Kate Robinson

Kate, aka Optima, raisetheshade, or Fran-the-dog’s-mom, is a poet and intermedia book artist in Oakland, CA where she co-founded both the Manifest Reading Series, a founding series of the East Bay Poetry Summit, and Material Print Machine, an artist-run printing and binding studio in Omni Commons. Kate associate curated the first public exhibition of the collection at the San Francisco Center for the Book, Without Type: the Dynamism of Handmade Letters, as Collections Associate of Letterform Archive, as well as stewarded the collection to over 1500 visitors. She and her partner, Caleb Beckwith, currently host Bay Area Poet?, a periodic podcast that explores the poetics of the SF Bay Area. She also performs as one half of The Third Thing with fellow Bay Area poet Ivy Johnson. Kate was the 2014 Mills College Book Art Teaching Fellow, and has taught workshops combining experiments in writing printing and book making all along the west coast.

“I found my way into the type community in a sort of roundabout way after spending a number of years entrenching myself in contemporary poetry and book art. I think type people and poets have a lot in common: they’re super-nerds with a really diverse array of interests and a strange talent for making connections across them. Type Camp is a perfect example of this. If you’re looking you can find poetry in the most mundane and disgusting things, it’s really EVERYWHERE. I think type operates in a very similar manner. The contemporary person is constantly inundated by typography in so many different ways, so developing the skills for 'reading' and manipulating it is incredibly valuable for pretty much anyone.”


Vietnamese, Ethiopian, chirashi sushi, Ukranian/Polish, and American southern comfort food


This is a super unfair question to ask a book person!!! But a random sampling off the top of my head: Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, Joan Retallack’s The Poethical Wager, Buzz Spector’s A Passage, Was Here by Emily McVarish, Romano Hanni’s Typo Bilder Buch, Charles Henri Ford’s Spare Parts, and Bern Porter’s Found Poems. One time I saw a show (it might’ve been Six Feet Under?) wherein a guy died from being crushed by a massive bookshelf…I have a feeling living in the Bay Area with the number of books I have might lead me to the same fate.


Because of my/my husband’s former lives as baristas I’ve developed an unfortunate taste for light roast specialty (read “expensive”) coffee. Also, mid-shelf bourbon, generally, and recently I’ve gotten really into St. George’s Terroir gin.


I’ve gotten pretty obsessed with The Path, a show about a fictional cult called Meyerism. Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite is a comic revelation…these questions are always so difficult, I’m a pluralist. Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, allllllll of Maya Deren’s films, Chris Marker’s La Jetée…


I’m from Houston, TX, and I think it’s a terribly underrated city. NYC is my home away from home and my all-time favorite place to be alone. Saigon is a crazy and magical place I want to return to. Gulf Shores, AL is a dirty/amazing tourist town that is near and dear to my raised-in-the-south heart. Honestly, I can find something awesome about almost any city I have ever been to. I got robbed in Kansas City, but I still had a great time.


See previous question re books! I guess I also collect art from Creative Growth and magical objects other people might call trash. It used to be vintage clothes and midcentury furniture, but I’m in recovery for those addictions.


The printing press.


Like many in the Bay Area I’m totally mesmerized by the diversity of succulents that exist.


When my dog is dreaming in my lap and barking/growling in her sleep.


href="http://openspace.sfmoma.org/">SFMOMA Open Space http://openspace.sfmoma.org/


Fran, aka Franarchist, aka the aforementioned three-legged dreaming pitbull mix with the cutest ears on the planet my partner and I rescued from Oakland Animal Services in June.


I don’t particularly value expertise. I’m a lot more excited by process, learning, taking risks and making mistakes, so maybe I’m an expert at that. Also making connections (both interpersonal and creative) and collaboration.

when not at type camp

Hanging out with Fran, having dynamic and hilarious conversations with my partner, creating and performing disgusting and/or bizarre performances as one half of The Third Thing, writing, printing, manipulating letterforms on InDesign, hosting/giving/attending readings in the vibrant contemporary poetry scene, coffee dates with super smart people, texting a couple choice group threads waaaaaaaaaay too much.