Poets Out Loud

NPR Selects Poets Out Loud Prize Winner as a Best Book of 2018

This year’s winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize, Midden, by Julia Bouwsma, has just been named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR.

Midden charts the fragmented stories of the citizens of Malaga Island, whose mixed-race community was destroyed by the state of Maine in 1911. The residents were scattered, many incarcerated in the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, others dying destitute. Poet Tess Taylor, staff writer for NPR, describes Bouwsma’s achievement:

Shuttling between the early 20th century and the cabin in Maine where Bouwsma now lives and farms, the poems summon and live with their ghosts with enormous, deliberate tenderness. "All winter, I tried to write the island/ to life, labored// these voices, the people torn/ up" she writes, before adding "all winter, the beaver hung in my shed,/ her body frozen and still, / upside down in the dark."


Midden was selected for the POL Prize by poet Afaa M. Weaver from over 200 manuscripts submitted. The POL Prizes Series, edited by Elisabeth Frost for Fordham Press, publishes two poetry titles annually in an international competition. Excerpts from the winner of the POL Editor’s Prize, Henk Rossouw’s Xamissa, have also been honored: selections have just been published in the anthology Best Experimental Writing 2018 from Wesleyan University Press.

Boyd Day, Poetry, and Pizza

Tomorrow, November 7th, from 12:15-2:00 in McGinley 234, all are invited to read aloud poetry and listen to others. Come in for, "a slice of pizza and a slice of sonnet," even if you can't stay long! Tomorrow will be the 8th anniversary of John Boyd Day and it will include some of Father Boyd's favorite poets.

Father Boyd taught at Fordham for over three decades. He was born in the Bronx, and earned his PhD at Harvard University. Poetry was his main focus and passion throughout his career. In 1968, he published The Function of Mimesis and Its Decline with Harvard University Press. In this book, he focused on the ways in which poetry should be engaged with the world. After father Boyd passed away, the Boyd Chair was established in his honor. 

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Poet Melissa Castillo-Garsow Reads “El Barrio”

Melissa Castillo-Garsow

Melissa Castillo-Garsow

This week’s New York City Planning Commission’s approval of rezoning East Harlem is expected to usher in sweeping changes to the neighborhood known as El Barrio for its mostly Spanish-speaking residents. Poet Melissa Castillo-Garsow, Ph.D., GSAS ’11, foresaw the change and portrayed it in her poem “El Barrio,” which she performed at the Sept. 25 Poets Out Loud reading.

Castillo-Garsow said she wrote the poem while living in the area as a M.A. student in English at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and at the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute.

This story is reprinted from Fordham News, which also includes a recording of Castillo-Garsow's reading. 

Alum of English Department and LALSI to read in Poets Out Loud


This year's inaugural event in Fordham’s poetry reading series, Poets Out Loud, features a poet with many connections to our university. Melissa Castillo-Garsow received her M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Fordham. She was a graduate assistant for the American Studies Program and also holds an Advanced Certificate from LALSI, the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute. And a further connection:  her publications include a novel co-authored with Fordham University African and African American Studies Professor Mark Naison. On the occasion of that novel's publication, English Connect interviewed Castillo-Garsow.


In accepting the invitation, she let us know how pleased she is to be returning to Fordham for this reading—a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, she is currently living in the Boston area--, and we are very pleased to welcome her back.

Castillo-Garsow's engagement with issues of immigration and Mexican culture runs throughout both her poems and the dissertation she wrote at Yale, entitled “A Mexican State of Mind: New York City and the New Borderlands of Culture.” And much of her work engages with connections between African-American and borderlands studies.  Writing about her poetry, recently published in Coatlicue Eats the Apple, the distinguished Latino poet Willie Perdomo (himself a former Fordham faculty member), observes that it “subvert[s]  sacred symbols with angsty, humorous rebellion.”  Both thatpowerful poetry and her wide ranging publications in other fields—they include  co-editing (with Jason Nichols) La Verdad: An International Dialogue on Hip Hop Latinidades, and editing  ¡Manteca!: An Anthology of Afro-Latino Poetry--demonstrate why we are proud to include her in our first reading.

