Join us on Thursday, May 11th at 6:00 PM for an evening with local poet Beatrice Szymkowiak, author of B/RDS. A reading and Q&A will be followed by a book signing.
This event is free and open to the public. RSVP is encouraged but not required! Please RSVP here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Beatrice Szymkowiak is a French-American writer and scholar. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017, and obtained a PhD in English/Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2022. She is the author of Red Zone (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a poetry chapbook, as well as the winner of the 2017 OmniDawn Single Poem Broadside Contest, and the recipient of the 2022 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry for her full-length collection B/RDS, which will be published by the University of Utah Press in 2023. Her work also has appeared in several poetry magazines including The Berkeley Review, Terrain.org, The Portland Review, OmniVerse, The Southern Humanities Review, and many others.
B/RDS endeavors to dismantle discourses that create an artificial distinction between nature and humanity through a subversive erasure of an iconic work of natural history: John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-1838). This process of erasure considers the text of Birds of America as an archival cage. The author selectively erases words from the textual cage to reveal its ambiguity and the complex relationship between humanity and the other-than-human world. As the cage disappears, leaving a space for scarce, lyrical poems, birds break free, their voices inextricably entangled with ours.
Prose poems written in the author’s own words and prompted by the erasure process are also interspersed throughout the collection. These migratory poems, like ripples, trace the link between past and present and reveal the human-nature disconnect at the root cause of environmental and social problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along its five movements, B/RDS also explores how we can reimagine our relationship to environment through language within new frameworks of interconnectedness. Thus, as the collection resists the distinction between nature and culture on which traditional nature poetry relies, it also acts as an ecopoetic manifesto. It suggests that a critical, lyrical poetry could contribute to ecological awareness by singing humanity back within nature.