1. A special project for 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center’s 75th anniversary, 75 at 75 invites authors to listen to a recording from our archive and write a personal response. Here, Mark Ford writes about a reading by James Schuyler. It was recorded live at 92Y on November 20, 1989. Ford makes his 92Y debut on Thursday night, reading with John Ashbery. It was Ashbery who shared the stage with Schuyler that night in 1989.

    Today is the last day to take advantage of our special National Poetry Month offer of $7.50 tickets—and not just to Ford/Ashbery (April 3), but also to Derek Walcott (April 9) and Michael Ondaatje (April 28).

    Ford writes:

    In his introduction [to a Schuyler reading the year before], Ashbery confessed to feeling a little “jealous” of his friend’s poetry: “He makes sense, dammit, and he manages to do so without falsifying or simplifying the daunting complexity of life as we are living it today.”

    Nearly all of Schuyler’s poems develop a delicate mediation between his memories and his experience of the present; often those memories revolve around friends, many of whom would have been present in the audience that night. One can’t overestimate the importance of friendship to his life and poetry, and it must have been moving for all those who had helped him through so many difficulties over so many decades to see him appearing in public and receiving rapturous applause both before he opened his mouth and then after he said his gruff “Thank you” and sat down.

  2. Audio: Elizabeth Bishop in 1974

    To kick off National Poetry Month—and continue our celebration of 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center’s 75th-anniversary season—here’s an offer too good to refuse: $7.50 tickets to upcoming appearances by John Ashbery (April 3), Derek Walcott (April 9) and Michael Ondaatje (April 28). We like to think it’s National Poetry Month all year round at 92Y, but this special offer is only good till March 31st—so get your tickets today!

    All month long we’ll be uploading new recording-response pairs to our “75 at 75” virtual anthology, starting with Forrest Gander on Marianne Moore and Megan Marshall on Elizabeth Bishop, who reads from “Efforts of Affection”—her memoir of Moore.

    Marshall writes:

    After Moore’s death in 1972, Bishop drafted [“Efforts of Affection”] and read from it on several occasions. When I listened to the Y’s recording of Bishop’s 1974 reading, I understood why she had never “finished” the essay, never published it. Her reading stops short of the story she told our class and several other anecdotes that reveal more complicated feelings for her subject than she may have wished to expose to an audience—whether in an auditorium or at home in arm chairs. What this recording does capture, as almost no other Bishop recording does, is the congenial storytelling voice I heard on several magical occasions, the vivid personality activated in the company of friends, in this case a friend conjured from the past. Listen as the audience begins to catch her jokes and Miss Bishop warms to the response. There she is, giving us

    … life itself,
    life and the memory of it so compressed
    they’ve turned into each other.

    Gander writes:

    Marianne Moore’s poems are more wonderful on the page than they are at this reading. But the reading gives us what feels like a very real experience of her person, of the motion of her mind, of her animated voice and of the vast range of her associations. To me, it is precious. It’s as close as I will come to meeting her.

  3. From “Norwegian Wood” to “Under Milk Wood:” How Dylan Thomas Inspired the Beatles’ Greatest Hits It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since the Beatles made their U.S. debut and changed music forever. As we gear up to celebrate the golden anniversary of the Fab Four’s debut on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 6, a name that keeps coming up as we read about John, Paul, Ringo and George is Dylan Thomas. Did you know the iconic poet was one of the main sources of inspiration for the Beatles? The “Under Milk Wood” author has a few anniversaries of his own to celebrate—October will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth and 62 years ago today, Thomas gave a reading at 92Y. (He also debuted “Under Milk Wood” at 92Y.) Below are the surprising connections shared between the Beatles and Thomas.  Can you imagine a world without John Lennon’s songs? According to Paul McCartney, Thomas was the reason John Lennon began songwriting. “I am sure that the main influence on both [Bob] Dylan and John was Dylan Thomas. That’s why Bob’s not Bob Zimmerman—his real name. We all used to like Dylan Thomas. I read him a lot. I think that John started writing because of him.”  Even the Beatles’ mastermind producer, George Martin, was obsessed with the Welsh poet. In 1989, he conceived, composed, arranged and produced a musical version of “Under Milk Wood,” featuring Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce and Tom Jones.  The album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which many believe to be the greatest album cover of all time, also has a smattering of Thomas. Artist Peter Blake added the poet’s face to the group of people featured on the cover at the request of Lennon. Blake was a huge fan of Thomas’ himself. He debuted an exhibit of illustrations based on “Under Milk Wood” at the National Museum of Cardiff last November—a project that took 28 years to complete.  You can listen to Dylan Thomas’s debut performance of “Under Milk Wood” at 92Y here. The Beatles, of course, can be heard here, there and everywhere. Thanks to Dylan Thomas, that is.

