1. Here’s some holiday reading material for your trip back home. Podium Literary Journal Issue 11 from the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y. 
There are 23 pieces. Try starting with “Hipster Nightlife Trend Piece: Ragtime Revival,” by Hanson O’Haver. 
(artwork by Chris Russell)

    Here’s some holiday reading material for your trip back home. Podium Literary Journal Issue 11 from the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y. 

    There are 23 pieces. Try starting with “Hipster Nightlife Trend Piece: Ragtime Revival,” by Hanson O’Haver. 

    (artwork by Chris Russell)

  2. From the Poetry Center Archive: Arthur Miller reads from Death of a Salesman at 92Y in February of 1955

    As its season finale on May 23, 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center will present “On Arthur Miller: A Playwrights’ Conversation”. With a revival of Death of a Salesman now running on Broadway, Tony Kushner leads a group of his contemporaries—Oskar Eustis, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Rinne Groff and Richard Nelson—in a discussion of the playwright’s work. The evening will open with a reading of Miller’s Elegy for a Lady by actors Marin Ireland and Jay O. Sanders.

    “American playwrights have most to learn from the sound of Arthur Miller’s voice,” says Kushner, who edits Miller’s Collected Plays for the Library of America. “Humility, decency, generosity are its trademarks. Turn down the braying of ego, it says to us, turn down the chatter of entertainment … reach for a deeper judgment.

    Today, in anticipation of Wednesday night, we’re sharing an archival recording of Miller himself reading from Death of a Salesman here at 92Y in February of 1955.

    In an ongoing effort to share with our readers some of the great literary moments which the Poetry Center has presented across the decades, this blog has begun to feature regular postings of archival recordings. To purchase tickets to “On Arthur Miller: A Playwrights’ Conversation,please click here. And for access to other recordings from the Poetry Center archive, please click here.

  3. Michael Chabon reading John Cheever’s “The Enormous Radio” at 92nd Street Y last night. 
Next up in the Main Reading Series at Unterberg Poetry Center: Death of a Salesman: A Playwrights’ Conversation with Tony Kushner and others on May 23. 

    Michael Chabon reading John Cheever’s “The Enormous Radio” at 92nd Street Y last night

    Next up in the Main Reading Series at Unterberg Poetry Center: Death of a Salesman: A Playwrights’ Conversation with Tony Kushner and others on May 23

  4. Jacqueline Woodson - 2009 National Book Festival

    Jacqueline Woodson, wrote The New York Times, creates “rich worlds with relentless attention to emotional detail.”

    The Newbery Honor Medal winner, author of award-winning books such as Miracle’s Boys, Locomotion, If You Come Softly and After Tupac and D Foster, will be at 92Y tomorrow at 12:30pm for The Unterberg Poetry Center’s Children Reading series.  

    Send her an @ tweet and let her know you are coming. 

  5. James Fenton reads “Out of the East, “Blood and Lead” and “The Milk Fish Gatherers,” at 92Y on December 12, 2011.

    The latest guest-post on events at 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center is by poet Natalie Eilbert, who attended our December 12 readings by James Fenton and Durs Grünbein. Accompanying Eilbert’s post is James Fenton reading three poems—“Out of the East, “Blood and Lead” and “The Milk Fish Gatherers,” which she discusses below.

    In his introduction, Richard Howard listed James Fenton’s accomplishments in deliberate detail. “I specify all this because it’s my impression that James is not known on this side of the Atlantic,” Howard remarked. If one had to find a common thread in Monday night’s reading, which also featured German poet Durs Grünbein, it might be that there are poetries at work which thrive without Americans paying much attention. I admit that, prior to this event, I had read only a handful of poems by Fenton and, what’s worse, Grünbein was barely on my radar. In reading Fenton, I’ve always felt I was teetering between a terrible excitement and boredom. But the boredom—or, rather, the numbness—makes sense when you consider Fenton’s commitment to meter at a time when edgy parataxes rule the day.

