Catherine Bresner is the author of the chapbook The Merriam Webster Series, the artist book Everyday Eros (Mount Analogue 2017); and the empty season, which won the Diode Edition Book Prize in 2017. Her poetry has appeared in The VOLTA, Sixth Finch, The Offing, Heavy Feather Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Passages North and elsewhere.
She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BA in English and a concentration in poetry. In 2015, she earned her MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle. Catherine is the recipient of a fellowship to the Juniper Summer Writing institute and was the 2019 artist in residence at the Northwest Film Forum.
She has worked for The Massachusetts Review, Pilot Books, The Seattle Review, BOAAT Press and Kirkus Reviews. She is the publicist for Wave Books and lives in Seattle, WA.
Awards & Nominations
2015 Joan Grayson Poetry Prize winner
2014 Poctaglio Poetry Contest runner-up, judged by Teyhimba Jess
2014 Nelson Bently Fellowship winner
2014 Milliman Scholarship runner-up
2014 Waddell Scholarship winner
Artist Rendering Care of Zachary Schomberg
the empty season
Catherine Bresner’s the empty season is an exquisite collection that comprises poetry, collage, illustration, and song. Her poems not only boldly challenge the ways that we as readers understand mental illness, femininity, cultural artifacts, and identity, but they interrogate the ways we understand the language of poetry altogether.
In her artist statement, Bresner writes, “When I create a poetry comic, I am writing from a place that is essentially ekphrasis in reverse. Typically, I will write a poem first and create a comic that complicates the first reading of that poem. I believe that the best poetry comics are ones that use images that are as mysterious as the language of poetry. Duplication is deadweight. Therefore, I like for a tension between word and image to exist, especially if metaphors are used. While I have illustrated comics in the past, digital collage seems well suited for the poems that I write. Just as I didn’t create language as a medium for poems, I didn’t create the images I collage together either. I am reminded of Jean-Luc Godard’s words, “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.” I always try to take my poetry comics to a place of instability, evocation, and conundrum.”
Snarky, bawdy, and tender, Bresner’s hybrid poetry collection is a starling first book.
“Catherine Bresner’s first collection the empty season is a formally audacious, dexterous, & heart/filled book of bravery & strange. Head-butting the strictures that surround a traditional poem she collapses the collage, the erasure, the illustration, musical notation, the hyperlink, & the high lyric. One piece opens ‘Write, they say, like a band-aid / when writing feels like the wound.’ & these poems perform both functions, the wound & the suture. This is a beautiful book.”
— sam sax, author of Madness
“Beautiful and imagistic, the empty season feels as if it is being written in real time, with its contemporary ear and relevant sorrows. Indeed, this is a book of the times. The strong voice in these poems and poetry comics is innovative, fresh, sincere, and maybe most importantly, has an intelligent curiosity. ‘Today the chore of being alive’ is what I feel when I look at these poems: gorgeous collage, illustration, language—that is the music that keeps me going as a reader. It is delicious to read and see this book in the world.”
— Bianca Stone, author of Poetry Comics from the Book of Hours
“Catherine Bresner brings a freshly savvy vision to the conditions of modern life—to our broken intimacies with others, to our alienation from our own best selves, and to our impaired commitments to civic wholeness. Dark in its whimsy and subversive in its truth-telling, the empty season is full of a kind of Baudelairean spleen, bitter and exuberant at the same time. As one of Bresner’s speakers declares: ‘How knowledge can be a euphemism / for wreckage, as in I will wreck you.’ That’s a fair—and most welcome—warning from a vivid new ironist in our poetry.”
— Rick Barot, author of The Galleons
Select Poetry from the empty season