Poetry News

Rest in Peace, Marthe Reed

By Harriet Staff
Marthe Reed

On April 10, the poetry community lost poet and co-publisher of Black Radish Books, Marthe Reed. She died "suddenly and tragically, just before she was scheduled to attend the New Orleans Poetry Festival," as Bill Lavender reports. Reed was the author of five books: Nights Reading (Lavender Ink, 2014); Pleth, with j hastain (Unlikely Books, 2013); (em)bodied bliss (Moria Books, 2013); Gaze (Black Radish Books, 2010); and Tender Box, A Wunderkammer (Lavender Ink, 2007). She was also co-editor, with Linda Russo, of an anthology of essays and poetry, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing in the Anthropoceneforthcoming this summer from Wesleyan University Press. She taught literature and creative writing at Syracuse University in New York, after directing Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette for many years.

Reed's passing has caused an outpouring of grief on social media among her friends and colleagues, who are pointing now to Reed's work: visual poetry, writing for video, poems, reviews, poems, reviews, and an audio recording of her reading, for instance. A key concern, it seems, for Reed, can be sensed in her guest-editor introduction to the "ecopoethos" issue of Dusie, in which she writes: "At the interstices of ecological zones, species, cities, nations, bodies, those permeable borders separating 'us' from 'them', human from other-than-human, insider from outsider, the vulnerable from the powerful, how might we reconfigure our understanding, encounter the unbounded condition having neither center nor margin?"

Of import in her thinking was a between, a "[n]either here nor there." She wrote often about place/landscape and its relationship to politics: Louisiana, where she spent eleven years, California, where she grew up. In a 2011 interview with Rob McLennan, Reed remarked: "What’s the writer’s role? I think we all have the same obligation, whether writers or artists or any otherwise: to make our choices conscious and explicit, informed and compassionate."

She was a force, and will be missed by many. Our sincere condolences to Marthe's family and friends. 



Originally Published: April 12th, 2018