Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod & Descent
Presented in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Program in Creative Writing, this edition of Wisconsin Wednesdays features UW Alumnae Traci Brimhall and Lauren Russell for their new poetry collections, Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod, and Descent. Join the event at: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/wbf-come-the-slumberless-descent. Before the event begins, you will see a countdown and the event image.
About Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod: Written during the trial for a close friend’s murder, Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod exposes that the whimsical, horrible, and absurd all sit together. In this ambitious collection, Traci Brimhall corresponds with the urges of life and death within herself as she lives through a series of impossibilities: the sentencing of her friend’s murderers, the birth of her child, the death of her mother, divorce, a trip sailing through the Arctic. In lullaby, lyric essay, and always with brutal sincerity, Brimhall examines how beauty and terror live right alongside each other—much like how Nod is both a fictional dreamscape and the place where Cain is exiled for murdering Abel. By plucking at the tensions between life and death, love and hate, truth and obscurity, Brimhall finds what it is that ties opposing themes together; how love and loss are married in grief. Like Eve thrust from Eden, Brimhall is tasked with finding meaning in a world defined by its cruelty. Unrelenting, incisive, and tender, these poems expose beauty in the grotesque and argue that the effort to be good always outweighs the desire to succumb to what is easy.
About Descent: In 2013, poet Lauren Russell acquired a copy of the diary of her great-great-grandfather, Robert Wallace Hubert, a Captain in the Confederate Army. After his return from the Civil War, he fathered twenty children by three of his former slaves. One of those children was the poet’s great-grandmother. Through several years of research, Russell would seek the words to fill the diary’s omissions and to imagine the voice of her great-great-grandmother, Peggy Hubert, a black woman silenced by history. The result is a hybrid work of verse, prose, images and documents that traverses centuries as the past bleeds into the present.
Traci Brimhall is the author of four poetry collections: Come the Slumberless from the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon); Saudade (Copper Canyon); Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Believer, The New Republic, Orion, and Best American Poetry. She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the National Endowment for the Arts. She’s the Director of Creative Writing at Kansas State University and lives in Manhattan, KS.
Lauren Russell is the author of Descent and What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cave Canem, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and residencies from the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and City of Asylum/Passa Porta. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, The Brooklyn Rail, Cream City Review, and the anthologies Bettering American Poetry 2015 and Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, among others. She was assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh from 2016 to 2020. Beginning in the fall of 2020, she joins the faculty of Michigan State University as an assistant professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and director of the Center for Poetry there.