    The more I listened to Fenton, however, the more I realized I was dealing with a different beast altogether. His poems depart from the personal, as Howard suggested, to speak of war and globalization. “The Milk Fish Gatherers” details the famished landscape of the Philippines, where milk fish are gathered in nets: “Something of value struggles not to die, “The spine lives when the brain dies in convulsive misery” and “A hatched fish is a pair of eyes—there is nothing left to see.” While I found myself clinging to his guttural lines and the monotony of meter, I came to appreciate the lyricism in which he immerses himself.

    Durs Grünbein, who was introduced by translator Michael Eskin, began with a self-portrait called “Vita Brevis,” from his collection Ashes for Breakfast. I recognized Eskin’s astute claims to a Celan connection, especially in lines like “I spoke as others might spit,” “Shaved my skewed grin over a bucket, under canvas” and “For want of lilies, I sniffed the garbage on the breeze.” This poem, the title of which translates as “brief life,” describes a harrowing bildungsroman-style account of growing up in Dresden. Beyond the dirty piety and grit of Grünbein’s poetry is unexpected humor and playfulness—a kind of spirited nationalism.

    I left the reading with an urge to write a metered poem to see what subversive voice would remain. I left thinking the self occurs everywhere, waiting, like Grünbein’s poetic self, to be written.

    Natalie Eilbert received her MFA from Columbia University, where she was awarded the Linda Corrente Poetry Prize. Her work has been published by Colorado Review, The Rumpus, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, La Petite Zine, and InDigest Magazine.

    Next up at 92Y Poetry: The Nets of Modernism: James, Woolf, Joyce, Freud on March 25 and Brian Turner and Kevin Young on March 26, introduced by Yusef Komunyakaa and David Lehman.

    In an ongoing effort to share with our readers some of the great literary moments which the Unterberg Poetry Center has presented across the decades, this blog has begun to feature regular postings of archival recordings. For access to other recordings, please click here.

    Unterberg Poetry Center webcasts and access to our archive are made possible in part by the generous support of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.

  6. 92Y Podcast: From the Poetry Center Archive: W.H. Auden

    W.H. Auden’s affiliation with 92nd Street Y’s Poetry Center began in our very first season (1939) and continued for more than thirty years. His last appearance was in 1972, and in tribute to his birthday, today’s featured recording is an excerpt of that reading. Here is how Richard Howard introduced him that night:

    We are fortunate to have with us this evening not merely the citizen, the school-master, the church-warden and the other members of the best repertory company in poetry today. We have the poet himself, who at 65 is so familiar and yet so unrivaled. Unique in our time in that he believes in knowledge, knowledge in the poetry, and extending the scope and range of inquiry and response beyond the condescension of mere public appearance. If you have been keeping up with him, which means keeping up with what glory can be given to the English language in our generation as well as his, you know that, these days, under the sign of a consented-to mortality, he is concerned with boundaries, limitations, definitions, the precarious identifications which make our life possible—the naming, which was Adam’s first task and Auden’s to the last, or to the latest. Hence the famous and extraordinary vocabulary and the wonderful meter—you will notice in a minute that he does not read his poems off the page, but out of his ear—and all those alliterative bells and charms. That is a magic neither black nor white. That is full color.
    Howard ended his introduction with this casual couplet:
    For decades, Wystan Hugh Auden has devised new ways to broaden the mind of the age. Often, as right now, from this very stage.
    Auden began with several late poems—“Natural Linguistics,” “Epistle to a Godson,” “Lines to Dr. Walter Birk,” among others—but today’s excerpt comes from the second half of his performance, when he read a group of early lyrics. The excerpt culminates, as the reading did, with his recitation of “Metalogue to The Magic Flute,” which was composed for Mozart’s bicentenary in 1956 and includes the following passage:
    How seemly, then, to celebrate the birth Of one who did no harm to our poor earth, Created masterpieces by the dozen, Indulged in toilet-humor with his cousin, And had a pauper’s funeral in the rain, The like of whom we shall not see again.
    You can also download the MP3.

    In an ongoing effort to share with our readers some of the great literary moments which the Poetry Center has presented across the decades, this blog has begun to feature regular postings of archival recordings. For access to other recordings, please click here.

    Unterberg Poetry Center webcasts and access to our archive are made possible in part by the generous support of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.

