Join us for a new monthly series at 144 Montague Street where we gather to discuss the themes, structure and possible meanings of our favorite poetry collections. This October, we’ll discuss Bianca by Eugenia Leigh.
We’ll meet for group discussions on Thursday, October 12, and Thursday, October 19, from 5 to 6 PM. And to conclude our discussions, we’ll meet the author for an exclusive Q&A session on Saturday, October 21, from 2:30 to 3:30 PM. Discussions will be moderated by Assistant Manager Darius Phelps.
Registration is $25 and includes a copy of Bianca. The book can be shipped to you or picked up during business hours from our space at 144 Montague. If you already own the book, you can register to attend the discussions and Meet the Author for $10. Members save $5.
“I thought I forgave you,” Eugenia Leigh tells the specter of her father in Bianca. “Then I took root and became / someone’s mother.” Leigh’s gripping second collection introduces us to a woman managing marriage, motherhood, and mental illness as her childhood abuse resurfaces in the light of “this honeyed life.” Leigh strives to reconcile the disconnect between her past and her present as she confronts the inherited violence mired in the body’s history. As she “choose[s] to be tender to [her] child—a choice / [her] mangled brain makes each day,” memories arise, asking the mother in her to tend, also, to the girl she once was. Thus, we meet her manic alter ego, whose history becomes the gospel of Bianca: “We all called her Bianca. My fever, my havoc, my tilt.” These poems recover and reconsider Leigh’s girlhood and young adulthood with the added context of PTSD and Bipolar Disorder. They document the labyrinth of a woman breaking free from the cycle of abuse, moving from anger to grief, from self-doubt to self-acceptance. Bianca is ultimately the testimony of one woman’s daily recommitment to this life. To living. “I expected to die much younger than I am now,” Leigh writes, in awe of the strangeness of now, of “every quiet and colossal joy.”
Eugenia Leigh is a Korean American poet and the author of two poetry collections, Bianca (Four Way Books, 2023) and Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows (Four Way Books, 2014). Poems from Bianca received Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize and have appeared in numerous publications including the Atlantic, the Nation, Ploughshares, the Best of the Net anthology, and received Special Mention in the 2023 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Leigh received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and serves as a Poetry Editor at the Adroit Journal and as the Valentines Editor at Honey Literary.