© Benjamin Aleshire
Stacey Balkun is the author of Sweetbitter and co-editor of Fiolet & Wing. Winner of the 2019 New South Writing Contest, her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Mississippi Review, Pleiades, and several other anthologies and journals. Balkun holds a Master of Fine Arts from Fresno State and teaches online at The Poetry Barn and The Loft. She currently works as coordinator for the graduate and undergraduate English programs at the University of New Orleans.
9:00 am to 10:00 am
State Library, Fifth Floor, Capitol View Room
Supernatural Laundry: Louisiana Women Poets Engaged in Domestic Fabulism
with Nordette Adams, Anne Babson, Stacy Balkun, Pamela Ebel, Gina Ferrara, and Melinda Palacio
10:15 am to 11:00 am
Cavalier House Books Tent
Sweetbitter reads like a fever dream as Balkun uncovers the radioactive darkness that hides beneath the earth’s surface and how it seeps into the lives of those who come near. The speaker takes us with them into the wilderness, wanting the world to be perceived differently, begging to be seen as more. From sapphic longing and poisoned baptisms to contaminated bodies and the gendered erosion of autonomy, Sweetbitter is the product of a restless coming-of-age story. In it, puberty is swimming in a toxic pond and recklessness is disguised as control. With Balkun’s hazy, dream-like storytelling, the speaker is a wild creature challenging the social confines of being human, being girl. Sweetbitter is a gripping, sometimes suspenseful, poetry collection that leaves you hungry for more.
Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade, says, “In lines that are riddled with visual gaps, drastic line endings, and striking syntax, Stacey Balkun tells the stories of what might become of a body born of such a place. I love the formal and linguistic playfulness of these poems as much as the deadly seriousness of their content. To be human, after all, is to seek beauty and joy, to reach for love and connection, even here, on this polluted and imperiled planet. Especially here, these poems insist.”
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