Poetry and Empire

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 ihs@bu.edu.

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.


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