The Blue House Writers Series will host readings by poets Matthew Rohrer and Wendy Xu in the Borgia Gallery on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Poets Rohrer, Xu to Read Their Work in Borgia Gallery

The Blue House Writers Series will host readings by poets Matthew Rohrer and Wendy Xu in the Borgia Gallery on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Poets Rohrer, Xu to Read Their Work in Borgia Gallery

The Blue House at Elms College will present a reading by writers Matthew Rohrer and Wendy Xu at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in the Borgia Gallery. A reception will precede the event at 7 p.m.

“I love watching how poets with diverse backgrounds write work that intersects, and provokes conversations about what and who poetry can include. Poetry is hyperinclusive, and it is my hope that this reading shows that,” said Dan Chelotti, assistant professor of English at Elms College, who added that he loves pairing established writers such as Rohrer with emerging authors such as Xu.

“I hope that the audience will feel comfortable enough to giggle when confronted by something surprising in the work,” Chelotti said. “Sometimes we feel that poetry is very serious business -- and, of course, it is -- but there will be quite a few smiles to be had in this reading.”

“The poems in Rohrer's new book have such a light touch without sacrificing any deeper poetic concern,” Chelotti said. “Xu's poems are a bit more lyrically dense, but share a directness that I found in Rohrer's earlier work. I felt they would complement each other's work quite well.”

Matthew Rohrer was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., and raised in Oklahoma. He earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. His first collection, A Hummock in the Malookas (1995), was selected by Mary Oliver for the National Poetry Series. He is the author of Satellite (2001), A Green Light (2004), Rise Up (2007),They All Seemed Asleep (2008), A Plate of Chicken (2009) and Destroyer and Preserver (2011). He has also collaborated with poet Joshua Beckman on Nice Hat. Thanks (2002) and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty (2004). Rohrer teaches in the undergraduate writing program at New York University and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

His most recent book, Surrounded by Friends (2015), engages with writers -- dead and living -- who influenced him as a person, and as a writer. “Some of the poems are written in collaboration with dead haiku masters like Bashō and Issa, some are loose translations of 12 century Persian mystic Hafiz, and some just name-check other poets and friends,” Rohrer explained. “Poems aren't written in a vacuum, and this most recent book really celebrates that fact.”

Wendy Xu is a 2014 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow and most recently the author of You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013) and Naturalism (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Poetry, jubilat, Gulf Coast and widely elsewhere. Born in Shandong, China, in 1987, she lives and teaches in Brooklyn.

Xu’s most recent work is a single book-length poem that mixes immigrant memory with autobiographical elements. “It's a hybrid work of prose, documentation and poetry, a tribute to the immigration generations before me,” she said. She hopes the audience will carry away from the reading “a more nuanced understanding of what's colloquially called ‘the immigrant experience,’ which is to say that it's so often generalized. I'm attempting to tell a particular history,” she said.

For more information on the Blue House Writers Series, visit http://bit.ly/1OOIkmp.