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The Yes of the Poet’s Immortality

Poetry on Death and Transcendence

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

Co-presented by the Poetry Society of America

Time is fleeting, but the ritual of writing can help us embrace the ephemeral.

Join the Poetry Society of America for a special poetry reading featuring writers Sarah Ruhl, Angela Chen, and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon. The speakers will share and reflect on the poems, letters, and journals of poets who explored—with verve, intellect, and grace—the presence of death in their lives and their work.

  • Angela Chen will present on Japanese Death Poems (Tuttle Publishing, 2018), an anthology of jisei written by Zen monks and haiku poets on the verge of death.
  • Sarah Ruhl will read from Letters from Max (Milkweed Editions, 2018), a collection of letters she exchanged with the celebrated young poet Max Ritvo (1990″“2016) in the last years of his battle with cancer, in which she writes of “the eternal yes that poets sing about, the yes of the poet’s immortality.”
  • Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon will share and reflect on prolific and brilliant poet Lucille Clifton’s (1936″“2010) embrace of mortality in her work.


About the Speakers

Angela Chen is a journalist and writer whose work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Paris Review, Aeon Magazine, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, Hazlitt, Catapult, and elsewhere. Her first book, ACE, is forthcoming from Beacon Press. She is on Twitter: @chengela

Photo by Zack DeZon.

Sarah Ruhl“˜s numerous award-winning plays include How to Transcend a Happy Marriage; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); and Passion Play (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center). Her many honors include the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright award, the Whiting award, the Lily Award, and the MacArthur “genius” award. Her book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write was a Times Notable Book of the Year. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She has written plays and lyrics for The Cherry, an Ithaca arts collective, and is currently at work on the poetry collection The Coal Tar Colors, and Purchase, a book of essays.


Tickets: $25.00

Member Tickets: $20.00

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Student Tickets: $14.00

For select programs the museum offers $14 student-rate tickets. These tickets are available in advance of the event and can be purchased online, over the phone, or at the front desk. Tickets must be redeemed in person with the presentation of a student ID. Limited to one ticket per student ID.