Writing Across Genres: A Reading of Memoir and Poetry

Meghan O’Rourke is the author of The Long Goodbye (Riverhead), a memoir about grief, and the poetry collections Once and Halflife (W.W. Norton). A former poetry editor for The Paris Review, she is also a culture critic for Slate magazine and a founding editor of the web site Double X. She is the recipient of the 2008 May Sarton Poetry Prize. Her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry, 32 Poems, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she grew up.

Prose and poetry access different kinds of experience. This reading, from the memoir The Long Goodbye, about the loss of a mother, and the poetry collections Once and Halflife, will explore how poetry and prose might deal with the same event – for example, the loss of a loved one – in profoundly different ways. It will explore the virtue in allowing oneself to not be limited by one mode of expression. And it will address the special province of poetry, and the reach and grasp of prose, as well as the strange silence surrounding grief in American today.


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