JOAN GELFAND at Books Inc. Berkeley

Author image of Joan Gelfand and cover photo of the book Outside Voices

Books Inc. Berkeley is thrilled to welcome local poet and activist Joan Gelfand to the shop for a celebration of her her Berkeley based memoir Outside Voices!

Berkeley, 1972: a hotbed of creativity where painters, filmmakers, musicians, and writers inspire a young poet.

Second-wave feminism, inspired by Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Betty Friedan is swelling into a tsunami. Women are joining together to change power dynamics in politics, the home, and the workplace.

On election day, Joan Gelfand casts her vote for George McGovern and boards a plane from New York to California. With one introduction to a woman musician, Joan's journey to become a writer is born. Embraced by a thriving women's community of artists, filmmakers, musicians, poets, and writers, Joan is encouraged to find her voice.

Mentored by paradigm-changing writers, Joan finds the courage to face her darkest fears through poetry and art, mining the trauma she experienced after losing her father and questioning her Jewish identity. Reminiscent of Paris in the twenties, Greenwich Village in the sixties, and Berlin in the eighties, Berkeley in the seventies was the "it" city of America.

Outside Voices reports the ups and downs of finding one's way as an artist, living with a women's band, forging an independent Jewish identity, founding a women's restaurant, and becoming a published writer and songwriter while exploring the limits of sexuality and spirituality. The story includes road trips to music festivals in the woods, beaches in Mexico, concerts in Southern California, and a retreat in the Pacific Northwest.

A triumphant story of determination and will, Outside Voices is a backstage look at the women's movement that sets the stage for decades of change. This book is a firsthand look at how the power of community emboldened innovation, social change, and self-discovery.


" engrossing recollection of the protest scene in 1970s Berkeley, Calif.... [Gelfand] conjures the period with clear eyes, giving flesh and blood to a scene so well-covered it can feel mummified. This stirring account from the front lines of the feminist movement enchants."-- Publishers Weekly

Outside Voices is a mesmerizing, lyrical account of the heady days of the women's movement in Berkeley in the 1970s. It's a blast to follow Joan Gelfand, newly arrived from New York and still reeling from the untimely death of her father, as she visits communes, cooks vegetarian food, listens to musicians in coffee shops, and poses nude for a painter who seduces her--just one of many wild experiences during the days of sex, drugs and rock and roll. The heart of the book, however, is Gelfand's search for her poet's voice, something she discovers through the embrace of the women's community around her."--Frances Dinkelspiel, Co-founder, Berkeleyside and Cityside and Author of New York Times bestseller, Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California

"Joan Gelfand's memoir, Outside Voices, is a trip down Memory Lane for anyone who lived in Berkeley in the mid-sixties through mid-seventies, at the dawn of the Women's Movement, told from the as-yet-unexplored point of view of a young Jewish Lesbian from New York. Grieving the death of her father, trying to find herself as a poet, Gelfand takes the reader on a nostalgic through-the-looking-glass tour of the radical people and wild places in Berkeley that informed her career as a critic, teacher, and writer. '[I]n Berkeley, ' the poet enthuses, 'spring is stretched out like a delicious piece of saltwater taffy, all sweetness and joy.'"--Barbara Quick, Novelist, Poet & Journalist

"Joan Gelfand has written a compelling book about coming of age in Berkeley in the second wave of feminism circa 1970s. Her depth of discovering herself and her world is intense and reveals all the passion and confusion of a sensitive soul grasping at life through politics, sex, and the long road to becoming a writer."--Geri Spieler, Author of Housewife Assassin: The Woman Who Tried to Kill Gerald Ford

"Joan Gelfand documents her thrilling coming-of-age ride through one of America's most explosive and exciting moments of history. The book travels between the trauma of her traditional Jewish immigrant New York City childhood to the daring experiments of Berkeley, California in the 1970s. It's not San Francisco's Summer of Love, it's the whirling aftermath. Gelfand's prose buzzes with the beats and pulses of a young woman finding and coming to terms with herself and her past as a poet amidst a vibrant community of musicians, anti-war and women's rights activists, and queers. It is a brave and joyous read, a timely reminder of how fragile free speech, democracy, the arts, and deliberate acts of love remain. Timely, delicious, and deeply honest, it reminds us how urgent the women's movement and Berkeley's imprint are in current-day conversations about democracy."--Elizabeth Block, Christopher Isherwood Foundation Award-Winning fiction writer, poet, and essayist



Author of three volumes of poetry and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction, Joan Gelfand was a finalist in the International Book Awards for her novel ExtremeYou Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C's System to Author Success: Craft, Commitment, Community & Confidence is an Amazon #1 bestseller. The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics, a film based on Joan's poem about Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was featured in over twenty international film festivals and won several awards. A beloved teacher and mentor, Joan is President Emeritus of the Women's National Book Association and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Joan holds a BA from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Joan's work appears in over 150 lit mags, journals, and magazines including Huffington PostLA Review of Books, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Levure Littéraire. For more information about her work, visit https: // Joan lives in San Francisco with her husband Adam Hertz.

Event date: 
Tuesday, January 16, 2024 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Books Inc in Berkeley
1491 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
Pre-Order Now Badge
Outside Voices: A Memoir of the Berkeley Revolution By Joan Gelfand Cover Image
ISBN: 9798888450048
Availability: Coming Soon - AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
Published: Post Hill Press - January 16th, 2024