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Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom with Dennis Bernstein

Friday, May 25, 2012 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Local author and award-winning reporter, Dennis Bernstein, presents his first volume of poetry, “Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom”

Friday May 25th: 7pm
Modern Times Bookstore Collective
2919 24th St @ Alabama
San Francisco

Come into the special ed classroom, where the kids who don’t fit in anywhere else spend their day. For these kids—real kids Dennis J. Bernstein taught in the New York City public schools before he became an internationally known investigative journalist—pistols, switchblades, police cars and hunger are more instructive than textbooks. Special Ed is about daily life under the siege of poverty, racism, and class warfare. We come to know these kids intimately: Gloria, whose mother was disappeared in Guatemala and whose friendship with Marilyn rescues her from trauma-induced silence; Paulie, who “finds tears in the mirror’s eyes” but thinks of himself as tough and defies the gang-guys who threaten to drop him from the roof of the projects; Regina, who sells nickel bags before class and gets high alone in the gym before giving a heart-wrenching performance of a poem by Langston Hughes. Dennis Bernstein loves these kids fiercely, and we come to love them too as the collection unfolds.

“Special Ed is about daily life under the siege of poverty, racism, and class warfare. In these stunning, understated poems, these
poems unafraid to name the darkest facts of our world and yet continually informed with compassion, we i nd ourselves in Rilke’s
world of beauty and terror.” —Anita Barrows, PhD, poet, child psychologist, translator (with Joanna Macy) of Rainer Maria Rilke

“Dennis Bernstein is a hero to me because of his dedicated,
unflinching reporting of real news on Flashpoints, at KPFA in Berkeley, California. But his fearless pursuit of the truth about what is happening in our rapidly transforming world did not prepare me for
the beauty, depth, not-one-word-mislaid perception of this amazing book. Each word, each line, each thought has a weight, a texture, a surprise all its own.” —Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

“Dennis Bernstein words hit me hard; everything about the short, whimsical poems gave me hope, desire, peace and a hint of madness. Life breathes trough his poems. Special Ed is a collection of snapshots, some in colors, some in black and white, but never in grey…Special Ed is a must read for all, to allow freedom to sip through and to tear of the labels that conceal the true human nature behind short, oppressing, limiting letters that specialized education is so found of! I love nothing more than starting
each of my Education graduate classes with one of Dennis’s poems and letting the words play their magic!”
—Laurence Emmanuelle Hadjas, PhD, UCLA

Dennis J. Bernstein lives in San Francisco and has been a long-time front line reporter specializing in Human Rights. His articles have
appeared widely including in the Boston Globe, New York Times, The Progressive, and the Nation. Bernstein was chosen by Pulse Media
as one of “20 Top Global Media Figures of 2009.” Bernstein’s artist books, co-authored with Warren Lehrer, are in the Special Books Collections of the Museum of Modern art in New York City and other major museums around the world. Bernstein’s poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, Chimaera, Bat City Review, The Progressive, Texas Observer, ZYZZYVA, etc. Special Ed is Bernstein’s first full collection of poetry.


Friday, May 25, 2012
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Modern Times Bookstore Collective