New poetry: Alyse Bensel and Simone Savannah, hosted by Megan Kaminski
Alyse Bensel and Simone Savannah, both University of Kansas creative writing Ph.D graduates, present their debut poetry collections. The evening will be hosted by Megan Kaminski, associate professor of creative writing at the University of Kansas.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
A poetic biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Rare Wondrous Things investigates the history of this German artist and naturalist who made groundbreaking discoveries in entomology. While Merian led an exceptional life—even traveling to Suriname at fifty-two years old in the pursuit of knowledge—her name has largely remained in obscurity, and her personal life is still shrouded in mystery. These poems recover her legacy by exploring the tensions between science and religion, professional aspirations and motherhood, wifehood and independence, and biographer and subject.
Jericho Brown, who selcted Uses of My Body as the winner of the Barrow Street Poetry Prize, says "Uses of My Body is a bold first book about womanhood, daughterhood, and physical intimacy, and about how we experience these states only in larger communities of knowing. In these poems, Simone Savannah reaches an erotic zenith formerly known as the “lyric moment” in plainspoken and understated ways that make for surprise and awe: “The first time we met, we stood at each other’s bodies/talking directions and humidity./He said he wanted me/because he saw me standing/with my hip out in the middle of Kansas.” This is quite the unique and necessary debut."
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Alyse Bensel is the author of Rare Wondrous Things, a poetic biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (Green Writers Press, July 2020). Her poems have recently appeared in or are forthcoming from Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Pleiades, Puerto del Sol, Ruminate, West Branch, and elsewhere. Her fiction and nonfiction have been featured at The Boiler, Entropy, and Pithead Chapel. She is also the author of three poetry chapbooks, most recently Lies to Tell the Body (Seven Kitchens Press, 2018).
Simone Savannah is the author of Uses of My Body (Barrow Street 2020) and Like Kansas (Big Lucks 2018). She earned her M.Ed and B.A. from Ohio University. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Kansas. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.
A poetic biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Rare Wondrous Things investigates the history of this German artist and naturalist who made groundbreaking discoveries in entomology.
Poetry. In the spirit of Audre Lorde's essay collection Sister Outsider, the charged and direct language of USES OF MY BODY emphasizes black women's experience of erasure, sexual and racial violence, as well as pleasure and healing.
Poetry. How do we care for a broken world, especially when we ourselves are broken-hearted? How do we nurture others when we have scarce resources? How do we maintain our own sense of self under these pressures? The work of care falls disproportionately on women and often renders them lacking and unacknowledged in their labor.