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Violence, suffering, survival, and metamorphosis in Paisley Rekdal’s ‘Nightingale’

In the time when we still gathered, former Seattleite Paisley Rekdal returned here with her book of poems, Nightingale.

The work is a contemporary riff on the Roman poet Ovid’s The Metamorphoses, which begins with the creation of the world and journeys to the time of Julius Caesar. Ovid’s poems are framed by myth and historical events. It has been called “an epic about the act of silencing.” It’s also about jealousy, spite, lust, punishment and rape.

In her review of Nightingale, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett wrote that it “uses myth as a frame through which to engage the question of how violence, particularly sexual violence, remakes those who experience it. In the process, Rekdal interrogates the concepts of language, poetry, and beauty, unraveling attendant tropes and, ultimately, weaving something more honest and strange from their loose strands.”

Paisley Rekdal read from and discussed her work in this Seattle Arts & Lectures event at Hugo House on February 6. WITS poet Zoë Mertz read “A Poem For My Future Child” to open the program. Kym Tuvim’s performance of the opening song has been moved to the end of the program. KUOW’s Sonya Harris provided our recording.

Please note: This recording contains unedited language and themes of an adult nature.

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