Brenner, Summer

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Summer (Rebecca Susan) Brenner, born March 17, 1945, was raised by her parents Edward and Rita Brenner, first generation Ashkenazic Jews, who settled in Atlanta, Georgia. Brenner became a novelist, poet, and activist; a mother of two children, Felix and Joanna; and now resides in Berkeley and the Bay Area of California.

Raised by a creative mother who was an artist and a father who was politically liberal in the segregated South, Summer Brenner moved north to Simmons College in Boston, and then studied abroad at the University of Florence (1965-1966) and the University of Paris (1966-1967). She completed requirements for a bachelor of arts at Georgia State University in 1968. After relocating to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Brenner moved again in the 1970s to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has thrived creatively in diverse artistic and writing communities.

Brenner was a prolific correspondent, who exchanged personal news, drafts of works in progress, and literary advice with members from an intimate circle of writers and artists that included Laura Chester, Gloria Frym, Margaret Edwards, Barry Gifford, Stephen Rodefer, Geoff Young, Aline and Robert Crumb, and Andrei Codrescu. In collaboration with many of these, Brenner contributed her own writing and helped edit independent little magazines or small press projects. The many notable periodicals in which her own work has appeared include Beatitude, The Berkeley Monthly, Big Sky, Exquisite Corpse, Fervent Valley, Outpost, Pangolin, Snap, Southpaw, Stooge, The Three Penny Review, Two Charlies Magazine, Yellow Silk: Journal of Erotic Arts, Yawp, and ZYZZYVA .

Brenner is the author of ten books of poetry and fiction, including two influential books for young people. Her books include Everyone Came Dressed as Water (1973), From the Heart to the Center (1977), The Soft Room (1978), Dancers and the Dance (1990), One Minute Movies (1996), Nearly Nowhere and the French translation of this novel, Presque nulle part (1999), Ivy: Tale of a Homeless Girl in San Francisco (2000), The Missing Lover (2006), and an audio CD, Because the Spirit Moved by Arundo. Her most recent works include a children's novel titled Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle (2009) and I-5: A Novel of Crime, Transport, and Sex (2009).

Brenner's literary writings and activities are diverse and often community based. In her early years in the Bay Area, she participated in many poetry readings and spoken word performances. "The Flood," her poem in four voices, was performed at Links Hall in Chicago, and her one-act play, "The Missing Lover," was directed by Peter Glazer. Because the Spirit Moved (by Arundo, 2003) is a recorded production that sets Brenner's poetry to music by Andy Dinsmoor. With the aid of grant funding, Brenner developed several projects to bring writing to her community, such as "Where We're From," which brings together youth and their elders through an inter-generational project that combines cross-cultural oral history, poetry, and photography.

Beyond her writing career, Brenner worked as an activist through the human rights organization Amnesty International. As a member of this organization, Brenner wrote articles and organized poetry readings to raise awareness, publicly demonstrated against the death penalty, protested the execution of reformed Crips founder, Stanley "Tookie" Williams, and, on behalf of various "prisoners of conscience," appealed to numerous dignitaries of foreign countries to respect basic human rights.

"Rebecca Summer Brenner." Contemporary Authors Online reproduced in Literature Resource Center. (accessed February 2010). Summer Brenner (author's website). (accessed February 2010).

From the guide to the Summer Brenner papers, 1962-2005, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Rodefer, Stephen. Stephen Rodefer papers, 1955-1994. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Summer Brenner papers, 1962-2005 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Chester, Laura person
correspondedWith Chester, Laura, correspondent. person
correspondedWith Codrescu, Andrei, 1946- person
correspondedWith Crumb, R. person
correspondedWith Crumb, R., correspondent. person
correspondedWith Frym, Gloria person
correspondedWith Frym, Gloria, correspondent. person
correspondedWith Gifford, Barry, 1946- person
correspondedWith Kominsky-Crumb, Aline, 1948- person
correspondedWith Rodefer, Stephen person
correspondedWith Rodefer, Stephen, correspondent. person
associatedWith The Figures. corporateBody
correspondedWith Young, Geoffrey, 1944- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Berkeley (Calif.)
American literature--20th century
Authors, American--20th century
American poetry--20th century




Ark ID: w63f8bds

SNAC ID: 51881995