Grounded in protest and solidarity, Subhaga Crystal Bacon’s Isabella Gardner Award-winning Transitory is a collection of elegies memorializing 46 transgender and gender-nonconforming people murdered in the US and Puerto Rico in 2020.
Epistolary in nature, these commemorative poems are “gleaned sketches” attempting to reconstruct lives and deaths from the typically scarce information made available on the internet. Interspersed with the elegies are personal explorations of gender identities and sexualities from a Queer elder who has lived through the post-Stonewall years of sexual liberation, the second wave of feminism, and the recent rapid increases in awareness about gender and sexualities met almost equally with anti-trans and anti-Queer violence.
Seen through the lenses of whiteness and privilege from the last quarter of a lifetime, these poems navigate the desire to be at home in our bodies, to be loved and desired without danger, and most of all to live free, healthy, and welcome in the world we inhabit.
Subhaga Crystal Bacon is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey, BOA 2004, and Blue Hunger, Methow Press, 2020. She was a nominee for the 2021-23 Washington State Poet Laureateship and was nominated for both Pushcart and Best of the Web prizes in 2021. A Queer elder, she is a teacher of embodied awakening and poetry and the places where they intersect. Subhaga’s work touches on the liminal spaces between personal identity— gender, sexuality, aging, loss, and ways of being— and contemplation of the natural world. She lives with her partner, Sugandhi Katharine Barnes, a painter, and their Labradoodle, Lola, in the expansive Twisp River valley on the eastern slopes of the North Cascade mountains in Twisp, WA.
CAConrad has been working with the ancient technologies of poetry and ritual since 1975. They are the author of AMANDA PARADISE, forthcoming from Wave Books in 2021. Their book While Standing in Line for Death won a Lambda Literary Award. They also received a Creative Capital grant, a Pew Fellowship, and a Believer Magazine Book Award. They teach at Columbia University in New York City and Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam. Please view their books, essays, recordings, and upcoming events at bit.ly/88CAConrad.
Jill McDonough is the author of Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens, 2012), Where You Live (Salt, 2012), Reaper (Alice James Books, 2017), and Here All Night (Alice James Books, 2019). The recipient of three Pushcart prizes and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and Stanford’s Stegner program, she taught incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program for thirteen years. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Slate, The Nation, The Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass-Boston.
Diane Seuss is the author of six books of poetry. Her most recent collection is frank: sonnets (Graywolf Press 2021), winner of the PEN/Voelcker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press 2018), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press 2015) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (University of Massachusetts Press), received the Juniper Prize. Her sixth collection, Modern Poetry, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in March 2024 and is available for preorder now. Seuss was a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow. She received the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021. Seuss was raised by a single mother in rural Michigan, which she continues to call home.
Diane Seuss’s signature voice―audacious in its honesty, virtuosic in its artistry, outsider in its attitude―has become one of the most original in contemporary poetry. Her latest collection takes its title, Modern Poetry, from the first textbook Seuss encountered as a child and the first poetry course she took in college, as an enrapt but ill-equipped student, one who felt poetry was beyond her reach. Many of the poems make use of the forms and terms of musical and poetic craft―ballad, fugue, aria, refrain, coda―and contend with the works of writers overrepresented in textbooks and anthologies and those too often underrepresented. Seuss provides a moving account of her picaresque years and their uncertainties, and in the process, she enters the realm between Modernism and Romanticism, between romance and objectivity, with Keats as ghost, lover, and interlocutor.
In poems of rangy curiosity, sharp humor, and illuminating self-scrutiny, Modern Poetry investigates our time’s deep isolation and divisiveness and asks: What can poetry be now? Do poems still have the capacity to mean? “It seems wrong / to curl now within the confines / of a poem,” Seuss writes. “You can’t hide / from what you made / inside what you made.” What she finds there, finally, is a surprising but unmistakable love.
Event Location and Ticket Information
Date: Sunday, November 19, 2023
Times: 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm