Poetry at Literati: Michael Dickman and Major Jackson

Monday, February 12, 2024 - 6:30pm

Literati is thrilled to welcome poets Michael Dickman and Major Jackson to read from their recent works, with an introduction by U of M professor and poet Linda Gregerson. 

About Pacific Power & LightThis image-driven, sound-driven collection carries us to the working-class Portland neighborhood of Lents, where Dickman was raised by a single mother. Here, as a skateboarding boy practices his kickflip on the street, enlightenment simmers under the surface of both the natural world and the human constructions that threaten it. The rivers shrinking to a trickle, the unaddressed crisis of homelessness, the drug use in a local park: these run side by side with the efforts and structures of families, created mostly by working mothers, with their jumbled bottomless purses and full-time jobs; Dickman's own mother worked at the power company of the title, PP&L. His exquisite, ultrareal narratives take us down through these layers, illuminating the way we've treated and should treat one another, seeking integrity and understanding in the midst of a broken world.

Michael Dickman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of four collections of poems, including Flies, winner of the 2010 James Laughlin Award, and Days & Days, a New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2019. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is on the faculty at Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts.

About Razzle Dazzle: A preeminent voice in contemporary literature, Major Jackson offers steady miracles of vision and celebrations of language in rapturous, sophisticated poems. Razzle Dazzle traces the evolution of Jackson's transformative imagination and fierce music through five acclaimed volumes: his Cave Canem Poetry Prize-winning debut, Leaving Saturn (2002), which captures the spirit of resilience in the Philadelphia neighborhoods of the poet's youth; Hoops (2006), which finds transcendence in the solemn marvels of ordinary lives; Holding Company (2010), which shifts away from narrative to explore the seductive force of art, literature, and music; Roll Deep (2015), which addresses human intimacy, war, and the spirit of aesthetic travel; and his vulnerable, philosophical latest, The Absurd Man (2020). The volume opens with over three dozen new poems that erupt into full-throated song in the face of indignity and invite us into a passionate experience of the world.

Taken together, these two decades of writing offer a sustained portrait of a poet "bound up in the ecstatic," whose buoyant lyricism confronts the social and political forces that would demean humanity. Equally attuned to sensuous connection, metaphysical inquiries, the natural world, and ever-changing urban landscapes, Jackson possesses a sensibility at once global and personal, driven by an enduring conviction in the possibilities of art and language to mark our lives with meaning. Whether addressing racial conflict and the ongoing struggle for human dignity in America, bearing witness to the plight of refugees, or grieving the contradictory nature of humankind, these dexterous poems proclaim the remarkable power of renewal, justice, and accountability.

Major Jackson is the author of six volumes of poetry. His honors include a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The poetry editor of the Harvard Review and the host of the podcast The Slowdown, Jackson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Pacific Power & Light: Poems By Michael Dickman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593536490
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - February 6th, 2024

Razzle Dazzle: New and Selected Poems 2002-2022 By Major Jackson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324064909
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 5th, 2023