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Simone John, Brooke Ellsworth & Amy Lawless

Come to the Octopus Books take over at Berl’s! Hear Simone John, Brooke Ellsworth and Amy Lawless read from their recent publications. Free wine and beer while it lasts. Scroll down for more deets

Simone John is a poet, educator, and facilitator based in Boston, MA. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College with an emphasis on documentary poetics. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wildness, The Pitkin Review, Public Pool, and the Writer in the World. She is a contributing editor at Gramma Poetry. Testify is her first full-length book of poems.

Brooke Ellsworth is author of Serenade (forthcoming from Octopus Books this fall).  She is also author of Mud (dancing girl press, 2015) and Thrown: A Translation (The New Megaphone, 2014).  Recent work is in Jubilat, FANZINE, Matter Monthly, The Volta, and elsewhere.  She lives in Peekskill, NY and at


Amy Lawless is the author of two books of poems including My Dead (Octopus Books). Her third poetry collection Broadax is forthcoming from Octopus Books. A chapbook A Woman Alone is just out from Sixth Finch Books. With Chris Cheney she is the author of the hybrid book I Cry: The Desire to Be Rejected from Pioneer Works Press' Groundworks Series (2016). Poems have been recently anthologized in Best American Poetry 2013, Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion, and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology (Brooklyn Arts Press). She received a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2011. Amy grew up in Boston and lives in Brooklyn. 

To read an excerpt of Amy’s work, head to:


TESTIFY (Octopus Books), Simone John’s first full-length book of poems, experiments with documentary poetics to uplift stories of black people impacted by state-sanctioned violence. The book’s first section weaves Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the Trayvon Martin trial with Kendrick Lamar lyrics, fixed form and found poems, and personal artifacts. The second section centers on the audio of the dashboard recording that captured Sandra Bland’s fatal police encounter. Excerpts from this exchange are punctuated with elegies for other dead black women, creating a larger commentary about race and gender-based violence. Testify is ultimately a book of witness. It “burdens” its readers “with knowing.” Combined, both chapters serve as an unflinching critique of race and gender supremacy in the United States.