Annual fundraiser gala will feature poetry, film, a live auction, and a conversation with the author.
BOA Editions invites you to ride the rails at this year’s Dine & Rhyme on Friday, September 28th, at the Rochester Academy of Medicine. This event celebrating poetry, film, and the art of the journey will feature poetry readings and a film screening by Kai Carlson-Wee, author of Rail (BOA Editions, 2018) and director of the award-winning documentary short film Riding the Highline. Tickets are $65 in advance ($75 at the door).
Kai Carlson-Wee is a poet, photographer, and filmmaker who began riding freight trains across the American West in his early twenties. A former professional rollerblader and current lecturer at Stanford University, he credits his years of train-hopping with saving his life. He opened up about his experience with mental illness, train-hopping, and writing poetry in a recent essay for Literary Hub.
“When I was 22 years old, I had my first mental breakdown,” writes Kai, who was studying at the University of Minnesota at the time. “It seemed as if my entire identity—my memories, my sense of the physical world, everything that had happened to me in my life—was suddenly falling away.” After months of therapy, exercise, prescriptions for psychoactive medications, and a year studying abroad at Oxford University, Kai began to travel obsessively as a way to outrun his depression.
“The feeling of riding is uniquely disorienting, at once shockingly beautiful and the biggest waste of time you could imagine,” Kai writes. “One minute you feel like the Sundance Kid, the next you’re ducking down in a well with floodlights over your back. The feeling shifts and turns like the lines of a poem, and out of all the ways I’ve tried to heal my mind over the years, it’s the closest thing I’ve found to an antidote.”
Sometimes traveling with his brother and fellow poet Anders Carlson-Wee, Kai wrote poems and took photographs of his journeys along the BNSF Railway’s Hi Line route between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle. Many of the poems he wrote during his travels eventually made their way into both his debut poetry collection Rail (BOA Editions, 2018) and his documentary short film Riding the Highline.
Literary critic Barbara Hoffert writing for Library Journal says of Kai’s poems in Rail: “Carlson-Wee effectively uses repetition to build tension in poems that are deceptively simple and homey, and the tempered language draws readers into his heartfelt lines. Even those who don’t typically read poetry will enjoy.”
Riding the Highline combines poetry, still shots, Americana folk music, and video to capture the immediacy and intimacy of riding the rails. Riding the Highline has won awards at independent film festivals across the country, including a Shoestring Award from the Rochester International Film Festival in 2017.
Through his lyric poetry and breathtaking film, Kai will lead Dine & Rhyme attendees through a behind-the-scenes look at his work. Local poet and Monroe Community College professor Tony Leuzzi (Passwords Primeval, BOA Editions, 2012) will join him onstage for a live interview and audience Q&A. Book signings with the author, a silent auction, and a reception with cuisine from Julia K Caters will follow. Rail will be available for purchase at the event. All proceeds will benefit BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works.
Tickets and additional information will be available online starting July 15, 2018, at www.boaeditions.org/dine&rhyme.
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