Who were the Beat Poets? Why are they "beat" and what does that mean? A look at their work, and the decades of the fifties and sixties in which they wrote, will explain why they remain iconic figures in American poetry. Their writing was shocking to some yet celebrated by others. Contemporary reaction to their poems was vociferous and divided. Today they continue to be notorious, though there is growing interest in their lively, noisy, exciting work. The Beat goes on!
Spend an afternoon discovering the poetries of the world with two back-to-back readings by major writers from Mexico, Iraq, South Africa, the Basque Country, Denmark and Portugal—all against the backdrop of the Poets House Showcase, an exhibit of over 2,000 books of poetry published this year in the United States.
Reading by Homero Aridjis, Elizabeth Macklin, Kirmen Uribe & Nabeel Yasin
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.