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'Poetries of the Stranger' Festival at BC Apr. 17-19

9 multi-award-winning poets - including nobel laureate derek walcott - to reflect on notion of 'hospitality to the stranger'

Contact: Patti Delaney
Office of Public Affairs

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (April 2009) -- Nine distinguished poets - including Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and Pulitzer Prize winners John Ashbery, James Tate, Jorie Graham and former U.S. poet laureate Mark Strand - will appear at Boston College's "Poetries of the Stranger" festival April 17-19.

Participants also include Fanny Howe, Henri Cole, Adam Zagajewski and Lucie Brock-Broido, all of whom have earned prestigious awards, fellowships and other marks of distinction. The poets will speak on each of the three days at 7 p.m. in Devlin Hall 008 on the Boston College Chestnut Hill campus (Schedule of appearances | Poet bios). The events also are set to be streamed live at

Fanny Howe Derek Walcott Adam Zagajewski James Tate Mark Strand
Lucie Brock-Broido John Ashbery Jorie Graham Henri Cole  
Photos l-r top: Fanny Howe, Derek Walcott, Adam Zagajewski, James Tate, Mark Strand.
Below: Lucie-Brock Broido, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Henri Cole.

"Poetries of the Stranger" - which is co-hosted by BC's Institute for the Liberal Arts and presented in collaboration with the Academy of American Poets and Boston Review - "celebrates the poetries and poets who have exemplified a strange poetics of voice, image and place," said organizer and BC alumnus Adam Fitzgerald.

These poetic voices have been described as edgy, experimental, even at times contentious and controversial. Though each has been multiply honored with with significant awards, their work has often been difficult to categorize, making them uniquely qualified to participate in an examination of welcome -or not -to the stranger.
The festival is part of the ambitious, interdisciplinary "Guestbook Project," an ongoing effort to link faiths and communities around the world through the concept of hospitality to the stranger.

The multi-media initiative, created by BC Philosopher and Professor Richard Kearney last year, draws on text, performance and digital arts, religion and technology "to explore and develop the core themes of host and guest, violence and reconciliation, and embodied imagination and the sacred," he said.

The project's 5-year agenda includes an ongoing graduate seminar directed by Kearney in collaboration with MIT, related conferences, the "Poetries of the Stranger" festival and, still to come, five international Guestbook Performances in Bangalore, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kathmandu and Limerick.

Undergraduates as well as graduate students and faculty are involved in the project.

"The central emphasis is a dialogue among arts, humanities and sciences," says Kearney, who holds the Seelig chair in philosophy at BC. "It's very well-rooted in the Jesuit, Catholic liberal arts tradition, so it's a very appropriate enterprise to be housed at Boston College." 

The "Poetries of the Stranger" Festival at Boston College is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved and are limited per person. E-mail with first and last name, date to be reserved, and ticket numbers requested. More information is available at