Friday, November 8 at 6:00pm
Join us to hear Johanna Skibsrud, author of The Nothing That Is: Essays on Art, Literature and Being (Bookhug, $20), and Brandon Shimoda, author of The Grave on the Wall (City Lights, $16.95).
In The Nothing That Is, Johanna Skibsrud gathers essays about the very concept of “nothing.” Written over a period of over a decade, this collection explores ways in which poetic language can activate the possibilities replete within our every moment. Addressing a broad range of topics—including false atrocity tales, so-called fake news, high-wire acts, and telepathy, as well as responses to works by John Ashbery, Virginia Woolf, Anne Carson, and more—these essays seek to decenter our relationship to both the “givenness” of history and to a predictive or probable model of the future. Rather than making “something” out of “nothing,” what follows is an endeavor to express the potential of language and thought to encounter what is infinitely beyond both yet to be imagined.
Johanna Skibsrud is a novelist, poet and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona. Her debut novel, The Sentimentalists (Norton, $14.95), was awarded the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, making her the youngest writer to win Canada's most prestigious literary prize. Her latest poetry collection, The Description of the World (2016), was the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Author's Association for Poetry and the 2017 Fred Cogswell Award. Her poems, stories, and scholarly essays have appeared in The Luminary, The Brock Review, and many others. Among her forthcoming works are a novel, Island (2019), and a monograph titled The Poetic Imperative: A Speculative Aesthetics.
The Grave on the Wall is a lyrical portrait of award-winning poet Brandon Shimoda’s paternal grandfather, Midori, whose life mirrors the arc of Japanese America in the twentieth century. Born on an island off the coast of Hiroshima around 1908, Midori Shimoda immigrated to Seattle and was later incarcerated in a Department of Justice prison during World War II under suspicion of being a Japanese spy. He died in 1996 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for two decades.
Attempting to reconcile his own uncontested citizenship with his grandfather’s lifelong struggle, Shimoda writes a weaving meditation as he travels from his home in the Arizona desert to his family’s ancestral village in Japan. Seamlessly melding family history and memoir with poetic reflections on the enduring consequences of internment, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather and unfolds, in the process, a moving elegy on memory and forgetting.