Poetry at Beinecke Library

Reading: Devin Johnston & Anna Moschovakis

Posted in Announcements, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale, Readings in New Haven by beineckepoetry on October 29, 2012



Devin Johnston & Anna Moschovakis, Poetry Reading
Monday, November 5, 4:00 pm
Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series
Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

Devin Johnston is the author of several collections of poetry, including Sources (2008), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award,Aversions (2004) and Telepathy (2001). His prose writing includes the critical study Precipitations: Contemporary American Poetry as Occult Practice (2002) and Creaturely and Other Essays (2009). A former poetry editor for the Chicago Review from 1995-2000, Johnston co-founded, and co-edits, Flood Editions with Michael O’Leary. He lives in St. Louis and teaches at Saint Louis University.

Poet, translator, and editor Anna Moschovakis is the author of two books of poetry, You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake (Coffee House Press, 2011), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone (Turtle Point Press, 2006). Her translations from the French include Albert Cossery’s The Jokers (New York Review Books, 2010), Annie Ernaux’s The Possession (Seven Stories Press, 2008), and Georges Simenon’sThe Engagement (New York Review Books, 2007). Her awards include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Fund for Poetry, and a translation fellowship from Le Centre National du Livre. Since 2002, Moschovakis has been a member of the publishing collective Ugly Duckling Presse, in the capacity of editor, designer, administrator, and printer. She currently teaches at the Pratt Institute and at Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College. 



Gertrude Gertrude Stein Stein

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Exhibitions, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke by beineckepoetry on October 25, 2012

“Gertrude Gertrude Stein Stein: What are the Questions?”
by Joan Retallack, poet, essayist, critic, and professor at Bard College

Friday, October 26 at 5:00 pm

a lecture in honor of the exhibition

“Descriptions of Literature”:
Texts and Contexts in the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers
on view October 8–December 14, 2012


the Gertrude Stein Society Meeting
at Beinecke Library,  Friday October 26, 2012
Registration and Information

Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein with Pepe and Basket, [1932]

Poetry Reading: C. S. Giscombe

Posted in Announcements, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale by beineckepoetry on September 24, 2012

C. S. Giscombe, Poetry Reading
Thursday, October 18th, 4:00pm
Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series
Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

C.S. Giscombe is the author of books including Prairie Style, Two Sections from Practical Geography, Giscome Road, Here, At Large, Postcards, and Into and Out of Dislocation. Prairie Style was awarded an American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation; Giscome Road won the Carl Sandburg Prize, given by the Chicago Public Library. In 2010, Giscombe received the Stephen Henderson Award in Poetry from the African American Literature and Culture Society; he has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fund for Poetry. He is a member of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.

Susan Howe Reading

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale by beineckepoetry on March 22, 2012

Susan Howe, Poetry Reading &
Performance with Musician David Grubbs
Thursday, April 5th, 4:00pm
Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series
Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

Poet Susan Howe, winner of the 2011 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and musician David Grubbs will perform a collaborative piece based on Howe’s award-winning volume That This.   This is the third collaborative work Howe and Grubbs have created together; they performed their second collaboration, “Souls of the Labadie Tract,” at Beinecke Library in 2009 (see a description of the event here:  http://beineckepoetry.library.yale.edu/2009/01/21/performance-souls-of-the-labadie-tract/).

Poet Susan Howe is the author of numerous books of poems including: That This (winner of the 2011 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry awarded by the Yale University Library) , Souls of the Labadie Tract, The Midnight, Pierce-Arrow, and Singularities.

Musician David Grubbs has made many solo records, played in a number of groups (Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Gastr del Sol, Red Krayola, Wingdale Community Singers), and frequently collaborates with writers and artists. He is an Associate Professor in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, CUNY. He teaches in Brooklyn College’s MFA program in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Brooklyn College’s MFA program in Creative Writing, and is a member of the faculty of the Brooklyn College Center for Computer Music (BC-CCM).

Image: Susan Howe and David Grubbs performing in Cork, Ireland; photograph by Keith Tuma.