    From “Norwegian Wood” to “Under Milk Wood:” How Dylan Thomas Inspired the Beatles’ Greatest Hits

    It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since the Beatles made their U.S. debut and changed music forever. As we gear up to celebrate the golden anniversary of the Fab Four’s debut on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 6, a name that keeps coming up as we read about John, Paul, Ringo and George is Dylan Thomas. Did you know the iconic poet was one of the main sources of inspiration for the Beatles? The “Under Milk Wood” author has a few anniversaries of his own to celebrate—October will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth and 62 years ago today, Thomas gave a reading at 92Y. (He also debuted “Under Milk Wood” at 92Y.) Below are the surprising connections shared between the Beatles and Thomas.

    Can you imagine a world without John Lennon’s songs? According to Paul McCartney, Thomas was the reason John Lennon began songwriting. “I am sure that the main influence on both [Bob] Dylan and John was Dylan Thomas. That’s why Bob’s not Bob Zimmerman—his real name. We all used to like Dylan Thomas. I read him a lot. I think that John started writing because of him.”

    Even the Beatles’ mastermind producer, George Martin, was obsessed with the Welsh poet. In 1989, he conceived, composed, arranged and produced a musical version of “Under Milk Wood,” featuring Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce and Tom Jones.

    The album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which many believe to be the greatest album cover of all time, also has a smattering of Thomas. Artist Peter Blake added the poet’s face to the group of people featured on the cover at the request of Lennon.

    Blake was a huge fan of Thomas’ himself. He debuted an exhibit of illustrations based on “Under Milk Wood” at the National Museum of Cardiff last November—a project that took 28 years to complete.

    You can listen to Dylan Thomas’s debut performance of “Under Milk Wood” at 92Y here.

    The Beatles, of course, can be heard here, there and everywhere. Thanks to Dylan Thomas, that is.

  4. A special project for the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center’s 75th anniversary, 75 at 75 invites authors to listen to a recording from our archive and write a personal response. Here, Henri Cole writes about a recording of Robert Lowell reading from his work. It was recorded at 92Y on December 8, 1976.

    During his final appearance at the Y, he was charming and funny, reading from the newly published Selected Poems (“instead of having about eight rather small thin books to fumble through”). He told the audience that he believed in chronology in everything, rather than having little sections called “friendship and wisdom and divine wisdom.” But on this occasion he had paired off the poems—about homecomings; about his first wife, his “old flame” Jean Stafford (“one of our best writers,” who was quite ill); about Robert Frost (“a man of great magnanimity and generosity and music and intuition”); about William Carlos Williams (“who was terrified of his old mother”); about Stalin (“I suppose Stalin was a Statesman, wasn’t he? He believed in the State”; about his third wife, Caroline Blackwood (“gay, disrespectful” poems), who becomes a mermaid, a “Rough Slitherer” in her ocean caves, in his poem “Mermaid”; and, finally, about the act of writing itself. Lowell ended the night with “Epilogue,” saying that a poem has to be more than memory, “and yet memory, we’re told, is the mother of the muses. Memory is genius—but you have to do something with it.”

    Cole, poetry editor at The New Republic, returns to 92Y this Thursday to read from his latest collection, Touch.