Big Blue Marble’s Readings for Writers Series brings together work and wisdom, with readings followed by talks on writers’ crafts. Poets J.C. Todd and Nancy Mitchell will be reading from their new books and then leading a discussion on World Building In Poetry.
World Building in Poetry
World Building isn’t just for fiction writers. Poets create worlds too. In The Out-of-the-Body Shop, Nancy Mitchell has imagined a world of people displaced from their bodies. In The Damages of Morning, J. C. Todd has used research and oral history to preserve the personal worlds of Central European women whose lives were uprooted and dislocated by the World Wars. Join Nancy and JC in an exploration of world building as they read and discuss their poems.
"The compelling poems in J. C. Todd’s The Damages of Morning emerge from the “dark matter / of earth, terrestrial and sensate.” Set mostly in Eastern Europe and told largely from the perspective of women whom the World Wars trapped in history’s cul-de-sac, they drill down into the indelible details that bear witness to the struggle to survive—"crop-cabbage stumps,” a bullet’s “powder-burnt dimple / in a rammed-earth wall”—and hold both writer and reader accountable for damages that cannot/cannot not be undone."
Lee Sharkey, author, Walking Backwards
Whether homing in on the “blank, bright/as black lacquer” eye of a dead bird, the “scavenger-scattered/cryptic ghost script across the snow,” or the fireflies she mistakes for the father’s materialized threat “to burn//every single weed/into the goddam dirt,” Mitchell leaves no shade of grief or beauty unexamined. Rigorously crafted, these emotionally evocative poems probe what lies below veneers, beyond smoke screens, beneath the relentless pull of memories. They wrestle with the paradox of being at once “in the body, but not/of the body” and release their energy like the sacred “lit/sweet grass/braid” mourners pass hand-to-hand at a friend’s burial ceremony. The Out-of-Body Shop is transfixing and transformative.
—Mihaela Moscaluic, author of Immigrant Model