James Longenbach will read from his new book of poems, Draft of a Letter, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in the Welles-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester's River Campus as part of the Plutzik Reading Series.
Longenbach, who is the Joseph H. Gilmore Professor of English at the University, is a highly-regarded literary critic of Modernist poets and poetry who has published two other well-received collections of his own poems: Threshold (University of Chicago Press, 1998) and Fleet River (University of Chicago Press, 2003). He is the recipient of the Lillian Fairchild Award, the Nation/Discovery Prize for poetry, and awards from the Guggenheim and Mellon Foundation, and has served as the poetry judging chair of the National Book Award.
The poems in Draft of a Letter (University of Chicago Press, 2007) look at and ponder the people and places we think we know best, discovering and celebrating the magnificence and infinitude in the familiar. The poems have been described as "inevitable and precise as a flower" by John Ashbery and "ecstatic, beautiful, haunting" by Frank Bidart.
Longenbach's poems have appeared in many magazines and journals, including The New Republic, The Nation, The Yale Review, and the Best American Poetry. His research in modern literature has produced six books of literary criticism, including his most recent, The Resistance to Poetry, and the highly-regarded Modern Poetry After Modernism and Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things. His articles and reviews have been published in such publications as New York Times Book Review, The Nation, and The Yale Review.
The Plutzik Reading Series is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious literary reading programs. Established to honor the work of Hyam Plutzik, a distinguished poet and Deane Professor of Poetry and Rhetoric at the University, it has featured more than 175 noted writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Anthony Hecht, Elizabeth Bishop, and Galway Kinnell. The Plutzik Series is administered by the Department of English. For more information, call (585) 275-4092.