Event – Detail

First Friday
October 6 at 5:00 PM
Poor Persis: The Tender Mercies of Victorian Mourning
Holly Trostle Brigham and Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Poor Persis is a series of brief monologues written in sonnet form by poet Angela Alaimo O’Donnell. Each sonnet is spoken by the parents of a two-year-old child who is dying of pneumonia, creating a conversation or dialogue between the aggrieved mother and father. We, as readers and listeners, bear witness to their struggle with the horrific fact of their daughter’s impending death. The final poem is spoken by the lost child herself, assuring them of her safe passage to heaven and their eventual reunion in eternity. The quiet drama that unfolds is both particular to the Brigham family yet also universal, for families in the 19th century and well into the 20th who did not lose a child were rare. Thus Persis and her parents speak to and for us all, helping us to navigate the painful terrain of human grief.

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, PhD is a professor, poet, literary critic, and writer at Fordham University in New York City. She is also the Associate Director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. Her publications include two chapbooks and eight collections of poems, among them Andalusian Hours (2020), a collection of 101 poems that channel the voice of Flannery O’Connor, and Love in the Time of Coronavirus: A Pandemic Pilgrimage (2021). O’Donnell has published a memoir, Mortal Blessings; a book of hours based on the practical theology of Flannery O’Connor, The Province of Joy; and a biography Flannery O’Connor: Fiction Fired by Faith. Her critical book on Flannery O’Connor Radical Ambivalence: Race in Flannery O’Connor was published by Fordham University Press in 2020. O’Donnell’s most recent poetry collection, Holy Land (2022), won the Paraclete Poetry Prize. Her eleventh collection, Dear Dante, poems written in conversation with Dante’s Commedia, will be published in Spring of 2024. http://angelaalaimoodonnell.com/

Holly Trostle Brigham is a painter who creates life-sized figures in watercolor that depict historical and mythological women. Brigham had a solo show at the Delaware Art Museum called ‘I Wake Again’: Holly Trostle Brigham on Elizabeth Siddal, which opened  February 26, 2022 and went until May 29, 2022.  In 2023, Brigham had a solo show at the Reading Museum in Reading, PA. Within the last few years, Brigham has had solo exhibitions at the Somerville Manning Gallery in 2019, at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA and at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art. Brigham has collaborated with award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson on a series of nuns who were artists and writers, Sacred Sisters. Holly and Marilyn produced an artist’s book to document the collaboration and launched the book at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in November 2016. The edition of twelve has found homes at Smith College, Lafayette College, Penn State and the Smithsonian Institution, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, among others. Her second artist book, Mother Monument was launched at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania in September 2018 and has been placed at the Beinecke Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Rutgers University and other institutions. Her third artist book, I Wake Again was completed in December 2021 and has been placed at the Beinecke Library, Rutgers University, the University of Delaware Library and the Fisher Fine arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania. It is a collaboration with the poet Kim Bridgford. Brigham’s fourth artist book, Poor Persis will be launched at the Philadelphia Athenaeum on October 6, 2023. Brigham was born in Carlisle, PA, attended Smith College where she studied Art History and studied abroad in Florence, Italy.  She went on to study Art History at the graduate level at the University of Pittsburgh, fine art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then earned her MFA in Painting at the George Washington University.  She has taught at Pasadena City College, Worcester State College, the Worcester Art Museum, and the Baum School of Art. Brigham lives in Philadelphia with her husband, David, and two children, Noble and Flora and their Airedale, Minnie.

This is a free event.