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The Illusion of Power

An Evening of Poetry and Music with Voices of Poetry

Friday, May 10, 2019
7:00 PM–8:45 PM

Power is the invisible hand that shapes our lives—omnipresent but inevitably fleeting, and often based on illusions. As such, it makes rich fodder for creativity. The Rubin and Voices of Poetry present an evening of provocative poetry and music as part of our yearlong exploration of power.

This event will feature a sextet of distinguished and award-winning poets—Iraj Anvar, Jericho Brown, Cornelius Eady, Elizabeth T. Gray Jr., Sanjana Nair, and Daniel Tobin—who will share their work on the nature of power and the illusory qualities thereof.

A book signing by the poets will follow the program.


About the Poets



Iraj Anvar was born in Tehran, Iran and studied acting and directing with Alessandro Fersen (Studio di Arti Sceniche) in Rome. When he returned to Iran, he became one of the leading figures in the avant-garde theater in Tehran. He was a co-founder of the Tehran Theater Workshop, where he translated, adapted, and directed several plays, including adaptations of ancient Persian literature. After a distinguished career, in 1978 he traveled to the U.S., having obtained a scholarship to attend NYU. After the Iranian Revolution, he decided to remain in this country and, while teaching Persian Language and Literature at the department of Near Eastern Studies at NYU, received his PhD from NYU in 1991. In 2000, his English translation of Forty-Eight Ghazals, by the renowned Persian 13th century poet Jalal-addin Rumi, was published by Semar publishers. His second translation of Rumi’s poems was published by Morning light publishers under the title of Say Nothing. His artistic activities include poetry readings and “naqqali,” a form of storytelling in NYC and other U.S. cities. He currently teaches Persian language and culture at Brown University and has a new translation of Rumi’s poems to be published soon.

Jericho Brown is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection, The Tradition, will be published by Copper Canyon in 2019. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME magazine, Tin House, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.

Cornelius Eady—co-founder (with Toi Derricote) of Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization that supports emerging African American poets—has published more than half a dozen volumes of poetry, among them Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985), winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The Gathering of My Name (1991), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; and Brutal Imagination (2001), a National Book Award finalist; and Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems (2008). Brutal Imagination includes a theater sequence based upon the notorious 1994 incident in which Susan Smith, a white woman from South Carolina, claimed that an African American man had kidnapped her children. The FBI searched for the man until Smith confessed the truth: she had invented the man and had drowned the children. Eady’s sequence, which creates a detailed persona of the imaginary suspect, was adapted into an off-Broadway play that won the Newsday Oppenheimer Award. Eady also collaborated with Diedre Murray on a libretto for a roots opera, Running Man, based on his poems, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Eady has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Lila Wallace”“Reader’s Digest Fund.

Photo by Susan Johann

Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and translator. She has published a poetry collection, SERIES | INDIA (Four Way Books, 2015), and has translated classical and contemporary Persian poetry including The Green Sea of Heaven: Fifty Ghazals from the Diwan-i Hafiz-i Shirazi (1995); Iran: Poems of Dissent (2013); and Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season by Forough Farrokhzad (in Mantis, 2014). Sections of the Tibetan-Mongolian folk epic The Life of King Kesar of Ling—co-translated with Dr. Siddiq Wahid of the University of Kashmir—appeared in Columbia University Press’s Sources of Tibetan Tradition (2013). Gray’s work has appeared in Little Star, Talisman, Hyperallergic, Paris Lit Up, The Kenyon Review Online, Poetry International, The Harvard Review, New England Review, Ploughshares and elsewhere. She has served as a Guest Editor for Epiphany and the New Haven Review. She serves as Chairman of The Beloit Poetry Journal Foundation and as Corporate Secretary of Friends of Writers. She joined the Board of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran, based in Washington, D.C, in 2018, and served as Chair of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, in New Haven, CT (2009-2015). She holds a BA and JD from Harvard University and an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

Sanjana Nair—before joining the faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)—taught at Miami University and NYU. Her work has been published in Spoon River Poetry Review, Fence Magazine, The Equalizer, Swwim, Anastamos Interdisciplinary Journal, No, Dear Magazine and Juxtaprose Magazine. An early member of the Asian American poetry organization Kundiman, Nair served as Treasurer after the group earned a NYFA award as well as the reading series director and emcee at Verlaine in NYC. She was a guest poet on NPR’s program Soundcheck, and represented the Poets & Writers sponsored group Office Hours in a reading at Barnes & Noble in Union Square.

Daniel Tobin, a professor of English at Emerson College in Boston, is the author of eight books of poems, Where the World Is Made (University Press of New England, 1999); Double Life (Louisiana State University Press, 2004); The Narrows (Four Way Books, 2005); Second Things (Four Way Books, 2008); Belated Heavens (Four Way Books, 2010); The Net (Four Way Books, 2014); From Nothing (Four Way Books, 2016); and Blood Labors (Four Way Books, 2018). He has also authored The Stone in the Air (Salmon Poetry, 2018), a translation of the work of Paul Celan. Among his awards are the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry, “The Discovery/”‹The Nation Award,” The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Greensboro Review Prize, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Julia Ward Howe Prize, the Stephen J. Meringoff Award in Poetry, and creative writing fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His poems have appeared in such journals as The Nation, The New Republic, The Harvard Review, Poetry, The American Scholar, The Paris Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, Image, The Times Literary Supplement (England), Stand (England), Agenda (England), Descant (Canada), and Poetry Ireland Review. In addition to his poetry and translations, Tobin has authored several critical studies, including Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney (University of Kentucky Press, 1999); Awake in America (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011).


About Voices of Poetry

VOP was formed by Pushcart Prize nominated poet and poetry activist Neil Silberblatt. VOP has organized and presented more than 150 poetry events in four states: NY, NJ, CT and MA. Those events—which have featured Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners/nominees, as well as those who have not (yet) published a word—have been presented at numerous venues, including Tompkins Square Library, Jefferson Market Library, and Cornelia Street Café in NYC; the New Britain Museum of American Art; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT; and The Mount / Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA.

Tickets: $22.00

Member Tickets: $17.60

Student Tickets: FREE

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