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May 14, 2011, 2:30 PM

Poetry Scholars and Poet Critics

Participants: Stephen Burt, Bonnie Costello, Heather Dubrow (moderator), Rachel Hadas, Eric McHenry

This discussion will engage paradoxes and problems central not only to poetry scholarship in the academy, but to reading and writing poetry in any setting. Many people publish both poetry and criticism, but relations between poets and critics are often strained, distant, or both, with each group distrusting the perceptions of the other. Panelists will explore current controversies related to that distrust—for example, how do the M.F.A. and the Ph.D. differ in their approaches to the study of poetry? The discussion will also focus on what critics can learn from, and with, practitioners and vice versa. How might the tensions between these groups make way for productive interactions?

Stephen Burt is the author of two books of poetry and several works of criticism, most recently the essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry. He is an Associate Professor of English at Harvard University.

Bonnie Costello is Professor of English at Boston University. She is the author of many books and articles on modern and contemporary poetry, including, most recently, Shifting Ground: Reinventing Landscape in Modern American Poetry and Planets on Tables: Poetry, Still Life and the Turning World. She is General Editor of The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore.

Heather Dubrow is John D. Boyd, S.J., Chair in the Poetic Imagination at Fordham University and director of the Poets Out Loud reading series. She is the author of six scholarly books, most recently The Challenges of Orpheus: Lyric Poetry and Early Modern England, and the poetry collection Forms and Hollows. Other publications include a co-edited collection of essays, two chapbooks of poetry, and articles on early modern literature and on teaching, as well as poems in numerous journals. Current projects include a book on the academic profession and a revisionist study of immediacy in lyric poetry, focusing especially on spatiality and temporality.

Rachel Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at the Newark campus of Rutgers University. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and translations. The Ache of Appetite is her newest volume of poetry and Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia, and Poetry is her latest prose work.

Eric McHenry is an Assistant Professor at Washburn College. He is the author of a book of poems, Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, Slate, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Kansas City Star.

This program is supported in part by funds from the New York Council for the Humanities, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


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