This reading will be broadcast live via Zoom.
Indigo, the newest collection by Ellen Bass, merges elegy and praise poem in an exploration of life’s complexities. Whether her subject is oysters, high heels, a pork chop, a beloved dog, or a wife’s return to health, Bass pulls us in with exquisite immediacy. Her lush and precisely observed descriptions allow us to feel the sheer primal pleasure of being alive in our own “succulent skin,” the pleasure of the gifts of hunger, desire, touch. In this book, joy meets regret, devotion meets dependence, and most importantly, the poet so in love with life and living begins to look for the point where the price of aging overwhelms the rewards of staying alive. Bass is relentless in her advocacy for the little pleasures all around her. Her gaze is both expansive and hyperfocused, celebrating (and eulogizing) each gift as it is given and taken, while also taking stock of the larger arc. She draws the lines between generations, both remembering her parents’ lives and deaths and watching her own children grow into the space that she will leave behind. Indigo shows us the beauty of this cycle, while also documenting the deeply human urge to resist change and hang on to the life we have, even as it attempts to slip away.
Poet and educator Ellen Bass is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent book of poetry, Like a Beggar, was a finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, The Publishers Triangle Award, The Milt Kessler Poetry Award, The Lambda Literary Award, and the Northern California Book Award. Previous books include The Human Line and Mules of Love, which won The Lambda Literary Award. Bass has also written works of nonfiction, including, with Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. The New Yorker has published ten of Bass’s poems throughout the years, and two have been chosen for The New Yorker podcast. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Victoria Chang’s poetry books include Obit, Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle. Her children’s books include Is Mommy?, illustrated by Marla Frazee, and Love, Love, a middle grade novel. She lives in Los Angeles and is the Program Chair of Antioch’s Low-Residency MFA Program.
Nick Flynn is the author of four previous poetry books, including My Feelings and Some Ether, which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and three memoirs, including Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. He teaches at the University of Houston and lives in New York.
Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018). His poems appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Tin House Online, and elsewhere. An editor at Guernica, he is the founder of Back Draft, an interview series focused on poetry and revision. He lives in Jersey City and teaches at Rutgers.