David Orr argued in The New York Times recently that poetry performances “give us the possibility that is the poem itself.” To quote Paul Muldoon, readings are “an act of creativity and criticism combined.”
Readings allow for the poet and audience to join together in the act of meaning-making.
With this in mind, the Unterberg Poetry Center has asked some contemporary poets to report on our poetry evenings this year. First up is Camille Rankine, author of the chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire and recipient of a 2010 “Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. She was featured as an emerging poet in the fall 2010 issue of American Poet and the April 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. She is Manager of External Relations and National Programs at Cave Canem Foundation.
Rankine’s assessment of Seamus Heaney’s reading (video excerpt here) on September 26 follows:
I confess: I’ve always felt a bit distant from the poetry of Seamus Heaney. He is one of those poets I pretend to be more familiar with than I actually am. He is also one of those poets I keep meaning to read more of. So when I was invited to attend his reading to open the Poetry Center’s 73rd season, I accepted with interest. Here was a chance to see what lay beyond Death of a Naturalist.
Heaney’s demeanor, despite his seventy-odd years and his Nobel Prize, was boyish and unassuming. He cracked jokes. He stumbled over the maddeningly similar terms “epitaph,” “epigraph” and “epilogue.” A sense of humor? Grammatical blunders? Maybe, I thought, borrowing the tried-and-true logic of Us Weekly, Seamus Heaney was just like me. As he went on to read poems dotted with hen houses, harvest bows, cattle, lorries, a stick of keel, I thought again: maybe not.
There aren’t many shared traits between my landscape and that of Seamus Heaney: he grew up in rural Ireland in the mid-twentieth century; I was raised in the 80s and 90s between suburbs of Portland, Oregon and the island of Jamaica. And Heaney’s poetry is very much tied to its landscape. Atsuro Riley, who introduced him, compared this quality of Heaney’s work to Dr. William Kolodney’s mission in founding the Poetry Center in 1939: “To give poetry a local habitation and a name, to make it belong, to give it a body, to humanize it.”
Even though I have no significant emotional connection with Heaney’s particular “local habitation,” there remains something eminently relatable about his words: wherever his poetry takes place, and whether it’s mournful, sweet, sharp or serene, Heaney’s work is always undeniably human. With his twelfth collection, The Human Chain, Heaney says he is coming back to the “old language of the soul moving through time.” Time, the human soul: these are landscapes we can all relate to, and struggle to understand.
Today we’re publishing a post written by violinist Daniel Hope, an introduction he wrote to his concert at 92nd Street Y on October 27 entitled “East Meets West.” The program features a pianist, sitar player and tabla player, seen in the photo at top.
“East Meets West“—An Introduction:
Our planet has literally become a global village, thanks in part to the internet. You can reach almost anyone, anywhere, at any time. So what’s really behind the idea of “East Meets West?”
The concert on October 27 will attempt to demonstrate that long before the invention of digital mass media, there were connections between distant places with reciprocal influences and inspirations.
“East Meets West” will also look at the creation and evolution of an instrument which has fascinated me since I was four years old: the violin. No one actually knows who invented the violin. In Europe, it can be traced back to the ninth century, but its actual origin may well have been Asia. The concept of instruments played by rubbing the strings is linked to the appearance of the bow, which was imported from Asia by the Arabs or the Nordic tribes—we’re not sure which. Musicians as travelers between two worlds, were, in a sense, the very first global players. But whether the real fruition of the violin occurred in northern Europe, the Near East, India or Central Asia, still remains a mystery.
Happy (Belated) Birthday, Jesse Eisenberg! See Ya at 92Y!
Actor Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland, Adventureland and The Squid and the Whale) recently told us, “The events at 92Y are my favorite thing in the city and my father buys me tickets as a birthday present each year.”
In the spirit of this gift giving, Jesse is offering a discount to friends of 92Y and 92YTribeca for his new play at The Cherry Lane Theatre, Asuncion, the story of two sheltered young men forced to confront their ignorance when a young Filipino woman becomes their new roommate. To access these special discounts, use the appropriate codes below when ordering online or calling OvationTix at 212.352.3101.
92YMEM - $40 92YU30 - Under 30 tickets, $25 with valid ID 92YStu - Student tickets, $20 with valid student ID
Dates Available: Oct 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26 at 8 pm; Oct 22 at 2 pm; Oct 23 at 3 pm
92Y Video: From the Poetry Center Archive: Seamus Heaney
The Unterberg Poetry Center opened its 73rd season of literary events with a reading by Seamus Heaney on September 26. The video above features excerpts from the end of Heaney’s reading that night—two poems from his “Clearances” sequence, then “In the Attic” and “A Kite for Aibhín.”
Heaney first appeared at 92Y more than forty years ago, and it was a thrill to welcome him back. He was introduced by Atsuro Riley, who credited Heaney’s work for “for embodying that rare wholeness and consonance we feel in a musical chord, that habitable space made & held for us within a musical chord.” He added: “I want to credit this chord that got worked up from its root-note in Mossbawn, County Derry, in the north of Ireland. The chord in which the crucial concept of ‘home-ground’ has been given by now a full sounding: the originary, the formative, the sensory; the avian and the arboreal; the archaeological, the etymological, the mineral.”
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.
Paul Lewis begins a two-part exploration into the late piano works of Franz Schubert on October 18 at 92nd Street Y. His appearance at 92Y is part of a Schubert cycle that is taking him around the world. In the following joint interview with Chicago’s Symphony Center, which presented Mr. Lewis earlier this year, he discusses his feelings toward Schubert, 92Y and the cycle approach to programming.
In a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, you called Schubert “endlessly fascinating.” What distinguishes him for you?
Many things, but if I had to point to one particular aspect of Schubert, it would be the way in which he creates a sense of drama. Normally when a composer wants to convey something dramatic, it’s far more common for them to write something demonstrative which jumps off the stage at the listener—and Schubert sometimes does that too. But more often, the drama of his music is of an inward looking nature. When Schubert wants to tell you something important, he will usually lower his voice rather than raise it—he draws you into the message, rather than projects it out to you. His moments of extreme despair seem primarily to be conveyed in that way—which, for me, makes them all the more powerful.
What do you as a musician discover by exploring one composer in depth? How does it change your perspective?
That’s hard to describe, as it’s such a gradual process. Sometimes you might stumble upon a musical “solution” to something that has been eluding you via a different work by that composer. There’s one specific element of the way he writes which I’ve come to see in a different light as a result of studying some of the songs recently. Schubert often writes repeated figures, sometimes just repeated single notes, and it’s easy to see that as an accompaniment—something that shouldn’t be heard too much in the forefront.
But when you look at songs such as “Die Liebe Farbe” from Die Schöne Müllerin, or “Der Wegweiser” from Winterreise, you see that those insistent repeated notes are in fact of huge significance. There’s a sense of fate, or of not being able to escape, which of course represents a certain reality for Schubert himself after his diagnosis of syphilis in 1822-23. This has made me think again about similar passages in the solo piano music, such as the repeated notes in the first Impromptu of D. 899—every strand of Schubert’s writing has its significance, and this particular strand is, I feel, of great importance.
New York Fashion Week, in its current form, came about by “an accident,” founder Fern Mallis told Mediabistro in 2008. After successfully putting Mercedes Benz-Fashion Week on the map as Vice President of IMG Fashion, Fern Mallis stepped away from that role and now runs her own consultancy company Fern Mallis LLC.
On October 17, she’ll talk with Calvin Klein at 92nd Street Y to discuss the inner workings of one of New York’s most glamorous industries.
Today, she’s the subject of the 92Y Culture Klatsch Q&A. That’s how we learned her last music purchase was Sade’s latest album, and at work, it’s all WQXR.
Where do you go for news when you start your day?
I start with “The Today Show” in the morning, and often flip to “CNN Morning.” Then I pick up my papers in my lobby: The New York Times, WWD, New York Daily News, The New York Post, The New York Observer.
How much do you use Twitter and Facebook (or other social networking services)?
I’m still trying to get the hang of Twitter, it’s a whole new language, but I’m trying to use it more often. I use Facebook-intermittently. I post pictures every so often, and like reading the news feed - it has a little more info than Twitter, but I get too many Facebook requests and don’t know who all these people are.
Did you know the classical music piece entitled 4’33” is actually 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence? Watch here.
Want to really hear something? Check out our concerts at 92Y.org/Concerts. As seen in the photo at top, you can attend very special concerts at 92nd Street Y. On two nights this week, The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and special guest Sting commemorated the 10th anniversary of September 11 with a world premiere by Stanley Silverman dedicated to to Herman Sandler, one of the great people who was lost to terror that day. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and see some photos from Wednesday evening’s show on the 92Y Facebook page.
The Sackbut is an early name for a Trombone, but you probably knew that. The instrument was popular in the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and today has a Facebook page, of course.
At 92nd Street Y School of Music, we’ve been serving music enthusiasts for over 130 years with programs for all ages and backgrounds. Make your world extraordinary; learn, play, and listen at 92Y.org/Music.
And stop by 92Y.org/Worlds and tell us about something extraordinary in your world. You could win a 92Y iPad loaded with 92Y archival programs from Kurt Vonnegut to Mos Def, or tickets to a 92Y event with the possibility to meet and get a photo with one of our famous guest.
Do you like the sackbut? Hit the Facebook “Like” button below, and let your friends know!
Those paying close attention to the events might like to know that two important figures in the industry will will be at 92nd Street Y this week. Norma Kamali is well-know for having created the “sleeping bag” coat and “parachutes pants” made from actual parachutes. Fern Mallis is widely credited as the creator of Fashion Week. Both will be here on Thursday, September 15, for Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis: Norma Kamali. Tickets are available here.
Move Your Body And Soul Where Modern Dance Got Its Start
There are more than 30,000 Dance programs in America. Move your body and soul where Modern dance got its start, at the 92Y Harkness Dance Center. Stop by any day of the week to visit our Dance Center facilities and let us help you select the class that’s right for you.
And don’t forget to stop by 92Y.org/Worlds to learn more about the 92Y community and our extraordinary worlds. Tell us why your world is extraordinary and you could win an iPad full or 92Y archival programming, or a pair of tickets to a 92Y event with the possibility to get a photo backstage with 92Y guests. All submissions are entered in a random drawing for three $50 92Y gift certificates!
What do you think of our animated gif at top? This might be the first animated gif on the 92Y Blog! Hit the Facebook “Like” button below if you approve!
Tune in to Thirteen WNET tonight, 8.30pm, for a behind-the-scenes documentary about The Knights. This “collaborative collection of friends” is changing the face of classical music. The Knights will be at 92nd Street Y for our Champagne New Year’s Eve Concert; tickets are available here.
We Are The Knights with Paula Zahn airs tonight, September 8, at 8:30 pm on Thirteen.
You can read a preview/review of tonight’s documentary from The Daily News. “The story of the Knights,” The Daily News wrote, “is so unconventional, it turns out, that for long stretches of time the viewer may forget he or she is even watching a show about classical music.”
92Y Community Orchestra Ready To Kick Off It’s 95th Season
Come help celebrate the 92Y Community Orchestra kick off its 95th season by joining in the first rehearsal this Sunday, September 11th from 3 – 5:30pm. Auditions are also being held starting at 1pm. Call 212.415.5580 to schedule an appointment or email .
Below, watch Sean Kubota, 92Y Community Orchestra Conductor, as he leads the orchestra in Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 “Scottish” Adagio, earlier this year.
92Y Is A Proud Recipient Of Award From The MetLife Foundation Partners in Arts Education
92nd Street Y is one of 12 nonprofit organizations selected to receive a Partners in Arts Education grant from the MetLife Foundation to provide sustained, quality arts instruction to nearly 2,000 students during the 2011–2012 school year—through its Schools Partnership Program.
Since 1990, 92Y’s Educational Outreach Programs in the Arts have served over 125,000 students from 50 schools. In 2010, 92Y, in consortium with other leading NYC arts education service providers, was chosen by the U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation Fund to create an assessment framework for visual and performing arts.
The grant from the MetLife Foundation will support 92Y’s Schools Partnership Program, which partners with public schools that have no arts curriculum to provide nearly 2,000 students instruction in ceramics, dance, music, musical theatre, theatre, chorus, guitar and xylophone. 92Y Teaching Artists work with classroom teachers, administrators and arts specialists to link the arts with the school’s core curriculum. This intensive and hands-on partnership provides another avenue, in addition to regular academics, to achieve success and transferable skills (e.g. problem solving, analytical thinking, concentration).
The MetLife Foundation Partners in Arts Education Program is funded by MetLife Foundation and administered by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.