LEE SHARKEY: WALKING BACKWARDS BOOK LAUNCH
Employing a great variety of formal strategies—lyrics, parables, testimony, paratactic narratives, recastings of Torah stories, and inter-leavings with other texts—the poems in Lee Sharkey’s fifth full-length poetry collection Walking Backwards offer a complex vantage on cultural erasure and persistence. Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, and the Yiddish-language poets Abraham Sutzkever and Peretz Markish become contemporaries in an era of refugees as her words mingle with theirs to bear the weight of the unspoken. “What have we come for,” the poet asks, “to sleep where the dead slept in the bed of our absence?”
Join the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance to celebrate the newest collection by MWPA co-founder Lee Sharkey.
“Step by step, line by free-floating line, Lee Sharkey walks backwards into the Jewish catastrophe in this deep book of remembrance—a collection of parables, an ongoing conversation with the dead, a tablet of fire.”—Edward Hirsch
“In Walking Backwards, Lee Sharkey deftly gleans the ancient stories and old cities for news, picking from Biblical narratives and old poems the grains that might feed us in our hunger. Like Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History–whose wings are buffeted inexorably into the future while facing the past–Sharkey walks backwards through Jerusalem and Vilno, witnessing the ghosts of refugees and concentration camp victims, while cradling a tender vision of kindness and hope. “So we mark our dark accomplishment,” she writes, “Drawn between us, a line like living hair.” I’m so grateful for Walking Backwards, its “scalded beauty” and words that “light the long slumber.”—Philip Metres
Lee Sharkey has published five full-length poetry collections. She is the recipient of the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Award in Translation, the Maine Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance’s Distinguished Achievement Award, and is the senior editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. VISIT leesharkey.net