Charis and Cliterati pair up to present an inviting and fierce open mic & reading series on the 3rd Thursday of every month. This month's featured poet is Natalie J. Graham whose collection, Begin with a Failed Body, was selected by Kwame Dawes as the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize Winner.
This collection of poems begins rooted in the landscape of the U.S. South as it voices singular lives carved out of immediate and historical trauma. While these poems dwell in the body, often meditating on its frailty and desire, they also question the weight that literary, historical, and religious icons are expected to bear. Within the vast scope of this volume, the poems arc from a pig farmer’s funeral to Georges de la Tour’s paintings and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. With an ear tuned to the lift and lilt of speech, they wring song from sorrow and plant in every dirge a seed of jubilation. Rich in clarity and decisive in her attention to image, Natalie J. Graham writes resonant, lush poetry.
Excerpt from “Ophelia by Water” in Begin with a Failed Body
Even with the buzz and prick of summer,
what thumped in her brain
was not the pulse of a dark thicket,
the frenetic crescendo of cicadas,
but snippets of verse that sounded sacred.
She turned away from noise,
cooling her hem in the current,
washing a hand over her face.
Lit from within,
she was a candle to the cerulean shadows,
perched on the edge
of a black tangle of climbing vines.
She waited, a doll half wooden and half glass.
This is a Charis Circle From Margin to Center Literary Event. The Suggested Donation for Charis Circle is $5.
Please note: the date of this session has been changed from October 5th to September 21st. We hope you will join us for a workshop with the 2016 Cave Canem Prize winner, Natalie J. Graham!
A native of Gainesville, Florida, Natalie earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Florida and completed her Ph.D. in American Studies at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Fellow. Her poems have appeared in Callaloo, New England Review, Valley Voices: A Literary Review and Southern Humanities Review; and her articles are forthcoming in The Journal of Popular Culture and Transition. She is a Cave Canem fellow and assistant professor of African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton.
Natalie debut, award-winning poetry collection, Begin with a Failed Body will be released in September. We are so excited to see her at The Poetry Lab in October. Reserve your seat early!
Cash, venmo, square app are also accepted on site
Everyone is welcome!
Please bring writing materials to the session.