Colson Whitehead Reading

Posted in Announcements, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale by beineckepoetry on February 4, 2012

Colson Whitehead, Reading
Monday, February 6, time 4:30pm
Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series
Contact: louise.bernard@yale.edu

Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels The Intuitionist (1999), a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; John Henry Days (2001), which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Apex Hides the Hurt (2006), which won the PEN/Oakland award; Sag Harbor (2009), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner; and, most recently, Zone One (2011), a zombie novel set in Manhattan. He has also written a book of essays about his hometown, The Colossus of New York (2003), and his reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in a number of publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Grantland.com. A recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, Whitehead lives in Brooklyn, and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton.

Poet Dan Beachy-Quick Reading

Posted in Announcements, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale by beineckepoetry on October 19, 2011

Dan Beachy Quick, Poetry Reading
Thursday, November 3rd, 4:00 pm
Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series
Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

Dan Beachy-Quick is the author of poetry collections including North True South Bright (2003), Mulberry (2006), Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist for poetry, This Nest, Swift Passerine (2009), and Circle’s Apprentice (2011). He is the author of A Whaler’s Dictionary (2008), a response to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Beachy-Quick’s work has been supported by the Lannan Foundation. He has taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Colorado State University.

For more information and examples of Dan Beachy-Quick’s work:


“This Is My Life”

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale by beineckepoetry on September 28, 2011

“This Is My Life”: The Sonnet and the Emergence of Black Subjectivity
Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm
Beinecke Library, Room 38

Part of a larger research project on the African American sonnet, this talk will explore the role of the sonnet form in the emergence of an individualized subjectivity in turn-of-the-century black writing. African American poetry in the nineteenth century was overwhelmingly public. Where it did not take a stand in political debates, it at least presented the kind of exteriorized, carefully crafted persona deemed suitable in the struggle for cultural recognition. It was in the sonnet, that poets were first able to move beyond these constraints toward a fuller self-expression. Dunbar, Braithwaite, and a number of their contemporaries took advantage of the emotional depth associated with the sonnet form to articulate a literary subjectivity that was often partial and paradoxical but constituted an important step toward cultural and psychological emancipation.

Timo Müller is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Augsburg, Germany, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2009. His main research areas are modernism, ecocriticism, and African American and Caribbean literature. He has published The Self as Object in Modernist Fiction: James, Joyce, Hemingway (2010) as well as articles in journals including Anglia, The Journal of Modern Literature, and Twentieth-Century Literature. An article on James Weldon Johnson and the genteel tradition is forthcoming. His research at Beinecke is for his current book project, The African American Sonnet.

Image: Aaron Douglas illustration appearing in Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life, 1926.

Psyche & Muse Podcast

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Exhibitions, Readings at Beinecke by beineckepoetry on April 28, 2011

A new podcast related to the exhibition Psyche & Muse: Creative Entanglements with the Science of the Soul  is now available: A. A. Brill and Mabel Dodge Luhan: A Reading from their Correspondence, by  Patricia Everett & Paul Lippmann, recorded at the Beinecke Library on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

Psychoanalyst A. A. Brill maintained an active correspondence with his patient Mabel Dodge Luhan, a writer and New York salon hostess. Luhan’s analysis began in June 1916 and continued until she moved to Taos, New Mexico, in December 1917, after which analyst and writer corresponded for nearly thirty years. This reading from the Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers presents a selection of letters that reflect the highly personal, expressive, and exploratory nature of their correspondence. Luhan recounted her dreams and reported on her current mental states. Brill responded with advice, warmth, and forceful interpretations. These letters provide views into often inaccessible aspects of analytic relationships. Patricia Everett, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is the author of A History Of Having A Great Many Times Not Continued To Be Friends: The Correspondence Between Mabel Dodge and Gertrude Stein, 1911–1934 (University of New Mexico Press, 1996). A 2005 Beinecke Library A. Bartlett Giamatti Visiting Research Fellow, she recently completed a book manuscript entitled The Dreams of Mabel Dodge and is currently editing the correspondence between Mabel Dodge Luhan and A. A. Brill. Paul Lippmann, Ph.D. is a fellow, a member of the faculty, and a training and supervising analyst at the William Alanson White Institute. He is in private practice in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and is director of the Stockbridge Dream Society. He is the author of Nocturnes: On Listening to Dreams(The Analytic Press, 2000).

