Poet, scholar, and nonfiction writer Maggie Nelson’s body of work is often described as hybrid and genre-bending; some say it defies classification. The Paris Review pinpoints the nexus of her writing as, “fluidity: gender, pleasure, desire, and the body are questioned with equal rigor as modality, criticality, and theory.”
The author of the cult-classic Bluets and, more recently, The Argonauts, a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award, Nelson is back with a new volume that interweaves critical theory, pop culture, and the intimate exchanges of daily living. Her new book, On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Restraint, explores how we think, experience, and talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our experience.
All Women You Need to Know (WYNK) Series, Create Your Own Series, and Super SAL subscribers (except Student/25 & Under and complimentary subscriptions) receive Nelson’s forthcoming book, On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Restraint, mailed to the subscriber’s address.
Maggie Nelson is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, many of which have become cult classics defying easy categorization. She published Bluets with Wave Books in 2009. In 2015, Bookforum named Bluets one of the top ten best books of the past twenty years. Her other nonfiction titles include the National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts (2015), The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (2011; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial (2007), and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007). Her poetry titles include Something Bright, Then Holes (2007), and Jane: A Murder (2005). She was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2016. She teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.
Nelson’s The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work she calls “autotheory,” offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes the author’s account of falling in love with Dodge, and her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of queer family making.
Drawing on a vast range of material, On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Here, Nelson’s interest lies in ongoing “practices of freedom” by which we negotiate our interrelation with—and inseparability from—others, with all the care and constraint that entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion. On Freedom traces the concept’s complexities into four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate. For Nelson, thinking publicly through the knots in our culture is itself a practice of freedom, a means of forging fortitude, courage, and company.
Danzy Senna, Maggie Nelson’s conversation partner for the evening, is the author of five critically acclaimed books of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, Caucasia, won the Book of the Month Award for First Fiction and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. The book was a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Senna’s debut has been translated into ten languages and become a modern classic.
Since publishing Caucasia, Senna has grown to become one of today’s most widely respected voices tackling multiracial and complex social identities. Her other books include the novel, Symptomatic, the memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History, and the short story collection, You Are Free. Her latest book, New People, is a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class, and manners in contemporary America. Named a 2017 Best Summer Read by Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar among others, New People was a Best Book of the Year for The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, Time Magazine, and NPR.