Author: Christina Davis

March 12, 6:00pm: BE AGAIN: A Conversation & Film Screening with Fanny Howe

Join us for the first incarnation of the WPR Creative Fellowship, featuring films made by Fanny Howe in collaboration with Sheila Gallagher, John Gianvito, and Maceo Senna, and including voiceovers by Robert Creeley and Patrick Bedford. The event will integrate informal conversation with the screening of the following films: “Brigid of Murroe”; “What Nobody Saw”; and “Be Again.” Introduction by Keith Jones. The event will take place at the Barker Center. For more information, visit the WPR Calendar of Events. The WPR Creative Fellowships are made possible by a generous donation by the Anagnostopoulos Family and a gift made in honor of Teresa and Dr. Michael Anagnostopoulos. The featured photograph shows Fanny Howe and Sheila Gallagher during one of their collaborative sessions, working on one of the films in progress at Houghton Library.

Thursday, March 5th: “The Poetics of Graffiti” with Andrew Zawacki

Poet and translator Andrew Zawacki will read passages and screen images from his prose-photo hybrid project “Paris Photo Graff,” which uses Paris graffiti as an occasion to think associatively about alternative or subaltern poetics, black and white photography, the disappeared body, artistic commodification, and the construction and demolition of public space. The event will take place at the Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, Room 330, Harvard University. Zawacki is the author of four poetry books, most recently Videotape (Counterpath Press, 2013). His translation from the French of Sébastien Smirou, My Lorenzo, appeared from Burning Deck in 2012. His follow-up translation of Smirou, See About: Bestiary, was awarded an NEA Translation fellowship and is due next year from La Presse. The recipient of a fellowship at la Résidence internationale Ville de Paris / Institut Français aux Récollets, he is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Georgia.  

“The Lip of the Flamingo”: Timothy Donnelly on Poetry & The Misuse of Language

This Thursday, February 26th at 6pm at Houghton Library, Timothy Donnelly (author of Hymn to Life and The Cloud Corporation) will discuss the rhetorical device known as catachresis–from the Greek katakhrēsthai, meaning ‘misuse’–as it appears in the work of Emily Dickinson (among others), its relation to the poetic generally, and flamingos. Due to the slew of cancelled readings this season, Donnelly has kindly agreed to read a brief selection of poems after his lecture. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Bagley Wright Lecture series and the Woodberry Poetry Room. NOTE: Book sales will be cash and check only.

A PRO-POUNDIAN BROADCAST: On a Recently Digitized Radio Program from 1955

Sixty years ago, on December 5, 1955, the Yale Broadcasting Company (WYBC) aired “A Tribute to Ezra Pound” on the occasion of the poet’s 70th birthday. Far from your average three-score-and-ten jubilee, the montage was an effort to garner support for the poet’s release from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. In the mid-1950s, similar appeals were being made over the airwaves via the Canadian Broadcasting System and the Vatican Radio (see J. J. Wilhelm, Ezra Pound: The Tragic Years, 1925-1972). Pound’s publisher New Directions also printed  and adapted many of the comments from the WYBC broadcast in its pamphlet Ezra Pound at Seventy (1955), which was (according to John Cohassey) published to bring attention to Pound’s recent works and “to further the cause of the poet’s freedom” after almost a decade of incarceration. Pound was released from St. Elizabeth’s in April 1958. The irony of using a broadcast to advocate for someone who had been imprisoned for the content of his own radio broadcasts probably didn’t escape the participants, who included W.H. Auden, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Archibald MacLeish, Marianne Moore, Stephen Spender, Robert Penn Warren, …

HWAET: Or, Can You Hear Me in the Back?

