Tuesday, September 26, 2017
7:30pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall
JESSICA JACOBS’ Pelvis with Distance (2015) details the life of the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and, in the words of Christopher Merrill, “discovers a vibrant music rooted in portraiture.” A finalist for the Lambda Literary award and winner of the 2015 New Mexico Book Award in Poetry, Pelvis with Distance draws on O’Keeffe’s paintings, letters, and personal documents as well as the poet’s own experiences in Abiquiú, New Mexico, where O’Keeffe lived for many years. Jacobs’s second full-length collection, Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2019. Jacobs majored in English at Smith and went on to earn an MFA from Purdue University. Currently, she serves as associate editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal and lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown.
NICKOLE BROWN describes poetry as “a raw, muscular devotion to paying attention.” Brown aims to “knock poetry off its pedestal” and open readers to its multitude of possibilities. The narrator of Sister (2007), was born during a tornado to a 16-year-old “giggling, cigarette-sneak / mini-skirt-hike girl.” Library Journal named Brown’s second collection, Fanny Says, to its list of Best Poetry Books of 2015, and Patricia Smith proclaimed it “raucous and heart-rending, reflective and slap-yo-damn-knee hilarious, a heady meld of lyrical line and life lesson.” Brown edits the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry at White Pine Press, teaches each fall at the Great Smokies Writing Program. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her wife, the poet Jessica Jacobs ’02, and is at work on her next manuscript.
Friday, October 20, 2017
7:30pm, Weinstein Auditorium,
ROBERT HASS has earned top accolades such as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the MacArthur Genius Grant, and two National Book Critics Circle Awards—one each for Poetry and Criticism. Judge Stanley Kunitz selected Field Guide for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1972, praising the debut collection as “a big, strong-hearted, earthy book, in the American epic tradition of Whitman and Neruda.” Subsequent works such as Praise, Human Wishes, and Sun Under Wood experiment with memoir, dialogue, Buddhist thought, and unconventional form but stay true to Hass’ profound interest in the earth. In 1995 he was selected as the United States Poet Laureate, serving two terms that were seminal in locating that role at the nexus of art and activism. Together with writer and activist Pamela Michael he founded River of Words, a nonprofit organization for eco-literacy education that provides poetry and art competitions for youth. Hass’ most recent books are The Apple Trees at Olema (New & Selected Poems) and A Little Book on Form. In addition to his teaching at the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere, Hass has served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize. Today he lives in California with his wife, the poet and antiwar activist Brenda Hillman.
The English-language Premiere!
Saturday, October 21, 2017
2:30 pm Weinstein Auditorium
Followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker
In THE LADY IN THE BOOK, French filmmaker GESA MATTHIES explores Sylvia Plath’s early years and the profound impact she has had on young women who see themselves in her journals and early work, as she comes of age caught between conventional expectations of womanhood and a desire to break free of traditional female roles. Much of this hour-long documentary was filmed at Smith in April 2016 and features a half dozen students reading from Plath’s works and reflecting on their own struggles to define themselves and their futures.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
7:30 pm, Helen Hills Hills Chapel
STEVE BRADBURY often chooses to translate poets who defy linguistic and cultural expectations. One such writer is Hsia Yü, a noted poet, songwriter, book designer, and magazine editor, one of the most innovative and popular poets of the Chinese-speaking world, and the first Chinese-language poet of the postwar era to write candidly about sex and gender politics. Bradbury’s translation of her collection, Salsa (2014), was shortlisted for the Lucien Stryk Prize, and his current project, the translation of her latest work, Poems, Sixty of Them, is supported by a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship. Bradbury lived for many years in Taipei, where he was a professor of English at National Central University. Bradbury earned his PhD and MA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and now lives in Ft. White, Florida.
Supported by the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures and the Lewis Global Studies Center
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
7:30 pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall
MARY A. KONCEL, an instructor for many years at the Jacobson Center for Writing at Smith, has published three volumes of prose poems, including The Last Blonde, Hedgerow’s newest release, which this reading celebrates. Koncel’s prose poems are tightly focused mini- dramas of whimsy and poignancy. Using an eccentric array of voices, both human and animal, she blurs the line between the commonplace and the absurd. As Lee Upton puts it, “Mary Koncel can tell us anything, and we’ll listen—for each tender, quirky, wild and assured discovery from one of our premier prose poets.” A finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, Koncel’s degrees include an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MS in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts. She now works as a program specialist with the America Wild Horse Campaign.
A lecturer in poetry at Smith and an Ada ’87, MAYA JANSON describes herself as a poet who looks “inward and outward at the same time.” In her debut collection, Murmur & Crush, images etch memory and landscape into indelible emotional content, and inner flux is made just as transparent as the world changing around us. David Rivard praises the book for its “total acceptance of the as-is world, seduced into being by that beautiful tag team, Bemusement and Sorrow.” Janson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Rattle, Lyric, Guernica, Alaska Quarterly Review, Jubilat, and Best American Poetry. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and has been a recipient of an artist fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
ANDREA STONE is an Associate Professor of English at Smith, where she teaches courses on the literatures of the African diaspora from the 18th century to the present. Stone’s recent American Spelling: Story in Verse is laced with the political and cultural issues that arise in her scholarly work, and blends politics with linguistics, narrative with lyric, and crime with culture, all the while wrestling with essential complexities of family. George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Poet Laureate, calls the book “amazing,” “quirky,” and “engrossing,” adding that “a ‘dropped’ baby signals a mom who’s dropped out of maternity, opted out of ‘family negotiations. . . a lot like federal politics.’” Born and raised in Ontario, Stone’s other full-length book is Black Well Being: Health and Selfhood in Antebellum Black Literature (2016).
Supported by the Department of English Language & Literature
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
7:30 pm, Alumnae House Conference Hall
Henry Louis Gates described AFAA MICHAEL WEAVER as “one of the most significant poets writing today.” The son of a sharecropper, he grew up in working class Baltimore to become the author of fifteen books of poems, and recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award, the May Sarton Award, and a Fulbright to teach in Taiwan. The time in Taiwan had a profound effect on Weaver, adding a new layer of reference and angle of mind to his life and his work, which came to full maturity in the highly acclaimed Plum Flower Trilogy: The Plum Flower Dance (Poems 1985-2005), The Government of Nature, and City of Eternal Spring (winner of the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Book Award). The trilogy tells of his search for cultural and racial identity and examines repressed and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse, the struggles that followed, and the path to wholeness. Weaver held an Endowed Chair at Simmons College for twenty years. He has been on the faculty at Cave Canem since its inception and is core faculty at the Drew University MFA in Poetry and Translation, and a certified teacher of Taijiquan, an ancient Chinese system of health, martial arts, and mental conditioning.
Supported by Africana Studies