Information about and images from the Luhan archive are available online: Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers (YCAL MSS 196) ; Image Guide to the Luhan Papers .

Beinecke Library podcasts are available through iTunes U: http://itunes.yale.edu/ .

Yale College Poets Reading

Posted in Announcements, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale, Readings in New Haven by beineckepoetry on April 18, 2011

Poetry at Yale

Posted in Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke, Readings at Yale by beineckepoetry on April 15, 2011

From the Yale Daily News: Poetry now, here  By Ava Kofman

There is not a “school” of poetry at Yale. There is not a dominant contemporary poetry scene with dominating characteristics. There is not — entirely — a story here about the birth/revolution/death/rebirth of poetry. That is not it at all.

But this is “a good thing,” really.

The lobby of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library today is unusually flooded with light. April is starting to stand for spring along with National Poetry Month.

“Poetry can be kind of below the radar, and yet, it’s such a lively world and there’s so much going on. All you really have to do is scratch the surface,” said Nancy Kuhl, a poet and the curator of poetry for the Yale Collection of American Literature, housed in the Beinecke.

As curator, Kuhl programs the American Poet speaker series, directs the academic community to the Beinecke’s resources and co-leads the Working Group in Contemporary Poetry.

Not only does the Beinecke function as home to the University’s manuscripts and extensive poetry resources, but also provides funding for postdoc and graduate fellows, whose specialized research brings poets’ letters, drafts and processes to life. After all, one of the draws for any artist and/or academic at a university is the unparalleled opportunity to get his hands on so many good books.

All of this exchange makes the Beinecke (arguably) the liveliest center of poetry at Yale, a crossroads where a cross section of the community (grad/undergrad/professional/aspring/faculty) intersects most often.

“Poetry is often very local,” she said, “and so try to find the spaces between what we can do locally and how we can draw on a national and international community — how we can all be in conversation and hear what other people have to say — makes it an exciting time to be interested in American poetry.”

But for Kuhl, a community is not just people, but also the voices of one’s literary influences. If this is true, then the Beinecke, home to 500,000 volumes and millions of manuscripts, holds the history of all Yale’s poetry scenes within it.

Ilan Ben-Meir ’12, who was invited to participate in the April 20 student poetry reading at the Beinecke, similarly speaks to a “broader litearary scene.”

“There are lots of groups who identify around some idea of poetry, but there isn’t really one community of poets,” he said. “Which is probably a good thing, since when you put too many poets in one room, people tend to get hurt.”

Ben-Meir applied for a Sudler grant to publish single-author chapbooks and to sponsor readings to “create a new space for poets to come together.” He said there is a dearth of student publications devoted to promoting single poets’ voices at Yale.

He went on: “The one and only piece of advice I have for anyone really serious about writing and studying modern poetry: Find Richard Deming, as fast as you can.”

I’m complaining about the stairs.

“That’s what everyone says to me,” laughs Richard Deming, who teaches American literature, writing and readings in American poetry.

Deming is also the founder and co-coordinator, along with Kuhl, of the Working Group in Contemporary Poetry, and his office is on the fourth floor of Linsly-Chittenden Hall, the English Department’s home. The group was started in 2003 as an outlet for “experimental, avant-garde or neo-modernist” poetry that is not often taught in LC’s (or Yale’s) classrooms.

“We work on really difficult poetry that we wanted to talk about to people, and we also thought that it would be a service to the community,” Deming said. “There’s been a growing number of people who still look for alternative or experimental writing, and then they come to our group and they find that.”

The group’s membership has grown from its initial five to six members to upwards of 20 (with a near record of 25 for Jorie Graham meeting) that now includes students, locals in the area, Beinecke fellows and a senior neuro-pathologist.

