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Contemporary Art And Literature Collide At 21c Reading

Courtesy 21c Museum

Contemporary art and literature will collide during the event “Spalding at 21c: Voice and Vision.” This seasonal forum provides an opportunity for writers to share samples of their work with each other and the public -- but this reading is particularly special as National Book Award finalist Ada Limón headlines the event.

Limón, a Kentucky-based poet, will read from her latest collection “Bright Dead Things,” which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

“I think the themes of the book are sort of about love, nature, horses and death,” Limón says. “The idea of what we all do to survive and get by in this world that is so full of loss and hardship.”

She says that she will read from the poem “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” which begins like this:

 I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!

“It’s a poem for the ladies. It is about Kentucky Oaks day when all the fillies race,” Limón says.

Literary critics have described  the collection as unflinching and unabashedly emotional -- distinct, as the Los Angeles Review put it, from other contemporary work that is “disaffected, complacent and un-ambitious.”

More than that though, her work engages issues of making women's’ voices heard, which Limón’s fellow reader, Bianca Spriggs addresses as well in her collection “Call Her By Her Name.”

“I call it my personal, feminist manifesto,” Spriggs says. “It’s sort of a combination of women’s voices or a chorus of women’s voices that span geography, time (and) space.”

“Call Her By Her Name” features poems from the perspectives of a wide range of women -- from Potiphar’s wife from the Old Testament, to Star Trek characters, to Sprigg’s own autobiographical segments.

“I am led to lend my voice to the stories of women who have, for whatever reason, been disempowered, disenfranchised or marginalized -- whether because they didn’t have a voice while they were alive, or because they were done wrong in literature or folklore," Spriggs says."I like to explore the other side of that and what they would say if they could.”

Additional readers at the event include Tom Hunley (“The State that Springfield Is In”) and Spalding MFA alumni Kimberly Crum, Michele Ruby, Michael Jackman, and Angela Elson.

The reading will take place on June 16 at 6 p.m. More information on the event is available here

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