LOCAL>> Jody Gladding / Tawanda Mulalu – I Entered Without Words: Poems / Please make me pretty, I don't want to die
Celebrating two new collections in the Princeton Contemporary Poets series
Poets Jody Gladding and Tawanda Mulalu join us a reading and conversation about their new collections, I Entered Without Words: Poems and Please make me pretty, I don’t want to die, the latest entries in the Princeton Contemporary Poets series.
This event will be streamed on our Crowdcast channel.
Composed and printed in a landscape format, these minimal, quiet, playful, meditative, and open-ended poems are experimental in form and inviting in subject. Drawing inspiration from poets like A. R. Ammons, Lorine Niedecker, Gustaf Sobin, and Jean Valentine, and visual artists like Ann Hamilton, Roni Horn, and Cecilia Vicuña, Jody Gladding discovers exciting spatial possibilities within the page itself by exploiting white space and varying typefaces.
As the page opens into the compositional field that Mallarmé, Ponge, and others conceived it to be, words constellate around bolded through lines to offer multiple, interwoven meanings, interacting with each other and the reader, who moves freely among them, to make poems that are spatial, nonlinear, and different with each reading.
And, adding yet another dimension to the collection, many of the poems have facing-page French versions.
“Landscape-oriented” in every sense, I Entered Without Words is an ambitious, innovative, and striking collection by a major poet.
Please make me pretty, I don’t want to die explores tactility, sound, sensuality, and intimacy. Set across the four seasons of a year, these fresh and original poems by Tawanda Mulalu combine an inviting confessional voice and offbeat imagery, and offer an appealing mixture of seriousness and humor.
The speaker of these poems probes romantic and interracial intimacy, the strangeness and difficulty of his experiences as a diasporic Black African in White America, his time working as a teacher’s assistant in a third-grade classroom, and his ambivalent admiration for canonical poets who have influenced him, especially Sylvia Plath.
Juxtaposing traditional forms such as sonnets and elegies with less orthodox interjections, such as prose-poem “prayers” and other meditations, the collection presents a poetic world both familiar and jarring–one in which history, the body, and poetry can collide in a single surprising turn of image: “The stars also suffer. Immense and dead, their gasses burn / distant like castanets of antebellum teeth. My open window / a synecdoche of country.”
Jody Gladding is a poet and translator who has published four previous collections of poetry. Her awards include MacDowell and Stegner fellowships, the French-American Foundation Translation Prize, the Whiting Award, and the Yale Younger Poets Prize. She lives in East Calais, Vermont.
Tawanda Mulalu was born in Gaborone, Botswana, in 1997. He is the author of the chapbook Nearness, and his poems have appeared in many publications, including the Paris Review, Brittle Paper, and Lolwe. He lives in New York City.
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