Kitsch is a way of describing certain kinds of seemingly trivial, yet treasured, objects in material culture, and poetry has a crucial role in its history. Our panel of poets and theorists will sample poetic forgery, melodrama, pet epitaphs, queer idylls and fortune cookies as part of this history. The panelists will take up the question of whether poetic kitsch is still the antithesis of the avant-garde—or the leading edge of artistic experiment.
Born in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya in 1931, the self-taught and beloved Taha Muhammad Ali (1931-2011) wrote poems—direct, sometimes humorous, often devastating—that conflate the personal and political with details of village life and the upheaval of conflict.
On the first anniversary of the death of this major Palestinian writer, we celebrate his life and work with readings, reminiscences, and audio and video clips.
Born in Chicago in the 1980's and now a worldwide phenomenon, the poetry slam is at the center of a controversy between poetry on the page and poetry in performance. New York City has always been a major player in performance poetry and New York teams have won the National Poetry Slam many times. This program gathers representatives from three of the city’s most prominent poetry slam series for a discussion and demonstration of the poetry slam and what makes a poem not just “come alive” in performance but score well with judges.
San Francisco poet Aaron Shurin considers the question “What is prosody?” in light of the current movement away from meter and traditional forms. Shurin looks at what new elements are at work in contemporary poetry, such as collage and sonic play, referencing both classical and current models, from Homer and Shakespeare to Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, Michael Palmer and Lisa Jarnot. Shurin explores some of the ways in which poetic craft continues to make meaning in contemporary poetry.
Often described as the greatest contemporary Romanian poet, Nichita Stănescu, “blasted open the prison gates of Socialist realism” (Andrei Codrescu) in Eastern Europe. In celebration of the publication of Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems, translated by Sean Cotter, this evening celebrates a powerful and visionary poet.
Join us for a celebration of the work of the life of Siv Cedering (1939-2007), the Swedish-born American poet and novelist. Her sculpture, entitled “Blueprint for an Ascension,” will be dedicated by her husband, Hans Van de Bovenkamp, and installed at Poets House. Cedering was the author of four books of translation and 18 books of poetry and prose, including her collection, Cup of Cold Water, in which she paired her poems with her photographs, and The Blue Horse and Other Night Poems.