Sherwin Bitsui at UAlbany, 2/18/2016
Last Thursday afternoon, Sherwin Bitsui gave a fantastic reading at the University at Albany. Many thanks to the New York State Writers Institute for making the event possible. I had a chance to introduce Sherwin, and here’s a snippet of what I said:
…Bitsui’s poetry…is a poetry of metamorphosis and becoming. True to the titles of his books [Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003) and Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)], his poetry shifts and flows as it floods the senses. It constantly revises and reshapes itself as if in response to changing conditions. At any one moment, an image or sound or motif is on the cusp of transforming into something else. This is to say that Bitsui’s poetry is best appreciated as a continuous aesthetic experience, as an experience that unfolds and unfurls within time, an experience that coalesces into nodes of graspable meaning and then expands centrifugally into new atmospheres of sense.
Sherwin read from his first two books and then shared with us a nice preview from his new manuscript called “Dissolve.”
The new poems have a wonderful crispness and elegance; their imagistic constructions–while still preserving a sense of the wildness of Flood Song–have a refinement and tightness to them. Even as the images dissolved and were overtaken by new ones, they still left a strong and lasting imprint on the mind. I also thought that Sherwin’s metaphors in “Dissolve” evoked both surprise and inevitability at the same time–certainly a magnificent feat. I’ll be looking forward to “Dissolve” with great interest!