    (Source: )

  7. The artwork of Podium: Issue 10, by Mirna Everett and Andrew Watel.

    There is writing in one’s room—quiet deliberation over time, place, names. Early information: a character’s first utterance. What will she say, and how, once there is that, will she say it? Then a story emerges, and with it, the need to leave one’s room, to hear one’s voice against the sound of others.

    What follows is the result of much talking and listening: our 10th issue of Podium—work from the Unterberg Poetry Center’s Writing Program—poems and prose selected by our students and instructors.

    Enjoy.

  8. Illustration by Mirna Everett

Welcome to Podium! Issue 10.

Podium publishes exclusive work by students who have participated in an Unterberg Poetry Center workshop or class— from first-time to seasoned. At the end of each semester, instructors select either a novel excerpt, short story, poem or other work by one student from each class to showcase his/her work in Podium.

Explore the full issue here. Below is a poem by Helen Barnard, who also has a poem in the new issue of The New Republic.Seaside Town
Helen Barnard

High summer. Flowers ricochet around tiny yards.
Colors stun. Bee balm and roses vie for most beautiful.
Houses crowd close together.

Hot streets, narrow in old part of town, close together.
Wider in new. Rickshaws. Bear-baiting. Maybe.

Wide beach at low tide. Coffee smells. Shells.
Boats out in the harbor, some working ones.
Sailboats punctuate a horizon, against breakwater.

Break of day, high clouds, wind comes up at noon.
Dies in the evening, but late, as people walk home.

Walking home in a crowd, not with anyone.
Thinking of my life and how I have partially wasted it.
I am not Rilke. He said it with such excitement.

What is the point of being excited here?
The tide pulls this way and that. I am what I am.

I’d like to both spring forward and fall back.
Like the grey-shingled houses, I’m weathered.
Like the running dragon, I’m on my feet.

[Podium! Issue Number 10]

    Illustration by Mirna Everett

    Welcome to Podium! Issue 10.

    Podium publishes exclusive work by students who have participated in an Unterberg Poetry Center workshop or class— from first-time to seasoned. At the end of each semester, instructors select either a novel excerpt, short story, poem or other work by one student from each class to showcase his/her work in Podium.

    Explore the full issue here. Below is a poem by Helen Barnard, who also has a poem in the new issue of The New Republic.


    Seaside Town
    Helen Barnard

    High summer. Flowers ricochet around tiny yards. Colors stun. Bee balm and roses vie for most beautiful. Houses crowd close together.

    Hot streets, narrow in old part of town, close together. Wider in new. Rickshaws. Bear-baiting. Maybe.

    Wide beach at low tide. Coffee smells. Shells. Boats out in the harbor, some working ones. Sailboats punctuate a horizon, against breakwater.

    Break of day, high clouds, wind comes up at noon. Dies in the evening, but late, as people walk home.

    Walking home in a crowd, not with anyone. Thinking of my life and how I have partially wasted it. I am not Rilke. He said it with such excitement.

    What is the point of being excited here? The tide pulls this way and that. I am what I am.

    I’d like to both spring forward and fall back. Like the grey-shingled houses, I’m weathered. Like the running dragon, I’m on my feet.

    [Podium! Issue Number 10]

  9. ‎Mark Strand’s first appearance at the Unterberg Poetry Center of 92nd Street Y took place in April of 1965. He was one of four winners (Robert David Cohen, Jim Harrison and Nancy Sullivan were the others) of that year’s “Discovery” poetry contest, which the Poetry Center continues to oversee to this day. Today’s featured recording is the entirety of Strand’s reading from that evening. You can download the MP3 here.

    Read more about that evening on the 92Y Blog.

    Strand returns to 92Y on January 30, with Susan Stewart.

    Tickets are just $10 for those 35 and under.

  10. From the Poetry Center Archive: Four Irish Poets: More Than A Bit Of Craic

    Today’s guest post on poetry readings at 92nd Street Y is by poet Erica Wright, author of Instructions for Killing the Jackal, poetry editor at Guernica Magazine and writing instructor at 92YTribeca. Wright visited the Unterberg Poetry Center on Monday, October 31, for Four Irish Poets, an evening of readings by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Leontia Flynn, Caitriona O’Reilly and Rita Ann Higgins. Today’s featured recording is of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin. You can download the MP3 here.

