If you're on the fence about poetry, here's an easy way to make up your mind: Come hear Jorie Graham at the Westport Library on May 2. The U.S. Poetry Foundation calls her “perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation.” Hard to argue the point when you learn she won a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and The Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Her collection, The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She also held the position of Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003, and is now the Boylston Professor at Harvard, the first woman to be awarded this position. Added to all of this, The Times Literary Supplement dubs her, “One of the most intelligent poets in the language . . . [Graham] is like no one else, neither in her rhythms nor in her insistence on opening up, scrutinizing, and even reversing our experience of time and space.”
In a 2003 interview with The Paris Review, Graham said, "I’d say poetry wants to be contagious, to be a contagion. Its syntax wants to pass something on to another in the way that you can, for example, pass laughter on. It’s different from being persuasive and making an argument. That’s why great poems have so few arguments in them. They don’t want to make the reader “agree.” They don’t want to move through the head that way. They want to go from body to body. Built in is the belief that such community – could one even say ceremony – might 'save' the world." However you end up feeling about poetry, hearing Jorie Graham explain it should be a top-of-the-line, mind-expanding experience. Her talk at the Westport Library is free and starts at 3 p.m.