IPR Lecture Series: The Contemporary Face of Suffering: Harold Schweizer, "The Poetry of Suffering"

Starts: 5:00 pm on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Ends: 7:00 pm on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Location: CAS 211, 725 Commonwealth Avenue
URL: http://www.bu.edu/ipr/program/

Harold Schweizer, John P. Crozer Professor of English at Bucknell University, will present "The Poetry of Suffering" for the Institute for Philosophy and Religion's 2013-2014 Lecture Series: “The Contemporary Face of Suffering.” “The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing,” Simone Weil writes, “it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.” Can poetry perform such miracles? Examining this question with reference to poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, William Wordsworth, Eavan Boland, and Alice Oswald, Schweizer notes not only how these poems attend to a sufferer both in their language and their silences, but also how they instruct us to wait, or as Maurice Blanchot puts it, to “keep our haste and our impatient desire” from prematurely filling the sufferer’s “empty intimacy of time.” The sufferer’s fundamental solitude, as these poems suggest, elicits our acknowledgment of the radically indecipherable qualities of suffering. It is precisely in the humility of this acknowledgment that we begin to feel empathy. A poetry that itself ought to be a rare and difficult thing can significantly nurture such a practice of empathic imagining. Harold Schweizer is Professor of English at Bucknell University. He has held the NEH Chair in the Humanities and the John P. Crozer Chair of English Literature, and is the recipient of two teaching awards. Published widely in literary theory and the medical humanities, he is the author of Suffering and the Remedy of Art (SUNY ’97) and On Waiting (Routledge ‘08). His volume of poems, The Book of Stones and Angels, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. Sponsored by the BU Center for the Humanities.