This event is the official launch of Wendy Barker's seventh poetry collection, Gloss. But we're also featuring poets Jo-Reyes Boitel and Joshua Robbins, and introductions by Natalia Trevino.
Wendy Barker's seventh collection of poetry, Gloss, will be published in 2020 from Saint Julian Press. Her sixth collection, One Blackbird at a Time, received the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry (BkMk Press, 2015). Her fifth chapbook is Shimmer (Glass Lyre Press, 2019). An anthology of poems about the 1960s, Far Out: Poems of the '60s, co-edited with Dave Parsons, was released by Wings Press in 2016. Other books include a selection of poems with accompanying essays, Poems’ Progress (Absey & Co., 2002), and a selection of translations, Rabindranath Tagore: Final Poems (co-translated with Saranindranath Tagore, Braziller, 2001). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including The Southern Review, Nimrod, New Letters, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Plume, as well as The Best American Poetry 2013. She is the author of Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor (Southern Illinois University Press, 1987), as well as co-editor (with Sandra M. Gilbert) of The House is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone (Southern Illinois University Press, 1996). Recipient of NEA and Rockefeller fellowships among other awards, she is the Pearl LeWinn Endowed Chair and Poet-in-Residence at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she has taught since 1982.
In a haunting and, ultimately, stunning, sequence of poems in varied lyrical forms, Wendy Barker's Gloss develops a narrative that poses questions about her mother's unusual, seemingly privileged, British background. The poems of this gripping book are punctuated by short syllabic meditations on a Chinese scroll picturing a lone man paddling up a long river toward mountains. These little poems serve as tension-building breaks between lineated, conversational poems and prose poems that describe shiny yet tarnished pieces of family silver and snippets of family memories. Throughout, these poems "gloss" the underlying meanings of stories passed down through generations, as the book slowly builds to reveal disturbing facts that had long been hidden. Ultimately, though the book may, at first glance, seem to be validating the British mother's colonial background, with a family history involving a lucrative import-export firm, Barker makes it clear that the damages done by colonialism can cause painful familial as well as global damage.