Poetry and Politics

A series of conversations led by Irena Grudzinska Gross at Boston University


“…our talk was of friendship and poetry…”

There is an affinity between poetry and conversation, and we, at the Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University, were very much drawn to both. Located in New England, the land of poetry or, at least, of many poets, we thought of enriching our usual topics of European and American relations with informal, conversational poetry readings. We did not stray from our interests and our questions, which were centered around the national character (if any) of poetic creativity, differences between poetic cultures, and the relationship of poetry to civic behavior. We also spoke about war, though not often enough.

Our interlocutors came from Poland, Germany, Romania, St. Lucia, and the United States. They were all outstanding poets and the thoughts they shared with the public are uniformly profound and interesting, and often inspiring. It was a true privilege to hear them read their poems and explain their literary and political motivations. We invite you to sit in on our conversations, and then to read more of the poems. The structure of the evenings was always the same: a poetry reading by the authors, with their commentary and some of their poems read in the original languages, followed by a conversation at the podium, and then questions from the audience. We usually invited two poets (or more) so that they could talk to each other.

A companion volume to the series, edited by Irena Grudzinska Gross and Elizabeth Amrien, is available through the institute. In this abridged volume, we can present only a few of the poems that were read, along with highlights of our conversations, which we have edited for this publication.

We thank our collaborators, Natalia Kierul and Natalia Bard. Great thanks also to Rosanna Warren for her warm support.