UC Berkeley News


Lunch Poems Redux
Kickoff reading Sept. 2 features global smorgasbord of verse

| 26 August 2004

The campus’s popular Lunch Poems series is primed to launch its ninth season. Readers will include the popular 2001-03 U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins; UCLA’s Harryette Mullen, a National Book Award finalist; and Cal alumna Barbara Guest, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement.

The 2004-05 season gets off to a roaring start on Thursday, Sept. 2, with what promises to be a lively and well-attended reading rich in offerings from around the globe — from Vietnam, Iran, the Caribbean, Japan, and England, to name a few. Barbara Ertter of the Jepson Herbarium plans to read “thought-stretching” poems from “probably my favorite writer,” Ursula LeGuin (not best known for her poetry), and “the Sufi poet most beloved by Iranians,” Hafiz (who is).

Education Professor Frank Worrell, a specialist in school psychology originally from the island state of Trinidad and Tobago, plans to read works from and about the Caribbean — “poems that I believe are wonderful but that American audiences will never have heard.” East Asian languages expert Mack Horton, meanwhile, will share three pieces around a universal theme, separation by death: Ben Jonson on the death of his son and works by two early Japanese poets — one writing on the death of a son, the other (a Japanese envoy to a Korean kingdom) on a man who died while abroad on a mission for his country. “The parallels with our current foreign situation are obvious,” Horton says.

Because his life is “full of science and technology,” Chemical Engineering Professor John Prausnitz looks to poetry to create a balance in his life. He, too, will read a trio of poems around a common theme, by German, English, and American writers.

Also sharing the Morrison Library’s podium will be Amy Kautzman, of Doe Library; Elaine Kim, professor of ethnic studies; Architecture Professor Ray Lifchez; lecturer and translator Cam Nguyet Nguyen, from Southeast Asian Studies; literary enthusiast Bob Osserman of the Mathematical Science Research Center; and Laura Perez, assistant professor of Chicano studies.

The kickoff reading starts at 12:10 p.m. Plan to arrive early for this perennially popular showering of verse.

Lunch Poems schedule for 2004-05
All readings are free and are held from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. Except as noted, the location is the Morrison Library, inside Doe Library’s north entrance.

This year’s line-up includes:
Harryette Mullen (Oct. 7)
Frank Paino (Nov. 4)
Billy Collins (Dec. 2, in Zellerbach Playhouse)
Barbara Guest (Feb. 3)
Eugene Ostashevsky (March 3)
Suji Kwock Kim (April 7)
Student Reading (May 5).

For information, including webcasts of past readings, see lunchpoems.berkeley.edu or call 642-0137.