Poetry Reading - David Lazar and Diane Raptosh

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm

“Once again, and never before, Raptosh hikes us deeper into the high hills of our own ‘upside down’ world. Book two of her brilliant unfolding trilogy illuminates the lush amber interior of her wonder; her swirling titles and jubilant magpie turns of phrase entreat. I was still ‘touching my nose’ long after my hand rested on the back cover.” --Nikkey Finney, author of Head Off & Split, Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry

Poets David Lazar and Diane Raptosh read from their new works, Who's Afraid of Helen of Troy?: An Essay on Love and Human Directional

At 57th Street Books


About Who's Afraid of Helen of Troy: In Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy, David Lazar extends the language of prose poetry, mixing the classical and the high modern, the song and dance man, and the Odyssean. Nothing, he finds, is as far apart as we think, except for chaos and order, innocence and experience. Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy is a sequence of prose poems about the ravages of love, how we desire it, and whether we care to recover.

The voice in these prose poems is semi-autobiographical, and performative; masked yet emotionally raw. It draws on features of modernist poetry, uses an arch, cadenced sentence as its primary unit, but draws on the Iliad, Odyssey, and other classical myths as part of its internal cosmos. The book is an essay, of sorts, and a chorus of one, splintered. It takes the prose poem to a new pitch of expressive and intellectual discourse.

The speaker dreams himself in and out of movies and cities: Troy, Paris, London. On the verge of dissolution, he understands that memory is almost never a consolation, that it draws blood as a price for its music. When we are ashen, irony is the instrument that we keep checking for in our pockets. Lazar’s voice is a sacred last resort: something’s gotta give.

About David Lazar: David Lazar’s books include essays: Occasional Desire, (Nebraska) and The Body of Brooklyn (Iowa); prose poetry: Powder Town (Pecan Grove) nonfiction anthologies: Truth in Nonfiction (Iowa), After Montaigne (forthcoming from Georgia), and Essaying the Essay (Welcome Table Press); and interview collections: Michael Powell: Interviews and Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher (both Mississippi). He has lectured widely on nonfiction and editing, and founded the Ph.D. program in nonfiction writing at Ohio University, and directed the creation of the MFA program in nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches. He is the founding editor of Hotel Amerika, now in its fourteenth year.

About Human Directional: Following her big hit, American Amnesiac, Raptosh's zigzags zigzags across consciousness, searing through old patterns of thought and offering new directions for the mind, heart, and world. Raptosh points the way to what Montaigne called “unlearning how to be a slave.” With the deadly precision of the fey, reveals the heartbreak and absurdity of our world by exploring—and often exploding—its most sacred memes.

About Diane Raptosh: Diane Raptosh’s fourth book of poetry, American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press), was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award. The recipient of three fellowships in literature from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, she was the first Boise Poet Laureate (2013) and serves now as the Idaho Writer-in-Residence (2013-2016), the highest literary honor in the state. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and she holds the Eyck-Berringer Endowed Chair in English at The College of Idaho, where she teaches literature and creative writing as well as directs the program in criminal justice/prison studies. A highly active ambassador for poetry, she has conducted writing workshops, given readings, and lectured on poetry in a variety of locations ranging from university auditoriums to maximum security prisons, school buses to riverbanks. She lives with her family in Boise.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637