Poetry Reading w/ Henk Rossouw, Julia Bouwsma, & Cynthia Dewi Oka

Join us for a poetry reading with Henk Rossouw, Julia Bouwsma, and Cynthia Dewi Oka!

Henk Rossouw's Xamissa

Xamissa is a book-length poem that sounds out the city of Cape Town in a joyful elegy for the city of alternate takes. Xamissa adapts the mythical name for the springs and streams running from Table Mountain to the sea, under the city itself, since before the colonial Dutch ships came—the X of the title standing in for the multiple ways in the languages of the C ape, past and present, the reader may pronounce the first consonant.

A work of documentary poetics that investigates the cost of whiteness in South Africa, Xamissa code-switches at times into Lontara, the subversive Indonesian script that undercuts the prevalence of Dutch in the colonial archive. Through serial questions around the ethics of its address, Xamissa probes the interrelation of language, sociality, and resistance, in its bid to interrogate the archive as a draft of the city’s future.

Henk Rossouw teaches at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Boston Review, and other publications.

Julia Bouwsma's Midden

In 1912 the State of Maine forcibly evicted an interracial community of roughly forty-five people from Malaga Island, a small island off the coast of Phippsburg, Maine. Though Malaga had been their home for generations, nine residents (including the entire Marks family) were committed to the Maine School for the Feeble Minded in Pownal, Maine. The others struggled to find homes on other islands or on the mainland, where they were often unwelcome. The Malaga school was dismantled and rebuilt as a chapel on another island. Seventeen graves were exhumed from the Malaga cemetery, consolidated into five caskets, and reburied at the Maine School for the Feeble Minded. Just one year after the start of the eviction proceedings, the Malaga community was erased.

Midden confronts the events and over one hundred years of silence that surround this shameful incident in Maine’s history. Utilizing a wide range of poetic styles—epistolary poems to ghosts, persona poems, erasure poems, interior poems, interviews and instructions, poems framed both in the past and in the present—Midden delves into the vital connections between land, identity, and narrative and asks how we can heal the generations and legacies of damage that result when all three of these are deliberately taken in an attempt to rob people of their very humanity. The book is a poetic excavation of loss, a carving of the landscape of memory, and a reckoning with and tribute to the ghosts we carry and step over, often without our even knowing it.

Julia Bouwsma is the author of Work by Bloodlight (C ider Press Review, 2017). She lives and works on an off-the-grid farm in the mountains of western Maine where she also  serves as Book Review Editor for Connotation Press:  An Online Artifact and as Library Director for Webster Library in Kingfield, Maine.

Cynthia Dewi Oka's Salvage: Poems

How do we transform the wreckage of our identities? Cynthia Dewi Oka’s evocative collection answers this question by brimming with what we salvage from our most deep-seated battles. Reflecting the many dimensions of the poet’s life, Salvage manifests an intermixture of aesthetic forms that encompasses multiple social, political, and cultural contexts—leading readers to Bali, Indonesia, to the Pacific Northwest, and to South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Throughout it insistently interrogates what it means to reach for our humanity through the guises of nation, race, and gender. Oka’s language transports us through the many bodies of fluid poetics that inhabit our migrating senses and permeate across generations into a personal diaspora. Salvage invites us to be without borders.
Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Salvage: Poems (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (Thread Makes Blanket, 2016). Her work has appeared in ESPNW, Hyperallergic, Guernica, Poets.org, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Event date: 
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Xamissa (Poets Out Loud) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780823281107
Availability: Currently not available
Published: Fordham University Press - September 4th, 2018

Midden (Poets Out Loud) Cover Image
By Julia Bouwsma, Afaa M. Weaver (Foreword by)
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ISBN: 9780823280988
Availability: Currently not available
Published: Fordham University Press - September 4th, 2018

Work by Bloodlight Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781930781238
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Published: Cider Press Review - January 1st, 2017

Salvage: Poems Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780810136298
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Published: Triquarterly - December 15th, 2017

Nomad of Salt and Hard Water: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780989747400
Availability: Available to Ship
Published: Thread Makes Blanket Press - May 1st, 2016