The Strangest of Theatres explores how poets who are willing to venture beyond our borders can serve as envoys to the wider world and revitalize American poetry in the process. What are they looking for when they leave? What do they find? How does their experience shape them, and what is revealed when they sit down at their desks and take up the pen? Original and reprinted essays by contemporary poets who have spent time abroad address questions of estrangement, identity, and home. These reflections represent a diverse atlas of experience from authors such as Kazim Ali, Elizabeth Bishop, Naomi Shihab Nye, Nick Flynn, Yusef Komunyakaa, Claudia Rankine, Alissa Valles, and many others. Following these literary reflections is a roundtable conversation among fourteen poets as well as a section that provides practical re-sources for finding work abroad, applying for fellowships and residencies, funding a trip, obtaining proper travel documents, and attending to other cultural considerations. This inspiring, useful book addresses concerns relevant to any American writer preparing to go abroad, already traveling, just returning, or simply dreaming of the faraway.
Series Editor: Ilya Kaminsky is the Director of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute at the Poetry Foundation. He is the author of Dancing in Odessa, and co-editor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. Jared Hawkley is a poet and freelance editor from Vancouver. He's been a contributing editor to The Best American Nonrequired Reading; White Collar, Blue Collar, No Collar; and books of student writing for the educational nonprofit 826michigan, including Don't Stay Up So Late, a treasury of bedtime stories. He has written for newspapers and blogs, designed record jackets, led hikes up fourteeners in Rocky Mountain National Park, and given dogsled tours in the northern woods of Minnesota. He lives in Oakland. Susan Rich has traveled to Bosnia Herzegovina, South Africa, and the West Bank as a human rights activist and electoral supervisor. She has worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer, a Program Coordinator for Amnesty International and now teaches English and Film Studies at Highline Community College outside Seattle, WA. Susan is the author of three collections of poetry, The Alchemist's Kitchen (2010) named a finalist for the Foreword Prize and the Washington State Book Award, Cures Include Travel (2006), and The Cartographer's Tongue / Poems of the World (2000) winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry all published by White Pine Press. She has received awards from The Times Literary Supplement of London, Peace Corps Writers and the Fulbright Foundation. You can find her on the web at www.susanrich.net Brian Turner is the author of Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise (both from Alice James Books). He received a USA Hillcrest Fellowship in Literature, an NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, the US-Japan Friendship Commission grant, the Poets' Prize, and a Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. His work has appeared on National Public Radio, the BBC, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and Weekend America, among others. He is the director of the low-residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College. Consulting Editor: Catherine Barnett Catherine Barnett is the author of two collections of poems,Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced (Alice James Books, 2004) and The Game of Boxes (Graywolf Press, 2012). She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers' Award, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and a Pushcart. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Pleiades, TriQuarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, and other publications. She works as an independent editor and teaches at Barnard, The New School, NYU, and Poets House.