Join us for a poetry reading & book signing with Irène Mathieu, author of Grand Marronage, and Nina Murray, author of the forthcoming Alcestis in the Underworld. Free & open to the public.
About Grand Marronage: "Grand Marronage is a remarkable book, resolved to regard the difficulties and beauties of the past and present, to acknowledge the forces that would seek to control how both are seen, and to find the strength of its own steady gaze. These poems have a wild and courageous openness, full of intelligence and heart. The poet records "the dual wishes for her children to / write their own and to remember / the names of every ancestor before." Grand Marronage makes a space where those wishes can breathe and grow." —Heather Christle
"Irène Mathieu brings us a vision across generations of black womanhood, one that crosses ocean, myth and language. This is a solemn, sweet bite of poetry that reminds us how the past is only a skin away from our present." —Tyehimba Jess
"Grand marronage—the practice of enslaved folks running away and creating their own communities—is a tradition of freedom-making. Mathieu taps into this tradition, highlighting the creativity and resilience found within her family history. Grand Marronage tells a story that cannot be found in history books. It is the story of Louisiana—and America—that lives in bodies, bones, and the earth. The images she creates will stay with me." —LaKisha Michelle Simmons
"In Irène Mathieu’s Grand Marronage her poems dig beneath the surface of gender, culture, and memory to create a complex multi-layered collection driven by a nuanced cultural lens that is rarely found in contemporary poetry. With poems both visceral and ethereal Grand Marronage attempts its own kind of freedom by highlighting the black body in a localized history and space of intimacy. These are poems that never forget the contexts of human experience and pull us deeper into our understanding of who we are today and how we came to be." —Matthew Shenoda
About Alcestis in the Underworld: In Greek myth, Alcestis descends to the underworld in place of her husband, a king, so that he may continue to rule the living. After she returns, she and her family live—presumably—happily ever after. But she has seen and learned things no one else knows. Alcestis in the Underworld articulates the poet’s personal experience of civic duty: her life in Moscow as a U.S. diplomat, after growing up in then-USSR Ukraine.
“The myth of Alcestis’ journey to the underworld finds new meaning in Nina Murray’s book-length sequence of poems.… Murray expertly navigates the shifting borderlands of 21st-century life, where the line between poetry and prose blurs, foreign policy meets desire, and the inscrutable is our common inheritance. Every page of Alcestis in the Underworld shines. This is a book of revelations for our time.” — Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood
“Alcestis in the Underworld radiates a level of universal empathy and vivid experience that cements Murray’s place as masterful poet.” — Jordan Blum, The Bookends Review