Tagged: poetry and politics
On Tuesday, March 27, we hosted a reading and conversation with two of our favorite poets: Don Paterson and Dan Chiasson. Paterson was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1963. He moved to London in 1984 to work as a jazz musician and has been writing poetry ever since. His first collection, Nil Nil (1993) won the Forward Prize for best first collection. God’s Gift to Women (1997) won both the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and Landing Light (2003) won the Whitbread Poetry Prize and an unprecedented second T.S. Eliot Prize. His most recent collection, Rain (2009), won the Forward Prize and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He teaches poetry at the University of St. Andrews. Chiasson, who’s spending the year as a visiting professor in our creative writing department, is poetry critic at The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. He is the author of three books of poems, including Natural History (Knopf, 2005) and Where’s the Moon, There’s the Moon (Knopf, 2010).
Joe Rezek, Assistant Professor of English and a member of our executive board, introduced the event, which reprises a series of conversations with artists and writers formerly organized by the Institute for Human Sciences here at BU, exploring questions of language, culture, nation, history, and the role of the poet in society.
Don read a selection of published and unpublished poems, including one he’d written at the airport the day before, titled, tentatively, “My Incomprehension.” The reading was peppered with commentary on matters ranging from poetry readings – not always a great night out – to the secular gods of American television to his fascination, of late, with the sonnet form. After the reading, which included such gems as “Burial” and “Two Trees” and a personal favorite, “The Correctives”:
The shudder in my son’s left hand
he cures with one touch from his right,
two fingertips laid feather-light
to still his pen. He understands
the whole man must be his own brother
for no man is himself alone;
though some of us have never known
the one hand’s kindness to the other.
After the reading, a lively conversation ensued between the two poets, again touching on a variety of subjects, from Don’s disdain for Tony Blair (as evidenced in his poem, “The Big Listener”) to the formal aspects of his work, his writing process, and finally, to what, if any responsibility he feels to politics while writing poetry. Don spoke of the dangers of so-called “political poetry” – there’s no point in trying to provoke feelings of which people are already in high possession from the mere encounter with the documentary facts – after which the conversation shifted to “favorite poets.”
This event, which can be viewed online at BUniverse, was co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at Boston University, the Department of English, and the literary journal AGNI. An edited version of the conversation aired on WBUR’s World of Ideas on April 1, 2012.
The seventh and last event in our “Poetry and Politics” series features Polish poet Tomasz Różycki and American poet Major Jackson. The reading and conversation took place at Boston University on October 1, 2008. The event was moderated by Irena Grudzinska Gross, former director of the Institute for Human Sciences, who introduces the poets. It aired on WBUR on March 16, 2008; we are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.
Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry: Hoops (Norton: 2006) and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Hoops was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literature – Poetry. His third volume of poetry Holding Company is forthcoming from W.W. Norton. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He served as a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and as the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Major Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. He serves as the Poetry Editor of the Harvard Review.
Tomasz Różycki has published six books of poetry, including Colonies, The Forgotten Keys, and the book-length poem Twelve Stations, winner of the Koscielski Prize. He has been nominated twice for the Nike Prize, Poland’s most important literary award. He lives in his hometown, Opole, with his wife and two children.
Tomasz Różycki poems at AGNI online
The sixth event in our “Poetry and Politics” series features German poet and public intellectual Hans Magnus Enzensberger. The podcast is an edited recording of Enzensberger’s reading and conversation at Boston University on April 17, 2007. The event was moderated by Institute for Human Sciences director Irena Grudzinska Gross, who introduces the poet in this recording. The conversation was originally broadcast on WBUR radio on June 10, 2007; we are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in Kaufbeuren, Germany on November 11, 1929. He was educated at the Universities of Erlangen, Freiburg, Hamburg, and Paris. His main literary work is in poetry and essay, supplemented by excursions into theater, film, opera, radio drama, reportage, and translation, with one or two novels and several books for children thrown in. Enzensberger’s books include Lighter Than Air: Moral Poems, Zig-Zag: The Politics of Culture and Vice Versa, and the mathematical adventure The Number Devil.
