Monday, April 19, 7pm CT
Left Bank Books' Facebook Live Page
About Together in a Sudden Strangeness
In this urgent outpouring of American voices, our poets speak to us as they shelter in place, addressing our collective fear, grief, and hope from eloquent and diverse individual perspectives.
**Featuring 107 poets, from A to Z—Julia Alvarez to Matthew Zapruder—with work in between by Jericho Brown, Billy Collins, Fanny Howe, Ada Limón, Sharon Olds, Tommy Orange, Claudia Rankine, Vijay Seshadri, and Jeffrey Yang**
As the novel coronavirus and its devastating effects began to spread in the United States and around the world, Alice Quinn reached out to poets across the country to see if, and what, they were writing under quarantine. Moved and galvanized by the response, the onetime New Yorker poetry editor and recent former director of the Poetry Society of America began collecting the poems arriving in her inbox, assembling this various, intimate, and intricate portrait of our suddenly altered reality.
In these pages, we find poets grieving for relatives they are separated from or recovering from illness themselves, attending to suddenly complicated household tasks or turning to literature for strength, considering the bravery of medical workers or working their own shifts at the hospital, and, as the Black Lives Matter movement has swept the globe, reflecting on the inequities in our society that amplify sorrow and demand our engagement.
From fierce and resilient to wistful, darkly humorous, and emblematically reverent about the earth and the vulnerability of human beings in frightening times, the poems in this collection find the words to describe what can feel unspeakably difficult and strange, providing wisdom, companionship, and depths of feeling that enliven our spirits.
A portion of the advance for this book was generously donated by Alice Quinn and the poets to Chefs for America, an organization helping feed communities in need across the country during the pandemic.
“Both cathartic and challenging . . . This collection appears at the exact moment when the nuanced and profound nourishment it offers may be needed most . . . The diversity of voices represented by these poets reflects the endless variety of circumstances under which people have had to face this worldwide event . . . In these poems, we experience the enduring capacity of the human imagination to locate meaning, beauty, and witness—even in the direst circumstances.” —Emily Choate, Chapter 16
“One of the best books of poetry of the year . . . Quinn has accomplished something dizzying here: arranged a stellar cast of poets, some with [Diane] Seuss’s satirical eye, others with a fresh deep down sentiment. It is what all great anthologies must be: comprehensive, contradictory, stirring.” —Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
About the Speakers
Alice Quinn, the executive director of the Poetry Society of America for eighteen years, was also the poetry editor at The New Yorker from 1987-2007 and an editor at Alfred A. Knopf for more than ten years prior to that. She teaches at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and is the editor of a book of Elizabeth Bishop’s writings, Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments, as well as a forthcoming edition of Bishop’s journals.
Traci Brimhall’s latest book is Saudade (Copper Canyon Press). She is an associate professor and Director of Creator Writing at Kansas State University.
Aleksandar Hemon’s most recent book is My Parents: An Introduction/This Does Not Belong to You (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019). He teaches at Princeton University.
Vincent Katz is a poet and translator who has published translations of the Roman poet Sextus Propertius. His most recent publication is the book of poems Broadway for Paul (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020).
Dana Levin’s fourth book is Banana Palace (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). She is a Guggenheim Fellow and serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Maryville University in St. Louis.
Dante Micheaux is the author of Amorous Shepherd and Circus, which won the 2019 Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the T.S.Eliot Foundation.
Tommy Orange’s debut novel, There There, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California.
Carl Phillips is the author of fifteen books of poetry, most recently Pale Colors in a Tall Field (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020). He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.
Diane Seuss is the author of five collections of poetry, including Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press, 2015) and Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl ( 2018). frank: sonnets is forthcoming from Graywolf in 2021.
Tess Taylor is the author of five collections of poetry, including Rift Zone and Last West. She teaches poetry at UC Davis and is the poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered.
Kevin Young is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and poetry editor of The New Yorker. He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose and the editor of the Library of America’s African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a chancellor of the Academy American Poets.
All you need to do to participate is log in to your personal Facebook account, go to Left Bank Books' Facebook Live Page, and wait for the livestream to begin on the page (you may need to refresh the page periodically until the stream begins). You may also watch the simulcast on Left Bank's YouTube channel.
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