Writing the Past to Right the Future: The Poets of Alice James Books
"These poems examine the joy of struggle and the interconnectedness of all things, dissolving the borders between nature and humanity and past and present. To those who have been in the fight a long time, who are tired, who want to rest, and who want to win, these are vital, nourishing, life-giving words."
—Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Director of Caring Across Generations on Tamiko Beyer
“McCallum’s collection, through a strong commitment to craft and narrative, grapples with race, violence, colonialism and inheritance. No Ruined Stone is striking and unsettling in all of the ways I love my art.”
—Chet’la Sebree for The Lily
Shara McCallum and Tamiko Beyer, who publish their poems through Alice James Books, share their work which interrogates the past, rewrites it, and dares to imagine a better and more informed future. This reading will be followed by a moderated conversation where audience members can also ask their own questions.
No Ruined Stone
When the dead return
they will come to you in dream
and in waking, will be the bird
knocking, knocking against glass, seeking
a way in, will masquerade
as the wind, its voice made audible
by the tongues of leaves, greedily
lapping, as the waves’ self-made fugue
is a turning and returning, the dead
will not then nor ever again
desert you, their unrest
will be the coat cloaking you,
the farther you journey
from them the more
that distance will maw in you,
time and place gulching
when the dead return to demand
and wanting and wanting
everything you have to give and nothing
will quench or unhunger them
as they take all you make as offering.
Then tell you to begin again.
"No Ruined Stone" (poem) from No Ruined Stone by Shara McCallum, Alice James Books, 2021.
Excerpt from "We are bodies in bodies we are stars"
We are soaked through to the bone in grief, breathing in grief with every gulp of air.
We are soaked through to the bone in rage, breathing in rage with every gulp of air.
We move toward each other, hands out and some distance away. We search for how to collapse the distance. We collapse the distance, some of us. . .
"We are bodies in bodies we are stars" from Last Days by Tamiko Beyer, Alice James Books, 2021.
Co-sponsored by Alice James Books
Founded as a feminist press, Alice James Books is committed to collaborating with literary artists of excellence who might otherwise go unheard by producing, promoting, and distributing their work which often engages the public on important social issues. Alice James provides a platform from which to elevate these voices and is dedicated to helping its writers achieve purposeful engagement with a broad audience and community. We help writers tell their stories and connect with readers. We envision this work making continued contributions that help build and grow a more understanding, equitable, and just community through literature.
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.