"God in Her Ruffled Dress" ~ New Poetry Book

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)'s new collection of poems out October 17, 2023 from What Books Press

God in Her Ruffled Dress 

Explores the human/divine interface – body and spirit, illness and wellness, temporal and eternal – in rich, inventive, musical poems. Here erotic desire is central, feminist awareness inherent, gender many-faceted, and the lyrical impulse ever-present. 

The new book will be out Oct. 17, 2023 from the fine L.A.-based literary publisher What Books Press.

Bookended by two poem-prayers, the volume has four sections: 
“Return to the Body” delves into the author’s longstanding type 1 diabetes, Biblical scripture, and spiritual transformation. 
“Drum the Beginning of the World” offers homages to jazz masters and explores Lisa B’s practice as a vocalist.
“Sever the Head” comprises poems inspired by pandemic politics. 
Finally, “Propagate" probes love, sensuality, birth, and death. 

Advance praise (short excerpts; full blurbs below): 

A book of deep seeing, ‘the code inside the code’... also a book of intense listening, ‘the bright spurt of trumpet’ and the train calling like a late-night lover… a series of divine pleasures transcribed faithfully by a skilled musician and writer.”  
    —D.A. Powell, author of Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys and Repast: Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails 

Bears écriture feminine into the twenty-first century with grace, wit, and incredible technical dexterity.”   
    —Kristina Marie Darling, author of Daylight Has Already Come and Look to Your Left: A Feminist Poetics of Spectacle 

 “Lisa B’s stunning new book weaves together body, spirituality, politics, and the world we live in….Fierce, feminist, and necessary...this engaging collection will stir your mind and bring you into beauty, into ‘a place so much more multiple than one god’s face.’ ”  
    —Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Hourglass Museum and Dialogues with Rising Tides 

A dazzling lyrical demonstration... She takes us on a journey through ecstasy and pain: from the highs of great jazz performance to the zen of blood testing for diabetes.”  
    —Lawrence R. Smith, editor of Caliban 

Effortlessly surprising, thoughtful, and inventive...musical and rhythmical above all...[poems on] the physicality of jazz, the physicality of spirituality, and the self hearing all her edges and hinges through illness, pleasure, and doubt.”   
    —Sean Singer, author of Honey & Smoke and Today in the Taxi 

Offers a series of superb poems about...jazz greats...[and other poems] that call down the spirit in ways that are at once promiscuous and defiant.” 
    —Daniel Tiffany, author of Cry Baby Mystic and My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch


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Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein), singer and poet


Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) is a unique combination: award-winning literary poet and riveting singer, performer, and recording artist.

HER LITERARY POETRY is featured in her second book God in Her Ruffled Dress (10/23, What Books Press), her most recent full-length record "Reverberant" (Piece of Pie Records), her first book The Transparent Body (Wesleyan University Press), the chapbook Anorexia (Five Fingers Poetry), and 60+ literary magazines and anthologies, including Antaeus, Caliban, City Lights Review, Field, Kenyon Review, Lilith, Ploughshares, Poetry International, Tikkun, and Zyzzyva. 

AS A SINGER-POET, LISA MELDS SUNG LYRICS AND SPOKEN POETRY in original songs and adventurously reimagined standards, with jazz, hip-hop, and electronica grooves. Her seven full-length albums and various singles released since 1999 all received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter jazz, college, and free-form stations.

THEY ALSO GARNERED CRITICAL ACCLAIM in Jazz Times, Jazziz, All About Jazz, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. 

All of Lisa B's CDs were recorded at Pajama Studios in Oakland, Calif. in close collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer-engineer-composer James Gardiner (Jim), who has 42 gold- and platinum-certified records as an engineer.

SHE HAS PERFORMED AT 90+ VENUES in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, in fall 2023 beginning a book tour augmented by some musical performances.

SHE HAS WON FELLOWSHIPS OR GRANTS from the City of Oakland, United States Artists, Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund, California Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and the Puffin Foundation. With a master's degree in English literature/creative writing and years of experience as a coach and teacher, she offers a range of workshops/clinics to performers and creators. She also works as a professional psychic reader and coach. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman's term, from the body electric.”

— Frances Mayes, author, San Jose Mercury

More of Lisa B's Story

Poetry and jazz have always been a part of Lisa B's life.

Lisa's mother wrote poetry, and her father was a serious aficionado of avant-garde jazz as well as a friend to many musicians, whom Lisa met at a young age, including Jackie McLean, Elvin Jones, Cecil Taylor, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
AS A CHILD, LISA B STUDIED CLASSICAL PIANO, WHILE HER LISTENING RANGED FROM JAZZ — in particular, her parents’ favorites Carmen McRae and John Coltrane — to R&B and musical theater. But as an adult, her first forays into live performance were public readings of her own poetry.
HER POEMS BEGAN APPEARING IN LITERARY JOURNALS AND HER FIRST FULL-LENGTH BOOK WAS PUBLISHED in 1989 by the prestigious Wesleyan University Press New Poets series. Meanwhile, Lisa B found that standing up alone before an audience with just her own words was powerful training in performance. 

