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Literati is pleased to welcome Chuck Carlise and Susanna Lang for the latest installment of Poetry at Literati.
Chuck Carlise is the author of the brand new collection, In One Version of the Story (New Issues Press 2016), as well as the chapbooks, A Broken Escalator Still Isn’t the Stairs (winner of the Concrete Wolf Poetry Series 2011) and Casual Insomniac (Bateau, winner of the Boom Chapbook Prize 2011). His poems and essays appear in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets in both 2012 and 2014. He is currently a Lecturer in writing, rhetoric, and cultural studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In One Version of the Story is a lyric exploration of the ways human beings confront desire, loss and absence by creating stories. Its narrative situation begins with from the French folk legend of “l’Inconnue de la Seine”—the unidentified young woman who drowned herself in Paris in the 1880s, and whose (unauthorized) death mask was eventually cast as the face of Resusci-Anne CPR training dummies—but eventually the book encompasses a chronicle of personal loss, a history of photography, a study of the mechanics of breathing, and a solo climb to the rim of a Mediterranean volcano.
The book is a hybrid of narrative history, lyric meditation, and journalistic investigation, often implicating the speaker (and reader) in the act of mythmaking itself. It is story-making itself which is interrogated here, however the book seeks not to recreate narratives, but rather to understand why they matter—why and how we give them the meaning that we do.
Susanna Lang was born in New York and raised in college towns where her father taught in Kansas, Michigan and Connecticut. Her first collection of poems, Even Now, was published by The Backwaters Press in 2008, and her chapbook, Two by Two, came out with Finishing Line Press in 2011. A full-length collection, Tracing the Lines, was published by Brick Road Poetry Press in spring 2013. Words in Stone, her translation of poems by Yves Bonnefoy, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1976; The Origin of Language, prose poems by Yves Bonnefoy, was published by George Nama in 1979. She won a 1999 Illinois Arts Council Award and the Inkwell Poetry Competition in 2009, was a 2010 and 2015 Hambidge Fellow, and received an 2011 Emerging Writer Fellowship from The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. A longtime educator in the Chicago area, she has taught literacy and literature in grades 5-12, and led adult poetry workshops in public libraries and for organizations such as the Illinois Writing Project, Northwest Cultural Council, and others. Her most recent book is Travel Notes from the River Styx (Terrapin, 2017).
In the earnest and beautiful Travel Notes from the River Styx, Susanna Lang peers into the tiny mirrors of a river’s current, the mirror her father cannot see himself in, the rearview mirror in which she spies sandhill cranes on an afternoon drive as she interrogates the natural and, at times, unnatural world. The result is a collection of double images: the moon a “copper coin with the sheen worn off,” “the flag [that] slips down the pole,” the country where her grandmother was born once called Russia, now Ukraine. As clear in its language as it is rich in argument, there’s something for everyone in Travel Notes, for travelers are exactly what this poet proclaims we are. It’s impossible to read this collection without wondering what doubles wait/lurk/reside beneath the skin of our bodies and of our world.