“Auden’s politics is metaphysics, his metaphysics is history, his history is humanity adrift in a labyrinth of its own making. In his heroic abundance he will catch hold of any form—or invent a new one—to assess, judge, condemn, praise, ruminate, fulminate, love; and once, in the name of literature, forgive:
Time that is intolerant Of the brave and the innocent, And indifferent in a week To a beautiful physique,
Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives; Pardons cowardice, conceit, Lays its honors at their feet.
Time that with this strange excuse Pardoned Kipling and his views, And will pardon Paul Claudel, Pardons him for writing well.”
Ozick’s essay, part of 75 at 75, a special project for the Unterberg Poetry Center’s 75th anniversary, is accompanied by audio of Auden reading at 92Y in 1955.
“The language that we hear in dreams is very important to me,” writes Ashbery. “I wake up with these words that have just been spoken, and they somehow have a meaning beyond what is possible, even beyond expression. So what is that? It’s almost like the meaning of music. It’s a sort of super meaning that I don’t know much about except that it constantly attracts me and makes me want to include it in my poems.”
Nobel laureate Derek Walcott reads collected work on Wed, Apr 9. “I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer,” he says. “I have grown up believing it is a vocation, a religious vocation.”
James Shapiro visits the Poetry Center on Thu, Apr 24, to mark the occasion of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday and discuss the rich story of how Americans have made Shakespeare their own.
On Mon, Apr 28, Michael Ondaatje carries on a long-standing Poetry Center tradition, curating readings by three of his favorite poets: Dionne Brand, Pura López-Colomé and Jan Zwicky.
It was a kind of shrine: the grand oaken hall, the distant stage and its hallowed lectern, the enchanted voices with their variegated intonations, the rapt listeners scarcely breathing, the storied walls themselves in trance—this was the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in the heart of the 20th century.
Mark Ford’s Selected Poemscomes out this spring. He is also the editor of London: A History in Verse.
Wed, Apr 9, 6:30 pm
92Y/The Paris Review Interview Series
The Poetry Center and The Paris Review have presented numerous memorable conversations, and now we’re ready to share recordings, featuring the likes of Paul Theroux and George Plimpton, Ryszard Kapuściński and Peter Matthiessen. Have a listen!
On John Updike
Join Adam Begley, one of the nation’s foremost literary critics, for a discussion of the great American writer John Updike.
Begley is the author of a candid new Updike biography.