Transformation, Aesthetics, and Beauty: Translating Zen Master Ikkyu and Classical Chinese Poetry
Translators Sarah Messer and Kidder Smith will introduce Zen Master Ikkyu, an unconventional 14th century enlightened Zen Master who wrote poems in Classical Chinese, upended gender roles, and transformed the aesthetics of medieval Japan. They will also discuss how they translated Ikkyu’s poetry since Sarah didn’t know any Chinese at the start. All of us together will then translate a poem from Chinese into English, using the same method that Sarah and Kidder employed. We will conclude by enjoying some cheese from White Lotus Farms (where Sarah works), understanding that cheesemaking also involves transformation, aesthetics, mindfulness, and beauty.
RC alumna Sarah Messer is the author of four books, a hybrid history/memoir, Red House (Viking), a book of translations, Having Once Paused: Poems of Zen Master Ikkyu (University of Michigan Press) and two poetry books Bandit Letters (New Issues), and Dress Made of Mice (Black Lawrence Press). Messer co-founded One Pause Poetry and teaches Creative Writing at the RC and is a cheesemaker at White Lotus Farms.
For many years Kidder Smith taught Chinese history at Bowdoin College in Maine, where he also chaired the Asian Studies Program. He is the lead translator of Sun Tzu—the Art of War (Shambhala), and (with Sarah Messer), Having Once Paused: Poems of Zen Master Ikkyu (University of Michigan Press).
Literati is excited to host this special panel discussion with contributors from the new book Elemental: A Collection of Creative Nonfiction
About Elemental: A Collection of Creative Nonfiction:
Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction comes to us from twenty-three of Michigan’s most well-known essayists. A celebration of the elements, this collection is both the storm and the shelter. In her introduction, editor Anne-Marie Oomen recalls the “ritual dousing” of her storytelling group’s bonfire: “wind, earth, fire, water-all of it simultaneous in that one gesture. . . . In that moment we are bound together with these elements and with this place, the circle around the fire on the shores of a Great Lake closes, complete.”
The essays approach Michigan at the atomic level. This is a place where weather patterns and ecology matter. Farmers, miners, shippers, and loggers have built (or lost) their livelihood on Michigan’s nature-what could and could not be made out of our elements. From freshwater lakes that have shaped the ground beneath our feet to the industrial ebb and flow of iron ore and wind power-ours is a state of survival and transformation. In the first section of the book, “Earth,” Jerry Dennis remembers working construction in northern Michigan. “Water” includes a piece from Jessica Mesman, who writes of the appearance of snow in different iterations throughout her life. The section “Wind” houses essays about the ungraspable nature of death from Toi Dericotte and Keith Taylor. “Fire” includes a piece by Mardi Jo Link, who recollects the unfortunate series of circumstances surrounding one of her family members.
Elemental‘s strength lies in its ability to learn from the past in the hope of defining a wiser future. A lot of literature can make this claim, but not all of it comes together so organically. Fans of nonfiction that reads as beautifully as fiction will love this collection.
Anne-Marie Oomen is author of Love, Sex, and 4-H, House of Fields, Pulling Down the Barn, and Uncoded Woman, among others. She teaches at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College, Interlochen’s College of Creative Arts, and at conferences throughout the country.
Using contemporary plays, together we’ll explore how to read drama and why it’s important. Plays are a powerful tool to ignite conversations about issues that are often challenging to discuss and they give voice to people and experiences that might otherwise be overlooked. We’ll even try our hand at writing them!
Kate Tucker Fahlsing is a Chicago-based playwright, screenwriter, educator and founder of WhizBang Writers Workshop. She holds an MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage from Northwestern University. Her plays have been featured in Chicago and Off-Broadway in New York City. For more visit: www.whizbangwriters.com
With the young republic in crisis, President Washington chose as general an aging brigadier whose private life was mired in scandal. Follow the story of General Anthony Wayne, drawn from his own passionate letters where he vividly confessed his deepest thoughts. Writer and historian Mary Stockwell was an Earhart Foundation Fellow at the Clements Library. Her book “Unlikely General: ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America” was published by Yale University Press in 2018. She has a B.A. in history from Mary Manse College and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Toledo. Register online.
DR. CHLOE PREEDY, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Hosted by the Animal Studies & Environmental Humanities RIW. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Literati is excited to welcome author and physician Anthony DeBenedet to discuss his book Playful Intelligence.
About Playful Intelligence:
As adults, we have more responsibilities than we could have ever imagined growing up. Learning the work of marriage. Navigating the bumpy terrain of parenting. Maintaining social relationships. Facing grave hardship. Finding contentment in our career.
As the years pass by, we sense how the good things in life are so often eclipsed by stress. We find ourselves doing everything we can just to endure adulthood, all the while wondering whether we are actually enjoying it. This is exactly why Dr. Anthony T. DeBenedet decided to write Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World, to show readers how playfulness helps us counterbalance the seriousness of adulthood.
“Five years ago, my life was becoming more intense and stressful,” DeBenedet says. “My relationships, clinical work as a physician, and basic interactions with the world were blurring into a frazzled mosaic. Going through the motions became my norm, and every day brought busyness and exhaustion. I thought about whether I was depressed. I didn’t think I was. Anxious? Sure, but aren’t we all anxious on some level? I also thought about the lifestyle factors that could be making me feel this way. Was I getting enough sleep? Was I exercising regularly? Was I eating healthy? Was I playing and remembering to be playful?”
Today, we live in a taxing world. The endless pressure to keep up with our responsibilities and the daily headlines swarming around us can be overwhelming. DeBenedet’s work comes at a time when stress, uncertainty, and intensity levels are high. Playful Intelligence shows adults that there is a way to live lighter–and smarter–as we navigate the seriousness of adulthood. It’s not about taking life less seriously; it’s about taking ourselves less seriously.
