This is an in person event at our Manchester, VT store!
Yale Young Poets Award Winner and Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Airea D. Matthews will join us to read poems from her powerful collection of autobiographical poems about the economics of class and its failures for those rendered invisible by it. As a former student of economics, Airea D. Matthews was fascinated and disturbed by 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith, and his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations. Bread and Circus is a direct challenge to Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, which claims self-interest is the key to optimal economic outcomes. By juxtaposing redacted texts by Smith and the French Marxist Guy Debord with autobiographical prose and poems, Bread and Circus demonstrates that self-interest fails when people become commodities themselves, and shows how the most vulnerable—including the author and her family—have been impacted by that failure. A layered collection to be read and reread, with poems that range from tragic to humorous, in forms as varied and nuanced as the ideas the book considers, Bread and Circus explores the area where theory and reality meet. Timely, ambitious, and relevant, Bread and Circus is a brilliant intellectual and artistic contribution to an ongoing conversation about American inequality, for fans of Elizabeth Alexander, Natalie Diaz, Eve Ewing, and Gregory Pardlo.
Airea D. Matthews is Philadelphia’s current poet laureate. Her first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which won the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Gulf Coast, VQR, Best American Poets, American Poet, LitHub, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. Matthews holds a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania as well as an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program and an MPA from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, both at the University of Michigan. A Pew fellow, she is a professor and directs the poetry program at Bryn Mawr College.
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