Thursday, September 24th: Poetry. Devin Becker reads from his debut Shame | Shame and Tod Marshall reads from his latest release Bugle. 7 pm.
"[An] engaging first book of prose and free-verse poems [Becker] fashions miniature stories—anecdotes, jokes maybe—about not humiliation but existential embarrassment, the conviction that surely being human shouldn’t entail the feelings it does. . . . Besides prose poetry, Becker has also mastered e. e. cummings’ skinny, crawl-down-the-page poem, to similar, gotta-read-it-again effect."
"Devin Becker's Shame | Shame is a brilliant debut collection. Here, the prose poem has been re-imagined as a cinematic vignette, yet rooted as deeply in the American Northwest as anything in Richard Hugo and David Lynch. Raw, intimate, and elliptical in its metaphysics, Devin Becker's poetry captures an idiomatic recklessness while navigating those angular narratives of our contemporary lives."
—David St. John, from the Introduction
Devin Becker's first book, Shame | Shame (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2015), was selected by David St. John as the winner of the 2014 A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize. His poetry and research articles have been published in American Archivist, Cutbank, Faultline, Microform and Digitization Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Pinch, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He works as a librarian at the University of Idaho Library in Moscow, Idaho, where he lives with his wife, his daughter, and his dog.
“100,000 drones above us, a headline said. / Someone must love us, must be eager to know us,” Marshall writes in the title poem, and indeed, notes of (self) surveillance blast throughout the book. Marshall shakes us awake to encounter the slagheap of extraction (mineral and confessional), the dark corners of containment (domestic and poetic), and the possibilities (sometimes hopeful, often grim) of transformation.
Bugle calls upon Rimbaud in the epigraph—“If brass wakes up a bugle, it’s not its fault”—to rouse us, stir us, wake us to the book’s nervy attempt to survive our zombified present and future, a world of environmental, familial, social, and political depredation. But Bugle is not without hope. As Marshall commands in the final poem: “You must pull ribs from that rotting body, / words that matter.”
Tod Marshall was born in Buffalo, NY. His first collection of poetry, Dare Say, was the 2002 winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series. He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (EWU Press, 2002), and an accompanying anthology of the interviewed poets’ work, Range of Voices (2005). These volumes include interviews with and poems by Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, Robert Wrigley, Brenda Hillman, Dorianne Laux, Kim Addonizio, Ed Hirsch, Dave Smith, and others. In 2005, he was awarded a Washington Artists Trust Fellowship. His second collection of poetry, The Tangled Line (Canarium Books, 2009) was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His most recent collection, Bugle, was published by Canarium in 2014. In 2015, he was awarded the Humanities Washington Award for creativity and service. He lives in Spokane, Washington, and teaches creative writing and literature at Gonzaga University where he is the Richard and Ann Powers Endowed Chair in the Humanities.