In 1949 Harvard undergraduate John Ashbery wrote to Kenneth Koch about the poetry of a fellow student, Frank O'Hara: "I think we have a major competitor." Shortly thereafter Ashbery sent Koch a manuscript of O'Hara's poems, which Koch found not very interesting. But he took it with him when he went to France on a Fulbright and, when he read the manuscript again on a train ride through Austria, he was staggered by its dazzling energy. Thus began an inspiring, competitive literary friendship that helped both Koch and O'Hara become two of the greatest American poets of the 20th century.
Paul Muldoon gives a close reading of Robert Frost's "Directive", a poem that seems capable of standing at the end of almost every trail in the rest of Frost's own work, but also of helping a reader find a way through the densities of 20th, perhaps even 21st, century poetry.
A joint initiative with the Poetry Society of America, Branching Out: Poetry for the 21st Century is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
A reading and conversation about poetry, politics and translation with the dynamic Cuban poet José Kozer and the eminent poet-critic Ammiel Alcalay, with English-language readings of Kozer's poetry by Mark Weiss, translator of Stet: Selected Poems of José Kozer
This talk, "Identity to Seek: The Selves of Emily," engages with a number of the poems of Emily Dickinson, in order to think about her as a poet who reveals to us, in her nature as a fragmented or multiple self, something about what lyric poetry is and means. I connect her work with some of the remarks Keats makes about the character of the poet, as well as placing her in a lyric context containing such poets as Yeats, Whitman, and Stevens.
Open to writers and artists, this workshop familiarizes students with the vast history of visual-verbal collaboration from the Middle Ages to the present and prepares participants to undertake a series of remarkable joint projects.
By considering the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova's (1889-1966) progression from love lyrics to political sequences, Stewart demonstrates the capacity of poets to reflect the temporary conditions of their societies and to create permanent values through their labor of memory and imagination.