    Below are Wright’s thoughts on the program.

    image
    From left to right: Leontia Flynn, Nick Laird, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Rita Ann Higgins, Caitriona O’Reilly. Photo credit Nancy Crampton

    Sometimes I kill time on public transportation by making lists; I see how many diseases, Olympic sports, or bands beginning with “The” that I can name (silently) by the time I arrive at my destination. On my way to 92Y on October 31st, I tried Irish Poets in honor of the event I was going to see. The game didn’t last very long, especially if I eliminated the dead ones. Partly, this increased my anticipation. By night’s end, I would be familiar with the work of at least four more. On the other hand, what if I ran into one of them in the ladies’ room, and she wanted to know my views on writers who, say, use Gaelic vocabulary words like pog and slainte? Okay, so this scenario didn’t seem likely, but city-dwellers have a knack for dread.

    It was fast apparent that a confrontation with one of the evening’s stars wouldn’t happen. The Weill Art Gallery was packed, and all but the last row of seats were occupied. I sat down behind my least favorite type of reading attendees—the P. D. A. couple—and reprimanded myself for lollygagging on my walk to the venue. Fortunately, Nick Laird’s thoughtful introduction soon distracted me.

    Laird (make that five new Irish poets to add to the list) provided detailed praise for each poet. Leontia Flynn was heralded for her “poetic shards,” Rita Ann Higgins for her “depth charge,” while Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was credited with “rebuilding language” and Caitriona O’Reilly as being “detached but seek[ing] attachment.” Despite Laird throwing me off the scent by highlighting what makes each unique, the poets did have something in common besides their nationality. Their work was imbued with gravitas.

    There seems to be a growing appreciation of frivolity in contemporary poetry, not wit or humor—for which there will always be a place—but art for art’s sake with its roots in that towering Irish figure of Oscar Wilde. Even with his green carnations and memorable one-liners, Wilde was still the same man who wrote, “Some kill their love when they are young, […] The kindest use a knife, because / The dead so soon grow cold.” Which is to say, his position as an icon of poetic joie de vivre (craic, perhaps more appropriately) seems a bit easy.

    It was refreshing to hear poems that tackled the big subjects of family, love, and death in sincere (but never sentimental) terms. Early on in the evening, Flynn read a poem about airplanes in honor of the book tour. (New York City was the women’s fourth stop in promotion of The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry: 1967-2000.) It ended with the line “We rock, dry-eyed, and we are not at home.” In a way, the four-member covey of Flynn, Higgins, Chuilleanáin, and O’Reilly presented a stand-in for the poetic community, its writers and readers who suffer a little less because they suffer together. Often the actual poems read were about isolation—O’Reilly’s evocation of a mermaid, Chuilleanáin’s of a witch—but the banter between the four demonstrated intimacy.

    The event was co-sponsored by Imagine Ireland, and the intent was, I assume, to increase awareness of the Irish arts. And yet despite the lilting accents and occasional glimpses of unfamiliar terrain in the lines, the poetry was more universal than not. And perhaps that’s what I mean by gravitas. The subject matter need not be about prisons; Flynn’s vegetables do just fine. But something must be risked, for example, a trying to get at what it feels like to be human. The couple in front of me agreed, I think. They cuddled in a way that cried out for shared experience.

    Next up at 92Y Poetry: Words & Music: The Cornet Rilke with Wolfgang Holzmair, baritone / speaker and Shai Wosner, piano, on January 23. That’s followed by Péter Nádas on January 26.

    In an ongoing effort to share with our readers some of the great literary moments which the Unterberg Poetry Center has presented across the decades, this blog has begun to feature regular postings of archival recordings. For access to other recordings, please click here.

    Subscribe with iTunes or add our podcast feed to your RSS news reader and have future 92nd Street Y podcasts delivered automatically. Unterberg Poetry Center webcasts and access to our archive are made possible in part by the generous support of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.