Joan Baez's debut poetry collection out today, select live book events confirmed

Article Contributed by Sacks and Company | Published on Tuesday, April 30, 2024

When You See My Mother, Ask Her to Dance, an intimate, autobiographical poetry collection from legendary artist and activist, Joan Baez, is out today on Godine. Released to critical praise, Vanity Fair calls the book, “The result of an American icon revisiting her archives and taking back her history.”

In celebration of the release, Baez will appear at select book events nationwide this spring and summer including Berkeley’s Bay Area Book Festival with Greg Sarris on June 1, New York’s Symphony Space with Patti Smith on June 14 and Washington’s Sixth & I with Ari Shaprio on July 31. See below for full schedule.

While Baez has been writing poetry for decades, she’s never shared it publicly. Poems about her life, her family, about her passions for nature and art, have piled up in notebooks and on scraps of paper. Now, for the first time ever, her life is shared in verse, revealing pivotal life experiences that shaped an icon, offering a never-before-seen look into the reminiscences and musings of a great artist.

Throughout the collection, Baez shares poems for or about her contemporaries, reflections from her childhood, personal thoughts, and cherished memories of her family, including pieces about her younger sister, singer-songwriter Mimi Fariña. Speaking to the people, places, and moments that have had the greatest impact on her art, this collection is an inspiring personal diary in the form of poetry.


“In these courageous and soul-searching poems, Joan Baez reveals the joy and sorrow of a life lived fully. Her deceptively simple and elegant verses resonate with profound insight into what it means to be alive, looking Janus-like from past to present. Beautiful.”
—GABRIEL BYRNE, author of Walking with Ghosts

“Joan’s ideas and musings ricochet from the profound and humanly factual to the observant and slyly humorous. Her words can be both poignantly executed and captivating in a colorful closeness that pin-points the chinks in our armor that mirror all facets of the world we inhabit. A National treasure she is indeed.”
—BERNIE TAUPIN, author of Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton, and Me

Joan Baez is a dynamic force of nature. Her commitment to music and social activism has earned global recognition, ranging from induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, to the Ambassador of Conscience Award, Amnesty International’s highest honor. Retired from active performing since 2019, she has devoted much of her time to the “Mischief Makers” series of paintings, portraits that immortalize risk-taking visionaries she has known, who have brought about social change through history, from Dr. Martin Luther King and Bob Dylan to the Dalai Lama and Patti Smith.

In 2023, Baez appeared in the documentary Joan Baez I Am a Noise, which premiered at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival and was released to widespread acclaim on Magnolia Pictures. That same year, Baez’s acclaimed book of drawings Am I Pretty When I Fly? was published by Godine.

May 16—Los Angeles, CA—Writers Bloc
May 31—San Mateo, CA—Kepler’s Books
June 1—Berkeley, CA—Bay Area Book Festival with Greg Sarris
June 12—Ridgewood, NJ—Bookends Bookstore
June 13—Long Island, NY—Long Island LitFest
June 14—New York, NY—Symphony Space with Patti Smith
July 29—Newport, RI—Charter Books
July 31—Washington, DC—Sixth & I with Ari Shapiro