“Meter” may just be another word associated with poems and “syntax” a similarly obscure term, but reading Ellen Bryant Voigt’s latest poems gives these words a fuller understanding, if not a new meaning. As this semester’s second visiting writer through the English department, Voigt will be delivering a lecture entitled, “Lost and Found: On Randall Jarrell and the Use of Repetition,” tonight at 8 p.m. in Dow Rooms A & B. This follows a reading of her work last night.
Author of eight volumes of poetry, including the recipient of the Poets’ Prize 2008 and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “Messenger: New and Selected Poems,” Voigt has a long list of works and achievements.
John Somerville, professor of English and director of the Visiting Writers Program, wanted to invite Voigt, whom he considers “a contemporary poet of great distinction,” to campus prior to this semester.
“I was, needless to say, delighted when she agreed to a visit this fall,” Somerville said. “My hope now is that many members of our community will take this opportunity to attend her reading and lecture, and in doing so to enjoy her great gifts as a writer and interpreter of poetry.”
For those looking for a crash course of her work ahead of her lecture, The New Yorker’s Poetry Podcast features a couple of her poems. Both “Cow” and “Bear” come from her most recent work, “Headwaters,” which has no punctuation and consists of poems in connection to animals. In “Cow,” appearing in April 2014’s podcast, the last three lines read, “what he needs I think is something truly free of mind / a slab of earth by way of cow by way of fire the surface charred / the juices running pink and red on the white plate.” Concise and sensory, Voigt’s unique meter relies on repetition of words, slightly slowing yet never stopping until suddenly there are no more.