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Pacific Power and Light: Poems

Tue, 5/7 · 6:00 pm8:00 pm · Labyrinth Books

Michael Dickman, Lewis Center for the Arts

The award-winning poet returns to his homeplace in the Pacific Northwest, where the neighborhood simmers with the chemical presence of human trouble and sparks of beauty coexist with danger.

This image-driven, sound-driven collection carries us to the working-class Portland neighborhood of Lents, where Dickman was raised by a single mother. Here, as a skateboarding boy practices his kickflip on the street, enlightenment simmers under the surface of both the natural world and the human constructions that threaten it. The rivers shrinking to a trickle, the unaddressed crisis of homelessness, the drug use in a local park: these run side by side with the efforts and structures of families, created mostly by working mothers, with their jumbled bottomless purses and full-time jobs; Dickman’s own mother worked at the power company of the title, PP&L. His exquisite, ultrareal narratives take us down through these layers, illuminating the way we’ve treated and should treat one another, seeking integrity and understanding in the midst of a broken world.

Michael Dickman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of four collections of poems, including Flies, winner of the 2010 James Laughlin Award, and Days & Days, a New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2019. He is on the faculty at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts.

This event is co-sponsored by the Humanities Council and the Lewis Center for the Arts.

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