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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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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Tongo Eisen-Martin and Sonia Sanchez

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“All street life to a certain extent starts fair // Sometimes with a spiritual memory even,” reads Tongo Eisen-Martin from his poem “Kick Drum Only” in this virtual reading with poet, activist, and icon Sonia Sanchez celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University.

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Leslie Jamison on Make It Scream, Make It Burn

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“In the summer of 1929, after completing his freshman year at Harvard, James Agee headed west to spend a few months working as a migrant farm hand,” reads Leslie Jamison from her essay collection Make It Scream, Make It Burn (Little, Brown, 2019) in this 2019 Harvard University event with writer and critic James Wood.

Kathleen Ossip at Radcliffe Institute

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“A poem is an utterly free space for language,” says Kathleen Ossip in this 2017 lecture at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. “That is what makes it indispensable to me, and also what makes it political.” Ossip’s fourth poetry collection, July (Sarabande Books, 2021), is featured in Page One in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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A Political Poetry With Solmaz Sharif

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“It matters what you call a thing,” reads Solmaz Sharif from her poem “Look” in this 2017 reading and conversation with Evie Shockley for the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. For more Sharif, read “Shadows of Words: Our Twelfth Annual Look at Debut Poets” from the January/February 2017 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Short Lectures by Mary Ruefle

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In this 2013 Woodberry Poetry Room video, Mary Ruefle reads twenty-eight short meditations from her essay collection Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012) with subjects including Shakespeare, Socrates, Van Morrison, the dead, hypocrisy, and loneliness. Ruefle received the 2020 Arthur Rense Poetry Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

I Have a Time Machine

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Brenda Shaughnessy reads her poem “I Have a Time Machine” and discusses the role that poetry can play in recovering from traumatic experiences for a TEDx event at Harvard University. Shaughnessy is the author of Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) and So Much Synth (Copper Canyon Press, 2016).

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It Ain’t Hard to Tell

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In this Poetry in America video, hip-hop artist Nas sits down with Elisa New, professor of American Literature at Harvard University, to discuss his approach to writing and break down his lyrics. Poetry in America, created and directed by New, is a multi-platform initiative that encourages the spread of poetry through classes, conversations, and digital outreach.

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