An Evening with Cyrus Cassells, Julia Guez, Rajiv Mohabir, & Phillip B. Williams

This reading will take place on Zoom. The link will be sent to the email that you use to register as soon as you reserve a spot. (Please check your spam folder and save the link to your calendar.) It will also be sent to you the day of the reading for your convenience. 

Cyrus Cassells is the 2021 Poet Laureate of Texas. His honors include a Guggenheim fellowship, the National Poetry Series, a Lambda Literary Award, a Lannan Literary Award, two NEA grants, a Pushcart Prize, and the William Carlos Williams Award. His 2018 volume, The Gospel according to Wild Indigo, was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award, the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award, and the Balcones Poetry Prize. Still Life with Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas, translated from the Catalan, was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters’ Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translated Book of 2018 and 2019. He was nominated for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism for his film and television reviews in The Washington Spectator. He teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University and is the recipient of the 2021 Presidential Award for Scholarly / Creative Activity, one the university’s highest honors.

Julia Guez is a writer and translator based in New York City. Her essays, interviews, fiction, poetry, and translations have appeared in Guernica, POETRY, the Guardian, BOMB, the Brooklyn Rail, and Kenyon Review. Four Way Books released her first full-length collection, In An Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also A Frame, in 2019. The Certain Body will be published by Four Way Books in September 2022. Guez has been awarded the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize in Translation as well as a Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. For the last decade, Guez has worked with Teach For America New York; she’s currently the senior managing director of design and implementation. She teaches creative writing at New York University and Rutgers.

Rajiv Mohabir, an immigrant to the United States, is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize; Eric Hoffer Honorable Mention 2018) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2017), and translator of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press 2019) which received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Award and received the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. His memoir Antiman (Restless Books 2021) received the Restless Books’ New Immigrant Writing Prize. He received his PhD in English from the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa and his MFA in Poetry from Queens College, CUNY. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College. He lives in the Boston area.

Phillip B. Williams is the author of Mutiny (Penguin, 2021) and Thief in the Interior Alice James Books, 2016) which was the winner of the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a 2017 Lambda Literary award. Mutiny was named one of the “Best Books of 2021” by The Boston Globe and Lit Hub, a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and a finalist for Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. It was also Longlisted for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. Williams is also the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels and Burn. Williams’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and others. He is the recipient of a 2020 creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2017 Whiting Award, and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He serves as a faculty member at Bennington College and Randolph College low-res MFA.

Praise for the authors’ new books:

“Wrestling in the clutches of fury and mourning, Cassells—long a master purveyor of both the splendor and contradictions of the natural world, as well as the voluptuary elements of the self—turns his consummate clear-eyed gaze to a bleak and burgeoning brutality that threatens our days, siphons the spirit and challenges the realm of the poet. The World the Shooter Left Us is a world defined by stark boundaries and firepower, chalk outlines, rampant injustices and histories tainted with each and every version of sin. Cassells, a wily and relentless witness, doesn’t tiptoe through the maelstrom or allow the reader to turn away. Instead, he becomes the writer that this moment needs—one with the lyrical skill and decades of experience to craft this revelatory guidebook for our grief.” —Patricia Smith

“In this sublime second collection, Julia Guez makes exquisite patterning from the warp and weft of elegy and ode. The astonishment and clarity of these poems arrive in how they locate themselves within multiple intersecting crises—that of ecological degradation, an unfurling pandemic, conditions of precarity, and failures of the human body and the body politic—to record the velocity and vibrations of grief, and all that grief makes audible. Still, in the face of loss and its erosions, “we / may as well sing,” insists Guez. And what rises, from The Certain Body’s limpid lines, are the warm, charged notes of a collective body, which searches for defiant modes of survival. In this, Guez has fashioned a profound and vital rallying song out of a requiem.” —Jenny Xie

Rajiv Mohabir’s Cutlish uses history to interrogate the word ‘home’ and all that it might mean to those who thrive in spite of homophobia, stereotype, and xenophobia. These poems are grounded in definite time and space in a voice that refuses to be silenced, ‘They are vexed you survive; that you / rise up from the pavement…’ But what I love most is to read a poet as disciplined and committed as Mohabir as he transforms and reinvents himself in tone, in subject, and in line: ‘Let’s get one thing queer—I’m no Sabu-like sidekick, / I’m the main drag. Ram Ram in a sari; salaam // on the street. I don’t speak Hindu, Paki, or Indian, / can’t control minds, have no psychic powers.’”—Jericho Brown

“[A] remarkable second collection [Mutiny] . . . [Williams] writes powerfully about masculinity, Blackness, selfhood, anger, loneliness, and love . . . These poems shimmer with thematic heft without shying away from anger and disappointment. Balancing tenderness with rage, and love with pain, Williams offers a complex portrait of a speaker navigating a society whose history is one of brutality . . . These poems capture the resounding loneliness and grace that arrive after anger has burned away, while offering rewarding and memorable images that celebrate the opportunities to appreciate the chance for survival and renewal.”
—Publishers Weekly (starrred)