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March 14, 2008, 7:00 PM

Our Life in Poetry: Music and Poetry

Participants: Michael Braziller (moderator), Mary Stewart Hammond, Helen Handley Houghton, Ann Hoyt, Tree Swenson

Music has long been a muse to poets, and the connection between music and poetry is one we all experience but cannot easily explain. The Philoctetes series Our Life in Poetry continues with this roundtable, moderated by Michael Braziller, publisher and co-founder of Persea Books. The poets, editors, and musicians on the panel will offer the audience insight into one of poetry's most compelling influences, articulating the relationship between music and poetry and the profound effect it has on the poetic and creative process. Great poems about music will be read out loud, and songs will be sung, including an aria from a Pucicni opera.

Mary Stewart Hammond is the author of Out of Canaan, published by W.W. Norton, which won the Great Lakes Colleges Association's prize for Best First Collection of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in many periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Gettysburg Review, Field, The New Criterion, The New England Review, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and numerous anthologies. She has been a Fellow at MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as a Poet-in-Residence at the Writers Community in New York City where she continues to teach master classes in poetry. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and her poems are forthcoming in The Alaska Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, and The Southern Review.

Helen Handley Houghton is a board member of the Academy of American Poets, The Hudson Review, and The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. A conservatory-trained pianist, she has an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley and is co-editor of The Music Lover's Poetry Anthology. She also edited The Lover's Quotation Book and co-edited Child: A Literary Companion. She has been Managing Editor of The Pushcart Prize and The Hudson Review, taught English for 20 years, and served as a director of both Poets House and Poets & Writers.

Ann Hoyt has established herself as both an opera and oratorio singer, as well as a recitalist. Critically acclaimed performances include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Musetta in La Boheme, Despina in Cosi fan Tutte, and Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Ms Hoyt sings as a soprano soloist and chorister, and can be heard on both the Naxos and Hanssler record labels. She has been on the voice faculty of the 92nd Street Y for over five years. She will be accompanied on keyboard by Scott Schoonover, who is founder and director of Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis, music director for Union Avenue Christian Church, and artistic director of the St. Louis Women's Chorale.

Tree Swenson is the Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, which sponsors Poets.org,—the web's most comprehensive site devoted to poetry. Other Academy programs include National Poetry Month, the Poetry Audio Archive, American Poet magazine, and numerous awards given to poets. Before joining the Academy, she was the Director of Programs for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director of Copper Canyon Press, which she co-founded in 1972, and where she worked for twenty years publishing poetry.


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