Prof. Robert Faggen

Milosz and the American Poets He Loved. . . and Hated

January 11, 2012, 7:30PM

Walker-Ames Room at Kane Hall, UW Campus

Lecture is free and open to the public

Czeslaw Milosz lived in the United States for more than four decades, most of them as citizen. Though Faggenhis cultural and poetic roots were in Lithuania and Poland, he developed significant artistic and personal dialogues throughout his life with American poets. No one can underestimate Milosz’s affinity with Whitman. Milosz also developed strong interest in the work of Robinson Jeffers, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, Thomas Merton, and Allen Ginsberg, and wrote poems to or essays about all of them. His appreciation often included strong judgments – strong dislikes bordering on hate. Among his younger contemporaries, Milosz came to appreciate Merwin, Waggoner, Levertov, Kowit, Hirshfield and his translators, future U.S. Poet Laureates Robert Pinsky and Robert Hass. Often contradictory and sometimes polemical, those relationships reveal a great deal about Milosz’s own struggles with poetry, politics, religion, his personal condition of exile, and his remarkable emergence as a significant poet in the American literary context.

Robert Faggen is the Barton Evans and H. Andrea Neves Professor of Literature and the Director of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. He is also a founder of the Milosz Archive and Institute at the Gould Center. In 1998 he organized the International Milosz Festival at Claremont McKenna College with Seamus Heaney, Adam Zagajewski, Adam Michnik, and Milosz himself, with the proceedings published in Partisan Review. Past October, he organized Milosz and the Future: A Centenary Festival in Honor of Czeslaw Milosz. Professor Faggen has authored numerous books and articles including Robert Frost and Striving towards Being: the Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Frost and The Challenge of Darwin, The Cambridge Companion to Robert Frost and Notebooks of Robert Frost. He contributes regularly to The Los Angeles Times Book Review and to The Paris Review, for which he conducted an interview with Czeslaw Milosz, among many others. In 2011 Professor Faggen has been awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, in the field of American literature. He will use the fellowship to complete a biography of Kenneth “Ken” Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Robert Faggen is a Graves Fellow as well as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. He received his B.A. from Princeton and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard.