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June 9, 2023 at 3.00pm – 4.30pm


Family Histories & Political Violence in the Americas: A Poetic Discussion

Three acclaimed poets with new books in multiple genres take on questions of history, trauma, and family in the Americas.



To celebrate the publication of Julie Carr’s Mud, Blood, and Ghosts: Populism, Eugenics, and Spiritualism in the American West (University of Nebraska Press, May 2023), she will be joined by award winning authors Cristina Rivera Garza, whose new book is Liliana’s Invincible Summer and Brandon Shimoda, whose forthcoming book is Hydra Medusa for a joint reading and to discuss how family histories unearth the remains of patriarchal, settler-colonial, and white supremacist violence in the Americas.

In Mud, Blood, and Ghosts, Julie Carr traces her own family’s history, and the story of her great-grandfather Omer Madison Kem – three-term Populist representative from Nebraska –through archival documents to draw connections between U.S. agrarian populism, spiritualism, and eugenics, helping readers to understand populism’s tendency toward racism and exclusion.

Part coping mechanism, part magical act, Hydra Medusa was composed while Brandon Shimoda was working five jobs and raising a child—during bus commutes, before bed, at sunrise. ‚ÄčA book of poetry, dreams and speculative talks, collected from the psychic detritus of living in the US-Mexico borderlands.

Liliana’s Invincible Summer is the account—and the outcome—of Cristina Rivera Garza’s quest to bring her sister’s murderer to justice. Through this remarkable and genre-defying memoir, Rivera Garza confronts the trauma of losing her sister and examines from multiple angles how this tragedy continues to shape who she is—and what she fights for—today.

***Register through Eventbrite to receive a link to the video conference on the day of the event. This event will also be recorded and live captioning will be provided.***


Julie Carr’s most recent books are Mud, Blood, and Ghosts: Populism, Eugenics, and Spiritualism in the American West, Real Life: An Installation, Objects from a Borrowed Confession and the essay collection, Someone Shot My Book. She lives in Denver where she helps to run Counterpath and teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Cristina Rivera Garza is the award-winning author of The Taiga Syndrome and The Iliac Crest, among many other books. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize, Rivera Garza is the M. D. Anderson Distinguished Professor in Hispanic Studies, and director of the PhD program in creative writing in Spanish at the University of Houston.

Brandon Shimoda is the author of several books of poetry and prose, most recently The Grave on the Wall (City Lights, 2019), which received the PEN Open Book Award, and Hydra Medusa (Nightboat Books, 2023). He is co-editing, with Brynn Saito, an anthology of poetry on Japanese American/Nikkei incarceration, forthcoming from Haymarket Books in 2025.

Mary Sutton (moderator) is senior content editor for Academy of American Poets. Before joining the Academy, Mary was public humanities fellow at Library of America, where she worked with Kevin Young on African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song and the book’s companion website. Mary is currently also poetry editor at West Trade Review.


This event is sponsored by Haymarket BooksUniversity of Nebraska PressCounterpath and Nightboat. While all of our events are freely available, we ask that those who are able make a solidarity donation in support of our important publishing and programming work.