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[VIRTUAL] Poets Gather to Celebrate Nandi Comer’s Book Release

Presented in partnership with Northwestern University Press, PEN America invites you to a virtual reading celebration of Nandi Comer’s new poetry collection, Tapping Outon Saturday, May 16th, 3pm Eastern time on PEN America’s Facebook page. 

The relentless motions and blinding colors of lucha libre, the high-flying wrestling sport, are the arresting backdrop to Comer’s new collection. Mexican freestyle wrestling becomes the poet’s lyrical motif, uncovering what is behind the intricate masks we wear in society and our search for place within our personal histories. Comer’s poetic narratives include explorations of violence, trauma, and identity. The harsh realities of being migrant and immigrant, being birthright and oppressed, are as hard-pressed as the plancha move to the body. Each poem in Tapping Out is a “freestyle movement” of language and complexity put on full display, under the bright lights and roars of survival. Comer’s splendid and barbed Detroit style of language melts the masks with searing words.

Comer will be joined by Detroit poets Tommye Blount and Aricka Foreman. Both of these poets will read from their respective forthcoming collections and will join Comer to celebrate the book, talk about putting together their respective collections, and discuss the larger Detroit literary community in a conversation moderated by poet Tarfia Faizulla. 

To join, visit PEN America’s facebook page at facebook.com/PENamerica. 

Nandi Comer is a proud Detroiter and is the author of American Family: A Syndrome (Finishing Line Press). She is a Cave Canem fellow as well as a Callaloo fellow. She is a 2019 Kresge Artist Fellow. Her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Green Mountains Review, Muzzle, The Offing, and Southern Indiana Review. Her first full-length collection, Tapping Out, will be released by Northwestern University Press.

Aricka Foreman is an American poet, essayist, and digital curator from Detroit, MI. Author of the chapbook Dream with a Glass Chamber and Salt Body Shimmer (forthcoming on YesYes Books, August 2020), she has received support from Cave Canem, Callaloo, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Her writings have appeared in RHINO, Catapult, Vinyl, Buzzfeed, Split This Rock’s “The Quarry,” THRUSHFurious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (Northwestern University Press), among several others. She spends her time in Chicago, IL engaging poetry with photography and video narratives.

A Cave Canem alumnus, Tommye Blount is the author of Fantasia for the Man in Blue (Four Way Books, 2020) and the chapbook What Are We Not For (Bull City Press 2016). A graduate from Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, he has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from Kresge Arts in Detroit and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Detroit, Blount now lives in Novi, Michigan.

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf 2018) and Seam (SIU 2014). The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, three Pushcart prizes, and other honors, Tarfia has been featured in periodicals, magazines, and anthologies both here and abroad. Tarfia presents work at institutions and organizations worldwide, and collaborations include photographers, producers, composers, filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists, resulting in several interdisciplinary projects. In 2016, Tarfia was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change. Tarfia is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow.