Virtual Event: Megan Alpert and José Angel Araguz


An Empty Pot's Darkness:


The Animal at Your Side:


January 7, 2021
7:00 PM ET


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.


Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes poets MEGAN ALPERT and JOSÉ ANGEL ARAGUZ for a discussion of their poetry collections The Animal at Your Side and An Empty Pot's Darkness.

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About The Animal at Your Side

The narrators in The Animal at Your Side scavenge for clues, trying to stitch together a life in the midst of unrootedness. Finding bones, talismans, and half-heard voices that portal back to both personal and collective history, the speakers are haunted by diaspora, family estrangement, intergenerational trauma, and resilience. What are the costs of being far away from a homeplace? What are the costs of returning? And when the costs are too high on both sides, how do you choose? Grieving the loss of family of origin, and longing to return, the narrators forge new shapes, grounded in a connection to the natural world, ultimately making a home in their own unsettled natures.

These poems play with form and structure, ranging from tightly-wound lyrics to detailed reportage. Alpert uses white space and invents forms as needed, creating sunken stanzas and a poem shaped like a rib cage. By turns gritty, frank, and devotional, The Animal at Your Side finds things to be treasured in weirdness, queerness, the ecstatic, and the erotic. It is a book for anyone who has ever been lost, who has waited for what seemed like too long "for the voices/to filter back."

About An Empty Pot's Darkness

José Angel Araguz’s fourth full-length poetry collection takes readers through a series of poetic sequences that engage with ideas of life, love, death, and friendship. Whether holding elegiac conversations with writers known personally or known only through reading; braiding the folklore of La Llorona with the narrative of a past relationship; or exploring concepts of mortality, these poems explore the nuances and depths of life eight lines at a time.

Praise for The Animal at Your Side

"How does one survive the loss of a sister, the loss of everyone in the family besides the animals? Megan Alpert’s gorgeous new collection, The Animal at Your Side, is at once surreal and filled with the flora and fauna of a strangling world, where the speaker takes us with her along a path lined with feathers and bones. With an unnamed war in the background, ancestors waiting in the trees, everyone gone, everyone dead, we must find comfort in what still moves, even when it could be dangerous . . . These poems “unhome” and unhinge, and I am enchanted with this haunting." —Jenn Givhan, author of Rosa’s Einstein and Girl with Death Mask

"The Animal at Your Side spans worlds—Eastern Europe, China, Ecuador, folktale and myth—all of these worlds equally sinister and haunting. In poems where we feel "the whirr-click of war beginning..." the poet learns that the best way to survive is to become "the same color as rocks, water,/anything I walked past,/see-through". This is Megan Alpert's gift to us—radical empathy—so we can shape-shift through these worlds as she has. This is a collection I'll read time and again, and I know I will grow with each reading." —Shaindel Beers, author of Secure Your Own Mask

Praise for An Empty Pot's Darkness

"Araguz is masterful in his command of language, creating both astonishing beauty and devastation with the lightest gestures. In strikingly elegant octaves, he points to the revolution of time, of existence itself—our vulnerability to erasure, dissipation, then rebirth. This work, too, is a cycle: an eternal conversation between writer and tradition, poet and reader, ink and paper. Words take on new forms each time they return, clothing themselves as ash, prayer, alms, and gold." —Adeeba Shahid Talukder, author of Shahr-e-jaanaan: City of the Beloved

"The poetry in, An Empty Pot's Darkness, brings stunning moments of beauty to notions of what if, death, the moon, and lost relationships. Rooms we enter can hold crushing memories. Love and the laughter of a food fight can be traced by the sorrow of dust. Araguz's octaves bring out the grey gloom we hold in our core as we live through bittersweet and mystical journeys. Araguz's poetry gives the reader an epic story in few lines." —Vincent Cooper, author of Zarzamora: Poetry of Survival 

"These eight-line poems are deftly woven tapestries in which light and dark are not opposites but gradients. Likewise wistfulness and passion, playfulness and melancholy, invocation and isolation. Likewise what it means to be dying, and to be alive. These poems and the silences within them kept me turning the pages  – and turning back to read again." —Laura M. Kaminski, author of The Heretic's Hymnal: 99 New and Selected Poems

José Angel Araguz
José Angel Araguz

José Angel Araguz

José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of seven chapbooks as well as the collections Everything We Think We Hear, Small Fires, Until We Are Level Again, and, most recently, An Empty Pot’s Darkness. His poems, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Prairie Schooner, New South, Poetry International, and The Bind.

Megan Alpert
Megan Alpert

Megan Alpert

Megan Alpert is the author of The Animal at Your Side (Airlie Press 2020), the winner of the Airlie Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Muzzle, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Harvard Review, and many others. She is the recipient of an Orlando Poetry Prize from A Room of Her Own Foundation and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Studios at MASS MoCA, and the Marquette Chamber Residency. As a journalist, she has reported for The Guardian, Smithsonian, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic, and received a fellowship from the International Women's Media Foundation.


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Virtual Event Series

Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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