George Abraham, Marwa Helal, Brandon Melendez, and Margaret Rhee


the specimen's apology
Invasive species
Gold That Frames the Mirror
Love, Robot

This event includes a book signing


May 3, 2019
7:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes local poets GEORGE ABRAHAM, MARWA HELAL, BRANDON MELENDEZ, and MARGARET RHEE for a discussion of their poetry collections the specimen's apology, Invasive speciesGold That Frames the Mirror, and Love, Robot. They will be introduced by ANDRÉ M. CARRINGTON. 

About the specimen's apology

"From the first, devastating poem ("i touch myself & do not leak gold"), George Abraham's poems bristle with alchemy, a narrative of love, history, family, and Palestine that pulses with longing. Juxtaposed with Leila Abdelrazaq's startlingly evocative artwork, this book is a fearless, riveting excavation of self and other." —Hala Alyan

"Searing away binaries, demolishing the calcified partitions between halves—this is George Abraham's the specimen's apology. Boy/man, man/woman, history/present, conflict/occupation, English/Arabic, poetry/visual art—the gulf between each is breached, shrunk, erased, widened, warped. 'I am always translating,' Abraham tells us in one poem—and it is the wild desperate yearning of the translator, working in vain to achieve perfect fidelity to a source, that powers these poems: 'if desire is, / as my language translates, a moon, / let this body be the satellite.'" —Kaveh Akbar

About Invasive species

"Marwa’s poems energize through their daring intelligence, their subversion of scripts. This extraordinary work never lets us rest in complacent reading; they teach us how to read them by refusing language’s imperialistic nature through swerves, reversals, code-switching, code formation, and formal innovations. An electrifying, wildly inventive work.” —Jenny Xie

In Invasive species, Marwa Helal’s searing politically charged poems touch on our collective humanity and build new pathways for empathy, etching themselves into memory. This work centers on urgent themes in our cultural landscape, creating space for unseen victims of discriminatory foreign (read: immigration) policy: migrants, refugees―the displaced. Helal transfers lived experiences of dislocation and relocation onto the reader by obscuring borders through language.

About Gold That Frames the Mirror

"Gold That Frames the Mirror is a sacred surprise. . . . The book is both breath-taking and breath-giving, the way each poem allows the reader to relish in what we didn't know we needed." ―Porsha Olayiwola, Poet Laureate of Boston

Orbiting a daisy-chain of fascinations that range from heritage & family to grief, music, & mental illness, these poems want to know what “home” means, even when the answers can seem too blood-bright to bear staring at. Yet do not mistake Melendez for a poet of an uncomplicated sadness: even when he writes of deep loss, there is the possibility of wonder & joy. Drawing from a wellspring of profound bewilderment present in his images as well as how language assumes―or is assumed by―form, Melendez knows poetry, like home, is something we carry with us in our bodies. Every certainty and every wonderment in Gold That Frames the Mirror is come by honestly and with Melendez’s unwavering & tender scrutiny. Here is a book haunted by history but never in service of it. Here is a book that wants to know what comes after elegy, when the gods slink back into their heavens, when we are only left with the names of our dead & the good, dark earth. Melendez offers something like a prayer against overlooking the past & to remember where the gold came from. After all, “Anywhere can become you / once you forget / how you got there."

About Love, Robot

"The poems of Love, Robot are delicate and smooth, witty and touching, and yes, occasionally odd and strange, as human beings themselves are. In a paradoxical and wonderful way, Margaret Rhee's robot love affairs make us rethink what it might mean to be human." —Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

Poetry. Technology. Media Studies. A collection of love poetry that undercuts and reassembles narratives, Love, Robot is an experimental text that humanizes our relationship with technology. Through liaisons between humans and machines in a science fictional world, the collection offers a tense, playful, yet complex portrait of love, reflective of our contemporary moment. Rhee draws from a wide array of forms from poetics and robotics such as algorithms, narrative poetry, chat scripts, and failed sonnets to create a world of transgressive love. This vision of an artificially intelligent future reveals and questions the contours of the human, and how robots and humans fall in and out of love.

andré m. carrington
andré m. carrington

andré m. carrington

andré m. carrington is an associate professor of African American literature at Drexel University. His work examines the cultural politics of race, gender, sexuality, and genre in black and American popular texts. His first book, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction, analyzes the role of blackness in science fiction and fantasy works across a range of popular media, including comic books, fanzines, and television. His writing appears in such journals as American Literature, Present Tense, and Souls, as well as in books, including A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance and Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call

Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo

Brandon Melendez
Brandon Melendez

Brandon Melendez

Brandon Melendez is a Mexican-American poet from California. He is the author of Gold That Frames The Mirror (Write Bloody 2019). He is a National Poetry Slam finalist and two-time Berkeley Grand Slam Champion. A recipient of the 2018 Djanikian Scholarship from the Adroit Journal, and the 2018 Academy of American Poets Award, his poems are in or forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Muzzle Magazine, Ninth Letter, The Journal, PANK, Shenandoah, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Boston and is an MFA candidate at Emerson College.

George Abraham
George Abraham

George Abraham

George Abraham is a Palestinian-American poet, author, activist, and bioengineering Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. He is the author of the poetry collection Birthright, forthcoming with Button Poetry in 2020, as well as the chapbooks al youm: for yesterday & her inherited traumas (the Atlas Review, 2017) and the specimen's apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). He is the winner of the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, selected by Tommy Pico, as well as the title of "Best Poet" at the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. His poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in the Paris Review, Tin House, Boston Review, the Rumpus, LitHub, and others.

Margaret Rhee
Margaret Rhee

Margaret Rhee

Margaret Rhee is the author of Love, Robot, named a 2017 Best Book of Poetry by Entropy Magazine and awarded a 2018 Elgin Award by the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the 2019 Best Book Award in Poetry by the Asian American Studies Association. Her poetry chapbooks include Yellow and Radio Heart; or, How Robots Fall Out of Love. Currently, she is completing her monograph How We Became Human: Race, Robots, and the Asian American Body. She received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in ethnic and new media studies. She is a College Fellow in Digital Practice in the English Department at Harvard University and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study at SUNY Buffalo.

Marwa Helal
Marwa Helal

Marwa Helal

Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist. Her work appears in Apogee, Hyperallergic, the Offing, Poets & Writers, the Recluse, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook I Am Made To Leave I Am Made To Return and Invasive species. Helal is the winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest and has been awarded fellowships from Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, and Cave Canem. She has presented her work at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Brooklyn Museum. Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt, Helal currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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