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A Conversation with Robert Hass and E. O. Wilson

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, author of What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World, engages in conversation with the internationally-acclaimed scientist, entomologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner E.O. Wilson, author of The Social Conquest of Earth, about the intersections between science and poetry. These two extraordinary thinkers and writers — together for an unmissable conversation — discuss poetry, consciousness, evolution and the environment.

Passwords: Marjorie Perloff on John Cage

Renowned scholar and critic Marjorie Perloff discusses American composer and music theorist John Cage.

Exploring his poetic texts, Perloff looks at his role as a central precursor of Conceptualist poetics. In such works as “Writing through Howl,” and the critical biographical “essays” on Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Arnold Schoenberg—essays largely constructed from the words of the artists (and composer) themselves—Cage invented a new form of poem-critique that looked ahead to our own moment.

Russian Masters: The Life and Work of Osip Mandelstam and Marina Tsvetaeva

Jean Valentine, co-translator of Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, and poet and editor Christian Wiman, translator of Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, discuss the lives of these two pillars of 20th-century Russian poetry and read their work.

Poet Ilya Kaminsky, co-translator of Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, is unable to attend this program as previously advertised.

Passwords: David Hinton on Classical Chinese Poetry

RESCHEDULED from Thursday November 1st due to Superstorm Sandy

The rivers-and-mountains tradition in Chinese poetry is among the earliest and most extensive literary engagements with wilderness in human history and is a system of deep ecological thought, which feels remarkably contemporary. David Hinton has been translating this poetry for decades, and his many books have earned wide acclaim for creating compelling contemporary poems that convey the texture and density of the originals.

Witter Bynner Fellowship Reading with L. S. Asekoff and Philip Levine

Poet L. S. Asekoff, co-recipient of the Library of Congress’s 15th annual Witter Bynner Fellowship in poetry, reads from his work. A moderated conversation with former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine (who selected Asekoff for the fellowship) will follow the reading.

The Poetics of Kitsch

Kitsch is a way of describing certain kinds of seemingly trivial, yet treasured, objects in material culture, and poetry has a crucial role in its history. Our panel of poets and theorists will sample poetic forgery, melodrama, pet epitaphs, queer idylls and fortune cookies as part of this history. The panelists will take up the question of whether poetic kitsch is still the antithesis of the avant-garde—or the leading edge of artistic experiment.

An Evening in Honor of Taha Muhammad Ali

Born in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya in 1931, the self-taught and beloved Taha Muhammad Ali (1931-2011) wrote poems—direct, sometimes humorous, often devastating—that conflate the personal and political with details of village life and the upheaval of conflict.

On the first anniversary of the death of this major Palestinian writer, we celebrate his life and work with readings, reminiscences, and audio and video clips.

Poetry Slam? Or Slam Poetry?

Born in Chicago in the 1980's and now a worldwide phenomenon, the poetry slam is at the center of a controversy between poetry on the page and poetry in performance. New York City has always been a major player in performance poetry and New York teams have won the National Poetry Slam many times. This program gathers representatives from three of the city’s most prominent poetry slam series for a discussion and demonstration of the poetry slam and what makes a poem not just “come alive” in performance but score well with judges.

Aaron Shurin on the Craft of Poetry

San Francisco poet Aaron Shurin considers the question “What is prosody?” in light of the current movement away from meter and traditional forms. Shurin looks at what new elements are at work in contemporary poetry, such as collage and sonic play, referencing both classical and current models, from Homer and Shakespeare to Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, Michael Palmer and Lisa Jarnot. Shurin explores some of the ways in which poetic craft continues to make meaning in contemporary poetry.

Wheel with a Single Spoke: The Life and Work of Romanian poet Nichita Stănescu

Often described as the greatest contemporary Romanian poet, Nichita Stănescu, “blasted open the prison gates of Socialist realism” (Andrei Codrescu) in Eastern Europe. In celebration of the publication of Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems, translated by Sean Cotter, this evening celebrates a powerful and visionary poet.


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