And it’s meaningful for Deming that the group is not just tied to Yale.

“People read poetry whether they teach it or not, whether they write it or not, whether they’re in school or not, whether they’re senior faculty, and it’s great just to see they’re caring,” he said. “Because most of the time the world tells us that poetry doesn’t matter.”

Deming attributes the group’s success in bringing prestigious poets to the investment of the groups’ members and the intensity of group conversations: “They’re lured by the fact of 20 people who have read their work very carefully and are very smart and very interested in poetry. To get that kind of discussion is kind of rare. Even for the biggest names, it doesn’t happen as often as you’d think it would.”

The state of contemporary “avant-garde,” “experimental” poetry (in the group, at large and at Yale) is diverse, local, fragmented, personal, classified by smaller subsets, shifting alignments, or a lack thereof, and global communities.

Kuhl hesitated to reduce the lively poetry scene to a single “school”: “things are a bit more sprawling than that, and people have a sense of a willingness to engage with a bunch of different traditions right now.”

This is due, in part, to the Web, which makes intra-regional communication over long distances all the easier, but also increases the means and decreases the costs of publishing.

But this is “kind of great” adds Deming. “You feel like you’re one voice in the wilderness, but it also means that there are a lot of possibilities out there and poetry doesn’t have to be one way. Its just that open.”

And what about students? A glance at student readings, publications, organizations, and courses on campus, makes it clear that the equation doesn’t run where openness equals anonymity.

“There are ‘poetry people’ who move through the various poetic venues and form a sort of community,” confirms Ben-Meir.

So who, then, are the constituents of local poetry communities at Yale, this “avant-garde”?

“I would say there are four species of Yale poet with very uniform habits,” wrote a student reader of submissions to the Lit Mag, who wished for his e-mail to remain anonymous. “The first writes confessional/Wallace Stevens poetry with religious imagery about dead animals and weather. She is very pleased with herself because her poetry is ‘accessible.’ This is 70.2 percent of Yale poets. The second writes ‘avant-garde’ poetry that is offensive or shaped like trees. He is very pleased with himself because his poetry is ‘original.’ This is 17.9 percent of Yale poets. The third writes slam poetry about strong women, if it is female, or manipulative women, if it is male. It is very pleased with itself because its poetry is ‘socially relevant.’ This is slightly less than 9.8 percent of Yale poets. The fourth writes good poems.”

If this methodical breakdown were the only categorization available, then the article’s reportage would end here. Next week, WEEKEND will print the second part of this story, which, if not as reductive a classification, is representative of a broader community of voices.

For now, the schema is still up for debate.

PART 2: Unofficial Verse Culture
By Ava Kofman
Friday, April 22, 2011

Evaluating contemporary poetry as if it were already an object in the trash or treasure closet (no one owns chests anymore) of literary history is a difficult procedure.

“All I know is that the quality of the work here is really extraordinary,” poet and writer-in-residence Louise Gluck said about student poetry, after attending some of her students reading in the Younger Poets Reading at the Beinecke April 20.

There’s no tiered structure at Yale disseminating a campus-wide poetic aesthetic. If anything, poetry at Yale is decentralized, leaving those interested and passionate to form smaller subsets and local identifications on their own.

“Well, all poets are human, you could say that,” Gluck added, if a generalization was required. “But one of the things that’s so exhilarating to me about teaching here is the diversity of the talents.”

And the resounding conclusion in interviews has been that the terms like school, scene and style are not relevant, accurate or necessary descriptors for the students linking together based on shared affiliations in taste, politics and influence.

What’s left is the way students identify themselves through the self-contained aesthetic affiliations that do, in fact, exist.

When interviewed separately, poets Kenneth Reveiz ‘12, Kevin Holden GRD ’15, Josh Stanley GRD ’16, and Edgar Garcia GRD ’14 mentioned one another as associates and admitted to sharing similar influences, interests and goals in experimental poetics (and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable list: Zukofsky, O’Hara, Pyrnne, Olson, Pound and Dorn … )

Reveiz finds that these graduate students he’s met talk about poetics in a way “that should be more common at Yale. Like how history is important to poetry, how form and politics is important to poetry.”

