Word Works | Nicole Sealey: Why is Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s “Song” the Perfect Poem?
There are so many good poems. There are, however, very few perfect poems. While we understand perfection is subjective and unachievable, why is Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s "Song" a favorite, a perfect poem among poets? In this craft talk, Nicole Sealey examines "Song," its leaps, sounds, images, digressions, syntax, and embellishments, eight years in the making. Understanding the forces behind this beloved poem can give us strategies for writing our very own perfect poem. Sealey will be joined in conversation by Janae Johnson.
Word Works craft talks by novelists, essayists, poets, and memoirists focus on writing as process rather than finished product, examining how language works to inspire and provoke new ideas through live close readings of the writer’s own or others’ work. These talks are designed to apply to writers of all genres as well as illuminate well-known works for avid readers. The talks are followed by an interview with a noted editor, writer, or critic.
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Janae Johnson is an award-winning poet, performer, and educator. Her writing celebrates and centers on Black queer masculinity, kinship, and belonging. She is a former National Poetry Slam Champion, Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, and a founder of two nationally recognized poetry venues: The Root Slam (Oakland, CA) and The House Slam (Boston, MA). Janae’s full-length poetry collection Lessons on Being Tenderheaded is forthcoming in Spring 2022 by Write Bloody Publishing. Janae currently resides in Tacoma, WA.
Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco, 2017), which was a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Sealey’s chapbook, The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016), was the winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize. In 2019, Sealey was named a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She has received fellowships and awards from the American Academy in Rome, the Forward Foundation, CantoMundo, Cave Canem Foundation, the National Endowment, and New York Foundation for the Arts, an Elizabeth George Foundation, among others. She was the Executive Director at Cave Canem Foundation from 2017–2019. Sealey lives in Brooklyn, New York.