Catherine Barnett presents Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space, with Garth Greenwell and Dianne Wiest

May 8th
McNally Jackson Seaport
4 Fulton St.
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To celebrate the launch of her fourth collection of poems, Catherine Barnett has invited novelist Garth Greenwell and actor Dianne Wiest to share the texts that have kept them company in moments of loneliness, that essential human experience. Followed by conversation, inquiry, and conviviality.

The loneliness that collects in mirrors and faces—at bedside vigils and in city streets—quickens Catherine Barnett’s metaphysical poems, which are like speculative prescriptions for this common human experience. Here loneliness is filled with belonging, which is in turn filled with loneliness, each state suffused and emptied by the other. Barnett’s fourth collection is part manifesto, part how-to manual, part apologia: a guide to the homeopathic dangers and healing powers of an emotion so charged with eros, humor, and elusive beauty it becomes a companion both desired and eschewed, necessary and illuminating.

Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space is never far from grief or a comedy of bewilderment, inadequacy, hope. Entering Barnett’s world is a little like entering an electrically charged cloud, and the prospect of either falling or getting caught in a storm brings vertiginous and unpredictable pleasures. Bristling with uncanny intelligence, the poems are sometimes quiet elegies, sometimes meditations on art, love, and the failures of love that so often define love. Barnett might be called a realist—her style is radiantly exact—yet somehow she is a guide both into and out of the existential void. She has written a tender, dazzling collection of estrangement and intimacy.

“The stunning latest from Barnett (Human Hours) blends the witty and the philosophical to offer a study in 'restricted fragile materials,' or the bewildering condition of being alive. Urbane, perceptive, and starkly humane, these are poems of quiet alarm, at once companionable and singular.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Catherine Barnett is the author of four poetry collections, including Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space (2024 Graywolf); Human Hours (2018 Believer Book Award, New York Times "Best Poetry of 2018" selection); The Game of Boxes (James Laughlin Award); and Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced (Beatrice Hawley Award). A Guggenheim fellow, she received a 2022 Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other recognitions. Her work has been published in the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the Yale Review, The Nation, Harper’s, and elsewhere. She teaches in NYU's MFA Program and works as an independent editor.

Garth Greenwell is the author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You. A new novel, Small Rain, is forthcoming in September. A Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Vursell Award for prose style from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at NYU.


Dianne Wiest is an actor who has worked in film (Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway, and dozens of others) and in theater, playing mostly in Chekhov and Beckett. She has received two Academy Awards, two SAG Awards, and two Emmys for her performances.


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