Can poetry fail us? Can it feel too precious in times of great upheaval? Prageeta Sharma interrogates these questions and more in her collection "Grief Sequence," published after the death of her husband. In this interview, we begin by discussing the relationship between poetry and grief, both in regards to her loss as well as the collective uncertainty of COVID. We also grapple with themes of misunderstanding, witness, and beauty in an effort to make sense of the what it means to be human. Prageeta speaks to us from her shelter-in-place residence in Claremont, CA.
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About the Book:
"How does a poet memorialize her beloved without erasing his complexity? Sharma writes candidly of the elegized’s personality — 'your death was as sudden as your rage' — and of her unanswered anxieties: 'Did he tell the doctor he didn't love me anymore and that's why I wasn't allowed into those conversations?' In doing so, Sharma complicates her narrative away from sentimentality and into reality-fracturing emotionality."—The New York Times
With staggering emotional honesty, Prageeta Sharma confronts the sudden loss of her spouse to cancer. Offering a series of poems rooted in the profoundly narrative yet disorienting experience of losing a loved one, she summons all of her resources in order to attempt any semblance, poetic or otherwise, of clear sense in trauma.
About the Author:
Prageeta Sharma's recent poetry collection is Grief Sequence out from Wave Books. She published Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013), Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007), The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), which won the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Bliss to Fill (Subpress, 2000). She is the founder of the conference Thinking Its Presence: Race, Creative Writing, Literary Studies and Art. A recipient of the 2010 Howard Foundation Award and a finalist for the 2020 Four Quartets Prize, she taught at the University of Montana and now teaches at Pomona College.