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“Briante’s living document sets the poet’s work of witness in the midst of our current entangled crises of borders, belonging, trauma, nationhood, empathy, and imagination.”—Claudia Rankine
Part documentary, part lyric essay, part primer, Defacing the Monument is an exploration of the many ways we might tell stories and a guidebook for anyone who believes in what documentary poetics, and all art, can and should do in this moment of crisis.
A former journalist, Susan Briante started taking graduate students to the US-Mexico border in 2016 to research and write about migration issues. What began as essays documenting the crisis turned into a reflection on documentary poetics: the act of witnessing and writing about the suffering of others. Defacing the Monument shows what happens to those who do not hold the “correct” documents and highlights how the archive bears the marks of power.
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Susan Briante’s previous book The Market Wonders (Ahsahta Press) was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. The Kenyon Review calls it “masterful at every turn.” She is also the author of the poetry collections Pioneers in the Study of Motion and Utopia Minus (an Academy of American Poets Notable Book of 2011), both from Ahsahta Press. Briante has received grants and awards from the Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, the Academy of American Poets, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund and the US-Mexico Fund for Culture. She is a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Arizona.
Julie Scelfo is a journalist, author and justice advocate who helps people discover the forces that help shape human thinking. Previously, Scelfo was a staff writer for The New York Times, and a Correspondent at Newsweek where she covered
breaking news. Scelfo is the author of The Women Who Made New York, a collection of intersectional biographies that reveal how it was women — and not just men — who built one of the world’s greatest cities.
Scelfo earned a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Media Ecology from New York University. She lives in New York City, is a frequent public speaker and has made numerous appearances on television, radio and podcasts.