Freedom and Care: Maggie Nelson in Conversation with Seán Hewitt, 2 July 2021


Online, Friday 2 July 2021, 7-8.30pm

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Maggie Nelson is the author of several books of poetry and prose, most recently the New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts. In her new work, On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint, she examines the ‘practices of freedom’ by which we negotiate our interrelation with – and our inseparability from – others, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion. For Nelson, thinking publicly through the knots in our culture – from the turbulent legacies of sexual liberation to the lure of despair in the face of the climate crisis – is itself a practice of freedom, a means of forging fortitude, courage, and company.

In this talk, which featured a reading from the author, Maggie Nelson was joined in conversation with Seán Hewitt to explore ideas of queerness, care and freedom.

This event was part of the 2021 Critical Poetics Summer School, organised by the Critical Poetics Research Group at Nottingham Trent University in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary and Curated & Created at NTU.

To find out more about the Critical Poetics Summer School click here. 


Photo Credit Harry Dodge

Maggie Nelson is the author of several books of poetry and prose, most recently On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint (2021). Other nonfiction titles include the New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts (2015), The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (2011; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Bluets (2009; named by Bookforum as one of the top 10 best books of the past 20 years), The Red Parts (2007), and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007). Her poetry titles include Something Bright, Then Holes (2007) and Jane: A Murder (2005; finalist for the PEN/ Martha Albrand Art of the Memoir). She has been the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, an Innovative Literature Fellowship from Creative Capital, and an Arts Writers Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation. She currently teaches at USC and lives in Los Angeles. 

Photo credit: Bríd O’Donovan

Seán Hewitt was born in 1990. He is a book critic for The Irish Times and teaches Modern British & Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin. He won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2016, the Resurgence Prize in 2017, and an Eric Gregory Award in 2019. In 2020, he was chosen by The Sunday Times as one of their ‘30 under 30’ most promising artists in Ireland, and his debut collection, Tongues of Fire, was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, 2020. His book J.M. Synge: Nature, Politics, Modernism is published with Oxford University Press (2021), and his memoir, All Down Darkness Wide, is forthcoming from Jonathan Cape in the UK and Penguin Press in the USA in 2022. He is currently the first poet- in-residence at the Irish Queer Archive, in partnership with National Library of Ireland and Cúirt International Literature Festival.