Category Archives: Local Meetings

Washington, DC Local Events: T.R. Hummer and Mike Mattison

Poet and musician T.R. Hummer spoke on the making of High Minded (2010)–an album by his band, AmeriCamera, that fuses poetry and music–at an ALSCW local meeting in Washington DC on February 8th. Hummer’s multi-media presentation was attended by an audience of over one-hundred, and hosted by Catholic University. Hummer is the author of fourteen books of poetry, two books of criticism, and is the former editor of the Kenyon Review and the Georgia Review. An accomplished saxophonist, Hummer was a member of the blues group Little Ronnie and the Grand Dukes, playing on their album, Young and Evil, which was released by Planetary Records in 2001.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/tr-hummer

T R Hummer 1

Two-time Grammy winner and author Mike Mattison lectured on Bob Dylan and blues verse composition at an ALSCW local meeting in Washington DC on February 22nd.  Over one-hundred attendees were treated to an evening of analysis and music. Mattison focused on Dylan’s work from Highway 61 Revisited (1965) to Self Portrait (1970), and discussed musical and poetic influences on the Nobel Prize winner’s art.  The event was hosted by Catholic University. Mattison is the co-curator of the feature “Hot Rocks: Songs and Verse” in Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, a member of the band Scrapomatic, and of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which was in DC to play three sold out shows at the Warner Theater.

http://www.mikemattison.com

Mike Mattison 1

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Jean Valentine: New York Local Meeting, 28 November, 2016

img_2199Jean Valentine read at the ALSCW local meeting in New York City just now, on November 28, 2016, at Barnard, in an evening graciously co-sponsored by Saskia Hamilton and the program Women Poets at Barnard. The audience filled the handsome Sulzberger Parlor where, as Valentine noted, the portraits of earlier presidents of Barnard, thoughtful, formidable women, seemed also to be listening. Valentine read from her two most recent books, Break the Glass (2010) and Shirt in Heaven (2015), followed by new poems of quiet force and mystery.

The reading prompted first, a grateful hush, then questions and a lively discussion during which Valentine demonstrated how the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer once leapt over the back of a chair to join her and friends at a table at a restaurant. The formal question period flowed into an hour of festive eating, drinking, and clustered conversations, just the kind of fellowship the ALSCW is designed to create.

Here is the way I introduced Jean Valentine:
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“‘I lay down under language/ it left me and I slept,’ writes Jean Valentine in the poem “Open” in her recent book, Shirt in Heaven. Often Valentine writes as if she could conjure vision from a realm beyond words, as just as often she writes to commune with the dead in a realm beyond the life-death divide. But it is through words, in the beautiful ambiguity of that preposition, meaning beyond words but also in the medium of words, that Valentine makes her vision into experience for the reader.

The experiences are rich and multiple. Sometimes her poems summon a lost past into the present, as in one of my favorite poems, “Hawkins Stable,” from Break the Glass:

…Under the fields,
the dense, tongue of the cow–
and the horses’ eyes–

and the water from the hand-pump in the sink,
racing like horses.”

Sometimes she questions, radically, what it is to see:

Eye opened
slow
but what is slow”
(“The Valley, from Break the Glass)

Often the poems give a structure and pace for grieving:

She found her tongue on the floor
and paper-clipped it to

the kitchen calendar. This was back in the day
of Separation. Permanence.
(“Her Car,” from Break the Glass)

Sometimes the poems call out to and bring to imaginative life kindred artists: Joseph Cornell, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Reginald Shepherd, Adrienne Rich, Antonin Artaud.

Mystical talk is cheap. Jean Valentine has brought enormous geological pressure and a fierce meditative discipline in language and dream-work to her visions, and in consequence she has made that rare thing, durable poetry.”

With warm thanks so Margaret Ducharme, Saskia Hamilton, and Phillis Levin who helped to arrange this evening.

– Rosanna Warren

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A Tribute to Geoffrey Hill

Thursday, November 10th, 7-8:30 pm

A TRIBUTE TO GEOFFREY HILL.
The Castle, 225 Bay State Road, Boston University.

Participants include Archie Burnett, David Ferry, Saskia Hamilton, Kenneth Haynes, George Kalogeris, Marcia Karp, Christopher Ricks, Jon Westling.

geoffrey-hill

?Geoffrey Hill (1932-2016) published his first full collection of poems, For the Unfallen: Poems 1952-1958, in 1959 (Andre Deutsch), followed by King Log (A. Deutsch, 1968) and Mercian Hymns (A. Deutsch, 1971), which received the Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize. Hill went on to publish numerous books of poems, including Broken Hierarchies: Poems, 1952–2012 (Oxford University Press, 2013); Odi Barbare (Clutag Press, 2012); The Orchards of Syon (Penguin Books, 2002); The Triumph of Love(Houghton Mifflin, 1998), winner of the Heinemann Book Award; Canaan (Penguin Books, 1996), winner of the Kahn Award; and Tenebrae (A. Deutsch, 1978). Hill also published several collections of essays, journal and periodical articles, prose, and an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Brand (University of Minnesota Press, 1981). He received many honors and awards, including the Faber Memorial Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Loines Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the T.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing from the Ingersoll Foundation, and a Churchill fellowship at the University of Bristol.

A Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford for fivey years, Hill was an honorary fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, London, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He taught at Emmanuel College, Boston and Cambridge Universities, and the Universities of Ibadan in Nigeria, Leeds, and Michigan at Ann Arbor. He also gave the Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, and served as professor emeritus of English Literature and Religion and as co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University. In 2012, Hill was knighted for services to literature.

He died on June 30, 2016, at eighty-four years old.

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