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Grace Forum Online with Atsuro Riley: Poetry from the Lowcountry

Wednesday, November 3 @ 6:00 pm 7:00 pm

Can words change us? Poetry can help us understand and appreciate the world around us. Poetry’s strength lies in its ability to shed a sideways light on the world, so the truth sneaks up on you. Poetry can teach us how to live—it bares open the vulnerabilities of human beings so we can all relate to each other a little better.  

Brought up in the South Carolina lowcountry, Atsuro Riley is the author of Heard-Hoard (2021), which McSweeney’s called “The essential collection of our moment—what we’ve needed most without knowing it.” His first collection, Romey’s Order  (2010), was the winner of the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, The Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress. US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan says of Riley “he’s pursuing something a lot more ambitious that has deeply to do with sacred properties of language or language that could cast a spell against harm.” 

In his own words: “All the best old tale-tellers of my Carolina upbringing could play righteously upon their (many) Englishes, deft as fiddlers bowing the strings. How they could pierce you with a lyric phrasing; how crackerjack they were at conjuring—for maximum reverberation and haunt. To my ear, a poetry unkillable as kudzu. I aspire to their example in everything I write. At the same time, I hear the admonishment of the Japanese master Basho (1644–1694), echoing from my mother’s side of the cultural ledger: — Is there any good in saying everything?—” 

Each year the cathedral chooses a theme for inspiration and reflection, and in 2021 our theme is healing. Join Dean Malcolm Clemens Young for a conversation with Riley about poetry and the healing power of words.

WATCH Atsuro Riley reads “Oak” 

READ Heard-Hoard 
(Enter the code RILEY30 on the University of Chicago Press site for a 30% discount!)

Register here to join the Zoom webinar:

Space is limited. The Forum will also be broadcast on Facebook, and posted on our Youtube channel for viewing following the livestream.   

You can help us bring the arts to life at Grace with a gift today to The Forum. Click here to give or text Think to 76278.   

About the Guest 

Atsuro Riley is the author of Heard-Hoard (University of Chicago Press, 2021), winner of the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, and Romey’s Order  (University of Chicago Press, 2010), winner of the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, The Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress. His work has been honored with the Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, and the Wood Prize given by POETRY magazine. His poems have been anthologized in The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall, The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of POETRY Magazine, The Oxford Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Poems of the American South, The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets, Poems from Far and Wide, Vinegar and Char, Gracious, and Home: 100 Poems. Brought up in the South Carolina lowcountry, Riley lives in San Francisco. 

About the Host   

The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young is the dean of Grace Cathedral. He is the author of The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau and The Invisible Hand in Wilderness: Economics, Ecology, and God, and is a regular contributor on religion to the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner.  

About  The  Forum  

The Forum is a series of stimulating conversations about faith and ethics in relation to the important issues of our day. We invite inspiring and illustrious people to sit down for a real conversation with the Forum’s host, Malcolm Clemens Young, the dean of Grace Cathedral, and with you. Our guests range from artists, inventors and philosophers to pop culturists and elected officials, but the point of The Forum is singular: civil, sophisticated discourse that engages minds and hearts to think in new ways about the world.  More about Grace Forum Online