The fifth event in our “Poetry and Politics” series (but unfortunately, only the fourth podcast, as we’ve lost the recording of Andrei Codrescu’s memorable reading on November 2, 2006) features the return of Adam Zagajewski to Boston University. The podcast is a recording of Zagajewski’s March 19, 2007 reading at the Institute for Human Sciences. The event aired on WBUR radio’s “World of Ideas” program on July 29, 2007. We are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.
Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwów, Poland in 1945. He spent his childhood in Silesia and then in Cracow, where he graduated from Jagiellonian University. He first became established as one of the leading poets of the Generation of ’68′ or the Polish New Wave (Nowa Fala). Among his collections in Polish are Pragnienie (1999), Ziemia ognista (1994), Jechac do Lwowa (1985), Sklepy miesne (1975), and Komunikat (1972).His English collections of poetry include Without End: New and Selected Poems (2003, translated by Clare Cavanaugh), Mysticism for Beginners (1997, translated by Clare Cavanaugh), Tremor (1985, translated by Renata Gorczynski), and Canvas(1991, translated by Renata Gorczynski, B. Ivry, and C.K. Williams). Zagajewski’s honors and awards include the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, a fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize, a Prix de la Libert, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
The third event in our “Poetry and Politics” series, this podcast is an unedited recording of an October 2006 event entitled Poetry and Nations, featuring Polish poet Julia Hartwig and American poet Rosanna Warren. Irena Grudzinska Gross, former director of the Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University, moderated the conversation.
Julia Hartwig occupies a prominent place in the Polish literary landscape. She has been awarded numerous fellowships in France and the United States and has won the Jurzykowski Prize and the Thornton Wilder Prize from the Translation Center at Columbia University, as well as the Austrian Georg Trakl Prize for poetry. Hartwig has translated Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars and Supervielle, and published studies of Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval.
Rosanna Warren is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University. She is the author of Departure (2003); Stained Glass (1993), which was named the Lamont Poetry Selection by the Academy of American Poets; Each Leaf Shines Separate (1984); and Snow Day (1981). The recipient of many awards, in 1999 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She is a contributing editor of Seneca Review and the poetry editor of Daedalus and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The second in a series of seven podcasts on the theme of “Poetry and Politics” featuring recordings of conversations with poets moderated by Institute Director Irena Grudsinska Gross at Boston University between 2004 and 2007. This podcast is a recording of an April 2005 reading and conversation with Polish poet Piotr Sommer and American poet Rosanna Warren. Sommer is also a translator of contemporary English-language poetry (Frank O’Hara, Charles Reznikoff, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Derek Mahon, Seamus Heaney) into Polish. He reads poems from Continued, his (then) new book of poetry in English translation. Rosanna Warren is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She reads some of her newer poems as well as a selection from her book Departure.
Warren acknowledges the need for a national myth to create a national literature - yet she rebels against nationalism. She says there is “Another Republic” (referring to the anthology of European and Latin American poetry edited by Charles Simic and Mark Strand) where she longs to be a citizen, implying there is a way in which poetry, for all its embeddedness in culture, transcends national borders. Sommer adds that it transcends such categories as “classical” as well. He makes the point that English is a language without a nationality, so that his point may be particularly true of poetry in English.
Profile of Piotr Sommer at culture.pl
Profile of Rosanna Warren at poets.org
This week we begin a series of seven podcasts on the theme of “Poetry and Politics.” Between October 2004 and October 2007, Institute Director Irena Grudzinska Gross moderated a series of conversations with American and European poets as a way of encouraging people to think in new and creative ways about the role culture can play in international life, focusing on poetry as the most succinct and efficient way language can be used. Numbering among our most popular events in six years, the conversations illumine the complex relationships between language, politics, and culture.
The release of this series of podcasts accompanies a forthcoming publication of the Institute featuring selected poems and excerpts from the conversations. To reserve a copy of Poetry and Politics, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The series began in October 2004 with an event entitled “Poetry and Empire,” a poetry reading and conversation with Boston University professors Robert Pinsky, former United States Poet Laureate, and Derek Walcott, recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. They were joined by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski, winner of the prestigious Neustadt international prize for poetry from World Literature Today. The conversation was particularly interesting given the divergent “imperial” contexts in which the three poets grew up: the context of the Soviet empire for Zagajewski, of the British empire for Caribbean born Walcott, and finally, of the American empire for Pinsky. One sees how their poetry, although not overtly political, was shaped by different political and historical realities.