posted February 6, 2012

Annual Muste Lecture to Explore Poetry and Pacifism

The intersection between poetry and peace will be the focus of two events featuring award-winning poet Fred Marchant on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 22, and 23, through the A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture Series at Hope College.

Marchant, who is a member of the faculty at Suffolk University, will present the address “Another World Instead: Some Pacifist Poets and Poetics, from William Stafford to Occupy Wall Street” as this year’s A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 22.  He will also give a poetry reading on Thursday, Feb. 23.  Both events will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

The public is invited to both the lecture and the reading.  Admission is free.

Marchant’s address will explore a variety of questions, including whether or not there is a poetics of pacifism; whether or not an anti-war poem can accomplish real or lasting good; the deepest lessons that anti-war poets and poems teach about resistance to war and the affirmations of peace; and how such poetry might help foster and pass on a “living tradition,” a consciousness and a conscience that will help inspire the peace-builders of the future.  A question-and-answer session will follow the lecture.

Marchant was the 2009 co-winner (with Afaa Michael Weaver) of the May Sarton Award from the New England Poetry Club, given to poets whose “work is an inspiration to other poets.”  His most recent book of poetry, “The Looking House” (Graywolf Press, 2009) was named by Barnes and Noble Review as one of the five best books of poetry in 2009. The “San Francisco Chronicle” picked it as one of the 10 best collections of poetry, and the Massachusetts Book Award committee listed it as one of its “must reads.”  Janette Currie, writing in “Pleiades,” has written that “Marchant’s great achievement in ‘The Looking House’ is to create a new anti-war poetics out of seemingly disparate subjects and images.”

Marchant is also the author of “Tipping Point,” winner of the 1993 Washington Prize in poetry; “Full Moon Boat” (Graywolf Press, 2000); and “House on Water, House in Air,” published by Dedalus Press, Dublin, Ireland, in 2002. He is the co-translator (with Nguyen Ba Chung) of “From a Corner of My Yard,” poetry by the Vietnamese poet Tran Dang Khoa, published in 2006 in Hanoi,Vietnam. He is also the editor of “Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947” (Graywolf Press, 2008), a selection that focuses on the work done while Stafford was a conscientious objector during World War II.

Professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing Program, Marchant is also director of The Poetry Center at Suffolk University. A longtime teaching affiliate of The William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, he has also taught poetry workshops at sites across the country, from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., to The Veterans Writing Group in Sebastopol, Calif.

A graduate of Brown University, he earned a Ph.D. from The University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought.

The A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture Series began in 1985 to commemorate the life and work of A.J. Muste, an alumnus of Hope College (1905) who became a tireless activist for the causes of peace and justice.

Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson, Muste’s biographer, presented the inaugural lecture. Subsequent lectures have been given by theologians, peace activists, labor organizers and prison reformers.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.