Steven Cramer and Pamela Petro
Steven Cramer, author of Departures from Rilke and Pamela Petro, author of The Long Field
Reading, Discussion and Book Signing
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 5:30pm
Departures from Rilke by Steven Cramer
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Departures From Rilke is so many things: reenactments that verge on translation, the choreography of a poetry known so deep in the bones that it dances in the writer’s living room, a sort of thrashing with the original as Steven Cramer wrests Rilke into the 21st century. This book allows us to experience the poet’s mind shaped by a lifetime of inhabiting a set of poems that have provided specific and transcendent instruction to so many writers. That is why I find this book so very personal, unique, and delightful.
—Cate Marvin, author of World’s Tallest Disaster (2001), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Fragment of the Head of a Queen (2007), and Oracle (2015).
Steven Cramer’s newest book of poems, Departures from Rilke, derives from his favorites among Rainer Maria Rilke’s two volumes of New Poems (1907/08). Cramer repurposes, updates, and sometimes upends the subject matter and style of the originals, often leaving Rilke’s premises almost altogether. A practice dating back to Thomas Wyatt’s imports of Petrarch and including Robert Lowell’s Imitations (1961), Cramer’s approach makes for an original poetry of personal and contemporary resonance, while remaining alert to Rilke’s chastening presence.
Departures from Rilke is Steven Cramer’s seventh poetry collection. His poems and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Field, Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and other journals, as well as in a number of anthologies. The recipient of many awards, two grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Cramer has taught literature and writing at Bennington College, Boston University, M.I.T., and Tufts University; and he founded and now teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Long Field by Pamela Petro
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Not since Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek have I felt so involved, as a reader, in ‘finding out what it all means.’ This is a beautifully written, un-put-downable book about language, love, and being alive, here, now.—Gillian Clarke, Wales’ longest-serving National Poet
For readers of H Is for Hawk, an intimate memoir of belonging and loss and a mesmerizing travelogue through the landscapes and language of Wales.
Hiraeth is a Welsh word that's famously hard to translate. Literally, it can mean "long field" but generally translates into English, inadequately, as "homesickness." At heart, hiraeth suggests something like a bone-deep longing for an irretrievable place, person, or time—an acute awareness of the presence of absence.
In The Long Field, Pamela Petro braids essential hiraeth stories of Wales with tales from her own life—as an American who found an ancient home in Wales, as a gay woman, as the survivor of a terrible AMTRAK train crash, and as the daughter of a parent with dementia. Through the pull and tangle of these stories and her travels throughout Wales, hiraeth takes on radical new meanings. There is traditional hiraeth of place and home, but also queer hiraeth; and hiraeth triggered by technology, immigration, ecological crises, and our new divisive politics. On this journey, the notion begins to morph from a uniquely Welsh experience to a universal human condition, from deep longing to the creative responses to loss that Petro sees as the genius of Welsh culture. It becomes a tool to understand ourselves in our time.
A finalist for the Wales Book of the Year Award and named to the Telegraph's and Financial Times's Top 10 lists for travel writing, The Long Field is an unforgettable exploration of “the hidden contours of the human heart.”
Pamela Petro is an author, artist, and educator living in Northampton, MA, with her partner, Marguerite, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Topaz. She has written four books of creative nonfiction including her latest, The Long Field – Wales and the Presence of Absence, a Memoir, as well as Travels in an Old Tongue, also about Wales; Sitting up with the Dead, about the American South; and The Slow Breath of Stone, about Southwest France. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Atlantic, Granta, Guernica, The Paris Review, and others. TPamela teaches creative writing at Smith College and on Lesley University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, and is co-Director of the Dylan Thomas Summer School at the University of Wales, Trinity St Davids, where she is also a Fellow. She has widely exhibited her photography and has also created an artist book, AfterShadows - A Grand Canyon Narrative, and a graphic script, Under Paradise Valley.