, do so! I promise you will love it.) The fiction pieces span back to the start of my graduate career and range in tone and theme.

In terms of the dreams, a few years back I read a story by Roberto Bolano in the New Yorker. It was the first time I had read a dream sequence that was written as a dream -- the syntax and tone and shifts in narrative precisely matched the experience of dreaming, and I wanted to try that. So many dream stories read as flat and boring. I wanted to try to write my dreams as I had dreamt them. I hope I succeeded. Now that my book is being published, I feel honored, humbled, and completely stoked out of my mind. It's a lovely feeling.

4. What’s the difference between fictions and dreams?

The difference is everything, and nothing at all.

5. If you had to describe your book in four words, what would those words be and why?

"Yoko Ono blurbed it!" I'm trying to get Yoko Ono to call and offer to blurb my book. (Read more about it here.)

6. Tell me about Rene Magritte and your relationship to him.

Rene Magritte and I went to prom together. He tried to get in my pants.

That's a total lie.

I've always been fascinated, intrigued, and completely floored by Magritte's work. Those paintings where the figure is facing away from the viewer? Freakin' brilliant. His "Perspective" coffin paintings are hilarious and poignant. I love stuff like that -- art that is clever in a not-irritating way, stuff that makes you laugh and think. (I'm looking at you here, Yoko.)

Here's a true story: Years ago, I had a dream that I was at an outdoor wedding party. There was a pond in the yard, and in the pond were a group of birds made entirely of leaves. Live birds, made of leaves. At the time, I'd never seen Magritte's The Natural Graces, but a few weeks later I went to a showing of his work at the SF MOMA, and guess what was hanging on the wall? Cheesey as it is to say, there's been a connection for me to his work for a long time, a connection I can't always explain. And I would have gone to prom with him, if only he'd asked.

7. Did you have any of the dreams you write about? Was it scary? (I’m thinking of “Rattlesnakes!” here.) What is your favorite dream and why?

All of the dreams are real dreams I had. Most of them were narratives; some (like "dream of when we were the same") were sentences that I dreamt. The rattlesnakes dream was scary (thank you for asking) while I was dreaming it -- but then, as often happens, you wake up and you realize that scary equals hilarious, so the goal was to try to get that down.

My favorite one is "dream of change we can believe in." I'm going to send a copy to Barack Obama and hope he writes back. That kid in the dream, Ricky Ramos, he's a real guy, my first "true love" -- I dream about him all the time. I'm still trying to figure out a way to write to him without sounding creepy: "Hey, remember me? I dream about you all the time." Of course, it's not really him, just the idea of him. He's just a metaphor for something else floating around in my head. Poor guy...

8. What are you working on now?

I'm writing a YA novel about grief (fun for all ages!), and also working on revising/editing a whole slew of short fiction and creative non-fiction pieces. I'm also trying to get Yoko Ono to call. Did I say that? I want Yoko Ono to call.

9. Do you feel like a Canadian yet? When will you know you’re a real Canadian?

When I'm nicer and own hockey equipment.

10. Imagine: Yoko Ono is calling you right now, but you’re on the other line and can’t answer her call. How does it feel?

There's no way in hell I would not answer Yoko Ono's call. This question is ridiculous.

11. Bonus question! Terese Svoboda says your work "has a point and it's fixed like this in space, but also it's shifting … to pierce right through your skeptical, unbelieving, tender human heart." How did you achieve this feat? As fellow writers and fans, any tips or hints you can give would be much appreciated.

Gosh, tips? Write, write, write, write, write, and then write some more. Read anything and everything. Read it slow. Read it again. Also, if you're a student at SF State, take full advantage of your time there. The halls are swarming with inspired, brilliant, incredibly talented people. They will change your life if you let them.

Thanks, Zulema. We’re counting down the hours until Thursday.
-Leanne Milway, managing editor, Fourteen Hills