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LOCAL>> Ellery Akers, Gerald Fleming, Julia Levine – Swerve, The Bastard and the Bishop, Ordinary Psalms
Three poets read from their new collections
Ellery Akers, Gerald Fleming and Julia Levine read from their new poetry collections, Swerve: Poems on Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance, The Bastard and the Bishop, and Ordinary Psalms.
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Struggling to accept her impending blindness, the speaker in Julia B. Levine‘s fifth collection of poetry, Ordinary Psalms, asks everyday life to help her learn how to see beyond appearances into fundamental truths.As she contemplates the loss of one friend to cancer and another to suicide, along with her own visual impairment, Levine holds the world “close as I needed / to see.” Imagistic, lyrical, and at times imploring divine intervention from a god she does not know or trust, these poems curse and praise the extraordinary place we live in and are in danger of losing. Lamenting that “this world is a mortal affliction / with wounds in the beautiful,” Ordinary Psalms provides a seductive and lyric rumination on radiance, loss, and grief.
The Bastard and the Bishop
Gerald Fleming, a master of the prose poem, is never satisfied to sing the same song, and this adventuresome spirit pays dividends in these new prose poems. Constantly surprising and inventive, he offers stories within stories that effortlessly merge the personal and the archetypal, breathing new life into a genre that has increasingly, and often sadly, become predictable.
The late W. S. Merwin said Ellery Akers‘s nature poems are a “joy to discover” because they embody a “lost sense of the living world.” In Swerve, Akers celebrates the wild while facing climate change, extinction, and loss. These poems confront us with the many threats to our world, eventually guiding us through stages of grief towards hope and action. The poems in Swerve give voice to the shock, fear, and desperation many feel about the environment. They meditate on the beauty of the non-human world. They champion women in the #MeToo movement who are empowering themselves and making vital changes. Powerful and compassionate, Swerve is ultimately a call to activism, inspiring readers to “swerve” and demand a better world.
Gerald Fleming‘s most recent book is The Bastard and the Bishop, prose poems from Hanging Loose Press in Brooklyn, New York (2021). Previous books are One (an experiment in monosyllabic prose poems, also from Hanging Loose), The Choreographer (longer prose poems from Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco), Night of Pure Breathing (Hanging Loose), and Swimmer Climbing onto Shore (Sixteen Rivers). He’s written numerous books for teachers, and taught in San Francisco’s public schools for thirty-seven years. He lives most of the year in the West Marin, part of the year in Paris. Among his recent editing work is The Collected Poetry and Prose of Lawrence Fixel (Sixteen Rivers, 2020)
Julia B. Levine is the author of five collections of poetry; her most recent, Ordinary Psalms (LSU Press, 2021), examines the idea of spiritual vision as opposed to sight as she struggles with her impending blindness. Her previous collection, Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, was awarded the Northern California Book Award in Poetry; she has won multiple other awards, including the 2020 Bellevue Literary Review Poetry Prize, the 2020 Public Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Tiferet Poetry Prize. She lives in Davis, California.
Ellery Akers is the author of three poetry books, most recently, Swerve: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance, which won Book Authority’s Award for Best Environmentalism Books of All Time. She’s won many other writing awards, including an IPPY Award and the Poetry International Prize. Her poetry has been featured on National Public Radio and in Poetry and The New York