Blurry Radiant Landscapes: Russ Brakefield & Katie Hartstock at AADL

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 - 6:30pm

Russ Brakefield (former Literati bookseller) and Katie Hartstock visit the Ann Arbor District Library in downtown Ann Arbor in support of their new poetry collections My Modest Blindness and Wolf Trees.

About My Modest Blindness: In his late twenties, poet Russell Brakefield is diagnosed with keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that causes blurred vision, light sensitivity, and progressive loss of sight. In the years after, his condition worsens. In My Modest Blindness, he traverses this blurry landscape, drawing connections to art, literature, natural history, and pop culture. Part celebration and part lament, this book uses a sustained conversation with Jorge Luis Borges's famous lecture "On Blindness," as well as a "catalogue of delights of the visual world in the moments just before it leaves," to examine what it means to be a writer and a person slowly losing his ability to see.

About Wolf Trees: The phrase "Wolf Trees" is of unknown origin and can mean different things in different regions of the US-as this collection's title sequence explores-but generally it refers to a tree standing alone in a field, or a much older tree surrounded by younger forest, in either case, a remnant of a former ecology. In this collection, Hartsock explores the trials of living with Type 1 diabetes, and hopes her experience with diabetes resonates with the visual and symbolic presence of wolf trees. This is a mixed-style collection, containing formal poetry and free verse, as well as prose poems, especially in some sections of the title sequence


Russell Brakefield received his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program. His work has appeared in the Indiana ReviewNew Orleans ReviewPoet Lore, Crab Orchard Review and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the University of Michigan Musical Society, the Vermont Studio Center, and the National Parks Department.

Katie Hartsock is the author of two poetry collections, Wolf Trees (2023) and Bed of Impatiens (2016), both from Able Muse Press. Her poems appear widely, in journals such as Ecotone, Poetry, Kenyon Review, 32 Poems, the Threepenny Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Greensboro Review, Pleiades, Dappled Things, the New Criterion, and Beloit Poetry Journal. She is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Oakland University in Michigan. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and their young sons.

Event address: 
343 S. 5th Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
My Modest Blindness By Russell Brakefield Cover Image
ISBN: 9781957392264
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Autofocus Books - October 17th, 2023

Wolf Trees: Poems By Katie Hartsock Cover Image
ISBN: 9781773491202
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Able Muse Press - September 15th, 2023