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Should We Praise the Mutilated World? Poetry from California to Krakow

Robert Hass and Adam Zagajewski
Reading and conversation with Andrew Winer
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Episode Summary

Two of the world’s greatest living poets come together for a rare Los Angeles reading and conversation. The work of Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate and long-time translator of Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz, speaks to us of love and loss, of the hopefulness and the limitations of intimacy, of our humanness laid bare in the midst of art, the natural world, and each other. His most recent essay collection, A Little Book on Form, illuminates the impulses that underlie great poetry. Adam Zagajewski, whose outlook was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War and the occupation of Poland, negotiates the earthbound and the ethereal in poems that can be as arresting as they are luminous, as witty as they are serious. His recent memoir, Slight Exaggeration, is a wry and philosophical defense of mystery. During a time when our world feels deeply damaged and charged with uncivil discourse, these two masters of language will explore poetry’s enduring inclination to marvel, with novelist Andrew Winer serving as interlocutor.

Participant(s) Bio

Widely read and much honored, Bob Hass has brought the kind of energy in his poetry to his work as an essayist, translator, and activist on behalf of poetry, literacy, and the environment. Most notably, in his tenure as United States Poet Laureate, Robert Hass spent two years battling American illiteracy, armed with the mantra, “imagination makes communities.” Awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, twice the National Book Critics’ Circle Award (in 1984 and 1997), the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1973, and the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award, Robert Hass is a professor of English at UC Berkeley.

Poet, novelist, essayist Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwów (then in Poland, now Ukraine) in 1945. As an infant he was relocated with his family to western Poland. A major figure of the Polish New Wave literary movement of the early 1970s and of the anti-Communist Solidarity movement of the 1980s, Zagajewski is today one of the most well-known and highly regarded contemporary Polish poets in Europe and the United States The New Yorker published his poem, “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” on its back page immediately after September 11, 2001. His previous books include Tremor, Canvas, Mysticism for Beginners, Without End, Solidarity, Solitude, Two Cities, Another Beauty, A Defense of Ardor, Eternal Enemies, and Unseen Hand. Translations of his works have been published all over the world and he is the recipient of many honors, most recently the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. He splits his time between Krakow and Chicago, where he teaches.

Andrew Winer is the author of the novels The Marriage Artist and The Color Midnight Made. He also publishes philosophical and literary essays, conducts public conversations with fellow authors, and speaks about art, religion, and literature. He is Chair of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.  Presently, he is co-authoring a book on what Nietzsche has to say to the contemporary layperson, and completing a new novel about American religion and politics.