Loading

PRESIDENT'S FORUM

image

Monday, Sep. 18, 2006
7:30 p.m., in the Albright Auditorium
Book signing to follow

Deborah Tall and Steve Kuusisto '78

The Art of Memoir: A Reading

When two colleagues—longtime friends and respected authors—have books published at about the same time, that’s a fortunate coincidence the President’s Forum Series can’t help but embrace.
 
Professor of English and John Milton Potter Chair of Humanities Deborah Tall and former faculty member Stephen A. Kuusisto ’78, an associate professor of English at Ohio State University, have been friends since 1986, when Stephen returned to teach at HWS and the two found they had many common interests in life and literature.

Earlier this month, W. W. Norton & Co. released “Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening” by Kuusisto; and Sarabande Books has just released “A Family of Strangers” by Tall.

Over the years, the colleagues have had many conversations about memoir form and style, especially while Kuusisto was writing his first memoir, “Planet of the Blind.” In these new books, both authors said they felt compelled to create distinct literary forms for the material. We believe this will be the basis for a lively President’s Forum conversation titled “The Art of the Memoir.”

Poet and editor of Seneca Review, Tall has long championed a form called the lyric essay—employing the associative movement and lyrical suggestiveness of poetry while maintaining the familiar narrative structures and conventional organization of prose, as reviewed by Publishers Weekly. “A Family of Strangers” which is being called Tall’s life’s work, has been described as “told in such exacting, elegant language that the suppressed past vividly asserts its place in the present.” Among her other poetry and nonfiction works are “Summons,” “The Island of the White Crow,” “Ninth Life,” and “From Where We Stand: Recovering a Sense of Place,” a memoir about her time in Geneva.
 
Kuusisto is the author of several books of poetry and nonfiction and is a contributing editor to Seneca Review. His poems have appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Harper’s; Poetry and Partisan Review. Reviews of “Eavesdropping,” which was released on Sept. 5, have trumpeted Kuusisto’s writing ability. He is called a keen observer who is said to recount with a poet’s sense of detail the surprise that comes when we are actively listening to our surroundings. “There is an art to eavesdropping,” a reviewer noted. “Most of us see the layers of space, but Kuusisto, who has been legally blind since birth, hears them.” Another of his titles, “Only Bread, Only Light,” has been called “humorous, complex, and intellectually engaged.”

Together they have published multiple works, one of them a collaboration with colleague David Weiss, on “The Poet’s Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of Contemporary American Poets,” which was published by Norton in 1997.

SPEAKER ARCHIVE

Fall 2014

Spring 2014

Fall 2013

Spring 2013

Fall 2012

Spring 2012

Fall 2011

Spring 2011

Fall 2010

Spring 2010

Fall 2009

Spring 2009

Fall 2008

Spring 2008

Fall 2007

Spring 2007

Fall 2006

Spring 2006

Fall 2005

Spring 2005

Fall 2004

Spring 2004

Fall 2003 

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

Past Speakers