Callie Siskel presents Two Minds, in conversation with Paul Tran

April 17th
McNally Jackson Seaport
RSVP Required — see below

In a piercing and beautiful elegy for the poet’s father, this debut volume investigates the enduring pain and transformative potential of grief.

Does loss define us, or do we define loss? Tracing the duality of grief as it reverberates through a family, Callie Siskel wrestles with questions of identity and inheritance in precise, lucid poetry. Two Minds indulges and therefore exposes the vanity of turning private pain into art and the pursuit of self-revelation. Drawing on ekphrasis, ars poetica, and the prose poem, Siskel expands the elegiac genre as she oscillates between childhood and adulthood, art and mythology, as well as the natural and domestic world. At once cerebral and emotional, Two Minds is an essential meditation on the ways that loss cleaves and doubles our perceptive power.

"Callie Siskel’s beautiful and spare poems in Two Minds traverse the delicate yet relentless landscape of grief.… These poems often instigate with a scene from memory or an observation, then they are propelled by the declarative, oftentimes in plain diction and clean syntax.… Maybe in the end, grieving is about the self; as Siskel astutely writes: ‘Vanity and grief / are closer than we think. // Grief’s call-and-response / a mirror of our own making.’ Siskel’s poems are wise and thoughtful, quietly evocative." —Victoria Chang, author of Obit

"In Two Minds, the hungers of loss, love, and familial bonds intersect at the interstices of art and memory. With a palate knife, Callie Siskel scrapes at the raw face of elegy, revealing interior forms on a canvas where the poet’s father lives beyond death. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art, these intimate poems achieve an enduring, painterly resonance that is startling and lucid in language." —Rachel Eliza Griffiths, author of Seeing the Body

"Direct but nuanced, tender but fierce, Callie Siskel’s Two Minds supposes that if we could see ourselves from just the right angle, we could understand our lives. Born of great loss, these precise lyrics do not aim at consolation alone; no, they struggle eloquently to put the pieces of a life together. Such is the true work of poetry. This is an enormous debut." —Sally Keith, author of The Fact of the Matter

Callie Siskel is the author of the debut poetry collection, Two Minds, forthcoming from W. W. Norton, and Arctic Revival, winner of the Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, and The Yale Review. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she lives in Los Angeles, where she is a poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.



Paul Tran is the author of the debut poetry collection, All the Flowers Kneeling (Penguin, 2022). Their work appears in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Winner of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Stanford University, and National Endowment for the Arts, Paul is an Assistant Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


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