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Milosz and the American Poets He Loved...and Hated

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm
Walker-Ames Room, Kane Hall, UW-Seattle

Czeslaw Milosz lived in the United States for more than four decades, most of them as citizen. Though his cultural and poetic roots were in Lithuania and Poland, he developed significant artistic and personal dialogues throughout his life with American poets. No one can underestimate Milosz's affinity with Whitman. Milosz also developed strong interest in the work of Robinson Jeffers, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, Thomas Merton, and Allen Ginsberg, and wrote poems to or essays about all of them. His appreciation often included strong judgments--strong dislikes bordering on hate. Among his younger contemporaries, Milosz came to appreciate Merwin, Waggoner, Levertov, Kowit, Hirshfield and his translators, future U.S. Poet Laureates Robert Pinsky and Robert Hass. Often contradictory and sometimes polemical, those relationships reveal a great deal about Milosz's own struggles with poetry, politics, religion, his personal condition of exile, and his remarkable emergence as a significant poet in the American literary context.
Robert Faggen is the Barton Evans and H. Andrea Neves Professor of Literature and the Director of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. He is also a founder of the Milosz Archive and Institute at the Gould Center.