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To Be Read in the Dark

November 14, 2011

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Another excellent coming together of words and music that featured Maxine Chernoff, Joseph Lease and Kirsten Valdez Quade, along with Elizabeth Costello, Stephanie Dodaro, Andrew Kenower and Nana Twumasi. And Julian Hoover played guitar and sang. Poems and stories, from Mystery Train to missed trains, it really was a special evening.

Something now about Maxine, Joseph and Kirstin:

Maxine Chernoff is the author of 6 books of fiction and 13 collections of poetry, most recently The Turning (Apogee Press), A House in Summer (Argotiste Press), To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn Press), and forthcoming from Shearsman in spring 2012 Without. With Paul Hoover she translated The Selected Works of Friedrich Hoelderlin, which won the 2009 PEN Translation Award. Her book of stories, Signs of Devotion, was a New York Times Notable Book of 1993. She edits New American Writing and chairs the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University. Of her poems, Donald Revell said, “…there is a rectitude so pure that it not only rights but literally delights the heart. Here, most tender is most true, and tenderness shines in the cadences, each of which is new, all of which attain to love.”

Joseph Lease’s critically acclaimed books of poetry include Testify (Coffee House Press), Broken World (Coffee House Press), and Human Rights (Talisman House, second edition forthcoming). Lease’s poems “’Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” and “Send My Roots Rain” have been selected for Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (Second Edition). “‘Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” was also selected for The Best American Poetry 2002. His poems have also been featured on NPR and published in The AGNI 30th Anniversary Poetry Anthology, Bay Poetics, No Gender, The Paris Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, and elsewhere. Marjorie Perloff wrote: “The poems in Joseph Lease’s Broken World are as cool as they are passionate, as soft-spoken as they are indignant, and as fiercely Romantic as they are formally contained. Whether writing an elegy for a friend who died of AIDS or playing complex variations on Rilke’s Duino Elegies (“If I cried out, / Who among the angelic orders would / Slap my face, who would steal my / Lunch money”), Lease has complete command of his poetic materials. His poems are spellbinding in their terse and ironic authority: Yes, the reader feels when s/he has finished, this is how it was—and how it is. An exquisite collection!” And Michael Bérubé called Broken World “remarkably inventive and evocative work from Joseph Lease, one of the finest poets writing today.”

Kirstin Valdez Quade is a Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University and a former Wallace Stegner and Truman Capote Fellow. She received her B.A. from Stanford and her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere.


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