Poetry Reading at Houghton to Focus on Ecology

Poetry is prized for its unique power to wander the interstices between nature and memory and to synthesize inspiration from many sources. In this spirit, seven poets will be at Harvard on Friday to present their works from “The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral,” a 2012 literary anthology consisting exclusively of post-1995 American poetry.

The nearly 600-page collection features formally innovative work in the tradition of the pastoral,  an ancient form of lyric poetry celebrating shepherds and rural life. At the same time, these poems address ideas from an ecological perspective—a style sometimes called ecopoetry—maintaining a consciousness of one’s ecological citizenship and relation to the environment today.

The readings will take place in the Edison-Newman Room of Houghton Library and will be co-sponsored by the book’s publisher, Ahsahta Press, and the Woodberry Poetry Room. Poets confirmed for the event include Dan Beachy-Quick, John Beer, Timothy Donnelly, Gabriel Gudding, Dana Levin, Brian Teare, C.D. Wright,  Joshua Corey, and G.C. Waldrep. Corey and Waldrep, who are the editors of the anthology, will also be introducing the event.

Though the poets hail from across the United States and use widely differing aesthetic approaches, they are united in their conjuring of Arcadia, an ancient Greek city. The event’s speakers represent a diversity of influences and styles. Beer, whose works have been compared to those of John Ashbery, is the recipient of the  Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Donnelly is a poet and assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University whose style is sprawling, subtle, and enigmatic. Waldrep is a poet and historian who teaches at Bucknell University and is the editor-at-large of the Kenyon Review. Corey is the Gustav E. Beerly, Jr. assistant professor of English at Lake Forest College. Together they create an ecologically focused view of an ancient city.

—Staff writer Victoria Zhuang can be reached at