Upon Waking

Kitty Costello
New and Selected Poems 1977 -2017


Selected from 40 years of Kitty Costello's San Francisco writings, these poems traverse mythic, political, and spiritual landscapes, permeated with themes of awakening.

Praise for Upon Waking

“These brilliantly lyrical affirmations in the poetry of Kitty Costello reveal that the soul of the streets of San Francisco is among the freest and most defiant in the world. Her truths overturn the deceit of our times. A triumph for the People.”
Jack Hirschman
Emeritus Poet Laureate of San Francisco

“Costello could have called this collection Songs of Experience if the title hadn't already been taken by William Blake. Her voice is wise, warm, conversational and dark—a good combination for poetry.”
Tamim Ansary
Author of West of Kabul, East of New York and Destiny Disrupted:
A History of the World through Islamic Eyes

“A seam of joy and resilience runs through these poems. The journey from mythic and Christian territories through more political landscapes and on to Buddhist renewal is a transmutation worth traveling through.”
Dawnine Spivak
Author of Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho

“A sense of loss, wonder, and beauty throughout... some really stellar writing here.”
Eric Robertson
Author of Whatever Comes of Not Knowing

“Kitty Costello’s profound and beautiful poetic journey, Upon Waking, is the kind of poetry we need in these times—poetry to keep us real, sane, hopeful, while also mirroring our aching hearts. Poetry that opens our senses…. Poetry that takes us into heartbreak, then lifts us into a lyrical lightness with a dash of haiku, a whirl of sweetness, and a wondrous stretch of words….”
Author of the book-length poem The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra, and Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth

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About Kitty Costello

Some Information
Costello photoKitty Costello is descended mostly from potato-famine refugees who fled Ireland in the 1860s. Farmers, teachers, herdsmen, machinists, coal miners—they settled mainly in the Midwest, in Ohio and South Dakota, where her parents were born. Costello was born in Washington, DC. Her earliest years were spent in rural Maryland on the grounds of an institution where her social-worker father took care of people with extreme physical and mental disabilities. She was schooled by the Sisters of Notre Dame at Catholic University’s grade school in DC. Then public school rounded out her education, as did the upheavals and uprisings of the civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960s and ‘70s. Moving to San Francisco in 1977, she worked for thirty years for the San Francisco Public Library, while also practicing Shaolin kung fu and working as a teacher, an editor, and a social justice organizer. She earned a master’s degree in social psychology, specializing in labor and mental health, and in recovery from trauma. She currently has a small psychotherapy practice and leads meditation, writing and tai chi classes. Ongoing participation in local writing communities has been essential to her writer’s journey and sparked many of her most cherished lifetime friendships. She is literary trustee for native Alaskan writer Mary TallMountain. She created a library archive for the 70-year-old San Francisco Writers Workshop, and she is writing a history of that group. Working with Freedom Voices, she has helped give voice to marginalized writers and artists, especially in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, for nearly thirty years. Costello lives with her husband and three cats in San Francisco’s Mission District. This is her first collection of poetry.