Poetry Reading: Justin Boening, Christopher Kempf, Nathan McClain, and Tommye Blount

Please join us for poetry readings with Justin Boening, Christopher Kempf, Nathan McClain, and Tommye Blount.

At the Co-op


About Justin Boening: Born in the Adirondacks, Justin Boening is the author of chapbook, Self-Portrait as Missing Person, selected by Dara Wier for a Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship. His poetry has received a Discovery /"Boston Review" Poetry Prize, and other awards and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Bucknell University, Vermont Studio Center, Summer Literary Seminars, and the St. Petersburg Review.

A graduate of Columbia University's School of the Arts, Boening is currently a senior associate editor at Poetry Northwest and an instructor at the Columbia University Summer High School Program. He lives in Iowa City, IA.

About Not on the Last Day: Mothers masquerading as witches and sepulchral bellhops who reveal themselves to be fathers: in Justin Boening’s debut collection of poems, selected for the National Poetry Series by Wayne Miller, nothing is as it seems.

Peopled by figures both uncanny and tragic—lionesses who dance and cry, surgeons who carry with them the trauma of past lives, an opera singer whose notes go awry—Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last uses the language of dreams and of fairy tales to deliver a keenly felt exploration of family, grief, regret, and belonging. Here everything stands for something else. But though the Freudian mother and father lurk behind every sequined costume, continue to strip away the masks, Boening suggests, and you’ll find an even more primal absence at the center—Nobody, No One, mortality, death. Beyond that, we find, lies only the truth of our relationships with each other.
Shot through with mournfulness, gorgeously spangled in its language—“a squall of chrysanthemums / and the weird”—Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last is an unforgettable collection about our human failings and the grace we each seek.

About Christopher Kempf: Christopher Kempf is the author of Late in the Empire of Men, which won the 2015 Levis Prize from Four Way Books.  Recipient of a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, his work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review Online, The New Republic, and Ploughshares, among other places.  He is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at the University of Chicago, as well as the 2016-2017 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College.

About Late in the Empire: Late in the Empire of Men, Kempf’s powerful debut collection, reads the author’s coming-of-age in Ohio and California against the westward trajectory of American history, a trajectory he simultaneously situates in the larger context of empire—both political and anthropocentric—by looking back to Rome and Carthage and by glancing forward to a time when, as he writes in the poem “Dominion,” “the idea of people/is over.” Employing a baroque layering of image and allusion, patterned sonic texturing, and post-narrative self-consciousness, Kempf reveals how commonplace rhetorical practices—football’s valorization of a “warrior ethos,” for example—work to conscript young American men, in particular, into patterns of thought and behavior constitutive of an imperialist state.

About Nathan McClain: Nathan McClain is a recipient of scholarships from The Frost Place and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and a graduate of Warren Wilson's MFA Program for Writers. A Cave Canem fellow, his poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Callaloo, Ploughshares, Sou'wester, Iron Horse Literary Review, Southern Humanities Review, Waxwing and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.

About Scale: Scale is about a relationship between a father and a son. These poems consider the importance of acknowledging the past as well as the dangers in doing so.

About Tommye Blount: Born and raised in Detroit, Tommye Blount now lives in the nearby suburb of Novi, Michigan. He has been the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from Cave Canem and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. His work has appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Phantom, Four Way Review, The Offing, Vinyl, and other publications. He holds an MFA from The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

About What Are We Not For: Poetry. African & African American Studies. LGBTQIA Studies. Through biography, fairy tale, and history, Tommye Blount's debut chapbook What Are We Not For redraws the fatherland of manhood as a territory beyond whose borders tenderness and cruelty fight for space. The men and boys in these poems are transformed into instruments of pleasure and of destruction, worshipped artifacts and disfigured toys, victims and assailants. What Are We Not For moves its reader toward caustic longing, the hope that danger and risk promise.

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