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Major Jackson Reads for Writers Speak

Thu, 10/22/2020 - 10:50

Just like fall, Writers Speak returned quietly last month. Understandable, perhaps, as in this constrained new world the Stony Brook Southampton readings series is now being conducted virtually.

But don't let any computer screen dim your enthusiasm, as appearing on Wednesday will be Major Jackson, whose collections of poems include "The Absurd Man," out earlier this year from W.W. Norton. A recipient of a 2003 Whiting Award, which goes each year to 10 of the country's best emerging writers, he is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Vermont and the poetry editor of Harvard Review.

The reading can be seen at and starts at 7 p.m., with Grace Dilger, a Stony Brook University teaching assistant, leading a discussion. Below is Mr. Jackson's "You, Reader," from "The Absurd Man." 

    So often I dream of the secrets of satellites

    and so often I want the moose to step

    from the shadows and reveal his transgressions,

    and so often I come to her body

    as though she were Lookout Mountain,

    but give me a farmers' market to park my martyred masks

    and I will name all the dirt roads that dead-end

    at the cubist sculpture called My Infinity,

    for I no longer light bonfires in the city of adulterers

    and no longer smudge the cheeks of debutantes

    hurriedly floating across the high fruit of night,

    and yes, I know there is only one notable death in any small town

    and that is the pig farmer, but listen, at all times

    the proud rivers mourn my absence, especially

    when, like a full moon, you, reader, hidden behind a spray

    of night-blooming, drift in and out of scattered clouds

    above lighthouses producing their artificial calm,

    just to sweep a chalk of light over distant waters.


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