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PEN Out Loud: Madness and Mania

In today’s political climate, the creative processes that allow us to sustain and express ourselves are more important than ever. Join PEN America in partnership with Strand Book Store for an intimate poetry reading with two award-winning authors whose works navigate themes of mental health and the often obscured line between self-hate and self-love. The reading will be followed by a discussion on the craft of spoken word versus word on the page and an examination of the emotional undertaking of putting together a collection of poetry.

This event will feature poet sam sax, author of Madness, which won the National Poetry Series, in conversation with poet Jeanann Verlee, a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellow and author of Said the Manic to the Muse.

PEN Out Loud is a monthly series presented by PEN America in collaboration with the Strand Book Store. This series provides a platform to amplify diverse and marginalized voices and convene vital conversations on the ways in which threats to free expression affect readers and writers alike.

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sam sax is a queer Jewish writer, performer, educator, and organizer. He’s the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series selected by Terrance Hayes, and Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, Bread Loaf, and the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, author of four chapbooks, and the winner of the 2016 Iowa Review Award, American Literary Award, and Gulf Coast Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, BuzzFeed, Poetry Magazine, Tin House, and other journals. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press.

Jeanann Verlee is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow and the author of three books: prey (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), first runner-up for the 2016 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award; Said the Manic to the Muse (Write Bloody Publishing, 2015); and Racing Hummingbirds (2010), silver medal winner in the Independent Publisher Awards. She is a recipient of the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize, and her work appears in AdroitBOAATPANKRattle, and BuzzFeed, among others. Verlee has served as poetry editor for various online publications and numerous individual print collections, and for seven years she was director of the Urbana Poetry Slam reading series at Bowery Poetry Club. She continues to perform and facilitate workshops at schools, theaters, libraries, bookstores, and dive bars across North America. Verlee collects tattoos and kisses Rottweilers. She believes in you.

Photo of Jeanann Verlee by Jonathan Saunders.

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