That Word: In Memoriam Philip Levine

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In honor of the seventh anniversary of poet Philip Levine’s passing, Tom Sleigh speaks about their friendship and reads “That Word,” a poem from his latest book, The King’s Touch (Graywolf Press, 2022), dedicated to Levine in this video directed by Ed Robbins. Sleigh says of Levine: “Phil’s intelligence was as brilliantly acerbic as it was heartbreaking.”

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Remembering bell hooks

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“There’s so many young people, the first time they start to think seriously about class, about sexuality, about gender, about identity, about vulnerability, about spirituality is through her work,” says Princeton University professor Imani Perry about the legacy of bell hooks in this PBS NewsHour video commemorating the influential critic, author, and feminist scholar and activist who died at the age of sixty-nine on December 15, 2021.

Greg Tate: What Is Hip Hop?

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“Hip-hop is Ralph Ellison, who once said the blues is like running a razor blade along an open sore.” In this audio recording from the 1996 album Flippin’ the Script: Rap Meets Poetry released by Mouth Almighty Records, author and critic Greg Tate reads his poem “What Is Hip Hop?” The influential journalist and author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America (Simon & Schuster, 1992), died at the age of sixty-three on December 7, 2021.

Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure

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“Etel Adnan was trained as an academic philosopher but found her voice as a poet.” Watch this video for “Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure,” a current exhibition of the artist’s paintings, tapestries, and works on paper at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Adnan died at the age of ninety-six on November 14, 2021.

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Remembering Donald Hall

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“Great blue mountain! Ghost. / I look at you / from the porch of the farmhouse / where I watched you all summer / as a boy,” reads the late Donald Hall from his poem “Mount Kearsarge” in this 2018 PBS NewsHour video commemorating his death at the age of eighty-nine. For more Hall, read “Fleeting: In Memory of Donald Hall” by Christopher Locke.

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Up to Astonishment

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“To me all good poetry is experimental in some way,” says poet Susan Howe in this film about Emily Dickinson by poet and filmmaker Benita Raphan, filmed on location at the Morgan Library & Museum and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Raphan, a Guggenheim fellow known for her short experimental films, died at the age of fifty-eight on January 10, 2021.

Adam Zagajewski Reading at Cambridge

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“If only we knew / what music is. / If only we understood,” reads Adam Zagajewski from his poem “Poets Photographed,” included in his collection Unseen Hand, in this 2015 reading at Trinity College in Cambridge, England. Recipient of the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and many other literary awards, Zagajewski died at the age of seventy-five in Krakow, Poland, on March 21, 2021.

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