There will most likely be no actual spitting, but since City Lights’ new imprint, Sister Spit, is a spinoff from the eponymous literary roadshow, which has been showcasing the writing and artwork of “irreverent, flagrantly queer, hilariously feminist, tough-talking, genre-busting ruffians” since the early 1990s, editor/curator/author Michelle Tea does not make any promises. She does promise that those who drop by the City Lights booth (1103) today, 2–3 p.m., will meet one of her first authors, Beth Lisick, who is signing a sampler of her personal essays to be published in Yokohama Threeway: And Other Small Shames in October. Ali Liebegott signed her newly released novel Cha-Ching on Thursday.
The three have all proved themselves unpredictable on the Sister Spit stages over the years in San Francisco and at other locales across the country.
Tea is the acquiring editor for the imprint, which produced its first book, Sister Spit: Writing, Rants and Reminiscence from the Road, last fall. “It will be 20 years for Sister Spit next year and there has never been an anthology before,” says Tea. City Lights thought it would be a good way to launch the imprint, which will publish two or three books a year, both original work and reprints like Liebegott’s The Beautifully Worthless, which won a Lambda Award in 2006. Tea says she was not sure why she and cofounder poet and filmmaker Sini Anderson called their San Francisco open mic series Sister Spit, but over the years it has evolved as a not-only-for-the girls event that remains as provocative and risk-taking as it was in the ’90s.
City Lights publisher Elaine Katzenberger says she never really gave the name Sister Spit much thought. Tea has had a long relationship with City Lights as an author (A Mermaid in Chelsea Creek) and literary event tour organizer in San Francisco ,and Katzenberger says the press was very eager to bring Tea and her Sister Spit imprint on board. “I thought it was a great idea because of who Michelle is, and the literary landscape of San Francisco, and our dedication to marginalized audiences,” says Katzenberger. “And one of the considerations for anybody publishing work by new writers is that these people are touring. The aesthetics and inclinations of the roadshow is what Michelle brings to the list as curator.”