Emily Dickinson famously said that she knew it was a poem if it knocked the top of her head off. But what if it’s a prose poem? Can something that looks like prose but sounds like poetry have the same impact? The prose poem allows the writer to preserve a poetic diction and proximity to metaphor while stretching out the line and taking on a more direct narrative. It can also achieve a “snapshot” quality, which makes it a form as adventurous in brevity – what’s in focus? what’s lurking half out of sight? – as the essay can be in breadth.
with Ana Božičević, Nicole Cooley, Jan Freeman, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Kimiko Hahn, Patricia Spears Jones, Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, Christoph Keller, Joan Larkin, Jan Heller Levi, Anne Marie Macari, Donna Masini, Jena Osman, Alicia Ostriker, William L. Rukeyser and Gerald Stern
The 11th century trobadors and trobairitz of Occitania, a region encompassing parts of southern France, Italy's Occitan Valleys, Monaco, and Catalonia's Val d'Aran, have long inspired American poets most notably Ezra Pound, with their lyrical, secular, and often subversive verse-commentary on the culture, politics, and love affairs of their time. Mythologized as wandering mystics, these professional poets set the stage for everything from forms like the cantata and sestina to Top 40 love songs.
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was described by poet Jackson Mac Low as “neither objectivist nor subjectivist but a poet of the whole consciousness.” Born in Beijing, she emerges from diverse influences, from the artistic scene of her rural New Mexico home to the New York School and Language poets. Her over a dozen books of poetry include artistic collaborations with her husband Richard Tuttle and visual artist Kiki Smith. Berssenbrugge is joined by University of California Berkeley scholar Charles Altieri.
Poets House welcomes six poets currently in residence at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa to share their work and discuss their experiences as writers in Russia, China, Hungary, Burma, and Finland. This intimate afternoon affords New Yorkers the opportunity to hear from a remarkable group of emerging and renowned international poets.
Poet Kwame Dawes introduces a new generation of African poets whose work reflects the complex cosmopolitanism of contemporary African societies and cultures that remain fully traditional and yet excitingly engaged with modernity. He gives a brief history of modern African poetry, with special attention to the work of Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor and discusses the work of rising poets including Warsan Shire of Somalia, Nick Makoha of Uganda, and Tsitsi Jaji of Zimbabwe.
Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate (1997—2000), essayist, translator, and founder of the Favorite Poem Project, delivers a reading with commentary on selected works of Edgar Allan Poe to coincide with the exhibition Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul at the Morgan Library & Museum.
Exhibition viewing for program attendees: 5:30pm
Swedish Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer, poet, psychologist, and translator, is perhaps best known for his mastery of the poetic image. Presenting some of the poet’s most resonant and ambitious poems, Tony Hoagland explores his collage-like layering of contrasting perceptions and registers that, defying logical apprehension, come together, defining Tranströmer as a master craftsman of sensibility.
Poets and admirers of Harvey Shapiro (1924-2013) gather to read from his work and share memories of the man who prompted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to pen the monumental “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and counted E.E. Cummings, George Oppen, and Louis Zukofsky among his friends. Concurrent with his 43-year career at The New York Times, his poetry spans the political and historic, local and international, always seeking the human significance of an issue. Shapiro’s many publications include 2009's The Sights Along the Harbor, which draws from five decades of poetry.