Just in time for National Poetry Month, Porter Square Books and Mass Poetry are delighted to welcome poets Erika Meitner and Sarah Matthes for a joint reading from their latest collections. Hear from Meitner's Useful Junk, lauded as "tragicomic-erotic-nostalgic with a twist of existential dread and a cherry of wit on top" and Matthes' Town Crier, a collection of Kabbalistic poems that recognize wit as a ritual of mourning and the winner of the 2020 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize.
This event will take place on Tuesday, April 12 at 7pm at Porter Square Books: Cambridge Edition in partnership with Mass Poetry.
A master of documentary poetry, Erika Meitner takes up the question of desire and intimacy in her latest collection of poems.In her previous five collections of poetry, Erika Meitner has established herself as one of America's most incisive observers, cherished for her remarkable ability to temper catastrophe with tenderness. In her newest collection Useful Junk, Meitner considers what it means to be a sexual being in a world that sees women as invisible--as mothers, customers, passengers, worshippers, wives. These poems render our changing bodies as real and alive, shaped by the sense memories of long-lost lovers and the still thrilling touch of a spouse after years of parenthood, affirming that we are made of every intimate moment we have ever had. Letter poems to a younger poet interspersed throughout the collection question desire itself and how new technologies--Uber, sexting, Instagram--are reframing self-image and shifting the ratios of risk and reward in erotic encounters.With dauntless vulnerability, Meitner travels a world of strip malls, supermarkets, and subway platforms, remaining porous and open to the world, always returning to the intimacies rooted deep within the self as a shout against the dying earth. Boldly affirming that pleasure is a vital form of knowledge, Useful Junk reminds us that our selves are made real and beautiful by our embodied experiences and that our desire is what keeps us alive
Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; Copia (BOA Editions, 2014); and Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her sixth book of poems, Useful Junk, was just published by BOA Editions on April 5th. Meitner’s poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared most recently in The New Republic, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, Orion, Poetry, The Believer, and elsewhere. Other honors include fellowships from MacDowell, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Blue Mountain Center, and Bethany Arts Community. Meitner holds both an MFA in Creative Writing, and an MA in Religious Studies from UVA, where she was the Morgenstern Fellow in Jewish Studies. She was also the 2015 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, and is currently a 2022 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellow. Meitner is a professor of English at Virginia Tech.
The poems in Town Crier wryly express the pervasive nature of loss, how it suffuses all aspects of a life: memories, hopes, love, sex, lunch. The death of the author’s dear friend, the late poet Max Ritvo, becomes the cornerstone of the book, a foundational pain along which the poems are aligned. The poems grieve. They try to cope. They come up short. They try again, insisting as they do that language holds consequential, redemptive powers. Sarah Matthes is equal parts jester and conjurer, sensing the precious alchemy of laughter and lament, crying out to those who have left her and those who remain.
Sarah Matthes is a poet from central New Jersey. Her debut collection of poetry Town Crier (Persea, 2021) won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming with Pleiades, The Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, Yalobusha Review, poets.org, and elsewhere. Matthes has received support for her work from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Yiddish Book Center, and is the recipient of the 2019 Tor House Prize from the Robinson Jeffers Foundation and the 2019 Andrew Julius Gutow Prize from the Academy of American Poets. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Yale University. She serves as the managing editor of Bat City Review, and teaches poetry at the University of Texas at Austin.
Interested in joining our event on 4/12 with Erika Meitner and Sarah Matthes? RSVP here to reserve your spot!
Please note the following in-person attendance guidelines:
-We will follow a list of RSVPs and check you in when you enter (no need to bring a physical ticket- in fact, there is no physical ticket!).
-Attendees must wear a mask at all times during the event.
-Proof of vaccination must be shown upon arrival at the event (a vaccination card, online vaccination record, or photo of your vaccine card are all fine - please bring a form of ID to confirm your name).
We thank you for respecting the safety of our community and staff by following these guidelines!