UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Award-winning essayist and poet Paisley Rekdal will visit Penn State as the Fisher Family Writer-in-Residence during the week of March 14-18. As part of her visit de ella, Rekdal will give a free public reading at 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 17, in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium.
The in-person event will also be available via livestream; those interested in attending virtually must register in advance.
Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, “The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee”; the hybrid-genre, photo-text memoir “Intimate”; the book-length essay “The Broken Country: “On Trauma, A Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam”; and a book on cultural appropriation in literature titled, “Appropriate: A Provocation” (WW Norton, 2021). also the author of six books of poetry: “A Crash of Rhinos,” “Six Girls Without Pants,” “The Invention of the Kaleidoscope,” “Animal Eye,” “Imaginary Vessels” and “Nightingale.”
In “Appropriate: A Provocation,” Rekdal answers the question: “When is it appropriate to culturally appropriate in creative writing?” The Los Angeles Times describes the book and Rekdal’s treatment of this current, contentious issue this way: “Framed as a series of letters to a white student, X, who has written a poem partly in the voice of an older Black person… The letters investigate whether it is possible to successfully write across race, cases of racial impostors and interlopers, the nature of whiteness and much more… As a woman of mixed white and Chinese descent, Rekdal has been both outsider and insider, has experienced both othering and privilege.”
In “Nightingale,” Rekdal rewrites and contemporizes many of the myths central to Ovid’s epic, “The Metamorphoses.” Rekdal’s book won the Washington State Book Award and was named a Washington Post “Best Poetry Collection” selection and an NPR “Best of 2019” selection. The New York Journal of Books writes that the collection “explores what few writers since Ovid have reminded us: metamorphosis is a violent act, requiring dismemberment, silence, and fragmentation before we can become something new.”
A two-time finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Prize, her work has received the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes, the Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellowship, and inclusion in five editions of the Best American poetry series. She guest edited “The Best American Poetry 2020” anthology.
Rekdal’s poems and essays have appeared in, or are forthcoming from, The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and on National Public Radio, among others. A distinguished professor at the University of Utah, Rekdal is currently serving as Utah’s poet laureate.
The Fisher Family Writer-in-Residence is sponsored by Steven Fisher, a 1970 alumnus in English, and receives generous support from the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment, University Libraries, the Department of English, and the College of the Liberal Arts.