Monthly Archives: November 2016

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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2017 ALSCW Dissertation Fellowship

The annual fellowship is designed to support an individual whose doctoral dissertation involves literary history and/or aesthetics by providing a three week residency at a cabin nestled on nine acres in the mountains of West Virginia. Preference is given to candidates whose dissertation is at an advanced stage. The cabin is fully equipped and has Internet service. The dates of the residency are flexible and to be determined by the fellowship recipient in consultation with the ALSCW. Applicants must submit a c.v., a chapter of their dissertation, a two page description of the entire dissertation, and three letters of recommendations. Materials should be submitted online to alscw@cua.org with the heading ALSCW Fellowship on the subject line of the email. Additional references and an occupancy agreement may be required. All applicants must be members of the ALSCW or sponsored by a member of the ALSCW. The deadline for submission is February 15th. The recipient of the fellowship will be notified by mid-March. Membership information is available at on our website (alscw.org).

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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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