Laura Passin (Northwestern University, USA): "The Poem as Meeting Place - Why You Shouldn't Be Scared of Poetry"

Thursday, 05.11.2015, 4:15-5:45 p.m., U5/01.22

In this interactive talk, Laura Passin will discuss some of the reasons why even passionate readers tend to be intimidated by poetry and how to let go of those fears. Using the American poet Muriel Rukeyser's concept of poetry as a "meeting place," where "false barriers" between people can come down, Laura will show how selected poems by contemporary authors like Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, Galway Kinnell or Marilyn Hacker employ different poetic techniques in order to create a connection between the poet and the reader. She will show how poems can be not only emotionally powerful, but also funny, weird, and useful. Laura will also present a short selection of her own poems and answer questions about how they work and why she wrote them.

Laura Passin (Ph.D. Northwestern; M.F.A. University of Oregon) is a writer and scholar specializing in contemporary American poetry and gender studies. She teaches a wide range of literary topics, from Renaissance poetry to 21st-century feminist writing. Her doctoral project, "The Lyric in the Age of Theory: The Politics and Poetics of Confession in Contemporary American Poetry," argues that first-person lyric poetry itself constitutes a theory of selfhood, authenticity, and political literature.

Laura's poetry and essays have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Prairie Schooner, Chicago Literati, Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women, The Toast, The Archipelago, and Best New Poets 2013. In 2013, Mark Doty awarded her poem "The Learn'd Astronomer on the Radio" the Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry from the Bellevue Literary Review. Under the pseudonym "Sweet Machine," she has written for major feminist blogs such as Shapely Prose and Captain Awkward. She also writes an email newsletter about feminism, poetry, and pop culture called Postcards from a One-Woman Army. Laura lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.