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Sponsored by the Ulster Community College Foundation, The Poetry Forum is an annual event which brings well-known and award-winning poets to SUNY Ulster for intimate question and answer sessions, as well as a special reading of their poetry. In 2007, the program was renamed the Ellen Robbins Poetry Forum to honor the memory of Ellen Robbins (1952-2006) who was on the faculty at SUNY Ulster from 1994 until 2006, and Chair of the English department, 2002-2006.
Award Winning Poet - Essayist - Social Critic
Moderated by Rachael Pompeii, SUNY Ulster Instructor of English
Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 1:15 p.m. via Zoom
Erika Meitner is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and author of six books of poems: Useful Junk; Holy Moly Carry Me; Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore; Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls; and Ideal Cities, which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; and Copia. Her poetry and prose have been widely anthologized. Born and raised in Queens and Long Island, NY, Meitner is a first-generation American: her father is from Israel; her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving the Holocaust. Meitner is currently a professor of English at Virginia Tech.
In her newest collection, Meitner considers what it means to be a sexual being in a world that sees women as invisible--as mothers, customers, passengers, worshippers, wives. These poems render our changing bodies as real and alive, shaped by the sense memories of long-lost lovers and the still thrilling touch of a spouse after years of parenthood, affirming that we are made of every intimate moment we have ever had. Letter poems to a younger poet interspersed throughout the collection question desire itself and how new technologies--Uber, sexting, Instagram--are reframing self-image and shifting the ratios of risk and reward in erotic encounters. With dauntless vulnerability, Meitner travels a world of strip malls, supermarkets, and subway platforms, remaining porous and open to the world, always returning to the intimacies rooted deep within the self as a shout against the dying earth. Boldly affirming that pleasure is a vital form of knowledge, Useful Junk reminds us that our selves are made real and beautiful by our embodied experiences and that our desire is what keeps us alive.
Winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry Erika Meitner's fifth collection of poetry plumbs human resilience and grit in the face of disaster, loss, and uncertainty. These narrative poems take readers into the heart of southern Appalachia--its highways and strip malls and gun culture, its fragility and danger--as the speaker wrestles with what it means to be the only Jewish family in an Evangelical neighborhood and the anxieties of raising one white son and one black son amidst racial tensions and school lockdown drills. With a firm hand on the pulse of the uncertainty at the heart of 21st century America and a refusal to settle for easy answers, Meitner's poems embrace life in an increasingly fractured society and never stop asking what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Erika Meitner's fourth book grapples with the widespread implications of commercialism and over-consumption, particularly in exurban America. Documentary poems originally commissioned byVirginia Quarterly Review examine the now-bankrupt city of Detroit, once the thriving heart of the American Dream. Meitner probes the hulking ruins of office buildings, tract housing, superstores, construction sites, and freeways--exposing a vacuous world of decay and abandonment--while holding out hope for re-birth from ashes.
Watch a collection of readings posted on Erika Meitner's YouTube channel.