July Westhale & TC Tolbert Reading
Join the celebration for Westhale’s deliciously subversive new collection, Via Negativa!
Thursday June 18, 6:30pm on Zoom & FB Live stream. Proceeds support the Black community.
July Westhale is a poet, translator, and essayist living in Oakland, CA. She is the author of Via Negativa, Trailer Trash (winner of the 2016 Kore Press Book Award), The Cavalcade (Finishing Line Press), Quantifiable Data (Alley Cat Books), and Occasionally Accurate Science (Nomadic Press). Her essays, poems, fiction, and translations are published in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies. July works as an editor for PULP Magazine, a publication devoted to sexuality and reproductive rights, and is a community educator, working with all ages of students in all types of settings—in after school programs, community colleges, libraries, living rooms, bookstores, fields, etc. Her work focuses on dismantling the inaccessibility of creative writing and bringing it into a contemporary focus as a necessary way for marginalized communities to archive their experiences.
TC Tolbert is a genderqueer, feminist poet and teacher committed to social justice. S/he believes in working across communities—building bridges wherever possible. Tolbert earned his MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona, and teaches in the low residency MFA program at OSU-Cascades and at the University of Arizona. S/he has three chapbooks: spirare (Belladonna, 2012), territories of folding (Kore Press, 2011), and I:Not He:Not I (Pitymilk Press, 2014), and a full-length collection, Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press, 2014).
Please sign up here to be part of the live audience in the Zoom room.
Creative Writing with July Westhale
Electric Divine: Harnessing the Ecstatic, A Zoom Workshop
Saturday, June 20, 9:30am-12:30pm PT via Zoom.
$38. Tip and scholarship fund donation options available. Portion of proceeds to support Black community care.
Three hours of self-care with writing. Start connecting the dots swirling all around and inside you—from your body to the radical, collective divine. Poetry can help us mourn and honor and act all at once.
“Via Negativa” is a collection of poetry that borders on the ecstatic. It comes from the cultural understanding of poet as ambassador, or like, conduit to the divine (where does that come from and why), especially in times of political turbulence. The workshop explores poetry’s relationship to divinity (God, in this case, having scant little to do with it), and what the role of the poet really *is*– & isn’t. The texts include Hafiz, Ben Lerner’s “On The Hatred of Poetry,” and Ross Gay.
In this 3-hour workshop, we will look to the works of ecstatic poets/prose writers (both contemporary and ancient) for evolving definitions of divinity and ecstasy and how it has been embraced/rejected by the writing world. There will an analysis/discussion of the texts, freewriting, and a workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to freely explore ideas, work with examples, define for themselves their own process, share, and receive constructive feedback. Details and registration.
Pub date: June 15, 2020
July Westhale is a shapeshifting poet of desire and violence, grief and forgiveness, trauma and loss transformed by resilience. After her gorgeous debut Trailer Trash explored the intricacies of class and gender, Via Negativa deftly weaves the sensual with the spiritual, reckoning with a religious inheritance and a powerful faith in pleasure, engaging in bold lyric conversation with the divine. These deliciously subversive poems range from California fires to church pews with equal parts grace and swagger, always charged with eroticism, rooted in the body, showing us again and again “the wildness of ourselves.” Via Negativa left me breathless.—D I A N A W H I T N EY
Here are July Westhale’s new poems: where death smells like “waterlogged Pall Malls”; where a “freshly laundered” pickup truck idles outside the window; where a ravished young woman tramps to the kitchen in her “birthday body,” opens “the vault of the refrigerator” and rests her head on “the cool rationale of a cantaloupe.” These poems are dizzying, erotic, fiercely intelligent, and, in the best ways, many-minded. Via Negativa is a book by one of our finest young poets, fully present in the world, attuned to the dark mysteries of language and insight. —K E V I N P R U F E R
July Westhale is the real deal. I can feel her alive inside the poems, there is an experience wielded that I thoroughly trust. And the poems are so fresh and exciting that one leads to the next! —C A C O N R A D
I love the surprise of these meditations on creation – how joy rises up inside “flesh-failings;” how desire continually creates a “a vow of silence but a throat of song.” This is the deity I’ve wanted to know: one of “plural-silence.” And how thankful I am to have found July Westhale’s Via Negativa, a fellow seeker, in language I love: “all/engorged, all surrendering.” I am ever grateful to her for creating the queer-poem-church we’ve needed inside a “sentence small, eternal, hushed.” —T C T O L B E R T
July Westhale remains a poet of the highest order, and Via Negativa is an exquisite, spellbinding achievement.—D I R I Y E O S M A N
Download the press release.