Wednesday 13th Sept
In light of recent news of the death of poet Gboyega Odubanjo, every reader will be reading a poem of Gboyega's in addition to their own and all book sales will will go to the fundraiser his family started:
A close friend of Gboyega, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, will also be reading.
Named a Best or Most-Anticipated book of the season by The New Yorker, Vogue, LitHub, Vulture, Lambda Literary, and Autostraddle, Megan Fernandes’ I Do Everything I’m Told explores disobedience and worship, longing and possessiveness, and nights of wandering cities. Its poems span thousands of miles, as a masterful crown of sonnets starts in Shanghai, then moves through Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Palermo, Paris, and Philadelphia—with a speaker who travels solo, adventures with strangers, struggles with the parameters of sexuality, and speculates on desire.
Across four sections, poems navigate the terrain of queer, normative, and ambiguous intimacies with a frank intelligence: “It’s better to be illegible, sometimes. Then they can’t govern you.” Strangers, ancestors, priests, ghosts, the inner child, sisters, misfit raccoons, Rimbaud, and Rilke populate the pages. Beloveds are unnamed, and unrealized desires are grieved as actual losses. The poems are grounded in real cities, but also in a surrealist past or an impossible future, in cliché love stories made weird, in ordinary routines made divine, and in the cosmos itself, sitting on Saturn’s rings looking back at Earth. When things go wrong, Fernandes treats loss with a sacred irreverence: “Contradictions are a sign we are from god. We fall. We don’t always get to ask why.”
“For Fernandes…place is not desire’s terminus. Instead, the names of cities allow her to drop pins on a map of desire, to create a spatial record of an erotic life, its traffic, its compulsions…. exists something like a constellation…As words are stripped away, nonchalance also fades, leaving in its wake something hotter and raw…The geographic mode gives Fernandes a way to spatialize and examine the life lived… geography paradoxically points to places off the map, not to real life but to potential life, to places that can be inhabited only in the poems…transforms verse into multiverse.”
“This collection traverses the world from Shanghai to Brooklyn to Lisbon and even further, with Fernandes crafting a kinetic-voiced speaker who is constantly wrestling with issues of desire, sexuality, loss, and adventure to extremely compelling effect.”
— New York Magazine
Edgar Kunz’s second collection of poems, FIXER, follows on the heels of Tap Out, his award-winning “gritty, insightful debut”
"In FIXER, Kunz cements his reputation as having a keen eye on the working poor, and on class in America. Temp jobs, conspiracy theories, talk therapy, the robot revolution—any worker today has felt the weight of job-induced existential anxieties. FIXER looks at the strangeness of labor, the little shifts that count as successes and failures, through poems that are searching, sharp, and wry. The virtuosic central sequence explores the untimely death of the poet’s estranged father, a handyman and addict, and the brothers left to sort through the detritus of a life long lost to them—and woven throughout, the poet places bright spots in the form of love poems to family, to friends, to a plant on a trellis. Kunz writes that the poems emerged after a period of not writing—after Trump and the pandemic, the growing sense of apocalypse, the poems finally “started to emerge out of that turbulent period--poems that grieved and celebrated and survived and hoped for a future.” - Washington Post
'It is difficult to describe Edgar Kunz’s Fixer without engaging in the superlatives that the book’s own ethos would defy, without swarming the page with adjectives that seem to oppose each other, but somehow, in Fixer, do not. Elegant, raw. Romantic, deadpan cynical. Lushly erotic and spare. Informal in diction but perfectly artful in structure and craft. Fixer is a book of work. Of the ludicrous jobs we do to stay almost-afloat. Glass cutter. Gas station model. Dip taster. The addictive, Sisyphean work of hunting for work, enacted in clean syntax that cuts to the chase and the bone. The weird labor of loss. Even of gain. I find myself bonded to the unheroic hero of these poems, whose world and character are as sustained and convincing as the protagonist’s in a novel I can’t shake. I know these feelings—of failing oneself, failing and being failed by others, losing a parent who was already lost, and sustaining oneself via desire, and even love. Maybe it fails the book to call it a masterpiece, but it’s all I’ve got.' — Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets