A Letter from Ruth
August 14, 2020
August is (since 2017) the month of The Sealey Challenge, launched by Nicole Sealey, former Executive Director of Cave Canem. The challenge is simple—read 31 books or chapbooks of poetry in 31 days—and I’m cheating on my Summer Book Bingo to participate this year for the first time. I love feeling like I’m part of a fellowship of readers diving into new voices, and particularly since I often dip in and out of books of poems, it feels deeply nourishing to have a framework to read books of poetry beginning to end, often in a single sitting.
This morning I was moved by Ada Limón’s poem “After the Fire” from The Carrying, which ends, “Funny thing about grief, its hold / is so bright and determined like a flame, / like something almost worth living for.” (Listen to Ada Limón’s SAL reading on our podcast.)
Something about her capturing grief as bright and determined felt like a perfect fit for these bright summer days, days when we all carry so much grief for so many things amidst the sunshine and dry leaves that are already rustling sidewalks. Not even a week in, The Sealey Challenge has already brought me solace and surprise, as reading always does.
And speaking of, we have both solace and surprises here at SAL—we’ve just announced an event with beloved mystery writer Tana French, and we will soon announce another exciting event this fall (stay tuned!). I have our 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate Wei-Wei Lee’s book on my stack for this month, and I love knowing that I can look forward to a book by our current YPL Bitaniya Giday next year.
And, I’ve been taking solace in hearing what so many of you are reading for Summer Book Bingo, including friends of SAL like Nicole Tsong and Mark Suzman, who shared their summer reading for our blog. I’d love to know what you’re reading and loving this summer, too—send that or ideas or suggestions my way anytime at email@example.com.
Amidst bright griefs, I wish you solace and surprise, and things that nourish you,
SAL Executive Director