Writers Speak: Min Jin Lee With Claire Messud

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“I should share with you that I did not intend to be a fiction writer, I did not intend to write a historical novel…I did intend to always, however, tell the truth,” says Min Jin Lee about writing her novel Pachinko (Grand Central Publishing, 2017), which has been adapted into a television series, in this 2018 reading and conversation with Claire Messud at Harvard University.

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Jenny Xie: Chinatown Diptych

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“The face of Chinatown returns its color, / plucked from July’s industrial steamer,” reads Jenny Xie from her poem “Chinatown Diptych,” published in her collection Eye Level (Graywolf Press, 2018), in this video directed by Jean Coleman and produced by the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation for their Read By poetry film series.

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Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture: Rita Dove

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“The conundrum of a writer’s life, particularly that of a poet’s, is learning to embody a paradox,” says Rita Dove, winner of the 2018 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, in this recording of the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture at the Kenyon Review Literary Festival. “One has to be fierce and tender at the same time. Loud and quiet. Brash and introspective.”

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Deaf Republic: A Performance by Ilya Kaminsky

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“Quiet thinking is like a current in the sea and moves freely until it’s disturbed by its own voice, and then it becomes a music each individual sings when speaking. This is what we hear when we hear Ilya read,” says poet Fanny Howe introducing Ilya Kaminsky at this 2018 reading of his poetry collection Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019) at Harvard University’s Woodberry Poetry Room.

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J. Jennifer Espinoza Reads “My Trans Body”

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“I pick up the phone and send you some words / about my trans body,” reads J. Jennifer Espinoza from her poem “My Trans Body,” included in her collection Outside of the Body There Is Something Like Hope (Big Lucks, 2018), in this installment of Ours Poetica, a video series produced by the Poetry Foundation in collaboration with Complexly.

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Domenico Starnone

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“I believe that the best books aren’t those that entertain us. The best books are those that hurt us.” In this 2018 interview at the Louisiana Literature festival in Denmark, Italian writer Domenico Starnone talks about the pleasure and exhaustion of writing and refers to a letter Kafka wrote about the importance of writing books “that are like an axe that breaks the frozen chest.” Starnone’s novel Trust (Europa Editions, 2021), translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri, is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Annunciation by Tracy K. Smith

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“I’ve turned old. I ache most / To be confronted by the real, / By the cold, the pitiless, the bleak.” In this 2018 video from the 92nd Street Y, Tracy K. Smith reads her poem “Annunciation,” which appears in her new collection, Such Color: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2021). Smith’s fifth poetry collection is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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