Lunch Poems series kicks off Sept. 7 with readings by faculty,
- Only books of poetry grace the nightstand of John Ogbu,
professor of anthropology at the University of California,
Berkeley. Ogbu, who's written his own poems about growing
up in Nigeria, says his family knows his passion for poetry
and gives him books of it for his birthday.
an authority on psychological and urban anthropology, was
a natural choice for the Thursday, Sept. 7 kick-off of "Lunch
Poems," a free series of poetry readings held each year at
UC Berkeley. At the first reading, select faculty and staff
members read their favorite poems.
was launched in 1996, Lunch Poems has become California's
most popular poetry reading series.
by Robert Hass, UC Berkeley professor of English and former
U.S. Poet Laureate, and Zack Rogow, a senior editor at the
Graduate School of Education, the series brings distinguished
poets to campus each year to read from their works.
guests poets include Goh Poh Seng, called one of Asia's finest
living poets; Galway Kinnell, a former MacArthur Fellow who
has been state poet of Vermont and won both the Pulitzer Prize
and National Book Award; and John Ashbery, a Pulitzer Prize
winner who is considered the father of contemporary experimental
reading traditionally features a diverse sampling of poetry-lovers
in the campus community, and each reader shares poems of personal
or professional significance.
to Ogbu, this year's kick-off will feature:
Mukherjee, professor of English and an award-winning novelist.
Dan Werthimer of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Gladstone, director and head coach of UC Berkeley's national
champion men's rowing team.
Wong Fillmore, professor of education and a nationally known
expert on bilingualism and second language learners.
Litwack, professor of history and winner of both the Pulitzer
Prize and National Book Award for "Been in the Storm So Long:
The Aftermath of Slavery."
Hexter, dean of humanities, scholar of classical and medieval
literature, and author of "A Guide to the Odyssey."
Scheper-Hughes, professor of anthropology and author of "Saints,
Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland,"
which won the Margaret Mead Award, and "Death Without Weeping:
The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil," which won several
Milton, a tropical ecologist, primatologist and professor
with the insect biology division of the Department of Environmental
Science, Policy & Management.
Sterling, a campus librarian.
Trujillo, the graduate academic diversity director in the
College of Engineering and an award-winning editor.
will range from personal favorites to those that pose questions
central to the readers' professional research.
astronomer, and my research is about this question: 'Are we
alone?'" Werthimer said. He chose poetry that addresses questions
about an individual's place in the universe, whether there
is life elsewhere, and if scientists are taking the wonder
out of life. His selections include a limerick-like poem about
how a man succeeded in science and two poems each titled "Earth."
who originally was trained as a literary critic with 20th
century literature as her area of expertise, will read "Desperados,"
a recent poem by Daniel Halpern. She described it as "a sort
of love poem, or escape poem - a wishful thinking poem."
is leaning toward favorites such as e.e. cummings or James
Joyce, selections that would help dispel the myth of the stereotypical
coach draped in a "sweatshirt and a whistle."
for two of his own poems. "The Wrestler" tells of an Ibo custom
where children resolve differences through noontime wrestling
matches. "The Village Ruins" was written in memory of a settlement
destroyed during the Nigerian civil war, which began in 1968,
and the ballad singers, such as his own mother, who recorded
village experience in song.
chose two poems - Seamus Heaney's "Casualties," about political
violence, and a Brazilian poem, "The Life and Death of Severina"
- that helped her reflect and write about her anthropological
will read "Tonight I'm Eating Stars." The piece, written by
a Baltimore street poet about rebelliousness in the face of
death, helped Scheper-Hughes deal with her father's death.
On a light
note, she will read a Heaney poem called "The Skunk," about
Berkeley and love in the spring.
will read "Adventure in Chinatown, 1958," recounting the misadventures
of a Yup´ik Eskimo family relocated by the federal government
from St. Lawrence Island to Chicago's Chinatown. She said
she plans to share her thoughts about government policies
toward native populations.
Trujillo has chosen to read is "Yarn Wig," from a book by
Lois-Ann Yamanaka, a poet known for her ability to write in
the dialect of native Hawaiians.
funny and poignant at the same time," Trujillo said. "Yamanaka
is a vibrant new voice, and her talent, particularly for describing
life of working class Hawaiians, is extraordinary. I'm not
Hawaiian, but I relish books written by people who write well
and represent those not necessarily recognized in traditional
chose Yeats' "Among Schoolchildren." She plans to read it
in the context of a very British school in Calcutta, the city
where she was born, and then will read it from the standpoint
of the naturalized citizen and literature professor that she
said he may read blues and hip hop, which he described as
"poetry in its own way," and poetry by Langston Hughes and
Sterling Brown. "I'm very indebted to poems," he said. "As
a student of the African American experience, they've always
been valuable to me as literary documents."
continues after the Sept. 7 reading with the following schedule:
Alexander, a rising star in poetry who teaches African American
Studies at Yale University, will read on Oct. 5.
* Goh Poh
Seng, called "one of Asia's finest living poets" by Asia Magazine
and a medical doctor who writes poetry, fiction and drama,
will read on Nov. 2.
Howe, Mark Levine and Carol Snow, all in the New California
Poetry series from UC Press, will read on Dec. 7.
Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian who wrote the screenplay
for "Smoke Signals," the first feature film produced, written
and directed by American Indians, will read on Feb. 1, 2001.
Rodriguez, a Cuba native now in Los Angeles who won the Kathryn
A. Morton Prize in Poetry for her first book of poetry, will
read on March 1.
Kinnell will read on April 5.
Ashbery will read on Sunday, April 8, in a special reading
presented by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and co-sponsored by
Lunch Poems, the UC Berkeley Consortium for the Arts and Doreen
B. Townsend Center for the Humanities.
poets will conclude the series on May 3.
will begin at 12:10 p.m. in the Doe Library's Morrison Room,
except the April 8th reading, which begins at 3 p.m.
Poems web site