In a natural progression, Lisa embarked on the study of jazz and groove singing and composition — incorporating poetry into her musical performances.
HER KEY MUSICAL INFUENCES SPAN not only Coltrane and McRae, but also the bedrock of the Great American Songbook; vocal jazz pioneers Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee, and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross; melders of jazz, poetry, and soul Gil Scott-Heron and Jill Scott; and two who testify in music and verse, Aretha Franklin and Allen Ginsberg.
THE SPOKEN VERSE SHE INTEGRATES INTO HER SONGS reflects the influence of 1950s public poetry readings to jazz accompaniment, the biting rhythms of contemporary creative rap, and the poetic lyrics  of modern singer-songwriters. The result on her seven albums and various singles is genre-bending and multidimensional.

RETURNING TO A FOCUS ON WRITING POETRY FOR THE PAGE WHEN COVID CURTAILED PERFORMANCES, Lisa was thrilled to secure the Oct. 2023 publication of her second full-length volume of poems by What Books Press.

A RESIDENT OF OAKLAND, CALIF., Lisa B's celebration of Oakland includes her music video “Holiday in Oakland,” which went viral locally and was nominated for an Oakland Indie Award. She has mentored youth through the public schools, city parks and recreation programs, and the Boys & Girls Club. 
SHE WORKS NOT ONLY AS AN ARTIST and educator but also as a professional psychic.

Two recent records spark enthusiasm!

"Reverberant: Poems & Music (Fall 2019) and "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined" (2018) add to Lisa B's 5 previous acclaimed records

LISA B'S LATEST ALBUM, “REVERBERANT: POEMS & MUSIC,” released October 11, 2019, features her free-verse poems spiced with singing. Its theme of reverberation links jazz stories with tales of spiritual self-realization. "Lisa Bernstein weaves a compelling series of musical narratives... featuring a wide variety of supporting players for her rich, deep, enchanting voice. Each listening reveals previously undiscovered depths of brilliant artistry and colorful storytelling." - Chris Cooke, KIOS-FM 

DOWNBEAT/JAZZIZ CRITIC TED PANKEN ON HER 2018 "I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED": "With the freewheeling control [of] only the finest jazz practitioners... B takes possession of Porter’s witty, poignant stories. She deploys her considerable interpretative vocal gifts...interpolating her own spoken word passages for an evocative multilayered effect... her encyclopedic knowledge of American music canons...luminous timbre and precise articulation...melds straight interpretation with pure imagination... inspired." - from the liner notes

A singer, spoken-word artist and poet with an incisive way of chronicling situations, memories, and emotions... a pliable, expressive voice dipped in blue... saucily suggestive... imagistic.”

— Lucy Tauss, Jazz Times

Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B... with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even hip-hop hipsters.”

— Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News

Shows & Events

Only the multi-talented jazz singer, songwriter, and poet Lisa B... has been weaving this kind of 'must pay attention to every word' storytelling magic... throughout her unique 20-year career.”

— Jonathan Widran, JW Vibe

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) reading from "God in Her Ruffled Dress" and Thoreau Lovell reading from his forthcoming novel, followed by open mic. Two blocks from the Glen Park BART station, MUNI lines J, 23, 35, 36, and 44, and just off I-580. (415) 586-3733 eric@birdbeckett.com FREE

Two Show Promo Videos

"Show Promo: Singer, Songwriter, and Poet Lisa B and Her Band"

Selections from Lisa B's original music and verse


"I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined"

Excerpts from Lisa's show of new versions of Cole Porter's music

Selected Presenter & Fan Quotes

 “Obviously you’re a gigantic talent…you totally controlled the room.” 

- Robin Reichert, owner, Paradise Lounge, San Francisco  


She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!” 

- Gary Hamada, Jazz and Blues Company/KRML-FM, Concert Manager


“You know as a poet and as a singer that you were being heard...from the silence between phrases. I was surprised by many things. First by the quality and range of your voice. When you want to you get a terrific blues quality. The people playing behind you are so good. I especially enjoyed 'Center of the Rhyme' and the Joe Williams song.” 

- Philip Levine, former Poet Laureate of the United States


“That was a wonderful show last night. You were marvelous – charming, funny, astute, original. Your band was exquisite, each and every one of them. Your comfort on the stage and with the band felt assured. 

My friend also thought you put on a fabulous show and that the musicians were outstanding. She really enjoyed your personality and your stage presence.” 

- B.N.

Recent Photos with Band

Workshops/Clinics & Classes