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June 11, 2021 at 6:00 PM PDT
This event has been rescheduled from March 5, 2021.
Former Poet Laureate Rita Dove has said that “poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Yet many readers still struggle to understand the meanings of poems. In his Word Works lecture, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown will dive into what’s going on when we read a poem and think, “That doesn’t make sense.” Looking at examples of sense and nonsense in his and others’ work, Brown will explore the different techniques poets use to balance meaning and mystery.
After the talk, Brown will be interviewed by Bettina Judd.
All Word Works events this season will take place online. Tickets cost $15 general admission, $12 for members. We also have a $5 option for students or anyone who is financially disadvantaged. Tickets can be purchased at the bottom of the page.
This event will take place via CrowdCast, Pacific Time.
For tickets to all six Word Works events, purchase a series pass here.
Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the director of the creative writing program at Emory University in Atlanta.
A poem is a gesture toward home.
It makes dark demands I call my own.
Memory makes demands darker than my own:
My last love drove a burgundy car.
My first love drove a burgundy car.
He was fast and awful, tall as my father.
Steadfast and awful, my tall father
Hit hard as a hailstorm. He’d leave marks.
Light rain hits easy but leaves its own mark
Like the sound of a mother weeping again.
Like the sound of my mother weeping again,
No sound beating ends where it began.
None of the beaten end up how we began.
A poem is a gesture toward home.
Bettina Judd is an interdisciplinary writer, artist and performer whose research focus is on Black women’s creative production and our use of visual art, literature, and music to develop feminist thought. Her current book manuscript argues that Black women’s creative production is feminist knowledge production produced by registers of affect she calls “feelin.” She is currently assistant professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies at the University of Washington.
She has received fellowships from the Five Colleges, The Vermont Studio Center and the University of Maryland. Her poems and essays have appeared in Feminist Studies, Torch, Mythium, Meridians and other journals and anthologies. Her collection of poems titled patient., which tackles the history of medical experimentation on and display of Black women, won the Black Lawrence Press Hudson Book Prize and was released in November of 2014. As a performer she has been invited to perform for audiences within the United States and internationally.
Word Works craft talks by novelists, essayists, poets, and memoirists focus on writing as process rather than finished product, examining how language works to inspire and provoke new ideas through live close readings of the writer’s own or others’ work. These talks are designed to apply to writers of all genres as well as illuminate well-known works for avid readers. The talks are followed by an interview with a noted editor, writer, or critic.