Wisconsin Wednesdays 3-3
Presented in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Program in Creative Writing, this edition of Wisconsin Wednesdays features UW Alumni James Crews, Chekwube Danladi, Rachel Swearingen, and Angela Voras-Hills for their newest books, Bluebird, Semiotics, How To Walk on Water, Louder Birds. Join the event at: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/wbf-wisc-weds-3-3. Before the event begins, you will see a countdown and the event image.
About Bluebird: Bluebird is wide-ranging and open-hearted, mining wisdom from meditation, prayer, and the simple acts of kindness that reunite us as neighbors. Written with clarity and attention to the mindful moments that make life memorable, James Crews urges us in his newest collection "To live unbound by time/and mind—to grow, speak, touch and taste/at a pace that feels more real."
About Semiotics: The poems in Chekwube Danladi's debut collection ardently expose unnamed spaces of agency, proclaiming power and beauty through an unaccustomed yearning. Semiotics contends with the thresholds, eagerly transgressing the limits of material and spiritual realms in pursuit of personal and collective liberation. These poems negotiate a captive erotic condition and augur a hesitant yet lush embodiment, unearthing a Black femininity preoccupied with retrieving its unfettered freedom by any means. Activating a many-layered language that is at once political and delicate, Danladi conjures the unsightly and the sacred across poems that are vigilant, penetrating, and deeply evocative.
About How To Walk on Water: In this spellbinding debut story collection, characters willingly open their doors to trouble. An investment banker falls for a self-made artist who turns the rooms of her apartment into eerie art installations. An au pair imagines her mundane life as film noir, endangering the infant in her care. A son pieces together the brutal attack his mother survived when he was a baby. These stories bristle with menace and charm with intimate revelations. Through nimble prose and considerable powers of observation, Swearingen takes us from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Northern Michigan, to Seattle, Venice, and elsewhere. She explores not only what it means to survive in a world marked by violence and uncertainty, but also how to celebrate what is most alive.
About Louder Birds: Angela Voras-Hills’s Louder Birds, her debut collection of poetry, is a beautiful study of the natural world, motherhood, and the inherent desire for meaning. This collection of complex lyric poems holds a haunting absence at its center, an absence that is “impossible to navigate.” Yet Voras-Hills presses on, untangling the distinctions that surround her (human and animal, domestic and wild) with both bravery and respect. She writes, “The boundaries between home and the road / are insecure: it’s impossible to navigate this landscape. / We’ve all been in the presence of something dark / and have chosen not to seek shelter.” As the poet hones in on naming the void, her surroundings grow more threatening—but not once does she surrender or turn back. Voras-Hills’s poems are smart enough to know the distinctions themselves are tenuous at best, and wise enough to know that we must always pay our dues to the world beyond our door. Wondrous, ruminative, and revelatory, Louder Birds is a collection that is not to be missed.
James Crews is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays, Telling My Father, Bluebird and Every Waking Moment. His poetry appears in Ploughshares, The New Republic, New York Times Magazine, and The Sun, among other journals. He is also the editor of the anthologies, Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection and How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, forthcoming in April 2021. He lives with his husband in Shaftsbury, Vermont.
Chekwube Danladi is the author of Semiotics, winner of the 2019 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She has received fellowships and support from Callaloo, Kimbilio, Hedgebrook, Jack Jones Literary Arts, the Lambda Literary Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Joint winner of the 2016 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, her chapbook, Take Me Back, was included in the New Generation African Poets 2017 boxset. From Lagos by way of West Baltimore, she currently lives on Chicago’s South Side.
Rachel Swearingen is the author of How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in VICE, The Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Off Assignment, Agni, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction.
Angela Voras-Hills's first book, Louder Birds, was chosen by Traci Brimhall for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Best New Poets, Prairie Schooner, and New Ohio Review, among other journals and anthologies. She has received grants from The Sustainable Arts Foundation and Key West Literary Seminar, as well as a fellowship at Writers’ Room of Boston. She lives with her family in Milwaukee, WI.