Heidi Seaborn with Matthew Rohrer
7 p.m. Seattle time might seem on the early side for a slumber party, but those tuning in to this virtual poetry reading will be able to make what they will of such an occasion, much less one dressed up as a poetry reading, as Seattle poet Heidi Seaborn launches her audacious, newly published second full collection of poems, An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe, Winner of the PANK Poetry Publication Prize, this collection gives depth and dimension to Marilyn Monroe that not many have accorded here - and goes from there.
“In Heidi Seaborn’s An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn is a voice, a mirror, an Other, a symbol, a goddess, and an archetype. She is also a conveyance for the speaker’s autobiographical material—insomnia, sleeping pills, dangerous embodiment, and lethal disembodiment, until a kiss is nothing but ‘a transaction of air’ and breasts are ‘tricksters—…pretend(ing) / to guard a heart.’ Marilyn enacts, for Seaborn, the objectification women are impaled upon ... By the end, the speaker’s empathic identification with her subject is complete, narrating, in tandem with Marilyn, her last hours, exposing “the grief in glamour,” and finally striding off solo, released, as the credits roll. Something profound has shifted. The insomniac sleeps. For all of its intensity, this collection is as brilliantly composed as a Dior dress. I am in love and in awe.” -Diane Seuss.
“Heidi Seaborn’s An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe is warning, celebration, homage, critique: at the center of this collection is the icon of all icons, a Marilyn Monroe whom Seaborn excavates and revitalizes, making poems out of documents, letters, photos, empathy, and projection. How much can anyone really understand of another’s life, especially a life as examined and invented as Monroe’s? And isn’t every portrait also, as you’ll find here, a portrait of its maker? These questions, like the aftershocks of sexism, like the tiny white Ambien pill, like the eerie dreads of the sleepless, course through these poems of obsession to give us a lively and novel meditation on fame, addiction, loneliness, and the performance of femininity, where breasts are called ‘precious tickets to a carnival,’ where ‘charm becomes armor.’ -Catherine Barnett.
Also on hand is a new chapbook by Heidi Seaborn, Bite Marks, recipient of the 2020 Comstock Chapbook Prize. Making this even more of an occasion, slumber and otherwise, is poet and NYU professor Matthew Rohrer, author of several books, including collections from Seattle’s Wave Books, the most recent of which is last year’s The Sky Contains the Plans.