Susannah: “I wrote one of these poems, then I called Molly and said, ‘I don't really think I want to write these.’ And Molly was like, ‘Well, I think we're going to have to write these.’
“And she was right, and we did.”
In the Field Between Us is a conversation in poems between Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison. It ponders disability and the possibility of belonging in the aftermath of lifelong medical intervention.
In the beginning, the poem-letters express, in gorgeous harmony, the psychic and physiological complexities of surviving remedy. As the book unfolds, the writers encounter a natural world around them that seems to mirror the traumas they’ve endured.
Even as they trace innumerable scars, these poems give voice to a perseverance, a spirit of communion, and a hopeful resolve, all rising out of the poets’ close attention to detail and their profound friendship with one another.
It’s the literary equivalent of sharing a train compartment with two brilliant young poets who also happen to be a) living with disability, and b) best friends.
You start eavesdropping on their conversation.
Then, next thing you know, you’re so caught up in it, you forget to get off when the train reaches your station.
In the Field Between Us is that good.
The author of Places I’ve Taken My Body, a collection of essays, and The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, a collection of poems that won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize.
The recipient of a United States Artists fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation fellowship, and the 2018-2019 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.
An assistant professor of English and creative nonfiction at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
The author of two poetry collections, Lethal Theater, which won the 2017 The Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize, and Teratology, winner of the 2014 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize.
The recipient of an Academy of American Poets/Larry Levis Prize and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation fellowship.
An assistant professor of English and creative writing at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.
Order the book now from the Colgate Bookstore.
Meet Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison at Colgate on Nov. 4
There are two ways to join us:
- In person in Love Auditorium, Olin Hall, 4:30 p.m. No registration required.
- Via Zoom.
Everyone can participate in the audience Q&A following the reading, and there will be a book-signing in the Olin lobby after that. For information on how to purchase a signed book if you're not on campus, see the How to Participate section of the website.
Living Writers events are free and open to the public.
Listen to a 3-question podcast
“We were not just writing to one another in the universe that exists but building a world together that we could inhabit, that felt built for our bodies and populated by the kinds of creatures and the kind of—as Susannah says—off-kilter motions and ways of being that feel inherent to our bodies and our experiences in the world.” That’s Molly McCully Brown talking about In the Field Between Us, the book of poetry she co-authored with Susannah Nevison. Listen to this short Living Writers podcast to hear more.
Go beyond the book
- “We were tired of explanation or translation. This is a project about what happens when we don’t do any of that. And the ways that that, too, is accessible to people. That, too, is a valid mode of communication and expression and language.” Read Susannah Nevison’s and Molly McCully Brown’s reflections on the writing of In the Field Between Us in their interview with The Rumpus, conducted by Janet Frishberg.
- In this opinion piece for the New York Times by Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison, they talk about the inspiration for In the Field Between Us and their experiences as poets with disabilities: “A central paradox emerges: How can a body that can’t return to its natural form, since it has been irrevocably altered by the violence of surgery, ever be at home in the natural world?”
- “Indeed, there is great intimacy and vulnerability in Nevison and Brown’s decision not to explain. This project feels like distillation rather than translation, like the spiritual rather than logistical truth of their experiences.” In her piece for Drizzle Review, Joanna Currey discusses the ways in which the poets welcome readers into their world.
- In this essay for the Guardian, Molly McCully Brown talks frankly about what it’s like to be a young woman who wants.
Tell us what you think
Join us Monday, Nov. 1, 7-8 p.m., for a faculty roundtable and discussion of In the Field Between Us. Guests will include professor Peter Balakian, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Mark Shiner, associate university chaplain and Catholic campus minister, and Ashley Taylor, assistant professor of educational studies. Feel free to participate or simply listen in. If you're interested but can't make the session, the roundtable portion will be available to listen to later in the week.
Follow the discussion on Twitter @ColgateLW using the hashtags #ColgateLivingWriters and #IntheFieldBetweenUs
But having found you / I am seeking out the channel / where we came from. / Sister, take my hand.In the Field Between Us
Living Writers is put on by the Department of English at Colgate University with generous support from the Olive B. O'Connor Fund as well as the President and Provost/Dean of the Faculty. Support from the Women's Studies Program helped make this event possible.