TOGETHER IN A SUDDEN STRANGENESS: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic

Event date: 
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
via Crowdcast

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 Billy Collins, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Tomás Q. Morín, Susan Kinsolving, Vijay Seshadri & April Bernard.

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Aice QuinnTogether in a Sudden StrangenessBilly Collins, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Tomás Q. Morín, Susan Kinsolving, Vijay Seshadri, April Bernard.

Images: Alice Quinn, Together in a Sudden Strangeness; Clockwise from top L: Billy Collins, Kamilah Aisha Moon,Tomás Q. Morín, Susan Kinsolving, Vijay Seshadri, April Bernard.

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. Overwhelmed by the response, the onetime New Yorker poetry editor and recent former director of the Poetry Society of America began collecting the compassionate verses that were arriving in her inbox, assembling this various, intimate, and intricate portrait of our suddenly altered reality. Whether grieving for relatives they are separated from, recovering from illness themselves, attending to suddenly complicated household tasks, or considering the bravery of medical workers and the inequities in our society that amplify sorrow and demand our engagement, our poets are just like us, but with the words to describe what can feel unspeakably difficult and strange. 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 provide wisdom and companionship, depths of feeling that enliven our spirits, and a poignant summoning to the page of spring’s inevitable return.

Alice Quinn was the executive director of the Poetry Society of America for eighteen years, Poetry Editor at The New Yorker from 1987 to 2007, and an editor at Knopf for more than ten years prior to that. She currently 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.

Billy Collins is the former Poet Laureate of the United States (2001-2003). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the author of many collections, including The Rain in Portugal and, most recently, Whale Day which was published in September 2020.

Kamilah Aisha Moon is the author of Starshine & Clay and She Has a Name. She teaches creative writing at Agnes Scott College and has been published widely, including in The Best American Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Harvard Review, and Poem-a-Day.

Tomás Q. Morín is the author of Patient Zero and A Larger Country. He is a Civitella Ranieri Fellow and the author of a forthcoming memoir, Let Me Count the Ways.

Susan Kinsolving’s poems have been described by The New Yorker as “…grand and almost terrifying.”  Her fourth collection, Peripheral Vision, was published by Red Hen Press. She is Poet in Residence at the Hotchkiss School.

Vijay Seshadri’s latest poetry book is That Was Now, This Is Then (Graywolf Press, 2020). His work has been widely published and recognized with a number of honors. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

April Bernard writes poetry, fiction, and essays; her most recent books are Miss Fuller, a novel, and Brawl & Jag, a collection of poems. She teaches at Skidmore College and in the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars.

Whale Day: And Other Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399589751
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - September 29th, 2020

That Was Now, This Is Then: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450369
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 6th, 2020

Peripheral Vision Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597096157
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Red Hen Press - May 28th, 2019

Starshine & Clay (Stahlecker Selections) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935536956
Availability: Backordered
Published: Four Way Books - September 5th, 2017

Patient Zero Cover Image
ISBN: 9781556594939
Availability: Available in our Warehouse: Usually Ships in 3-8 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 4th, 2017

Brawl & Jag: Poems Cover Image
Email us for price & availability:
ISBN: 9780393351736
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 28th, 2016

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