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An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe (PANK)

Heidi Seaborn’s astonishing second collection of poems, An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe is a middle-of-the-night poetic conversation with Marilyn Monroe that explores obsessions, addictions, abuse, objectification, marriage, work, children, childlessness and death. Pressing on the themes of her acclaimed debut, Give a Girl Chaos {see what she can do}, Seaborn illuminates the biographical and emotional journey of Marilyn as intimacies whispered between two women. These are women who have lived “on the glittering edge” and know that when a third husband “draws a blank page from his typewriter,” it means she needs to go to work in a world dominated by men. In An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn is a resilient, intelligent feminist who understands how to accumulate and wield power in the 1950’s. She is also vulnerable, exploited, and broken in so many ways. We see the speaker discover Marilyn until “then she is everywhere,” a haunting presence that becomes both muse and reflection. Seaborn invites us into the poetic soul of the world’s most famous woman with poems that celebrate and mourn. An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe is a sequined meditation on what keeps us up at night and what fills our dreams.

Heidi Seaborn is the author of [PANK] 2020 Poetry Award winner An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe (2021), Give a Girl Chaos (C&R Press, 2019) and the 2020 Comstock Review Prize Chapbook, Bite Marks, as well as chapbooks, Finding My Way Home and Once a Diva. Since Heidi started writing in 2016, she’s won or been shortlisted for over two dozen awards. Her work has recently appeared in American Poetry Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Copper NickelThe Cortland ReviewThe Greensboro Review, The Missouri Review, The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She is Executive Editor of The Adroit Journal and holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU. www.heidiseabornpoet.com

Kelli Russell Agodon’s newest book is Dialogues with Rising Tides from Copper Canyon Press. She is the author of four collections of poems, two books of poetry prompts, and she co-edited the first eBook anthology of women's poetry, Fire on Her Tongue. Kelli is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer as well as the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Retreat for Women. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in Washington State on traditional lands of the Chimacum, Coast Salish, S'Klallam, and Suquamish people where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She teaches at Pacific Lutheran University’s low-res MFA program, the Rainier Writing Workshop. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com

Dialogues with Rising Tides (Copper Canyon Press)

In Kelli Russell Agodon’s fourth collection, each poem facilitates a humane and honest conversation with the forces that threaten to take us under. The anxieties and heartbreaks of life―including environmental collapse, cruel politics, and the persistent specter of suicide―are met with emotional vulnerability and darkly sparkling humor. Dialogues with Rising Tides does not answer, This or that? It passionately exclaims, And also! Even in the midst of great difficulty, radiant wonders are illuminated at every turn.


Praise for An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe:

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, woman as Selfie, as edible subject, Norman Mailer’s “sweet / bursting peach,” Andy Warhol’s “violent bursting pomegranate.” Indeed, she is the whole alphabet, “mistress, maid, momma, mother, Madonna, mouth, mink, / narcotic, nurse, nutcase, oyster, oh baby.” 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, author of frank: sonnets, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, and Four-Legged Girl

“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, Author of Human Hours and The Game of Boxes

“I too have lived on that glittering edge” Heidi Seaborn writes. Indeed. Seaborn’s voice is lively and urbane; vivid pains and pleasures abound on every page of this lush, glitteringly alive new book of poems.”

~Deborah Landau, Author of Soft Targets and Uses of the Body

“In this exquisite poetry book, Seaborn follows Marilyn Monroe from an orphanage in Los Angeles to her rise as a sex-kitten bomb shell blowing kisses. Decades after her death, the reader comes to feel real emotion for Monroe’s struggle with insomnia, an abusive foster father and three husbands, and the news of her overdose. In the quiet genius of the poems, Seaborn makes us hope—absurdly, against all odds—for a different ending to the story and shows us that the public adoration of beautiful women often aspires to bed and destroy them at the same time. Instead, Seaborn asks, what if were to give Monroe’s ghost her body, her name, the color of her hair? What if this time we were to crawl into bed with her just to help her fall asleep?”

~Elvira Basevich, [PANK] Poetry Book Judge and author of How to Love the World

Praise for Dialogues with Rising Tides:

“Seattle-area poet Agodon’s finely crafted poems gleam like prisms, so clear is her language… The everyday grace with which we attempt to live while tumbling through our days finds expression in this sinewy collection which seems to catch us before we fall, assuring us that it’s going to be okay.”—Booklist

“Kelli Russell Agodon’s poems in Dialogues with Rising Tides, her strongest book to date, navigate everyday anxieties and dramatic questions of life-or-death with equal doses of pathos and humor, reminding us that our choices in a world of chaos add up to something, reminding us of the responsibility to ‘care for our ghosts.’ Her interior world is lined with fragments of family tragedy while her outer world confounds her, the rising tides of environmental collapse, not a metaphor but a reality. Her oceanic views of the world teeter on the edge of a cocktail or a gunshot. Funny, sad, and a perfect read for unsettling times.” —Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of Field Guide to the End of the World

“'(A)ll objects,’ Kelli Russell Agodon writes, ‘are composed of vibrating anxieties,’ as are these poems, tremulous as a tuning fork, conductive as a lightning rod, teetering between a precarious, hopeful tenderness and dread. There are collisions—’a lightship / crashing against a blue shore of healing’—and gentler dialogues, even poems-as-waltzes, which nonetheless feature inferences of betrayal. The ballast, the queen, is the speaker herself, whose powerful vulnerability is matched only by her wit. ‘At a Cocktail Party, I Am Given a Drink Called, Life is Fleeting and the Olive Is Short-Lived,’ for instance, one in a series of fabulous titles that are poems unto themselves. ‘No one expects perfection, except when they do, which is always,’ she tells us, and I find myself wanting to throw my arm over her shoulder and saying yes, I get it, sister, I know, while we walk down the beach feeling ‘bamboozled / by life,’ discovering the spider building a web in our dead father’s prosthetic leg. This is the book I need right here, right now, as the fires burn and the tides rise.” —Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets

“Brava for Kelli Russell Agodon’s Dialogue with Rising Tides. This brave, poignant, heartbreakingly beautiful collection is exactly what we need in these troubled times. On these pages, anxiety and grace intersect with wit, wonder, and imagination. Agodon does not just catalogue her attentions, she engages with them head-on, attuned to a kind of intimacy in all things. There is breath built into each line. Call it evolution, or transformation, or metamorphosis, these poems spark possibilities that will make you want to read and write and live.”—January Gill O’Neil, author of Rewilding

Event date: 
Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
An Insomniac's Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948587198
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pank Books - June 10th, 2021

Dialogues with Rising Tides Cover Image
ISBN: 9781556596155
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 27th, 2021