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ISBN: 978-1-7363963-8-4
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

San Franshitshow

Publication Date: February 2021


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. San Franshitshow was originally published by Nomadic.

San Franshitshow is an emotional reckoning with self, love, and the world that unfolds amidst a turbulent gender transition upon arrival into a new city. It chronicles the pain of loss and of coming to terms with yourself in a world that would prefer you did not: how this struggle impacts every area of your life. It expresses the power of self-acceptance with grace and humor. Calamia’s debut is a unifying force of a memoir—a poignant, tender collection of poetry that will open your heart—every poem as raw as a tear-stained diary page.


San Franshitshow is a wildly powerful collection of all the little moments that define who we are. This book goes beyond the gender binary and labels, it is human! Cal’s artistic and genuine recounts of loss, love and identity are what I wish I could’ve read as a teenager to help navigate through my own narrative. This book can connect with anyone regardless of their label and will be championed by the LGBT community. Cal says all the words that never leave your head when experiencing adolescent love and defining queerness for the first time. Empathetic, heartfelt, and useful in defining (or redefining) your own past. We need more honest literature like this about the LGBT experience! Whether you are out, unsure, curious, a parent, a youth, or a teacher, this book should be in your hands.
Miles McKenna, actor, activist, author of Out! How To Be Your Authentic Self

This debut is a song—of coming of age, of coming out, of love, of America’s present moment. And yes, of San Francisco and the shitshow our city can be as the poems’ speaker navigates what it is to become an adult, become a trans* man, become a teacher, and so much more in this hectic and sometimes heartbreaking city. The book shines, and I too want to shout, “There’s glitter on my heart motherfucker” to my lover, to all my loves, to my beloved hometown of glittering sidewalks. There is both humor and incredible vulnerability in these poems, even when they “don’t know what to believe in / but it has to be something.”
Caroline Mar, author of Special Education

Cal Calamia walked into my long-running open mic one Sunday afternoon and taught me some things. Reading the work taught me a few more. I love it when that happens. These poems are self-aware and not self-pitying. Cal has good comic timing but doesn’t go for a laugh as much as an A-ha. I listen to and read a lot of poetry and he has been a favorite since that first time. Pronoun antecedent disagreement will probably remain a cherished poetic moment for years to come. Read this book and be reminded that some things are simple and made difficult. Some things remain easy, direct, logical. Some things hurt like hell. There is pain in this collection, sure. There is earnest and unpracticed love. It’s a generous group of poems, direct and honest. If you only own a few books of poetry this should be one of them.
Kim Shuck, 7th Poet Laureate of San Francisco

San Franshitshow will cut you open and break your heart into a million pieces, only to reveal something new and powerful; brilliant and soft; pulsating, raw and beautiful underneath. With prose that moves effortlessly between tension and catharsis, Calamia guides the reader line by line with an openness and empathy completely unique to them. In short, Calamia’s work is a revelatory masterpiece at best, and at worst— a truly gorgeous shitshow.
Carissa Quiambao, Producer at VICE

Transphobia, bigotry and hate shut people down. As the internet provides a stage for deeply uninformed opinions to be tossed about, many are compelled to speak up, but few have time to listen. Some of the beauty of poetry is that it inspires us to listen and to understand the heart and soul of others. For these reasons and more I praise Cal Calamia’s choice of medium to powerfully address their experience of life as queer and trans. Their poetry took me on an emotional roller-coaster of anger and hurt, then to witness strength and courage. The search for love and the urge to love is a universal part of our character, and Cal trusts us with their incredible intimacy, sensuality, power and pride.
Tania Cypriano, Producer of award-winning documentary Born To Be

About the Author

© Natalie Jane Photography

Cal Calamia

Cal Calamia (they/he) is a transmasculine poet, marathoner, health educator, and inclusivity activist. A graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of San Francisco, Cal is committed to increasing trans and non-binary visibility and elevating queer joy.

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