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Marilynne Robinson, Zadie Smith, Ferrante and More Featured in 92Y's Fall Literary Season

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The Center’s 82nd annual season kicks off on September 10.

Marilynne Robinson, Zadie Smith, Ferrante and More Featured in 92Y's Fall Literary Season

The 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center's fall season features critically-acclaimed novelists Marilynne Robinson and Zadie Smith, beloved American poet Billy Collins and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar, among others, in virtual events.

The Center's 82nd annual season kicks off on September 10 with a celebration of Audre Lorde; the September/October slate is included below.

The season also includes a wide range of classes and literary seminars on iconic writers such as James Baldwin and Elena Ferrante, among others.

The Poetry Center, which launched in 1939 with a lineup that included W.H. Auden and Langston Hughes, has presented readings by many of the best-known novelists, poets and playwrights of the 20th and 21st centuries. Dylan Thomas premiered Under Milk Wood on its stage; and Truman Capote and Kurt Vonnegut, among others, debuted new works. Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Pablo Neruda, Philip Roth, Tennessee Williams and Colson Whitehead have all made appearances over the years.

For more information about the Poetry Center's fall season - virtual events and all classes and seminars - visit:


Thursday, September 10, 7 pm, From $15

Upon the publication of The Selected Works of Audre Lorde , Roxane Gay, the volume's editor, is joined by Mahogany L. Browne, Saeed Jones and Porsha Olayiwola for a reading of Lorde's poetry and prose and conversation about her life and legacy. "Lorde is a towering figure in the world of letters," Gay writes in her introduction. "She was the first writer I ever read who lived and loved the way I did and also looked like me. She was a beacon, a guiding light. And she was far more than that because her prose and poetry astonished me-intelligent, fierce, powerful, sensual, provocative, indelible."

Claudia Rankine: JUST US

Monday, September 14, 7 pm, From $15

In Just Us, her follow-up to the award-winning collection Citizen, Claudia Rankine creates another powerfully provocative and genre-defying work of poetry, essays and images inviting readers to take part in a much-needed conversation about race in America. She will be joined in conversation by Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility. "Claudia Rankine is one of our essential thinkers about race, difference, politics, and the United States of America," wrote Viet Thanh Nguyen. "Written with humility and humor, criticism and compassion, Just Us asks difficult questions and begins necessary conversations."


Thursday, September 24, 6 pm, From $15

"Talking to yourself can be useful," writes Zadie Smith in the introduction to Intimations, her new book of essays reflecting on the early days of the shutdown. She is joined in conversation by Ashley C. Ford, author and host of the Chronicles of Now podcast. "This collection will endure as a beautiful thing," wrote Tessa Hadley. "Although it's born out of the pandemic and the lockdown, it feels like a doorway into a new space for thought. Zadie Smith writes as she thinks, and she thinks crisply and exactly, not in abstractions, but through the thick specificity of people and places, fragments of story."


Wednesday, September 30, 7 pm, From $15

A longtime friend of the Poetry Center, Billy Collins-former U.S. Poet Laureate and "America's favorite poet" (The Wall Street Journal)-launches his new collection, Whale Day, with an intimate reading from his home writing desk. The reading will be followed by audience questions.


Monday, Ocdtober 5, 7 pm, From $15

Sarah M. Broom won the 2019 National Book Award for her first book, The Yellow House, a memoir that delves into a hundred years of her family's history in its home city of New Orleans. She is joined in conversation by scholar Saidiya Hartman, whose own work of intimate history, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments , won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award. "Sarah Broom's sweeping memoir is epic in scope-a love letter to the family of twelve of which she is the 'babiest,' an intimate and uncompromising vision of the New Orleans that shaped her, an homage to deep roots and to blackness-all of this shot through with reverence, longing and abiding love," wrote Ayana Mathis.


Tuesday, October 13, 7 pm, From $15

Marilynne Robinson continues her beloved and now-classic series of Gilead novels with the publication of Jack. Set in the 1950s, Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, prodigal son of the town's Presbyterian minister, and his interracial romance with Della Miles, a high-school teacher. Robinson is joined in conversation by Ayana Mathis. "Robinson's stellar, revelatory fourth entry in her Gilead cycle is a beautiful, superbly crafted meditation on the redemption and transcendence that love affords," wrote Publishers Weekly.


Thursday, October 15, 7 pm, From $15

Homeland Elegies, the new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced ), is a deeply personal work of identity and belonging that explores an artist's complex relationship to his and his immigrant family's American identity. Akhtar will be joined in conversation by Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of The Public Theater. "An unflinchingly honest self-portrait by a brilliant Muslim-American writer, and, beyond that, an unsparing examination of both sides of that fraught hyphenated reality," wrote Salman Rushdie. Homeland Elegies is "passionate, disturbing, unputdownable."

ON James Baldwin'S AMERICA

Seminar: With Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Thursday, September 17, 1:30 pm, From $35

In this seminar, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton, charts James Baldwin's transformation into a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. Glaude's new book, Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, is a work of biography, history, memoir and literary analysis that surveys the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time to that of No Name in the Street . "In this phenomenal work, we are treated to a timeless and spellbinding conversation between two brilliant writers, thinkers, and active witnesses, addressing issues-past, present, and future-that are necessary, urgent, and vital for our survival," writes Edwidge Danticat. The format will be a talk by Glaude followed by student questions via Zoom's chat feature.


Class: With Alex Ross

October 14-November 18, From $35

How did Wagner's art become a proving ground where the Western world has wrestled with its capacity for beauty and violence? For better or worse, Wagner is the most widely influential figure in the history of music. Artist like Woolf, Mann, Duncan and Buñuel saw him as a kindred spirit. Anarchists, occultists, feminists, and gay-rights pioneers did as well. Then with the rise of Nazi Germany, the composer came to be defined by his ferocious antisemitism. Join Alex Ross, The New Yorker 's music critic, in this interdisciplinary survey of geniuses, madmen, charlatans and prophets who have battled over Wagner's many-sided legacy.The format of each session will be a talk by Ross followed by student questions via Zoom's chat feature.


Class: With Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, Katherine Hill and Jill Richards

October 16-December 11, From $35

In The Ferrante Letters, authors and academics Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, Katherine Hill and Jill Richards embark on a series of critical and personal readings of the Neapolitan novels. Inspired by Ferrante's depiction of female friendship and women's intellectual lives, this book of collective criticism offers a new model for reading and thinking together. In this class, Chihaya, Emre, Hill and Richards present a series of probing lectures on each of Ferrante's acclaimed novels, concluding with a collective interview of Ann Goldstein, English translator of the books. "The Ferrante Letters gives us a unique opportunity to read-or reread-the Neapolitan novels with four distinct guides beside us, both literary and personal, posing questions and offering insights, analysis, and discussion that enrich and deepen our experience of the books," writes Ann Goldstein.

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