Elisa Gabbert is obsessed with disasters and how we perceive them. In The Unreality of Memory, which was released last year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Gabbert tackles pandemics, environmental disasters, the nature of pain and its perception, nostalgia and more.
We talk about Gabbert's interest in these topics, the relationship between her poetry and her essays, and getting burned out on empathy.
Elisa Gabbert is the author of five collections of poetry, essays, and criticism: The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays, out now from FSG Originals and Atlantic UK; The Word Pretty (Black Ocean, 2018); L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean, 2016); The Self Unstable (Black Ocean, 2013); and The French Exit (Birds LLC, 2010). The Unreality of Memory and The Word Pretty were both named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and The Self Unstable was chosen by New Yorker magazine as one of the best books of 2013. Gabbert writes a regular poetry column for the New York Times, and her work has appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine and Book Review, the New York Review of Books, the Guardian Long Read, the London Review of Books, A Public Space, the Paris Review Daily, American Poetry Review, and many other venues.