Voicing the Unspeakable:
A Reading and Conversation with Georgia Poet Laureate Chelsea Rathburn
Sponsored by Agnes Scott College
Chelsea Rathburn joins us to discuss the ability of poetry and memoir to highlight the experiences of marginalized people in this interview with Dr. Nicole Stamant. In Rathburn’s latest book, Still Life with Mother and Knife, she sought to voice matters once deemed unspeakable, from collisions between children and predators to the realities of postpartum depression. Intimate and fearless, her poems move in interlocking sections between the pleasures and dangers of childhood, between masterpieces of art and magazine centerfolds, and—in a gripping sequence in dialogue with Delacroix’s paintings and sketches of Medea—between the twinned ferocities of maternal love and rage. Nothing will be truly off limits in this compelling conversation about identity and self-representation. Charis is proud to be the bookseller for this event.
About the Author:
Chelsea Rathburn is the author of three full-length poetry collections, most recently Still Life with Mother and Knife, a New York Times “New & Noteworthy” book released by Louisiana State University Press in 2019. Rathburn’s first full-length collection, The Shifting Line, won the 2005 Richard Wilbur Award, and her second collection, A Raft of Grief, was published by Autumn House Press in 2013. Rathburn’s poems have appeared in the nation’s most esteemed journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Southern Review, among others. In a 2019 feature, NPR called Rathburn’s work “arresting” and “a gentle whirlwind.” In 2009, she received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Born in Jacksonville and raised in Miami, Florida, Rathburn also has deep roots in the state of Georgia, where her mother’s family has lived since the 1830s. Rathburn moved to Decatur in 2001. She lives in Macon, Georgia with her husband, the poet James Davis May, and their daughter. In March 2019, Rathburn was appointed poet laureate of Georgia.
About the Interviewer:
Dr. Nicole Stamant teaches literature at Agnes Scott College. Her work focuses on marginalized populations and historically marginalized forms of literature. She is the author of Serial Memoir: Archiving American Lives, and her journal articles have appeared in ARIEL, MELUS, a/b: Auto/Biography, South Central Review, The Hemingway Review, and Studies in Comics, among others. Most recently, she contributed to the edited collections American Literature in Transition: 1970-1980 and The Postcolonial Subject in Transit: Migration, Borders, and Subjectivity in African Diaspora Literature. She is currently working on a book manuscript, titled “Light, Bright, Mixed, Mulatto, Biracial, Black: Memoirs of Race, Color, and Belonging,” which looks at a number of contemporary memoirs by African Americans through the lenses of hospitality and hauntology about their experiences being light-skinned and/or biracial. This manuscript project also incorporates creative nonfiction: biographical and autobiographical sketches of Stamant’s own family and ancestral history. In 2018, she received Agnes Scott's Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award. She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband and two children.
Sponsored by Agnes Scott College
Still Life with Mother and Knife by Chelsea Rathburn
available through local, indie bookseller
In this powerful collection, Chelsea Rathburn seeks to voice matters once deemed unspeakable, from collisions between children and predators to the realities of postpartum depression. Still Life with Mother and Knife considers the female body, "mute and posable," as object of both art and violence.