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These poetry collections are explicitly concerned with language—vernacular, riffing, reclamation—and the ways words shape our collective American cultural consciousness. Featuring Nate Marshall (Finna) in conversation with Jennifer Perrine (Again), and moderated by Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani (In the Pockets of Small Gods).
In Finna, Nate Marshall’s poems consider the brevity and disposability of Black lives and other oppressed people in our current era of emboldened white supremacy, and the use of the Black vernacular in America’s vast reserve of racial and gendered epithets. Finna explores the erasure of peoples in the American narrative; asks how gendered language can provoke violence; and finally, how the Black vernacular, expands our notions of possibility, giving us a new language of hope.
Jennifer Perrine’s Again riffs on common words—tremendous, terrific, disaster, wall, ban—that have been overused and misused in recent years, made to carry the weight of disturbing connotations. In poems that speak through both a collective voice and a singular, personal one, Again maps the emotional territories of this specific—but not unique—moment in United States history, tracing a path through this surreal landscape, illuminating a terrain of disorientation, grief, and shame at the America we have made.