What does grief feel like when “the landscape doesn’t change // but everything else does?”
Poet Joan Kwon Glass, whose recent collections have focused on grief, recovery, and life after great loss, will read from her works at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Governors Room in the Overman Student Center at Pittsburg State University.
The event is free and is sponsored by the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series and the Student Fee Council.
The public also is invited to attend her master class from 3:45 to 5 p.m. that day in 302 Grubbs Hall and her lecture/class visit from 2 to 3:15 p.m. in the same classroom on Feb. 22.
In 2017, Glass’ nephew Frankie committed suicide, and a few months later, her sister — Frankie’s mother — also took her life. It wasn’t until 2018 that she was able to write about these heartbreaking losses.
Glass’s first full-length collection, Night Swim, won the 2021 Diode Poetry Prize.
In an interview with the Arts Paper of Greater New Haven, Connecticut, Glass said, “I don’t know how I would have moved through rage without writing these poems. I really see Night Swim as testimony around suicide loss survivorship, and I find that there’s a very limited dialogue that exists in the world around that.”
Night Swim begins with the solitary, titular poem which asks the reader to consider what grief feels like when “the landscape doesn’t change // but everything else does.”
Kansas poet and Pitt State graduate Melissa Fite Johnson says of Night Swim, “It’s absolutely stunning, one of the most moving poetry collections I’ve ever read. I’ll never forget these poems; they’re part of me now.”
She also is the author of the chapbooks How to Make Pancakes for a Dead Boy (Harbor Editions), and If Rust Can Grow on the Moon (Milk & Cake Press), and Bloodline Harbor Review). Her chapbook Bloodline was awarded the Washburn Chapbook Prize through Harbor Review in 2021.
Pitt State Professor Laura Lee Washburn, the poet for whom the Washburn Prize is named, says of Bloodline: “She affords us the opportunity to enter into the heart and spirit of the speaker of these poems, a person who writes unblinking of racism, of deep griefs, of the fragmented world.”
Glass has been nominated or won many other awards, including Harbor Review’s Washburn Prize, Sundress publications Chapbook Contest, the Subnivean Award, and the Lumiere Review Writing Contest. Kwon Glass has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.
She is a graduate of Smith College and serves as poet laureate for the city of Milford, Connecticut, and as poetry co-editor for West Trestle Review. She has spent the past 20 years as an educator in the Connecticut public schools. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Diode, The Rupture, Nelle, Rattle, Pirene’s Fountain, SWWIM, South Florida Poetry Journal, Honey Literary, Mom Egg, Rust & Moth and many others.
— Media release from Pittsburg State University —