Poetry Reading: Matthew Minicucci, Caleb Curtiss and Charlotte Pence

About the books:

"In this marvelous debut collection, Charlotte Pence provides us with all the pleasures of poetic tension. We have the pull of narrative and the flares of the lyric, the graceful rhythm of blank verse and the thrill of innovative forms, the contest for survival both between a father and a daughter and between Homo Sapiens and other species within our genus. The poems explore the idea of survival, not only the survival of a speaker who transcends a precarious childhood but, for example, a 'juvenile male bear with his head stuck in a plastic Walmart candy jar' who 'learned to drink by laying down in shallow streams.' In language that is sometimes word-crunchy and dense, sometimes delightfully simple ('In her small life, she is happier than before'), Pence's Many Small Fires is a beautiful, necessary book. Come, warm your hands." —Beth Ann Fennelly

Taxonomy of the Space Between Us is an elegant chronicle of grief, of the sprawling bonds between brothers and sisters, of bodies in this world, of the power of language when so artfully arranged. Caleb Curtiss is a poet among poets and in this beautiful and assured collection, he makes himself heard and how. —Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist

“What are we to do with anger? What are we to do with love? What are we to do with one another, given all that happens and has happened between us? These are a few of the questions that haunt Matthew Minicucci’s deeply original and profoundly moving poems. In work personal and learned, steeped in familial life, the natural world, and the culture’s storehouse of literature, myth, and history, Minicucci transforms outward knowledge and observation into accurate and deftly navigable vessels of inner life. Whales’ hearts and family stories; etymologies, metrics, and syntax; the war machines and fishing lures of past and present worlds—all are harnessed together, hammered together, in this book-long exploration of our shared and particular human fates.” —Jane Hirshfield

About the authors:

Charlotte Pence’s poetry merges the personal with the scientific by engaging with current evolutionary theory. Her first full-length poetry collection, Many Small Fires (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) explores her father’s chronic homelessness while simultaneously detailing the physiological changes that enabled humans to form cities, communities, and households. A professor of English and creative writing at Eastern Illinois University, she is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks and the editor of The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi, 2012). New poetry is forthcoming in Epoch, Harvard Review, and The Southern Review.

Matthew Minicucci’s first full-length collection, Translation, was chosen by Jane Hirshfield for the 2014 Wick Poetry Prize and will be published by Kent State University Press in 2015. His work has also appeared in or is forthcoming from numerous journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2014, The Cincinnati Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, and Third Coast, among others. He currently teaches writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Caleb Curtiss is the author of A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us, winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. His work has appeared in journals such as Passages North, New England Review, TriQuarterly, Gigantic Sequins, Green Mountains Review, and elsewhere. He edits poetry for Hobart and lives in Champaign, IL.