Poetry at the Albany Library on December 10, 2013 featured Judy Halebsky & Forrest Gander.
From Catherine Taylor:
FORREST GANDER’s Core Samples from the World (New Directions) was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award. It combines Gander’s poetry, haibun (a Japanese essay-poetry form), and lyric sentences with images from three photographers to describe rarely visited places around the globe in a work that, as the Pulitzer citation reads, “explores cross-cultural tensions in the world and digs deeply to identify what is essential in human experience.”
Gander comes to his writing and creative collaborations with academic degrees in geology and English literature and, as exemplified by Core Samples, with the sensibilities of a multi-media artist and cultural anthropologist. His work includes ecological poetics, fiction, essay, film, translation, and various collaborative forms. A two-year collaboration recently produced Eiko & Koma (New Directions, 2013), a collection of poetry (“not description, but enactment in another medium,” he explains) accompanied by photographs of the post-Butoh choreographer-dancers Eiko and Koma, who invited Gander to observe them up close through intensive periods of rehearsals and performances.
Gander’s recent translations include Watchword by Mexican poet Pura López Colomé (Wesleyan University Press, 2012) and, with Kyoko Yoshida, Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura (Omnidawn Press), winner of a 2012 Best Translated Book Award. He is currently translating work by Japanese poet and visual artist Gozo Yoshimasu. Gander is a professor of Comparative Literature and Literary Arts at Brown University where his courses have included Poetry and Ethics, EcoPoetics, and Translation. For more about his projects, go to Forrest Gander’s Website.
JUDY HALEBSKY’s first book of poems, Sky = Empty, won the 2010 New Issues Prize and was a finalist for the California Book Award. Her second collection, Space/Gap/Internal/Distance (2012), winner of the Poets-Under-Forty Chapbook Contest from Sixteen Rivers Press, includes poems in dialog with haiku lineage and Basho’s teachings. Halebsky also translates poetry from Japanese to English in collaboration with Yuka Tsukagoshi and, with other Tokyo poets, founded and edits the bilingual poetry journal Eki Mae.
Judy Halebsky studied literature at Honsei University in Tokyo for three years, during which time she also trained in Noh theater and Butoh dance and attended all the haiku-kai (haiku parties) she could find. She returned from California to Japan in summer 2012 to travel with other members of the Meguro International Haiku Circle to visit places mentioned in Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior. In October 2013 she shared her haiku at the International Haiku Festival in Tokyo, whose theme was “Pilgrimmage to Haiku Holy Places.”
Among her recent projects is the Noh-inspired play, Emmet Till, a river–written by Halebsky and poet-composer Kevin Simmonds and supported by an NEA grant. It was performed in November 2013 at San Francisco’s Theatre of Yugen. Halebsky’s next book of poetry, Tree Line, is informed by ecopoetics and by a long tradition of nature poets and travelers’ diaries. It will be published by New Issues in 2014.
Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, Halebsky now lives in Oakland and teaches at Dominican University of California, where she includes haiku in courses like Oral and Visual Poetry and Literature of Nature. Through the class Finding Voice & Empowerment, she works with Dominican students to bring writing to youth in the juvenile justice system, “to show incarcerated youth how writing–like music–can be a vehicle for social change…a tool to share experiences with the broader community in a way that nourishes compassion and understanding.”