Poetry Books Release Celebration: Paula Cisewski


English instructor Paula Cisewski reads from her two new award-winning poetry collections, THE THREATENED EVERYTHING and QUITTER.

Date & Time:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM


Free and Open to the Public


O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library, O'Shaughnessy Room (Room 108)

The English Department is pleased to host a poetry reading by English instructor Paula Cisewski, who recently had two poetry collections published: Quitter and The Threatened Everything.

Author Bio:
Paula Cisewski's fourth poetry collection, Quitter, co-won Diode Editions' 2016 Book Prize and her third, The Threatened Everything, was the finalist selected for publication in the 2014 Burnside Review Press Book Contest. Both will appear in February 2017. Cisewski is also the author of Ghost Fargo (selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize), Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and a chapbook of lyric prose, Misplaced Sinister (Red Bird Chapbooks). She has been awarded fellowships from the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She teaches, both academically and privately, and curates occasional, artful literary events in the Twin Cities.

Praise for Quitter:
180X238“I’m afraid / that there’s a prison / at the heart of everything.” In Quitter, Paula Cisewski quits everything except doubt, the kind of cavernously honest doubt that philosophers crave and that the American Project will need to forge as its lodestone if this planet is to continue. Only someone doing it (Poetry) right could ask, “how can I / possibly be / doing this right,” illuminating the difficult path with humility and care. For what but “an earnest / straining to hear / will return the here / to the here.” Quitter slips into the labyrinth for its dark heart, for its beastliness, but it escapes with something far greater: light. “Whatever light there is, that’s what it’s time for.” This is a book about labor and refusal. We the people, more than ever, need poets like Paula to walk and work the labyrinth for us, to refuse easy answers and bring back seeds of resistance. I am so grateful for this timely, intimate, and incandescent book.
       --Chris Martin, author of The Falling Down Dance, Becoming Weather, and American Music
“Paula Cisewski's latest book is full of labyrinths and scavengers, blossoms and bus commutes, Shakespeare and Chopin and Bowie and Husker Du. Reading it is like commiserating over the end of the world with your smartest friend, only to realize, after a night of dark humor and etudes, that you're just at the halfway point. There is so much more, even as our bodies tether us to so much of the same. Cisewski makes every bit of it beautiful."
          --Kate Harding, author of Asking for It; The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It
Praise for The Threatened Everything:
180X241The Threatened Everything takes a heart-stoppingly honest look at the lies we tell ourselves in order to be functioning grown-ups. Writing poems both timely and marked by a deep, ancient wisdom born from the marriage of absurdity and grief, Paula Cisewski emerges as an American inheritor of the great Polish poets Zbigniew Herbert and Czeslaw Milosz. With a studious music and a sharp eye for laughter’s dual power to demand both complicity and joy in our separated, secular lives, her poems mark out space for us to gather our strength and see more clearly the things of the world that center and unhinge us, despite the distracting flotsam and jetsam of late capitalism, the war machine, the political circus. Cisewski is the comforting friend making art from the awful: “Even factoring in fiberglass / and waterslides, motor oil // and lurch,” she writes, “every lonesome atom of / your body is a church.” Poetry is, as these poems make evident, the only possible reaction to the absurd life.
          --Mary Austin Speaker, author of The Bridge and Ceremony
The poems in Paula Cisewski’s The Threatened Everything take on a teetering, siren-infused world in which “bullets rip through every modern poem,” and the speaker, like the rest of us, is “always and forever on a stairway to a stairway to,” stuck between floors and phrases like an infinitely skipping record. This book is both urban and animal. It inhabits the political realm and a panicked interiority, the elegiac (“This elegy/is for who one man/in a repeating/mirror of men might have been/before violence”) and a newlywed bliss that borders on the hysterical (“happy/as a warehouse stuffed with/white umbrellas popped open!”). I am delighted by Cisewski’s formal virtuosity and her feverish humor, and I’m scared to death—as one should be—by the accuracy of her apocalypse. “We gravel-knee our motherland,” she writes. “We are patriots, Sisters and/Brothers, and our country’s flag is a gaping beak.” This book’s arrival is imperative, urgent. It burns.
           --Diane Seuss, author of Four-Legged Girl

Parking (available for $1.50/hour before 4pm)

Anderson Parking Facility--located at the corner of Cretin Ave. and Grand Ave.

Morrison Parking Ramp--located beneath Morrison Residence Hall, visitors parking in the Morrison ramp should enter campus at the intersection of Selby Ave. and Finn St. Follow the drive aisle south , under the skyway, toward the stadium. Take a hard right at the end of the drive aisle. The visitor ramp entrance is the eastern entrance beneath the residence hall.

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.