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September 09, 2010, 7:00 PM

Alda Merini in Translation

Poetry Reading & Discussion
Participants: Susan Stewart & Paolo Valesio

The poets Paolo Valesio, editor of Italian Poetry Review, and Susan Stewart, Alda Merini's translator, will read from Merini's work. Discussion will consider both the development of her voice in the early context of her association with the modernist writers Manganelli, Quasimodo, Pasolini and others, and her role in Italian poetry in recent decades. An almost exact contemporary of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Merini, despite her mental illness, changed and survived as an artist. The open question of what made that survival possible will also be addressed.

Susan Stewart is a poet and critic and the Annan Professor of English at Princeton University. Her translation, Love Lessons: Selected Poems of Alda Merini, appeared last year. Her most recent books of poems are Columbarium, which won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award, and Red Rover. Her works of criticism include Poetry and the Fate of the Senses and The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics. A former MacArthur Fellow and a current Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters this spring.

Paolo Valesio, a poet, narrator, and literary critic, is the Giuseppe Ungaretti Chair in Italian Literature at Columbia University, where he also chairs the Department of Italian. He was a professor and chair at Yale University for a quarter century, where he founded what would become the journal Italian Poetry Review. He regularly contributes to Italian journals and magazines, and is the author of novels, collections of short stories, and books of literary criticism, including Gabriele D'Annunzio: The Dark Flame. He has also published sixteen volumes of poetry, the latest of which, Il volto quasi umano, was a finalist for the Mario Luzi Poetry Prize in Italy.

This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.


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