Poetry Showcase: Major Jackson, Brenda Hillman, and Stephanie Burt

3:00pm, Fine Arts Building

This event will be ASL interpreted!

From three different time zones come three of the most acclaimed poets in the U.S. to share their latest work and thoughts on poetry in our time—a summit not to be missed!

Major Jackson presents The Absurd Man (Norton), a collection inspired by Albert Camus’s seminal Myth of Sisyphus that searches for stable ground in an unstable world with a stunning, lucid lyricism, and also A Beat Beyond (University of Michigan Press), a collection of essays, talks, and reviews that plumb political unrest, climate crises, fallout from bewildering traumas, and the social function of the art of poetry itself. 

“Ralph Waldo Emerson defined transcendentalism as ‘a little beyond,’ and that’s the spirit animating Major Jackson’s marvelous prose meditations on poetry and music. I admire him as a poet of the high lyric, the lyrical self, and these pieces emerge from that central driving impulse. Informed by history, dragged down by racism, Jackson nonetheless views art as a majestic vehicle of transport, a way to enrich, deepen, and free us, to soar.”

—Edward Hirsch

Brenda Hillman presents In a Few Minutes Before Later (Wesleyan Poetry Series), a riveting continuation of her lifelong proposal that poetry offers courage even in times of existential peril—and a collection that deploys short dialogues and trance techniques to render inner states, and narrative documentary materials to record life during a time of planetary crisis and political and racial turmoil, with equal mastery. 

“Hillman’s most recent books are rooted in broad social and ecological interests: ‘passion’ is a better term. She has invented a kind of dialogue with the earth; she writes with an intimacy and directness few equal and a magnificence of conception almost no one aspires to.”

―Citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2020

Stephanie Burt presents We Are Mermaids (Graywolf Press), an effusive new collection that shake off indecisiveness and doubt to reach joys through romance and family, through nature (urban and otherwise), and through imaginative community, and also For All Mutants (Ohm Editions), a chapbook of poems that take, as Burt says, “general excitement and inspiration from comic book superheroes and their cousins in film and TV” to showcase the power of transformation.

“In poems rich and strange, Stephanie Burt offers us all possible incarnations―what we were, what we weren’t, what we might have been, what we may yet be―while honoring what each sacred individual life has always been. . . .This is a poet of dazzling skill, mystical vision, wild imagination, sensual intuition.”

―Laura Kasischke