Celebrate National Poetry Month! | Mechanics' Institute

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Celebrate National Poetry Month!
with poets Henri Cole and Brenda Hillman

This event will be held onsite.

Two nationally known award-winning poets read from their new works and talk about their influences and passions.

Two nationally known award-winning poets read from their new works and talk about their influences and passions. Henri Coles explores the formality and density of the sonnet with its glorious layers of emotion and a contemporary twist in his new collection Gravity and Center: Selected Sonnets, 1994-2022. Brenda Hillman’s bold, experimental eco-poems in her recent work A Few Minutes Before Later branch out into free-form tangents exploring nature and human nature, power, and devastation.

Special Guest U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass

About Gravity and Center by Henri Cole

The poems collected in Gravity and Center represent thirty years of work by one of America’s finest living poets. Henri Cole has reconceived and mastered his own version of the sonnet. As he explains in his afterword, “I believe a poem is a sonnet if it behaves like one, and this doesn’t mean rhyming iambic pentameter lines. More important is the psychological dimension, the little fractures and leaps and resolutions the poem enacts . . . For some reason the lean, muscular body of the sonnet frees me to be simultaneously dignified and bold, to appear somewhat socialized though what I have to say may be eccentric or unethical, and, most important of all, to have aesthetic power while writing about the tragic situation of the individual in the world.”

Henri Cole was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1956. He has published ten previous collections of poetry, including Touch (winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize) and Pierce the Skin, and a memoir, Orphic Paris. He has received many awards for his work, including the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and the Award of Merit Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches at Claremont McKenna College.


About A Few Minutes Before Later by Brenda Hillman

An iconoclastic ecopoet who has led the way for many young and emerging artists, Brenda Hillman continues to re-cast innovative poetic forms as instruments for tracking human and non-human experiences. At times the poet deploys short dialogues, meditations, or trance techniques as means of rendering inner states; other times she uses narrative, documentary, or scientific materials to record daily events during a time of pandemic, planetary crisis, political and racial turmoil. Hillman proposes that poetry offers courage even in times of existential peril; her work represents what is most necessary and fresh in American poetry.

Brenda Hillman is an activist, writer, editor, and teacher. She has published eleven collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press, including Extra Hidden Life Among the Days, (Winner of 2019 Northern California Book Award), Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (shortlisted for the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize), and Practical Water, for which she won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. Hillman is Professor Emerita at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California.



Mechanics Institute Members FREE


Public sliding scale, $5 to $10


Meet the Author(s)

Members of Mechanics' Institute Free
Public sliding scale $5 to $10
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Information Desk - 415-393-0102
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0116.

Future Meet the Author(s)

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