Mark your calendars for local Philly author Joseph Earl Thomas, who will read from his memoir, Sink, hailed by Carmen Maria Machado as “a brilliant and fucking fearless debut.”
Stranded within a family’s desperate, but volatile attempts to love and demeaned daily for his perceived weakness, Joseph Earl Thomas felt like he was under constant threat. Roaches fell, indifferently, from ceiling to cereal bowl as if taunting him for complaining about the fact that he was hungry. In a series of exacting and fierce vignettes, Thomas explores how a cycle of hostility permeated his environment, while illuminating the vital reprieve into geek culture. From the depths of isolation Thomas carves out unexpected moments of joy, from the broad freedom taken in long summers to the first hints of community on his road to become a Pokémon master. In these arresting scenes, Sink follows Thomas’ coming-of-age toward an understanding of what it means to lose the desire to fit in—with immediate peers, family, or the world—and how good it feels to build community, love, and the work of salvation on your own terms.
Moderated by Jenni Milton, there will be a Q&A with the author following the reading, and don’t forget to have your copy of Sink signed!
Joseph Earl Thomas is a writer from Frankford whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in VQR, N+1, Gulf Coast, The Offing, and The Kenyon Review. He has an MFA in prose from The University of Notre Dame and is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. An excerpt of his memoir, Sink, won the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize and he has received fellowships from Fulbright, VONA, Tin House, Kimbilio, & Breadloaf, though he is now the Anisfield-Wolf Fellow at the CSU Poetry Center. He’s writing the novel God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer, and a collection of stories: Leviathan Beach, among other oddities. He is also an associate faculty member at The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, as well as Director of Programs at Blue Stoop, a literary hub for Philly writers.
Jenni Milton is a queer writer who studied at Connecticut College, Oxford University and the Columbia Publishing Course. After graduating, she worked in book and magazine publishing at One Story, Oxford University Press, and Grove Atlantic. She earned her MFA at the Programs in Writing at UC Irvine, where she taught composition, fiction writing and literary journalism. In her final year of the program, she was Fiction Editor of the Pushcart Prize-winning journal Faultline. She now works as a copywriter, teaches for Blue Stoop, volunteers at H&H Books, and plays violin with the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra and the Roxborough Orchestra. She has published work in Juked and A Distant Memory Zine, has a story forthcoming with RipRap Journal, and is working on a novel.