They all speak excitedly, and subtly, about writing, highly of each other and lack the sort of teleological discourse that dominates stricter political ideologies.

Stanley and Holden edit their own magazines; when Stanley gets his second issue of Hot Gun out of the way, he said, he hopes to start a magazine with Reveiz; Holden and Garcia are currently collaborating on a longer poem by way of Google Docs.

And partly inspired by the students he’s met and partly in response to the marginalization of poetics he finds important, Reveiz started informal readings in the basement of 216 Dwight that drew a big crowd.

What else is necessary?

To start, as far as poetics go, ‘experimental’ is at once one of the most meaningless and one of the most important words. Anything that’s new is, in some sense, experimental.

But paradoxically, asking what kind of poetry is avant-garde today may be a question only possible to answer retrospectively; when the moment, already, has come to pass.

Anything that truly and radically changes the way poetry approaches verse, can stretch the term experimental across aesthetic boundaries and past areas most obviously labeled as avant-garde, said Justin Sider GRD ’14, who taught ENGL 135, “Poetry for Craft,” this semester, said.

So as a sociological marker, the experimental label serves to define certain groups of writers falling into or falling off of certain traditions, such as language poetry or symbolism. In terms of content, it can be used as a catch-all to describe a poetry that resists and challenges determined rhetoric frameworks and traditional modes of discourse.

“Experimental poetry is interested in playing with the language itself and thinking about language and the effects of language” English professor and poet Richard Deming said.

And yet, for all the sensibilities they share, each poet speaks about their own poetics in very different ways, but in what one might still classify as an experimental framework with politically leftist radicalism.

“Constraints aren’t all that bad if they inspire you to do something different,” Garcia said.

Along with Stanley and Reveiz, Holden similarly speaks to “a little bit of a reaction among the more traditional and a wanting to sort of push on poetry and push on language to make it do something else to move beyond the common sense or average every dayness.”

“What poetry can try to do is disclose falseness in the way we think and the arguments that are available to us, and at the same time, it can also passionately hold on to an argument through that falseness,” Stanley said, in a description about the importance of poetry.

Reveiz says that as avant-garde is too broad a term a majority of his own poetry can more specifically be described as “classical / traditional / epic / narrative / avant-garde / conceptual / meta / postmodern / post-postmodern / realist / surrealist / confessional / erudite / Latino / juvenilia / queer / existentialist / humanist / life-affirming / alternative / other.”

Then again, aesthetics are often defined by difference.

“It’s almost a necessary function in order to say what you’re doing,” Sider said. “You go to a family reunion and you get asked what sort of poetry do you write and you try to tell them ‘Well I don’t write metrical verse or I don’t write sort of really expressive poetry or autobiographical poetry. Once you throw politics into aesthetics, and its hard not to do that to some degree, the lines become sort of … Well, you start to say ‘it’s bourgeois in its complicity to economic practice or something along those lines.’”

Whatever connotations the academic-poet (poet/academic) once held, the consensus holds that being an intelligent, educated and articulate poet, whose education is all that matters. As seen through the history of poetry, education can come from inside, from outside and even in spite of the academy.

Editor-in-Chief of the Literary Magazine, Christine Kwon ‘11 said in an email, “Good writers are often good readers first. Like Anne Carson, whose handle on ancient Greek strengthens her poetry and whose criticism and translation benefits from her understanding of poetry as a poet. And Louise Gluck is an amazing of reader of poetry; she understands what a student poem wants and needs.”

But is all this new or, as poet Yogi Berra once said, is it “deja-vu all over again”?

“These places don’t have a lot of institutional memory sometimes. So you don’t really know what happened ten years ago amongst the grad student writing scene but among the grad students right now there is definitely something exciting,” Holden said.

Yet with regards to past remarks, baseball player Yogi Berra also was quoted saying “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

So maybe in ten years, this will not be what was meant. That is not it, at all.