Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Monday, February 3, 2020

Monday, February 03, 2020 - Evening Program
Poetry Reading, Reflections, and Conversation: An Evening with Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman
Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman

Celebrated poets Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman will read their works and share their personal reflections.


Robert Hass is a poet of great eloquence, clarity, and force, whose work is rooted in the landscapes of his native Northern California. In his tenure as United States Poet Laureate, Robert Hass spent two years battling American illiteracy, armed with the mantra, “imagination makes communities.” He crisscrossed the country speaking at Rotary Club meetings, raising money to organize conferences such as “Watershed,” which brought together noted novelists, poets, and storytellers to talk about writing, nature, and community. When he is talking about poetry itself, Hass is both spontaneous and original, offering poetic insights that cannot be found in any textbook.

A prolific poet, Hass’s books of poetry include “The Apple Trees at Olema,” and “Time and Materials.” Awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, twice the National Book Critics’ Circle Award (in 1984 and 1997), the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1973, and the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award, Robert Hass is a professor of English at UC Berkeley.

(Excerpted from The University of Arizona’s Poetry Center’s website.)

One of contemporary American poetry’s most eclectic and formally innovative writers, Brenda Hillman is known for poems that draw on elements of found texts and document, personal meditation, observation, and literary theory. Often described as “sensuous” and “luminescent,” Hillman’s poetry investigates and pushes at the possibilities of form and voice, while remaining grounded in topics such as geology, the environment, politics, family, and spirituality. In an interview with Sarah Rosenthal, Hillman described her own understanding of form: “It is the artist’s job to make form. Not even to make it, but to allow it. Allow form. And all artists have a different relationship to it, and a different philosophy of it … I think that when you are trying to open up a territory—in this case I was working with a desire to open the lyric—you have to be greedy, in that you want more than you can do. And you’re always bound to fail.” Praising Hillman’s deft handling of form and subject, Marjorie Welish wrote, “Each poem … creates its own experimental configuration, within which the phrase swerves and discombobulates sense, as several registers of subject complicate the sampling of experiences and also as the experimental format throws the lyric into symbolic disarray one moment and naturalist scrutiny the next. And even more: she writes as if the lyric poem had a political calling.”

Born in 1951 in Tucson, Arizona, Hillman earned degrees at Pomona College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The author of over 10 books of poetry, she has received numerous awards for her work including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Society of America, as well as a Pushcart Prize and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her collection Bright Existence (1993) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Loose Sugar (1997) a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. She co-translated Ashur Etwebi’s Poems from Above the Hill (2011), Jeongrye Choi’s Instances (2011), and Ana Cristina Cesar’s At Your Feet (2018); and edited or coedited several volumes, including The Pocket Emily Dickinson (2009). A professor of creative writing, she holds the Olivia Filippi Chair in Poetry at St. Mary’s College, in Moraga, California. (Excerpted from the Poetry Foundation website.)

Photo credits: Hass photo—Shoey Sindel; Hillman photo: University of Arizona Poetry Center


Monday, February 03, 2020 - Evening Program
What Turns Us Violent? Sacred Emergencies
Michael Jerryson

As long as there have been recorded histories, humanity has engaged in violence. In this macabre mosaic that pits human against human, religion becomes a reoccurring justifier. While religion has been a force for generosity, empathy, and social justice, it also demonstrates a dark side. Particular structures of thought dominate the ways in which we understand and ethicize situations and which transform the ways in which we understand the world and our ethical obligations. Using contemporary examples such as ISIS and Burmese Buddhist extremists, among others, Dr. Michael Jerryson, professor of religious studies at Youngstown State University, will trace these cognitive patterns across religious traditions to explain contemporary violence both within the U.S. and abroad.

Michael Jerryson, professor of religious studies in the department of philosophy and religious studies at Youngstown State University, looks at the intersections between identity and violence and the ways in which we associate religious identities with peace and violence.

He earned his B.A in Western Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After volunteering for the Peace Corps in Mongolia, Jerryson returned to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and acquired his M.A in Languages and Cultures of Asia with a focus on the socio-political history of Mongolian Buddhism.

He furthered his interest in religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a Global Studies emphasis.

Professor Jerryson's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

(Parents Dining Room)



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