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Terrance Hayes inaugurated this popular series in 2014 with “Turning into Dwelling: the Space between the Poet and the Poem,” a lecture on poetic community, poetic advocacy and poetic isolation. Since, audiences have continued to engage with provocative ideas and topics as diverse and insightful as the presenting poets, writers and scholars, themselves.


Van Clief-Stefanon, Griffiths photos-colorNevertheless, Live: Adynaton, the Promise of Silence, and the Key of Life

A Lecture by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
April 28, 6:30 pm, Cave Canem

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” —Muhammad Ali

In the face of unspeakable violence (the disappearance and murder of a little Black girl in the Mecca, a Chicago housing project), Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Second Sermon on the Warpland” urges, “Nevertheless, live.” “Live and go out,” the poem insists, culminating in the imperative: “Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.”

This lecture explores the literary figure of Adynaton and the way black poets, such as Phillis Wheatley, June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, Afaa Weaver and Rickey Laurentiis, bend time and make space in their poems.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on a third poetry collection, The Coal Tar Colors.

  • $0.00

Series Funder: conEdison Consolidated Edison Company of New York
Con Edison


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The Spirit That Is Charged: A Conversation about Poetry and Friendship with Tina Chang and Tracy K. Smith, May 19, 2016

Duende: Art That Possesses: A Lecture by John Murillo, March 15, 2016

I’ve Known Rivers: Speaking of the Unspoken Places in Poetry: A Lecture by Martín Espada, February 6, 2016

Fall No More: Some Thoughts on the Imagination: A Lecture by Ross Gay, July 9, 2015

Seeing Home from a Distance: Panel on James Baldwin with Dante Micheaux and Darryl Pinckney, moderated by Tracyann Williams, March 19, 2015

It’ll Have You Trippin’: Pacing and Payoff in Stand-up and Verse: A Lecture by Adrian Matejka, March 16, 2015

The Concept Book—All Bark & No Bite? A Lecture by Kimiko Hahn, October 14, 2014

Turning Into Dwelling: A Lecture by Terrance Hayes, October 9, 2014