Dorianne Laux & Wilton Barnhardt discuss their writing on love & pleasure

Wednesday 4/17, 7 p.m.

All We Know of Pleasure: Poetic Erotica by Women

Here is the good stuff: poetry written by women that actually excites the thinking reader. This anthology, spanning work of the last 75 years, will broaden its readers’ notions of what defines erotic poetry. For what is more intriguing, more satisfying than strong, self-assured writing?

This groundbreaking anthology includes some of our most powerful women writers—among them Sharon Olds, Elizabeth Alexander, Anne Sexton, Dorianne Laux, Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Lucille Clifton, and Louise Glück. These poets fully demonstrate that, far from being prurient, the erotic can permeate even the most mundane aspects of life, from reading a book to buying clothes.

At the same time, the collection affirms the enormous meaningfulness of poetry—its ability to express the inexpressible and to illuminate the most private and intimate of human experiences. The poets included here represent different ethnicities, geographies, social classes, and sexual preferences. The only characteristic they share is that they are women writing about sex.

Every True Pleasure: Lgbtq Tales of North Carolina

Some of North Carolina's finest fiction and nonfiction writers come together in Every True Pleasure, including David Sedaris, Kelly Link, Allan Gurganus, Randall Kenan, and more. Within the volume—featuring writers who identify as gay, trans, bisexual, and straight—are stories and essays that view the full spectrum of contemporary life though an LGBTQ lens. These writers, all native or connected to North Carolina, show the multifaceted challenges and joys of LGBTQ life, including young love and gay panic, the minefield of religion, military service, having children with a surrogate, family rejection, finding one's true gender, finding sex, and finding love. One of the only anthologies of its kind, Every True Pleasure speaks with insight and compassion about living LGBTQ in North Carolina and beyond.

Contributors include Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Brian Blanchfield, Belle Boggs, Emily Chavez, Garrard Conley, John Pierre Craig, Diane Daniel, Allan Gurganus, Minrose Gwin, Aaron Gwyn, Wayne Johns, Randall Kenan, Kelly Link, Zelda Lockhart, Toni Newman, Michael Parker, Penelope Robbins, David Sedaris, Eric Tran, and Alyssa Wong.

Dorianne Laux's fifth collection, The Book of Men, was awarded The Paterson Prize. Her fourth book of poems, Facts About the Moon won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also the author of AwakeWhat We Carry, a finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle Award; Smoke; as well as a fine small press edition, The Book of Women. She is the co-author of the celebrated text The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Laux teaches poetry in the Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University and is a founding faculty member of Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program. Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton.

Wilton Barnhardt is author of several novels, including Lookaway, Lookaway, and a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University. (Photo by Nancy Crampton.)

Praise for All We Know of Pleasure

"All We Know of Pleasure: Poetic Erotica by Women is a breathtaking, eros driven, somatic poetic loveletter to women's bodies. So many of the poets who changed my life and writing live inside this book, and isn't that the truth of it, that poets give our desires and ecstasies back to us? I read it with my whole body, dripping with delight." —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

“I absolutely loved these poems and devoured them in one night— like a lover who wants to take her time but can’t. They reminded me of what I first learned stealing Erica Jong off my mom’s shelf when I was a teenager: sex is the force that drives the world, and women writing about it, with all that energy, particularity, sensuality, and humor, is the powerful force that cracks the world open.” —Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family

"It's the verve of the lines in each of these poems that will electrify a reader. [. . .] Many of the poems play with the language of the erotic the same way lovers play, with a potent and beguiling imagination for both what's observed and experienced. [. . .] The anthology's poems tie love and passion together brilliantly, striking readers as much with their music and magic as their erotic energy."  Apalachee Review

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
All We Know of Pleasure: Poetic Erotica by Women Cover Image
By Enid Shomer (Editor), Elizabeth Alexander (Contribution by), Dorianne Laux (Contribution by)
ISBN: 9780932112972
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Carolina Wren Press - November 27th, 2018

Every True Pleasure: Lgbtq Tales of North Carolina Cover Image
By Wilton Barnhardt (Editor)
ISBN: 9781469646800
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of North Carolina Press - March 11th, 2019