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Concord Poetry at the Library Series presents January Gill O’Neil

February 4 @ 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm

- Free

Concord Poetry at the Library Series presents How Race Binds Us All Together: January Gill O’Neil’s Glitter Road


Join us for an afternoon of celebrating Black History Month with award-winning poet January Gill O’Neil who will read and engage in a Q & A about what she discovered while writing her newest book, Glitter Road ( CavanKerry Press February 2024) “My poems brought me to Oxford, Mississippi,” she writes. “I moved from Massachusetts with my two teenagers for an academic year as the 2019-2020 John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. We took trips to the Delta, leaned into the history of the enslaved and the tragic story of Emmett Till, and explored the rivers and landscapes that shaped the South.”

Glitter Road reflects on the end of a marriage, loss, and a new relationship against the backdrop of a Mississippi season. O’Neil uncovers the history and legacy of Emmett Till, how his story is braided with hers, and how race binds us all together. These poems reclaim the vulnerable, intimate parts of a life in transition and celebrate womanhood through awakenings, landscapes, meanders, and possibilities. “Mississippi’s story is one in which beauty coexists with the scars of the past,” she says. “But it’s also a place of joy and wonder. The Magnolia State enjoys a rich literary heritage with luminaries ranging from William Faulkner to Natasha Trethewey. I fell in love there and regained a part of myself I thought I had lost.” O’Neil declares, “I am done telling the kinder story. I am a myth of my own making.”

Critic Reviews

In Glitter Road, the brilliant and beautiful collection of poems by January Gill O’Neil, we are taken from truth to tenderness, old love to new love, the Northeast to the Deep South, and everywhere in between. The engaging lyric forms move seamlessly from Tina Turner to the legacy of Emmett Till to cartwheels, to a Hallmark card that hasn’t been invented yet, and into John Grisham’s bed. O’Neil writes, “I’ll take my miracles however they appear / these days”—and how can we not praise the wounded world with her? Whether writing about Blackness, body, family, nature or nurture, love or loss, these poems always keep a sense of hope and humor. Glitter Road sparkles and dazzles me, then wrings out my heart in the very best way. And as O’Neil writes, “If at 4 a.m. you find yourself awake and alone, / curled up in your half-empty bed under a flashlight’s / white light reading a poem . . . regret nothing.” I will tell you: you won’t. These are the poems you need on your nightstand because this is a book you won’t be able to put down. Rich with history and herstory, these stunning and striking poems are intimate, honest, and always engaging. I cannot recommend this collection enough. Glitter Road is O’Neil’s most powerful book yet.

—Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides

The alluring poems in Glitter Road delve into past heartbreaks and the exquisite joy of family and newfound love in a constantly changing world. In sure and talented hands like O’Neil’s, vibrant landscapes whirl, take root, and break bread with ghosts. It’s clear these heart-filled poems will have a full and magnificent life of their own.

—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

January Gill O’Neil is an associate professor at Salem State University and the author of Glitter Road (February 2024), Rewilding (2018), Misery Islands (2014), and Underlife (2009), all published by CavanKerry Press. From 2012-2018, she served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Her poems and articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Sierra magazine, among others. Her poem, “At the Rededication of the Emmett Till Memorial,” was a co-winner of the 2022 Allen Ginsberg Poetry award from the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College. The recipient of fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cave Canem, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, O’Neil was the 2019-2020 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi, Oxford. She currently serves as the 2022-2024 board chair of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). O’Neil earned her BA from Old Dominion University and her MFA from New York University. She lives in Beverly, MA. Learn more at her website: https://www.januarygilloneil.com.