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An Evening of Poetry with Rob Schlegel and Katie Peterson
April 20, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Join us Saturday, April 20 at 7 pm to hear Rob Schlegel and Katie Peterson read from their new collections of poetry.
Rob Schlegel is the author of The Lesser Fields (Center for Literary Publishing 2009), selected by James Longenbach for the Colorado Prize for Poetry, and January Machine (Four Way Books 2014), selected by Stephanie Burt for the Grub Street National Book Prize. His third collection is In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps (University of Iowa Press 2019), selected by Brenda Shaughnessy for the Iowa Poetry Prize. With the poets Daniel Poppick and Rawaan Alkhatib, he co-edits The Catenary Press. Most recently, he has taught at Whitman College, and in the MFA Program at Portland State University.
With calm abandon, Rob Schlegel stands among the genderless trees to shake notions of masculinity and fatherhood. Schlegel incorporates the visionary into everyday life, inhabiting patterns of relation that do not rely on easy categories. Working from the premise that poetry is indistinguishable from the life of the poet, Schlegel considers how his relationship to the creative process is forever changed when he becomes something new to someone else. “The meaning I’m trying to protect is,” Schlegel writes, “the heart is neither boy, nor girl.” In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps is a tender search for the mother in the father, the poet in the parent, the forest in the human.
Praise for In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps:
“Rob Schlegel’s In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps is dominated by three of the most remarkable long poems I’ve read in years, but it is especially ‘Novella’ that has grabbed me and won’t let me go. Schlegel writes with the easy lyric mastery he has demonstrated in each of his previous books. In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps quietly elicits a great clamor of feeling.” —Shane McCrae
“Precise and nuanced, this lyric journey is at once fable, field guide, confession, and thrilling meditative adventure. I know of no poet quite so gifted as Rob Schlegel at chronicling the way ‘impulse turns over [the] mind.’” —Mary Szybist
“Rob Schlegel has a voice you’d follow into the dark woods, knowing full well it’s hard, awful, daily, plain, living truth you’re running toward. The speaker in this book is a heartbreaker of a storyteller—a synesthesiac of mixed feelings, bad news, and wordsmithery. I feel known, caught out, believed in, vulnerable, when I read this book.” —Brenda Shaughnessy
Katie Peterson is the author of the poetry collections: This One Tree, Permission, and The Accounts. She lives in California and teaches at the University of California, Davis.
Dense, rich, and challenging, Katie Peterson’s A Piece of Good News explores interior and exterior landscapes, exposure, and shelter. Imbued with a hallucinatory poetic logic where desire, anger, and sorrow supplant intelligence and reason, these poems are powerful meditations of mourning, love, doubt, political citizenship, and happiness. Learned, wise, and witty, Peterson explodes the possibilities of the poetic voice in this remarkable and deeply felt collection.
Praise for A Piece of Good News:
“Katie Peterson is writing at the height of her prodigious powers. A poet of sensuous intellect, mordant wit, tender and ramifying vision, Peterson is a latter-day American transcendentalist gone Pacific, material, skeptical yet sublime. This is a westering poetry, occasionally housed and scoured in Dickinson’s Massachusetts, a poetry with a simultaneous lust for distance and for close exacting contact. Peterson writes as a citizen, a reader, a thinker, a mourner, a wife, a ceaseless questioner. Can the pastoral poem become civic? How might lyric encompass the polis? How to mourn, how to hope, how to see. These are gripping poems born of their own possessed attentiveness. This is a probing, animal, philosophical poetry, a poetry of intimacy and public things, private offerings and national currents. The good news here is partial, unflinching, contingent, persistent, flickering and beautiful and alive.” —Maureen McLane
“In the fourth collection from Peterson (The Accounts), a typical poem moves by visceral detail rather than by association or logic, with many spectacular arrivals that overwhelm the journey: “there should be a word/ for when events are natural/ but their order makes no sense.” A poem called “The Sentence” is indeed one sentence that climbs gorgeously to the top of a mountain, exposing glacier, lake, and wildflower, to snag on an aspen carved by a couple “who loved themselves so much they stayed right/ there with their knives until they finished their names.” Elsewhere, light leaking through a barn roof becomes a metaphor for how knowledge enters as brilliant fragments, “nearly splitting/ the sides of the bushel basket.” These poems burst into consciousness: a child meets John Lennon through her mother’s tears at his death, knives and scissors are the implements of love. The heart of the collection is “The Massachusetts Book of the Dead,” a sequence of haiku-like poems that navigate the aftermath of a mother’s death: “Her shopping list, years after she was gone./ The pleasure of organizing need.” “Self Help,” which begins, “The eye is the lamp of the body, so I tried/ to make a world when all I ate was light,” gets bogged down in a forced digestive conceit. But “The Economy” makes elegant work of the same theme: gifts that must be spent.” —Publishers Weekly
“Katie Peterson’s poems establish new proportions in reality—the coin in the hand, the state stamped on the coin, a flower petal, the horizon, Judas’s betrayal, private intimacy, public threat. Tenderly, brutally, by surge, syncopation, and surprise, she delivers revelation. An essential book for our brutal age.” —Rosanna Warren
Photo by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash