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Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Major Jackson and Peter Schjeldahl

Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 6:30 pm, Dia Chelsea

Event Details
Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 6:30 pm

535 West 22nd Street, 5th Floor
New York City 

Readings in Contemporary Poetry curator, Vincent Katz provided an introduction for the evening's reading.

Free for Dia members; $10 general admission; $6 admission for students and seniors 

Advance ticket purchases are recommended. Tickets are also available for purchase at the door, subject to availability.  

Major Jackson’s books of poems include: Roll Deep (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015); Holding Company (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010) and Hoops (W. W. Norton & Company, 2006), both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry; and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia Press, 2002), which was awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, Whiting Writers’ Award, and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship for the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold University Distinguished Professor in the department of English at University of Vermont, Burlington, and a graduate faculty member of the Creative Writing Program at New York University. He serves as the poetry editor of the Harvard Review.

Enchanters of Addison County     

We were more than gestural, close-listening,
the scent of manure writing its waft on the leaves
off Route 22A. By nightfall, our gaze flecked
like loon cries, but no one was up for turnips
nor other roots, not least of which the clergy.
Romanticism has its detractors, which is why
we lined the road with tea-lit luminaries
and fresh-cut lemons. We called it making magic,
then stormed the corners and porches
of General Stores, kissing whenever cars idled
at four way stop signs or sought Grade A maple syrup
in tin containers with painted scenes of horse-drawn
farmers plowing through snow. The silhouetted, rusted
farm equipment gave us the laidback heaven
we so often wished, and fireflies bequeathed earth stars, 
such blink and blank and bunk-a-bunk-bunk.
And of course we wondered if we existed,
and also too, the cows of the ancient pastures,
and the white milk inside our heads
like church spires and ice cream cones.
Even after all of that cha-cha-cha, we still came
out of swimming holes shivering our hearts out.

Peter Schjeldahl was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and grew up in Minnesota. He dropped out of college and moved to New York City to pursue journalism. Schjeldahl published a few books of poetry in the 1960s and 1970s, including Since 1964: New and Selected Poems (Sun, 1978), until he abandoned poetry to pursue art criticism full time. Schjeldahl has written on art for numerous publications, including Artforum, Art in America, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. He was the art critic for the Village Voice from 1990 to 1998 and has since been a staff writer at the New Yorker. His writings on art and culture have been collected in four books of criticism, including The Hydrogen Jukebox: Selected Writings of Peter Schjeldahl, 1978–1990 (University of California Press, 1991) and Let’s See: Writings on Art from the New Yorker (Thames & Hudson, 2008). Schjeldahl’s honors and awards include a Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, a Frank Jewett Mather Award, and a Howard Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.



How do you like this poem so far?
If you like it, please let me know
Don’t be shy, step right up
and praise me

I need praise 

Don’t worry that I will think you foolish or insincere
Even if I think that, I’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness
And if you don’t like this poem
don’t worry
Confess your dislike openly, I won’t be angry
I will be able to tell you exactly how you’re wrong
It will a big relief to both of us

And do you know? If more people like you tell me precisely
what you think of me, my poems may get better
They may get better than this one, even

Do you think poetry about personal and professional and artistic
insecurity, yearnings for love and approval and honest
communication, feelings of isolation, night sweats,
paranoid imaginings, hysterical loathing and doubt and
self-doubt, do you suppose writing on these topics is fun?
Nor would these topics be among the Great Themes
to which I’m positive I’m equal, if only you
bastards would cough up some admiration, even fake it a little
for me and my family and Art and future of humankind





Photo: Don Stahl

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