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Allison Adair & John Murillo: The Clearing & Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry

August 4, 2022, 7 pm8 pm.
$0 – $16

Join us for an in-person event with critically reviewed poet Allison Adair and award-winning poet John Murillo for a discussion of their poetry collections The Clearing and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry. This event will be hosted in the Strand Book Store’s 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway on 12th Street.

Can’t make the event? Purchase a signed copy of The Clearing here.


In-person events will be presented to a fully vaccinated and masked audience. All patrons over the age of five will be required to show proof* of having completed the COVID-19 vaccination series at least 14 daysprior to the date of the event.

*Proof of vaccination will be defined as either an original vaccination card, Excelsior Pass or its equivalent. We will be checking to ensure compliance with the 14 day waiting period post-vaccination.

Registration will be required online. No tickets for entry will be sold at the door.


Winner of the 2020 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, The Clearing navigates the ever-shifting poles of violence and vulnerability with rich imagination and a singular incisiveness, “asserting feminist viewpoints and mortal terror in lush musical lines” (New York Times).

The women in Allison Adair’s collection—luminous and electric from the first line to the last—live in places that have been excavated for gold and precious ores. They understand the nature of being hollowed out, of being “the planet’s stone/core as it tries to carve out one secret place and fails.” And so, as these poems take us from the midst of the Civil War to our current era, they chart fairy tales that are at once unsettling and painfully familiar, never forgetting that cruelty compels us to search for tenderness. “What if this time,” they ask, “instead of crumbs the girl drops/teeth, her own, what else does she have.”

Adair sees the dirt beneath our nails, both alone and as a country, and pries it gently loose until we remember something of who we are, “from before . . . from a similar injury or kiss.” There is a dark tension in this work, and its product is wholly “an alchemical feat, turning horror into beauty” (Boston Globe).

“There is in John Murillo’s art a dogged Americanness, a poet determined to assert himself within an America that has sought to deny his song and the songs from the rich African American tradition. And what songs these are! They are songs of irresistible vulnerability, tough truth-telling, cutting wit, and formal command.Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry is a signature event in American poetry.”—Kwame Dawes

John Murillo’s second book is a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation. A sparrow trapped in a car window evokes a mother battered by a father’s fists; a workout at an iron gym recalls a long-ago mentor who pushed the speaker “to become something unbreakable.” The presence of these and poetic forbears—Gil Scott-Heron, Yusef Komunyakaa—provide a context for strength in the face of danger and anger. At the heart of the book is a sonnet crown triggered by the shooting deaths of three Brooklyn men that becomes an extended meditation on the history of racial injustice and the notion of payback as a form of justice.