Sponge Talks + "Office Hours" October 2017-January 2018

Sponge is a poetry reading series in Oakland, CA, run by Caleb Beckwith, Turner Canty, and Kate Robinson. It seeks to facilitate dialogue and connection among the broader bay area writing communities by curating events in which a diversity of aesthetics and writing traditions engage in a meaningful dialogue with one another.

Beginning in October 2017, Sponge will feature monthly talks on poetics at E.M. Wolfman. We are considering the notion of "poetics" here in a broad sense: the underlying mechanics of meaning making and aesthetic choices that hold together and hold up a piece of writing or artwork. Each talk will place two writers or artists in direct dialogue with one another and the community at large. There is no central theme to the subject matter—neither for individual talks nor the series as a whole. Rather, these talks will seek to highlight the subterranean connections between concepts, making, politics, and social affiliation that arise from making art.

The talks are the first Saturday of the month (October-January) at the 13th Street Wolfman storefront. 7-9 pm. Q & A to follow.

The following Tuesday after the talk, there will be casual "office hours" w/ the talk-givers and Sponge curators at the 13th Street Wolfman storefront. Come meet the authors, ask questions, and hang out. Light drinks and snacks provided. 7-9 pm.


OCTOBER - Trisha Low, Ryanaustin Dennis

Talk - Saturday - 10/7 - 13th street

Office Hours - Tuesday - 10/10 - 40th street

NOVEMBER - Eddie Hopely, Faith Hale

Talk - Saturday - 11/4 - 13th street

Office Hours - Tuesday - 11/7 - 13th street

DECEMBER - Shiloh Jines & Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo

Talk - Saturday - 12/2 - 13th street

Office Hours - Tuesday - 12/5 - 13th street

JANUARY - Liz Kinnamon & Matt Killegrew

Talk - Saturday - 1/6 - 13th street

Office Hours - Tuesday - 1/9 - 13th street

Black Printed Matter Leila Weefur October 2017-Present

Black Printed Matter is a project archiving and documenting Black printmakers, typographers, designers + in the U.S. As part of the residency at E.M. Wolfman, Black Printed Matter will host a series of conversations and events with and about Black printmakers.


Friday, October 27th, 7pm - Leila Weefur & Sam Vernon: Two Queer Black Women printmakers in conversation. As printmaking has been dominated by predominately White males, this project seeks to amplify the presence of Black identified printmakers in the United States. Weefur and Vernon will present thoughts and works that explore key questions around the history and culture of printmaking: What is the importance of the archive? How does printed matter function in digital space? How do we as Black artists negotiate our relationship to printmaking? Is print culture oppressive?

about leila weefur

Leila Weefur lives and works in Oakland, CA. Weefur received her MFA from Mills College in 2016. She uses video & printmaking to investigate how an individual is impacted by the shifting boundaries of language and how our bodies have to negotiate space with the words used to identify us. She is a recipient of the Hung Liu award, the Murphy & Cadogan award, and recently completed an artist fellowship at Kala Art Institute. Weefur has exhibited her work in local and national galleries including Southern Exposure and SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco, Betti Ono in Oakland, and Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York. She is the Audio and Video, Editor In Chief at Art Practical and the Creative Director and co-curator of The Black Aesthetic.

"A Moment of Truth + Sin" A short film by Christian Johnson May 2017- November 2017

Filmmaker Christian Johnson used his WAM Residency to begin production on his first full-scale film production, "A Moment of Truth + Sin." The film is a psychological thriller about a black man who is tormented with thoughts of self-harm and marital aggression toward his white wife. A fluid and esoteric portrait of a contemporary Oakland amidst gentrification and social upheaval, "A Moment of Truth + Sin" strikingly and brutally confronts these attendant underlying social and historical tensions still to be resolved.

About Christian Johnson

Born in Oakland, California, Christian Johnson is a writer, image maker, and film curator. His work aims to create multilayered revolutionary images of the black body in motion. Johnson was a member of the Black Aesthetic Collective, a curator for the Black Aesthetic Film Series and a contributor to the "Black Aesthetic Season 1: Black Women in Film" publication.

Black Aesthetic Film Series Black Aesthetic Collective October - December 2016

The Black Aesthetic Film Series was organized by the Black Aesthetic Collective, a group of black filmmakers, artists, and writers--namely, Ryanaustin Dennis, Philip Johnson, and Leila Weefur. The film series showcased rare, independent, or unknown black films and shorts at Wolfman Books that Black Aesthetic thought should have a wider audience. With each film viewing, there was a guided audience discussion to tease out technical, structural, and socio-political themes. The goal was to create a robust forum for people to exchange ideas, make connections, and experience the communal aspects of film.

The Black Aesthetic Collective used their Wolfman Art Machine Residency to build infrastructure for and launch Season 1 of the Film Series at Wolfman Books. They have gone on to curate a second and third season of the series at other venues in Oakland and the Bay Area, as well as produce the Black Aesthetic Publication in collaboration with Wolfman Books.

about the black aesthetic collective

The Black Aesthetic is a creative organization, whose mission is to curate and assemble both a collective and distinct understanding of Black visual culture. We pose the question: What is the Black aesthetic sensibility and what does it look like to you? The Black Aesthetic is Ryanaustin Dennis, Leila Weefur, and Christian Johnson.


Poetics of the Ampersand Shiloh Jines July - September 2016

While in residence, poet and inter-disciplinary artist, Shiloh Jines, developed a project that examines how the &/ampersand/and sign is used to create non-binary poetic space. Building on her 2016 College Book Art Association conference presentation, “Poetics of the Ampersand,” this project considers the typographic evolution of the ampersand and its shifting context within American poetry.  This presentation is in direct response to Joyelle McSweeney's critical essay, "Muse & Drudge & Art's Ampersand," which examines Haryette Mullen's "Muse & Drudge" as a "paradoxical, non binary text, a text that will not settle down into absolute values..." 

Poetics of the Ampersand considers the typographic body of the ampersand, its use in contemporary poetics & how it manifests as a queer symbol of infinity—of etcetera etc. &c—an anti-divide-and-conquer tool—with the ability to make something so mutated, interconnected & slippery no one can get in or out. anti-literary. anti-territorial. anti-colonial. She utilized the bookstore's space to continue her research of contemporary Queer Poetics, especially those published by small press distributors. Jines also held ongoing interviews & correspondences with local queer, trans, poc poet/artists who use hybrid visual forms & typography to interrogate language.

about shiloh jines

Shiloh Jines makes hybrid poem-realities through merging handmade printed matter with video art. She examines the presence & absence of materiality in language & book-forms—how the world necessitates & degenerates a physical body. Much of her practice involves deconstructing the codex as an object of power & considers the visceral ways language can manifest in/on/through a body. Growing up in Eastern Tennessee, her identity as an Appalachian Queer & how she has come to critically understand this identity plays a central role in her poetic works. She believes in the magic of remembering, forming deep accountability & what Baldwin referred to as, “the necessity of the long view.”

Shiloh is a poet & visual artist based in Oakland, California. She is the co-author of the hand-bound letterpress chapbook SITE OF IMPACT (Eucalyptus Press 2016). She is currently working on her poetry manuscript, “& if it flows like pity/ then it spills like viscous fluid” and Mills College MFA thesis exhibition. 


The Sacred Categories Patricia Sazani April - June 2016

As a Wolfman Art Machine resident, multi-genre artist and writer, Patricia Sazani worked on a project based on her massive, ongoing, speculative world-building-art-project. The residency culminated in a gorgeous edition of drawings and imprints, The Sacred Categories: A Handbook for Organizing Religious Experience, in collaboration with Wolfman Editions.

artist statement

My art practice involves building worlds and then living in them and making art from the inside. For years now I have inhabited a world built around a fictional sect of Christianity based on the writings of logician and philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce, and inspired by Shaker and Mormon history. I spend most of my time in this world with a group of women that act as spiritual mediums in their community— or, in the Shaker tradition, instruments, who spend their days receiving visions from God in the form of poetry, song, drawing, and dance; discussing experimental methods of religious education; and interpreting scripture.

The framework of this universe allows me to imagine and engage with concepts that are otherwise closed to me: encounters with the divine, moments of conversion, the ways that faith plays out in the daily lives of believers. I am interested in how these experiences are narrated, in the relationship between religion, language, and representation, in the productive power of religious language—that is, moments when language induces belief.

about patricia sazani

Patricia Sazani is from Lompoc, California, and currently lives in Oakland. Her past jobs include teaching math to art students and collecting oral histories from beekeepers. Recent unpaid ventures include perfume-smelling, scooter-riding, and swimming. She is interested in architecture, land use, and botany, but somehow her art always ends up being about religion instead. She likes to imagine a future for herself that includes all of these things: land, art, teaching, stories, scooters.

Mender-in-Residence Karin Dahl October-December 2015

As a resident, textile artist, Karin Dahl, artfully mended clothes of customers, event-goers, and Oaklanders of all stripes who brought their ripped and tattered but otherwise beloved clothes by.

artist statement

Cloth is defined by its malleability. It holds memory and can be read like a kind of syntax that floats around the body. Alas, it also gets torn, wears through, and generally falls apart. But, also, of course, it can be mended! I am obsessed with this simple and radical part of the process, a process humans have been using for thousands of years, the reconstruction, refabrication, and reinterpretation of worn materials character and worth. As an artist in residence at E.M. Wolfmans for the months of October and November, I will be at the bookstore every Saturday repairing, restoring and reimagining the holes in your clothes. Partially an homage to fabulous bay-area artist Michael Swaine and his free “mending library,” my mendings are less an exercise in social practice and practical fix, and rather extended studies on sites for visible re- and de-construction, exploring the history of the garment, retaining its “faults” and highlighting its time-bound dimensions. While I mend, I will document each repair “site” and consider the implications of use and time on our current understanding of textiles. You can drop clothes off at the store any day you like (one piece, please, for starters) or come see me on Saturdays!

about karin dahl

Karin Dahl was born in Ekenäs, Finland, raised in Seattle, and is a decade-long resident of Oakland. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and is in the Graduate Program of Archeology at San Francisco State University. She has made textiles for film, poetry, and performance art, including tents, masks, and embroidered writing, that weave in and out of the comfortable range of practical textile usage. She has worked at an archeology museum and ceramics studio, and taught ceramics, textiles, and other mediums to both kids and adults. Karin is working toward a practice as artist, researcher, and educator that is outside any one discipline.