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Megan Harlan

Sunday afternoon Poet’s salon

Sunday, August 21st, 2:30 pm

Megan Harlan

Megan’s recent collection of poems, Mapmaking, won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, and her poems have been heard on the PBS News Hour’s Poetry Series and published in numerous journals.  She has also had short stories, travel features and book reviews widely published in journals and in the New York Times, the SF Chronicle, Elle, Time Out New York , and more.

Now a resident of Berkeley, where she lives with her husband and young son, Megan was born in Vermont and grew up in Saudi Arabia, Colombia, London, Houston, Alaska and the Bay Area.

Speaking of her poetry and fiction, and of her journalistic work,  she says, “as I move from the structured world of ledes and deadlines to the wilder spaces of creative writing, it’s exhilarating (and sometimes terrifying). I leave character and story, narrative shapes and development, largely to my fiction. In poetry I believe the narrative is language itself, and for me that means using it to frame ideas or emotions that I find mysterious and yet stubbornly vivid (like, for example, the notion of “farsickness”). Where my fictional voice and subjects tend to be grounded in the noise of everyday life, the voice in my poems has grown, by contrast, a little more heightened. Poetry gives me the freest range to cross personal histories, cultures, eras, and other boundaries, to follow the language itself to wherever it leads.”


Regarding Mapmaking, Sidney Wade, Judge, John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, said,

“The poems in this book exhibit the poet’s great attention to and skill with form, sound, and language. The poems are constantly surprising, taking us to the far corners of the poet’s metaphorical maps, and, in her words, ‘gesturing us to go further.’

“This is imaginative writing at its very best-visual, aural, metaphorical, ethical, and adventurous. The poet constructs genuinely new topographies for us that offer significant and original inroads into our understanding of what it means to be human”


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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

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