Can you hear me? Some variation on this question opens at least 25% of the poetry readings I have listened to and/or attended—especially those in large auditoriums or cacophonous bars. But its repetition, far from rendering the question moot, has only made it the more curious to me. The question acknowledges the essential uncertainty that marks the outset of a reading and suggests that any communication of this kind “is first of all communication not of something” but of “communicability itself” (Giorgio Agamben). The uncertainty of whether one is being heard—one of the essential questions of transmission—immediately distinguishes the live reading from some of the primary securities of the printed page (or screen) and constitutes one of the first losses of authorial control over a poem, if indeed it can ever be said to have existed. (True, you could say that printed matter includes the uncertainty of whether it is being or is going to be read, but unless it is a handwritten or heavily marked-up manuscript or typescript, once the page is before the reader—in an age of standardized computer …

“FOR ONE BOSTON”: On View at the Poetry Room

From February 2 thru May 1, 2015, the Woodberry Poetry Room will present an informal mini-exhibit featuring a rotating series of selections from “For One Boston,” a collection of 132 works—by 149 artists, writers, designers and printers—published by Pressed Wafer in collaboration with Granary Books to benefit those injured in the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. On view this month is a selection of eight items—including poems, essays, epigrams, photographs, paintings & a signed Red Sox card—contributed by Jim Behrle, Don DeLillo, Susan Heideman, Fanny Howe, Vincent Katz, Colleen McCallion, Kayla Mohammadi, Jennifer Tseng & C.D. Wright. The deeply compelling, poignant and provocative materials that converge in the “One for Boston” box reflect a dynamic range of responses, what one of its contributors, Fanny Howe, calls “a collision of histories, local and global. The papers fly, the paintings and signatures mark the trails from Boston to Dagestan.” Of her contribution, “Prayer for Someone,” poet Jennifer Tseng reflects: “I wrote this poem expressly for the box. It took me a long time. […] I began with the impulse to honor the victims; I wanted …

STOPPING BY FROST’S ON A SNOWY AFTERNOON: On the First Saying of “Stopping by Woods”

For the last 20 years of his life (from 1941-1963), Robert Frost lived about a mile’s walk from the Woodberry Poetry Room, at 35 Brewster Street in West Cambridge. Word has it that when undergraduates escorted the (seemingly) elderly poet home from campus, he would be so engaged in a story he was telling that he’d proceed to walk the students straight back to Harvard again…. Today, mid-blizzard, and with the Poetry Room closed, I decided to stretch my legs and trudge down Brattle Street. As I approached the bend toward Brewster, I could hear Frost’s voice (from a March 13, 1962 recording in our collection) saying: “Now… you know, I know what you’re all thinking, I’m thinking it too: Can a poem get too worn, you know, so much said. I wonder how many people in this crowd never read it—“Stopping by Woods”? You never heard it? [he pauses to count hands] That’s one…. Don’t be ashamed! [laughter in the audience] See, if I could only find a few people who hadn’t read it… “The Road Not Taken,” how many heard that? [pause to take poll] …

Fare Forward, Chloe Garcia Roberts

This February, after four and a half years of  steadfast service to the Woodberry Poetry Room, Associate Curator Chloe Garcia Roberts will be leaving us to accept the position of Managing Editor at the Harvard Review. During her tenure at the Poetry Room, Chloe has been instrumental in helping to expand WPR’s public programming and online listening booth, as well as its circulating collection. Among her many specific accomplishments and lasting contributions are her establishment of the Omniglot translation seminars; her oversight of Transversal, the first-ever Latin American Poetry Lab at Harvard; and her editorship of our online Catalyst: Comparative Listening series. Throughout her time here, she has also demonstrated consistently generous care and attention to all who enter the room. In so doing, she has exemplified and embodied the very word “curator,” which means in its etymological essence: to care. We will miss her immensely, but we wish her the very best in her journey “down the hall” to the Harvard Review and with the upcoming publication of her first collection of poems, The Reveal (Noemi Press, 2015). This is not farewell, as the poet …

Hear ye, hear ye: the Spring 2015 season is announced

The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce its Spring 2015 season of events, including readings, seminars, lectures, and film screenings by Gerrit Lansing, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Mackey, Timothy Donnelly, Andrew Zawacki, Fanny Howe, Peter Howarth, Bhanu Kapil, Fred Moten & Claudia Rankine. Our first event will take place on February 11th and will feature a reading by (and oral history conversation with) Gerrit Lansing—a festive celebration will follow.