Lyric Poetry in an Era of Social Division


Tuesday, December 5, 2023 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Humanities Quadrangle, 136
320 York Street
New Haven, CT 06511


Linda Gregerson, University of Michigan
Humanities Quadrangle (HQ) 136

Civil conversation—the thoughtful, exploratory engagement of heart and mind, collective attention to issues of collective urgency—has taken a terrible hit in recent years, in the United States and throughout the world. Put simply, we don’t seem to be very good at talking to one another anymore or at listening to those whose experience, hopes, and fears are different than our own. Where can we turn? Many, of all races and walks of life, have turned to lyric poetry, with a resultant burgeoning, in Anglophone poetry alone, of diverse voices, perspectives, and forms. Lyric poetry has long been identified as the genre of personal expression, and that is surely one of its strengths, but as poetry written to be read by others, it has always occupied a complicated terrain that is at once public and private. Its subjects are not always easily consoling, but its premise, the written-to-be-read part, is by nature a hopeful one.

Linda Gregerson is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently of Canopy (Ecco/HarperCollins 2022). She is also the author of The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic; Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry; and numerous essays on early modern English and contemporary American poetry. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Gregerson directs the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She divides her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and London.