The Poetry Conversation is back from a long walkabout to let you know about a wonderful upcoming event. Many of you are already familiar with the Unsung Masters Series, edited by Kevin Prufer and Wayne Miller, which brings the work of talented but lesser known, out-of-print poets and fiction writers to the attention of a wider audience. The volumes they publish once a year, in cooperation with Pleiades Press, Copper Nickel and Gulf Coast, include a substantial selection of the writer’s work, along with photographs, essays, interviews, and ephemera. Recent volumes include poets Wendy Battin and Shreela Ray, and the next will feature fiction writer Jean Ross Justice.
I’ve followed the book series from the time I first heard of it, for the pleasure of discovering writers I haven’t heard of, and because it’s driven by the passion for reading that brought us all to poetry in the first place. What I remember most from my own graduate school days is late night conversations where we traded names and book titles: Have you read this? How about this? When the pandemic shut down in person events, people began to come up with online readings and talks that had the advantage of being open to people all over the country. It seemed to me like a natural extension of the Unsung Masters book series to have various poets introduce overlooked work they love to a wider audience. I give myself a little pat on the back for suggesting it to Kevin, and bigger pats to Kevin and reading series coordinator Martin Rock for following through.
There have been two wonderful readings so far, and the third is upcoming. Each of the Unsung Masters Readings includes five contemporary poets presenting the work of a writer they feel that excitement about, that urge to share the work with others. They also provide a little context and background for the work.
The third reading is October 4th at 8 pm eastern time. Readers include Ellen Bass, Erin Belieu, Victoria Chang, francine j. harris, and D. A. Powell. To register for the reading, and to read about the first two, click here.
I’ll keep an eye out for Wendy Battin’s book. I always thought she was a wonderful poet.
Me too–I have an essay in the book, and it was a huge pleasure to spend time going back to her poems.
Thanks, Sharon. I didn’t know about the Unsung Masters, and it’s a wonderful thing. I definitely want to hear this reading.
I really love the whole thing. Labor of love, the heart of what matters.