The book’s core chapters are devoted to exploring the effects and benefits of five playful qualities: imagination, sociability, humor, spontaneity, and wonder. By examining playfulness as a sum of its parts, readers will gain a working awareness of its power and be able to apply playful principles to their own lives, bringing the magic of childhood back into their day-to-day existence. The book also offers practical suggestions on how to make life more playful in nature.
Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D. is a practicing physician and behavioral-science enthusiast. His interviews and writings have run in various media outlets, including the New York Times, the Today show, the Washington Post, and TIME Ideas. He also co-authored The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It (Quirk Books, 2011), a parenting book about the importance of parent-child physical play. DeBenedet has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering, a Master of Science Degree in Health and Healthcare Research from the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, and a Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan Health System. DeBenedet lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he enjoys spending time with his family, connecting with friends, and playing a little basketball.
The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) at the University of Michigan cordially invite you to join us for Dr. Assya Humesky’s talk about her and her family’s contributions to Ukrainian culture through published works, art, and teaching in higher education.
Light refreshments will be served.
Professor Richard Mann has been a pivotal figure in consciousness-related coursework and research on the U-M campus and far beyond. A revered pedagogue and visionary, he has impacted hundreds of students from across fields as well as maintained national prominence through his writings and longtime position as editor of the cutting-edge SUNY series in Transpersonal Psychology. In conversation with PCCS Director Ed Sarath, this evening’s talk will commemorate Mann’s long and distinguished tenure at U-M and engage in far-reaching reflections about his personal work and what might lie ahead for the still-nascent field of consciousness studies. Topics will range from research and ideas pursued by organizations such as Society for Scientific Exploration, Institute for the Noetic Sciences, and the Integral Theory community that challenge materialist assumptions, to socio-political-environmental ramifications of consciousness understanding, to what a 21st century program in consciousness studies might look like.
For more information on the Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies and its Consciousness Next Series, contact Ed Sarath, firstname.lastname@example.org, and also go to https://smtd.umich.edu/current-students-3/pccs/
Literati is thrilled to welcome back poet Sarah Arvio who will reading and discussing her new translation of poems by Federico García Lorca
About Poet in Spain:
For the first time in a quarter century, a major new volume of translations of the beloved poetry of Federico García Lorca, presented in a beautiful bilingual edition
The fluid and mesmeric lines of these new translations by the award-winning poet Sarah Arvio bring us closer than ever to the talismanic perfection of the great García Lorca. Poet in Spain invokes the “wild, innate, local surrealism” of the Spanish voice, in moonlit poems of love and death set among poplars, rivers, low hills, and high sierras. Arvio’s ample and rhythmically rich offering includes, among other essential works, the folkloric yet modernist Gypsy Ballads, the plaintive flamenco Poem of the Cante Jondo, and the turbulent and beautiful Dark Love Sonnets —addressed to Lorca’s homosexual lover–which Lorca was revising at the time of his brutal political murder by Fascist forces in the early days of the Spanish Civil War. Here, too, are several lyrics translated into English for the first time and the play Blood Wedding–also a great tragic poem. Arvio has created a fresh voice for Lorca in English, full of urgency, pathos, and lyricism–showing the poet’s work has grown only more beautiful with the passage of time.
Sarah Arvio, the author of night thoughts: 70 dream poems & notes from an analysis, Sono: cantos, and Visits from the Seventh, is a recipient Rome Prize and the Bogliasco and Guggenheim fellowships, among other honors. For many years a translator for the United Nations in New York and Switzerland, she has also taught poetry at Princeton.
Federico García Lorca may be Spain’s most famous poet and dramatist of all time. Born in Andalusia in 1898, he grew up in a village on the Vega and in the city of Granada. His prolific works, known for their powerful lyricism and an obsession with love and death, include the Gypsy Ballads, which brought him far-reaching fame, and the homoerotic Dark Love Sonnets, which did not see print until almost fifty years after his death. His murder in 1936 by Fascist forces at the outset of the Spanish Civil War became a literary cause célébre; in Spain, his writings were banned. Lorca’s poems and plays are now read and revered in many languages throughout the world.
Literati is excited to welcome poet Sue William Silverman in celebration of her new poetry collection If the Girl Never Learns: Poems. Sue will be joined by fellow poets Keith Taylor, Elizabeth Schumhl, and Marc Sheehan who will be reading from their own work.
About If the Girl Never Learns:
From the opening lines, it’s clear The Girl at the center of these poems is damaged–which is another way to say she’s a survivor. If the Girl Never Learns moves from the personal to the mythic to the apocalyptic, because The Girl would do anything, even go to hell, to save her soul. So, she resists, takes action to overturn society’s suffocating ideal of Good Girldom. The poems’ sense of breathlessness reflects The Girl’s absolute need to control her own destiny, to outrun her past, while at the same time chasing a future she alone has envisioned and embodied. Because The Girl is, above all else, a badass.
Sue William Silverman’s first poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon. She is also the author of four books of creative nonfiction. Her most recent book, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, was a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award. Her memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the AWP Award, and Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV original movie. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, and she teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
The poet Marc Sheehan is a life-long Michigan resident. He has earned degrees from Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan, where he received a Major Hopwood Award in Poetry. His honors also include grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has served as Writer Center Coordinator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, and has reviewed books for both the Lansing Capital Times and On the Town.
Elizabeth Schmuhl is a multidisciplinary artist whose work appears in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, Paper Darts, PANK, Hobart, Pinwheel, and elsewhere. She has worked at various nonprofits, including the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and currently works at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Keith Taylor has published many books over the years: collections of poetry, a collection of very short stories, co-edited volumes of essays and fiction, and a volume of poetry translated from Modern Greek.