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Stephen Dunn Is Next Carver Speaker

He won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for "Different Hours"

Nov 12, 2013 — Article by: Renée K. Gadoua

Photo of poet Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn G'70 (Photo by Matt Valentine)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stephen Dunn G’70 is the next speaker in this semester’s Raymond Carver Reading Series at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Gifford Auditorium. A question-and-answer session will precede the reading from 3:45-4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in SU’s paid lots.

Dunn won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for "Different Hours" (W.W. Norton, 2000). His poetry “is strangely easy to like: philosophical but not arid, lyrical but rarely glib, his storytelling balanced effortlessly between the casual and the vivid,” an August 2001 New York Times review said. “But don't mistake that ease for lack of staying power.” Although the collection refers to current events—like the millennium and the Oklahoma City bombing—“it also has an out-of-time quality, like a conversation with your smartest friend during a long-distance road trip,” the review continued.

Much of his work focuses on human relationships, “the way our inner and outer worlds intersect like a magician's linking rings—and the struggle to reconcile knowing how the trick is done with marveling at its mystery,” the reviewer wrote. She cites one poem that addresses the how a man and his ex-wife communicate when one is ill. "Each of them called it love / because precision didn't matter anymore," Dunn wrote. Another poem critiques his friends' divorce: "But this is a mockery, a defeat. / My friends were perfect, perfect."

Dunn attended Hofstra University on a basketball scholarship and spent a year playing professional ball. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey. His work has appeared in publications that include the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Antaeus, Boulevard, Georgia Review, Paris Review, Poetry and Virginia Quarterly Review.

Recent poetry collections include "Everything Else in the World" (Norton, 2006), "What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995-2009" (Norton, 2009) and "Here and Now" (Norton, 2011).  A Poetry Foundation profile says Dunn’s “intelligent, lyrical poems narrate the regular episodes of an everyman speaker’s growth. … His poetry is concerned with the anxieties, fears, joys and problems of how to co-exist in the world with all those who are part of our daily lives.”

In a New York Times interview after winning the Pulitzer, Dunn lamented the lack of interest in poetry. "I think it is one of the dilemmas of being an American poet, that perhaps even if you are famous, you are more famous for being famous than if people know your poetry," he said. "There are these great pockets of interest around the country about poetry, where people truly care about it. But the populace at large does not.” In Europe, he noted, poets are revered, but they could face trouble for writing on some subjects. “I love that freedom that we in America have as writers,” he said. “The other side of it is that no one takes us seriously."

Dunn is the inaugural Dopulos Distinguished Poet in the Raymond Carver Reading Series.  The Dopulos Distinguished Poet has been funded by the Dopulos/Larsen family.

The Raymond Carver Reading Series is named for the great short story writer and poet who taught at SU in the 1980s and died in 1988, and is presented by the Creative Writing Program in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The series will continue with the following authors. All readings begin at 5:30 p.m. in Gifford Auditorium. Question-and-answer sessions are from 3:45-4:30 p.m. Further information is available by calling 315-443-2174.

Nov. 20: Cheryl Strayed G’02, is author of the New York Times bestselling memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" (Knopf, 2012), "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar" (Vintage Books, 2012) and the novel "Torch" (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).

Dec. 4: Jane Springer is a poet whose books include "Dear Blackbird" (University of Utah Press, 2007) and "Murder Ballad" (Alice James Books, 2012).

Contact Information

Rob Enslin
rmenslin@syr.edu
315-443-3403