An official 2018 Brooklyn Book Festival event
Emceed by the incomparable Mahogany L. Browne, two teams of award-winning poets—including Chen Chen, Tomás Q. Morín, Erika L. Sánchez, Adrian Matejka, Erika Meitner, and Melissa Stein—take turns batting at topics pitched to them by the audience. Fastballs, curveballs, knuckleballs: these poets won't know what's coming next! Eminently qualified umpires Mark Doty and Patricia Smith will score each batter's reading, and the winning team takes the series title. Hilarity and breathtaking work guaranteed.
As Marianne Moore wrote, “Writing is exciting / and baseball is like writing. / You can never tell with either / how it will go.”
Don't forget to bring a topic to stump the poets!
Mahogany L. Browne has been featured in the PBS NewsHour segment “Brief But Spectacular” and in HBO’s Brave New Voices as the artistic director. Publisher of Penmanship Books and curator of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Friday Night Slam, she’s published several poetry collections and books, including Black Girl Magic, Kissing Caskets, and Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out Online. She is the coeditor of Break Beat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic Anthology and the forthcoming illustrated poem Woke Baby. Browne has toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada, and Australia as a member of Global Poetics, an international arts exchange.
Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Award, the 2017 LA Times Book Prize, the 2018 NAACP Image Award and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist. She is a Guggenheim fellow, an NEA grant recipient, a former fellow at Civitella Ranieri, Yaddo, and MacDowell, and a professor at the College of Staten Island and in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College. Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths.
Mark Doty is the author of Deep Lane, A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures, Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts, Source, and Sweet Machine, Atlantis, which received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria, winner of the National Poetry Series and NBCC awards and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight; and Turtle, Swan. Nonfiction includes The Art of Description: World into Word, Heaven’s Coast, Firebird, and Dog Years. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Ingram Merrill Foundation, NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, and Whiting Foundation.
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. The collection was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and named a Stonewall Honor Book in Literature. Chen is the 2018–2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University.
Adrian Matejka is the author of Map to the Stars; The Big Smoke, awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry; The Devil’s Garden, which won the New York/New England Award; and Mixology, a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. Among Matejka’s other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Bellagio Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington and is Poet Laureate of Indiana.
Tomás Q. Morín is the author of Patient Zero and A Larger Country, winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize and runner-up for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. He translated Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu and with Mari L’Esperance, he coedited Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine. Currently at work on a memoir about fathers, he teaches at Drew University and in the low residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Erika L. Sánchez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. A poet, essayist, and fiction writer, she is the author of a young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Knopf Books for Young Readers), a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, an instant New York Times Best seller; and the poetry collection Lessons on Expulsion (Graywolf), a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. She is a 2017–2019 Princeton Arts Fellow.
Melissa Stein is the author of the poetry collections Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon Press) and Rough Honey, winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. She has received awards and fellowships from the Pushcart Prize, NEA, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. She is a freelance editor in San Francisco.
Erika Meitner is the author of 5 books of poems, including Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), Copia (BOA Editions, 2014), and Ideal Cities (Harper Perennial, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry Series winner. She is currently an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs.