University of Rochester

Hyam Plutzik, Poet: A Centennial Celebration

October 3, 2011

Prestigious Reading Series to Honor the Life and Work of Rochester Professor

Professor Hyam Plutzik had a mission: the University of Rochester community would not only experience poetry on the page, but also would know the excitement of an impassioned author at the podium and a rapt audience in their seats. Although Plutzik started small—reading his own poetry to students in the Wells-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library— his insistence on poetry in performance launched what is now the longest running collegiate poetry reading series in the United States.

This year, the University and the Hyam Plutzik Centennial Committee celebrates the series' 50th year and the centennial anniversary of Plutzik's birth. The poetry readings and lectures are a University tradition that began in response to the Pulitzer Prize finalist's death in 1962.

"One of Hyam Plutzik's most cherished and enduring legacies at the University of Rochester and in the city of Rochester is the tradition of literary readings he established," wrote Professor Emeritus of English Jerold Ramsey in an informal history of the Reading Series. "Writers may have given occasional readings from their works on campus and in the city before he came- but unmistakably Plutzik's regular renditions of his own, and other modern poet's works, inspired a practice that carries on to this day."

Beginning October 13 and continuing throughout the academic year, the series will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, and U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, as well as acclaimed poets Eavan Boland, Susan Stewart, and distinguished poets and writers of the University faculty, James Longenbach, Joanna Scott, Jennifer Grotz, and Stephen Schottenfeld, who will read during Meliora Weekend on Oct. 22. "The Plutzik reading series is one of the oldest and most prestigious reading series in the country, but what's really exciting about it is how alive it still is in the present—how much students gain from an intimate introduction to contemporary literature by meeting and listening to a wide array of poets and prose writers," said Grotz, assistant professor of English, who will be a guest presenter at a Plutzik Reading on The Road, scheduled to take place in February in New York City.

In addition to the wide-ranging series of events that pay homage to Plutzik's legacy as a poet, educator, and promoter of the arts, Plutzik's second book of poetry, Apples from Shinar, will be reissued by Wesleyan University Press. This second edition will include Plutzik's previously unpublished introduction, and a new afterward by David Scott Kastan, George M. Bodman Professor of English at Yale University. The book will be released on Oct. 15, and is available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

"This is a very exciting year for the English department, which is proud to continue Hyam's legacy and promote a love of poetry in the University community," said John Michael, professor and chair of the English department. Over the last 50 years, the University has hosted Elizabeth Bishop, Donald Hall, Robert Lowell, and Salman Rushdie, among nearly 300 other acclaimed literary figures, including many Pulitzer, National Book Award and Nobel Prize winners.

"The Plutzik family is thrilled to see such a prominent group of poets and critics here at the University in honor of my father. He would be thrilled by these contemporary poets' work, and excited to share their presence here with today's students," said Deborah Plutzik Briggs '80E, Hyam Plutzik's daughter. Critic and scholar Christopher Ricks will deliver a Ford Lecture as a Plutzik 50th anniversary event on Nov. 30, as will poet and critic Susan Stewart, on March 5, 2012. Additional events include a dramatic reading of Plutzik's long poem, Horatio, based on the character from Shakespeare's Hamlet. A portion of Horatio is included in Apples from Shinar.

Two inter-related exhibits will be shown in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library of Rush Rhees Library: "Remembering Hyam Plutzik," curated by Sergei Kriskov '12, and "Students Read Plutzik," curated by Sarah Young '13 open on October 3, 2011.

The Plutzik Reading Series is administered by the Department of English and is free and open to the public. For more information about any of the events listed here, please call (585) 275-4092, or visit the University's Plutzik Reading Series website, or the Hyam Plutzik Poetry website, which is the resource for information about Plutzik events taking place on the road.

Highlights of the Plutzik Centennial Reading Series include:
Plutzik Readings and Lectures are free and open to the public. Information about Meliora Weekend events, which may require special registration, is available here.

Exhibit Opening and Reception
Monday, Oct. 3 at 5 p.m.
Celebrate the beginning of the centennial reading series and view two inter-related exhibits, "Remembering Hyam Plutzik," curated by Sergei Kriskov '12, and "Students Read Plutzik," curated by Sarah Young '13. Both exhibits run through January 15, 2012. Rare Books and Special Collections, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

50th Anniversary Reading: Yusef Komunyakaa, Poet
Thursday, Oct. 13 at 5 p.m.
Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

Meliora Weekend Reading: University of Rochester Creative Writing Faculty
James Longenbach, Joanna Scott, Jennifer Grotz, and Stephen Schottenfeld will read their poetry.
Lander Auditorium, Hutchison Hall, University of Rochester River Campus

50th Anniversary Reading: Eavan Boland, Poet
Thursday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

50th Anniversary Event: A Ford Lecture by Christopher Ricks, Critic and Scholar
Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m.
Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

50th Anniversary Event: A Ford Lecture by Susan Stewart, Poet and Critic
Monday, March 5 at 5 p.m.

Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

Dramatic Reading: Hyam Plutzik's Horatio
Monday, March 26 at 5 p.m.
Nigel Maister, director of the University of Rochester International Theatre Program, will present a dramatic reading of Plutzik's long poem.
Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

50th Anniversary Reading: Philip Levine, U.S. Poet Laureate
Thursday, April 12 at 5 p.m.

Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus

50th Anniversary Event: A Lecture by Rosanna Warren, Poet
Tuesday, April 24 at 5 p.m.

Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester River Campus




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