Michael Dean Gallagher is a poet, painter, musician, and book curator from Oakland, California. He self-publishes books of poetry and runs an online and pop-up vintage book store called Candlelight Books. His mother is an Irish teacher from Stockton and his father a Mexican punk rocker from LA. Michael got his start writing lyrics and playing bass in a punk band called Udder Nonsense in 6th grade. Later in his teens he joined a spoken word poetry collective called With Our Words (WOW), a life-changing decision that would launch him into the world of poetry performance.
With Our Words went on to compete in Youth Speaks’ Brave New Voices International spoken word competition two years in a row representing team Stockton in Chicago and Los Angeles. Later down the road, With Our Words linked up with Grammy award winning group The Parker String Quartet as well as renowned chamber group The Peabody Trio to create a hybrid spoken word meets chamber music performance show. The show toured New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Vermont, Texas, and more. Proceeds helped fundraise for various causes including the Yellow Barn School of Music. With Our Words was now international.
A short time after the tour Michael attended California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco with a major in Writing and Literature. During his stay at CCA he got to hone his practice with masters like Ishmael Reed, Joseph Lease, Hugh Steinberg, Donna De La Perriere, and Gloria Frym. Michael graduated with a BA in Creative Writing and Literature in 2015. Last year Michael published his first collection of poetry entitled Purple Needle Grass. Purple Needle Grass is a surreal ode to Nasella Pulchra as well as an aggressive, political, and beautiful take on the value of nature. Michael’s poetry often interweaves history, landscape, and personal struggle. His work embodies heavy doses of reality as well as a humble call for change.
In the summer of 2020 Michael released his 2nd book of poetry Birds Are Real. Birds Are Real is a take on internet paranoia, power structures, revolution within the body, and the loss of friends. Michael spent the month of June 2019 in Oaxaca Mexico at the Arquetopia Artist Residency where he crafted a manuscript of poems called Decentered. Decentered is a de-colonial, ego vaporizing, act of self-defiance. Look out for the release at the end of 2020. Michael is also working on a collection of poetry called Back of the House – an ode to his 13 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Back of House will be ready for release in early 2021.
Michael has interned at La Peña Cultural Center, worked with FME at after-school programs teaching skateboarding and beat making courses, and taught visual arts at Attitudinal Healing Connection in West Oakland. He has also done direct action and arts activism work with Occupy Oakland, The California Youth Allegory Fellowship, SustainUS, The Beehive Collective, and Green Peace. In July 2019 Michael attended a residency at CAMP in the French Pyrenees Mountains focused on arts activism with Adbusters, The Center for Political Beauty, and Brandalism. Michael has played in and managed punk and indie rock bands most of his life and enjoys cooking, skateboarding, travel.