This reading also includes another impressive poet and fiction writer,  Donna Masini, who teaches at Hunter College. Her third book of poems, 4:30 Movie, is forthcoming; she is also the author of two other collections of poetry, entitled Turning to Fiction and That Kind of Danger, and of the novel, About Yvonne.

This event will take place at our Lincoln Center campus, 12th floor lounge, on September 25 between 7 and 8:15 PM . Like all the readings in Poets Out Loud, this is free and open to the public. Refreshments are served, and all audience members have the opportunity to win a free inscribed book by one of the poets.

Book Launch Tonight at Book Culture

Join us tonight, Monday, April 11th at 7pm, for a celebration of Poets Out Loud 2015-2016 winners, Nancy Pearson and Gregory Mahrer at Book Culture on 450 Columbus Ave. The poets will read from their winning collections: Pearson's The Whole by Contemplation of a Single Bone and Mahrer's A Provisional Map of the Lost Continent. They will be joined by POL Prize judge, John Yau.

The Whole by Contemplation of a Single Bone: In this her second collection of poetry, Nancy K. Pearson explores the possibilities of recovery and transformation in a world where “words cease to matter.” The speaker attempts to reconcile the past— a past shadowed by depression, addiction and misdiagnosis. Pearson refuses to end in a place of relief, asking the question, “don’t we all /fall into aggregate darkness/for something?” Instead her poems meditate on the lyric of absence and fragmentation. Pearson’s poems are restless, unsettling and revelatory. Here is Michael Klein on the new book: "So wondrous and happily strange that I had to take breaks in my reading of it to make sure that everything I thought I knew was still the way I remembered it. This is, in the best way, a book about what it means to be surprised."

A Provisional Map of the Lost Continent: charts a territory built of speculative histories, indeterminate landscapes, and mock narratives, all of them at the threshold linking exterior and interior worlds. Their logic is highly grammatical and slyly confounding, perfectly clear and drawn from dream. It is here, "between / what is occluded and what has elapsed," that Gregory Mahrer's ambiguous, disordered subjects begin their journeys. In the book's forward, John Yau writes: "Gregory Mahrer, who listens carefully to the voices inside him, and does not reject the reports they bring him, full of terrifying and beautiful music, wrote this wise and beautiful book. We would be remiss not to listen to what he has come to tell us."

Poet, art critic, and curator John Yau has published over 50 books of poetry, fiction, and art criticism. 


This is the first off-site book launch for Poets Out Loud. Wine will be served.


450 Columbus Ave

New YorkNY 10024

7 pm, Monday, April 11

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin April 7

Join us Thursday at 7 pm as we welcome Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin as part of a co-sponsored evening with Glucksman Ireland House at NYU. Eiléan is one of Ireland’s premier poets as well as a renowned Renaissance scholar, editor and translator. Her 2009 collection The Sun-fish, (Wake Forest University Press) was the winner of the 2010 International Griffin Poetry Prize. The judges’ citation noted the “beguiling poet…leads us into altered or empty landscapes…” with poems that possess “…a certain magic that proves not only to be believable but necessary, in fact, to our understanding of the world around us.”    

[This note about timing is a correction to an earlier version.] Fordham doctoral candidate Cathal Pratt and his quartet The Winter Court, will play a mix of traditional Irish language songs and instrumental folk tunes as the audience files in and during the reception.

Members of the audience will have the chance to win a free book of poetry; all students will also receive a free, illustrated broadside with an excerpt from A Musician’s Gallery.

The event is free and open to the public. A book signing and refreshments will follow.

Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus

113 West 60th Street, 12 floor lounge (E. Gerald Corrigan Conference Center)

For more information, contact Rachel Federman at (212) 636-6792 or pol@fordham.edu