Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 7:00pm

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Joy Priest will be joined by Sasha Banks and Nikki Wallschlaeger.

Priest’s debut collection, Horsepower, is a cinematic escape narrative that radically envisions a daughter’s waywardness as aspirational. Across the book’s three sequences, we find the black-girl speaker in the midst of a self-imposed exile, going back in memory to explore her younger self—a mixed-race child being raised by her white supremacist grandfather in the shadow of Churchill Downs, Kentucky’s world-famous horseracing track—before arriving in a state of self-awareness to confront the personal and political landscape of a harshly segregated Louisville. Out of a space that is at once southern and urban, violent and beautiful, racially-charged and working-class, she attempts to transcend her social and economic circumstances. Across the collection, Priest writes a horse that acts as a metaphysical engine of flight, showing us how to throw off the harness and sustain wildness. Unlike the traditional Bildungsroman, Priest presents a non-linear narrative in which the speaker lacks the freedom to come of age naively in the urban South, and must instead, from the beginning, possess the wisdom of “the horses & their restless minds.”

Joy Priest is the author of HORSEPOWER (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of the 2020 Kunitz Prize and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, APRThe AtlanticPoetry Northwest, and Poets & Writers, among others. She is currently a doctoral student in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston. 

Sasha Banks is a 2019 Rhode Island Writers Colony Fellow who received her MFA at Pratt Institute. Her work has been published in PBS NEWSHOUR, APOGEE, RHINO, POOR CLAUDIA, ZÓCALO PUBLIC SQUARE, and FANZINE. She is the author of america, MINE.

Nikki Wallschlaeger's work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press, 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof, 2017), as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Feel (Bloof, 2019). She is also the author of an artist book called Operation USA through the Baltimore-based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Her third collection, Waterbaby, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2021. 

Horsepower: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822966197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Pittsburgh Press - September 22nd, 2020