A Centennial Celebration of The Phillips Collection
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The work of Michael Collier and Monica Sok paints personal histories, creating intimate gems that shine in a public setting. In this ekphrastic reading, both poets will read work in response to The Phillips Collection’s centenary exhibition.
Michael Collier is the author of seven poetry collections, including My Bishop and Other Poems; An Individual History; Dark Wild Realm; and The Ledge, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Collier served as the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences for more than 20 years and as poetry editor at Houghton Mifflin and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for ten years. The state poet laureate of Maryland from 2001 to 2004, he is the director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Maryland.
Monica Sok’s debut collection, A Nail the Evening Hangs On, was published in 2020. Her work has been recognized with a Discovery Prize from The 92nd Street Y. Sok, a Cambodian American poet and daughter of former refugees, is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has taught poetry to Southeast Asian youths at Banteay Srei and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland, California.
My grandfather’s right eye was a frozen slab
of milk-white ice that light never thawed
and when he slept, the lid didn’t drown
the curse of its constant stare.
Look at it long and you’d be salt, stone—
fear’s hardened form. And look. We did,
though we blinked against its spell, the worm
or ray or evil thread of its insistence.
From An Individual History by Michael Collier. Reprinted with permission from W.W. Norton.
From Tuol Sleng
A boy runs through the halls of Tuol Sleng,
His narrow footsteps turn it back into a school.
He checks every classroom for the kids.
He sits on a chair and waits. When I walk in,
He whispers, ghost. The bell rings and off he goes.
From A Nail the Evening Hangs On by Monica Sok. Reprinted with permission of Copper Canyon Press.
This reading is co-sponsored with The Phillips Collection.
The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series is pleased to partner with East City Bookshop, an independently run, women owned bookstore on Capitol Hill. Pickup is available at the shop, or they ship (almost) anywhere! Check their website, eastcitybookshop.com.