Poet Major Jackson Reads at PSU October 19

October 1st, 2008 by Adam

Major Jackson emerged onto the national poetry scene with publication of a poetry collection, Leaving Saturn, in 2002. He’ll enrich the local poetry scene Sunday, Oct. 19, at 3 p.m. as an Eagle Pond Authors’ Series reader at Plymouth State University.

“Major Jackson’s voice arrives with a dissonant, unforgettable blast of perspectives and forms. This is poetry to listen to, to reckon with,” said book editor Susan Larson.

“Jackson ranges through forms and settings, showing off poetic chops honed early and well. Jackson is in step, but he’s also out there on the sidelines watching, with a keen eye for the tender moment, a rage at unfairness, a clever perception of vision where others might see only craziness,” said Larson.

Jackson is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia and the graduate creative writing program at the University of Oregon. He teaches at the University of Vermont and is a faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Both his books,Leaving Saturn which was published in 2002, and Hoops which came out in 2006, reflect his years in Philadelphia and the human concerns of an urban Black population.

According to Sally Pollack of the Burlington Free Press, Jackson hopes his rendering of Philadelphia provokes people “to think a little more critically and reflexively about their communities.”

Hoops was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award;Leaving Saturn won a Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Jackson has also been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Witter-Bynner Foundation.

In an interview with the University of Oregon’s Literary Reference, Jackson said he learned in that program that “what we write is part of a large, grand conversation.” In that same interview he said, “[the point comes when] that tension between what the poem is trying to say (content) and how it is saying it (form) works and builds to a pitched engagement of ideas and choices. At whatever resolution or epiphany I arrive, I am satisfied because I have kept a conscious eye and ear on the structure of the poem, which prevented me from falling into the pit of self-righteousness and didacticism.”

Asked to share advice for poets who are just starting out, Jackson replied, “ Be hungry to know the possibilities and profits of language, which requires wide reading and engagement with literature of all ages and peoples.”

Free tickets are available at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-ARTS or(800)779-3869.

The Eagle Pond Authors’ Series is named for co-founder Donald Hall’s ancestral home in Wilmot which has inspired much of his work. This series brings to campus some of the most widely read and revered authors of our time.

The readings are presented by the Silver Center for the Arts and supported by a generous grant from the Plymouth State University Bookstore and Follett Higher Education Group.

Series readers in the spring will be C.D. Wright on March 1 and Wesley McNair on April 5.

For information about Silver Center presentations log on to silver.plymouth.edu.

For general information about events at PSU, log on to ThisWeek@PSU.