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Heaney Reads Poetry at Fundraiser

Nobel Laureate Helps Raise Money to Support Armenian Writers

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Whether it was the funeral of Beowulf or Ireland trees, Boylston Professor of Literature Seamus Heaney spoke gilded words in a poetry reading last night to raise money to support the Armenian Writers Union Publication Fund.

The reading sponsored by The New England Poetry Club and the Harvard Advocate, was attended by more than 300 students and community members in Science Center C.

The poetry reading also included James Tate, a poet who is professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, as well as Carolyn Mugar, who read Armenian works.

All proceeds from the event will support writers from Armenia, a country that suffered the first genocide of the twentieth century when hundreds of Armenians--including two hundred poets--where killed by Turks in Istanbul in 1915, said Christopher Lydon, master of ceremonies and a WBUR talk show host.

Heaney, who said he sympathized with the plight of Armenian writers, read first from his latest collection, The Spirit Level.

In a poem called "The Lupens," Heaney celebrated the beauty of nature, calling the flowers "dormant sentries of beyond beyondness."

Lydon expressed hopes that audience members would remember the plight of Armenians. "Perhaps someone will investigate how such dehumanization spreads its poison," he said.

The price of the $5 admission to the reading equals the monthly salary for a college professor in Armenia due to the blockade by Turkey, said Diana Der-Hovanessian, president of the New England Poetry Club.

Mugar, an activist on behalf of Farm Aid and the Armenian Tree project, read from the poems of several Armenians who are also political activists.

After Mugar, James Tate read several of his poems, which colorfully blended the sacred and the mundane.

The audience responded with laughter to his poem "Restless Leg Syndrome," in which a soldier's leg "for no apparent reason flies around the room kicking stuff."

Heaney also addressed the audience with warmth and candor. After reading a poem about the funeral of Beowulf, Heaney said that he wrote about this Anglo-Saxon hero to win points for Irish poets.

"I think it's time Ireland took over English poetry from the bottom up," Heaney said.

In his "encore" poem, which he recited from memory, Heaney spoke of the nature of Ireland, his home country.

"Tree wraps night in its dark hood/ivy is a genius of the wood," he said.

Members of the audience were pleased with the reading. Colin G. DeYoung '98, a member of Heaney's poetry-writing seminar, said he was excited to hear Heaney read.

"He's just a wonderful teacher," DeYoung said.

"I thought it was great to see people from the whole writing community in one room," said Judith W. Steinberg, a poet who is currently at the Bunting Institute.

"[The reading] re-opened my ears to poetry... It's exciting to see poetry proclaimed as a public event," said previous Kennedy fellow Henry Morgenthau, whose grandfather was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey during the pogrom of 1915

"I think it's time Ireland took over English poetry from the bottom up," Heaney said.

In his "encore" poem, which he recited from memory, Heaney spoke of the nature of Ireland, his home country.

"Tree wraps night in its dark hood/ivy is a genius of the wood," he said.

Members of the audience were pleased with the reading. Colin G. DeYoung '98, a member of Heaney's poetry-writing seminar, said he was excited to hear Heaney read.

"He's just a wonderful teacher," DeYoung said.

"I thought it was great to see people from the whole writing community in one room," said Judith W. Steinberg, a poet who is currently at the Bunting Institute.

"[The reading] re-opened my ears to poetry... It's exciting to see poetry proclaimed as a public event," said previous Kennedy fellow Henry Morgenthau, whose grandfather was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey during the pogrom of 1915

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