Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination


Welcome to San Francisco: the first fully gentrified city in America.

May Jones is a bail bondswoman, someone who makes her living by putting people back onto the streets. Her most recent client, a young black woman, is on trial for the murder of her boyfriend, a police informant in the Fillmore District, also known as the "Harlem of the West," the neighborhood that the powers-that-be of San Francisco would like more than anything to see disappear. May becomes a target of the police, and of her own shadowed past among the people of Fillmore—strippers, alcoholic policemen, psychic gunshot victims, fugitives—as she walks the narrowest tightrope on the West Coast: the line of personal conscience that separates justice from authority.

By turns lyrical, incisive, hilarious and bittersweet, Peter Plate's Elegy Written On A Crowded Street explores the human cost of the twenty-first century American city with a unique honesty, beauty, and moral power.


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“[Plate] can write, and he certainly knows his terrain . . . try to catch him at a spoken word event or reading, where he often recounts his stories from memory. It's clear they are intertwined with his life.”


Peter Plate taught himself to write fiction during the eight years he spent living in abandoned buildings. Also a spoken word artist, he has been known to recite his novels from memory. In 2004 Plate was named a Literary Laureate of San Francisco, where he lives.