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. Moderated by Alice Quinn, this event features readings by contributors Didi Jackson, Major Jackson, Jay Parini, D. Nurkse, Julia Guez, and Clare Rossini.
About Together in a Sudden Strangeness: 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.
About the readers:
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 to 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 book of Bishop’s journals. She lives in New York City and Millerton, New York.
Didi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, New England Review, and Ploughshares. She teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University.
Major Jackson’s most recent collection is The Absurd Man (W. W. Norton, 2020). His edited volumes include The Best American Poetry 2019 and Renga for Obama. A Guggenheim Fellow, he teaches at Vanderbilt University.
Jay Parini is a poet and novelist who teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont. His latest book of poems is New and Collected Poems: 1975– 2015. He recently published a memoir, Borges and Me (2020).
D. Nurkse is the author of eleven poetry collections, most recently Love in the Last Days (Knopf, 2017).
Julia Guez is the author of In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame (Four Way Books). She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University and works at Teach for America New York. Guez lives in Brooklyn and online at www.juliaguez.net.
Clare Rossini is Artist-in-Residence in the English Department at Trinity College in Hartford, where she teaches creative writing and directs an arts outreach program in a Hartford public magnet school. The Poetry of Capital, an anthology she co-edited, was released on November 24 by the University of Wisconsin Press.
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