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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This event will also be livestreamed! Purchase a livestream-only ticket to gain access to the stream during the event. The event stream recording will be available to view for livestream-ticket buyers through Friday, November 25th.
Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She earned an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. Sealey is the author of the collections Ordinary Beast (2017), a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2016), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors and awards include a 2019 Rome Prize, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, a Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, a Daniel Varoujan Award, and a Poetry International Prize. She has been a fellow at Cave Canem, the Poetry Project, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, and the MacDowell Colony. She is currently the executive director at Cave Canem, the 2018-2019 Doris Lippman Visiting Poet at The City College of New York, a visiting professor at Boston University, and a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.
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.