Join us on Thursday, May 11 at 7pm PT when Matthew Zapruder celebrates his memoir, Story of a Poem, with Bonnie Tsui at 9th Ave!
Masks Encouraged for In-Person Attendance
Or watch online at the link below
Praise for Story of a Poem
"How fortunate, reader, that this book has found you. It found me too, and I spent days captivated by its pages, within which a whole life, and a whole poem, were slowly unfolding before me. Beating on every page is the heart of a father and the heart of a poet. Written with a bright, nimble clarity that lets deep complexities shine, this book is a glimmering candle in darkness." —Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Author of A Ghost in the Throat
“Whether you parent a neurodivergent child or have known the privilege and pain of loving an outsider, you’ll find commonality and comfort on the pages of this beautiful book. Zapruder illuminates the experience of parenting to a level I can only equate with heroism, arguably for the sheer lack of ego he brings to the page. That he exposes his experience in harrowing detail and still emerges as a father of heart-stopping tenderness is an act of divine love. This book explodes with devotion.” —Mary-Louise Parker, Actress and author of Dear Mr. You
“Matthew Zapruder has a razor eye for the remnants and revenants of modern culture.” —The New York Times
About Story of a Poem
"Story of a Poem is the luminous, lyrical meditation on wringing beauty from suffering and air, threaded with a singular, moving story about parenting an atypical child. I read it in a single gulp, and you will too.” —Mary Karr, Bestselling author of The Liars' Club and Cherry
Matthew Zapruder had an idea: to write a poem as slowly and intentionally as possible, to preserve its drafts, and record the painstaking, elusively transcendent stuff of its construction. It would be the end cap to a new collection of poetry, and a means to process modern American life in a time of political turmoil, mega fires, and sobriety. What Zapruder didn’t anticipate was that this literary project would reveal a deeply personal aspect as well: a way to resolve the unexplored pain and unexpected joys he was confronting in the wake of his son’s diagnosis with autism.
The result is a remarkable piece of writing, one that explores not just what it means to be a poet and father, but also what it means to be alive on this planet during this turbulent and extraordinary time. By comparing the writing of a poem with his own tangled evolution as a son, husband and father, Zapruder unfolds moments of his own life in the reflection of an increasingly uncanny world. With a wide range of reference points— from Celan, Li Bai and Frank O’Hara to Whitman, Merwin and Rupi Kaur—we join Zapruder on a poet’s journey; that in some alchemy of literature, becomes a journey of our own.
Ultimately, the poet asks us to join with him in the search for a crucial answer. In his words: “What world can we imagine, and then make, where we all can live?” With Story of a Poem celebrated poet Matthew Zapruder offers a personal, deeply unguarded examination of a poet’s eternal struggle to transform a moment of feeling into verse, as well as a subtle and enthralling roadmap to the practice of poetry and finding its threads in everyday life.
About Matthew Zapruder
Matthew Zapruder is the author of five collections of poetry, including Come On All You Ghosts, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Father's Day (Copper Canyon, 2019), as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing at Saint Mary's College of California.
Zapruder has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Carlos Williams Award, a May Sarton Award from the Academy of American Arts and Sciences, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship in Marfa, TX. His poetry has been adapted and performed at Carnegie Hall by Composer Gabriel Kahane and Brooklyn Rider, and was the libretto for "Vespers for a New Dark Age", a piece by composer Missy Mazzoli commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the 2014 Ecstatic Music Festival. In 2000, he co-founded Verse Press, and is now editor at large at Wave Books, where he edits contemporary poetry, prose, and translations. He was the founding Director of the Bagley Wright Lecture Series. From 2016-17 he held the annually rotating position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine and Guest Editor of Best American Poetry 2022.
About Bonnie Tsui
Bonnie Tsui is a longtime contributor to The New York Times and the author of American Chinatown, winner of the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Her latest book, Why We Swim, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Time magazine and NPR Best Book of 2020; it is currently being translated into ten languages. Her first children’s book, Sarah and the Big Wave, about the first woman to surf Northern California’s Mavericks, was published in 2021. Her work has been recognized and supported by Harvard University, the National Press Foundation, and the Mesa Refuge. She is writing a new book about muscle.
"A document of not only how to make a poem, but how to live in a world where language often fails us." --Ada Lim n, U.S. Poet Laureate
As seen in the The New York Times Book Review
"In characteristically short lines and pithy, slippery language like predictive text from a lucid dream, Zapruder's fifth collection grapples with fatherhood as well as larger questions of influence and inheritance and obligation." --The New York Times