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National Poetry Month at the Harvard Library

Events and activities celebrating poets and their craft around the Library.

old typewriter keys spelling the word poetry

April 7, 2015—National Poetry Month has kicked off, and the Harvard Library has a variety of events and activities coming up to celebrate “the best words in the best order.”

Events include:

  • The George Parker Winship Lecture: "The Muse in a Psychopathic Ward" with Sir Christopher Ricks. On April 8, attend a lecture on T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in honor of its centennial anniversary of publication, and listen to a recording of “Prufrock” made for Harvard in the 1940s. Organized by Houghton Library, co-sponsored by the Woodberry Poetry Room and the Department of English.
  • Emily Dickinson's Music Book: A Prelude to the Civil War with the Red Skies Music Ensemble. On April 12, the music that Emily Dickinson knew and loved is brought to life in words and music, illuminating her poetic voice that was emerging against the backdrop of the impending Civil War. Co-sponsored by Houghton Library and the Loeb Music Library at the American Repertory Theatre.
  • Reel Time: Modernists on the Poetry Circuit with Peter Howarth. On April 14, learn how the rapid growth in live poetry reading after WWII put many pre-war modernists on stage for the first time. How did they adapt difficult poems to this surprising new audience, neither mass nor coterie? Could the change from print to performance become a creative opportunity, not just a confirmation of past glories? Using the Poetry Room's collection of historic live recordings, Peter Howarth (Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London) will explore how well readings by T. S. Eliot, E. E. Cummings, and Marianne Moore reanimated their own work for a younger generation.
  • The Poet’s Voice with Bhanu Kapil and Fred Moten. On April 22, come hear the dynamic ensemble of Kapil, author of four books of prose/poetry, including The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers and Ban en Banlieue, and Moten, a National Book Award finalist for The Feel Trio and the author, most recently, of Little Edges, whose sonically seamed work activates and interrogates the “little edges” between and among lyric and discourse, selfhood and social space. Co-sponsored by the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, the History Design Studio, and the Woodberry Poetry Room.
  • Was T.S. Eliot Ever Young? with Robert Crawford. On April 23, the 103rd annual George Parker Winship Lecture will cover the life of the famous poet. Co-sponsored by Houghton Library and the English Department, Harvard University.
  • The Making of Citizen with Claudia Rankine. On April 27, listen to poet and scholar Rankine read from Citizen: An American Lyric, her National Book Critics’ Circle award-winning collection. She will narrate the process involved in selecting, "doctoring," and integrating the artworks throughout the work. Sponsored by the Woodberry Poetry Room, with support from the Catherine L. Morrissey Memorial Fund and LitFest.
  • Friday Master Classes with Poets will go on throughout the month, where Harvard students deepen their craft by workshopping with published poets at the Woodberry Poetry Room. Find more information about individual sessions on the calendar of the Office for the Arts at Harvard.

Virtual goings-on at the Woodberry Poetry Room include the launch of a new Seamus Heaney web exhibit, which will feature over three dozen recordings made here between 1975 and 2008; support for Halsey Burgund and MetaLab on a new poetry app that will launch during LitFest.

We’ll also be delving into our digitized poetry collections and celebrating virtually under the hashtag #npm15 on our Twitter.