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Date & Time

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
6:00 PM


Seminary Co-op Bookstore


Free and open to the public


Seminary Co-op Bookstore
(773) 752-4381


A new collection by America’s internationalist poet, “a vision both original and universal” — Octavio Paz

Nathaniel Tarn reads from and discusses his latest collection, "Gondwana and Other Poems". He will be joined in conversation by Peter O'Leary.

At the Co-op

About the book: Gondwana: an ancient supercontinent long dispersed into fragments. Contemplating the ethereal blue is of Antartica, once part of it, Nathaniel Tarn writes in the opening section of his magnificent collection: "They said back then / there was a frozen continent / in those high latitudes encircling globe: / are you moving toward it?" From there, the rising and falling stairs at Fez in Morocco meld into a cantata on marriage, empire, and the meditational nature of climbing. In a series of beautiful, short poems "Il Piccolo Paradiso," Tarn creates a haven of home, bird flight, and innvervating fligh. In another section, the heroic WWII fighter Pilot Lydia Litvyak is personified as Eurydice speaking to her lover captain, Orpheus. The book concludes with the powerful poems of "Exitus Generis Humani," its polyphonic lines slowly pouring over the reader in a mournful, yet often humorous, reverie that reveals allegiance to Earth as the essential divinity, while calling for radical change if we want to prevent a definitive ending.

About the poet: Nathaniel Tarn is an American poet, essayist, anthropologist, and translator with some thirty books and booklets published in his various disciplines. Born in Paris, Tarn graduated in history and English as a Scholar of King’s College, Cambridge. He returned to Paris and, after some journalism and radio work, discovered anthropology at the Musée de l’Homme, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, and the Collège de France. A Fulbright grant took him to Yale and the University of Chicago where Robert Redfield sent him to Guatemala for his doctoral fieldwork. He completed this work as a graduate student at the London School of Economics. In 1958, a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation sent him to Burma for 18 months after which he became Lecturer in South East Asian Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. In 1970, he immigrated to the US as Visiting Professor of Romance Languages, Princeton University, and became a citizen. Since then he has taught English and American Literature, Epic Poetry, Folklore, inter alia at the Universities of SUNY Buffalo, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, and Manchuria. He now resides in New Mexico.

About the interlocutor: Peter O’Leary is the author of several books of poetry, most recently "The Sampo" (Cultural Society), a book-length fantasy poem set in the far north. A new book of criticism, "Thick and Dazzling Darkness: Religious Poetry in a Secular Age", is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. He lives in Oak Park and teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago.