Susan Wheeler will be the next guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton, reading from her work on Wednesday, March 5, at 7 pm in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.
Wheeler is the author of a novel, Record Palace, and six books of poetry, most recently Meme, shortlisted for the National Book Award. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is director of Princeton’s creative writing program.
In a 1998 essay in Boston Review, the critic Stephen Burt coined the term “elliptical poet” to describe Wheeler, defining the label in this way: “Elliptical poets try to manifest a person — who speaks the poem and reflects the poet — while using all the verbal gizmos developed over the last few decades to undermine the coherence of speaking selves.
“They are post-avant-gardist, or post-‘postmodern’ … Elliptical poems shift drastically between low (or slangy) and high (or naively ‘poetic’) diction. The poets tell almost-stories, or almost-obscured ones. They are sardonic, angered, defensively difficult, or desperate; they want to entertain as thoroughly as, but not to resemble, television.”
The poet Tony Hoagland wrote in Poetry Magazine that “Burt’s definition is quite general in order to encompass the diversity of the poetry he champions, but he gets the mania and the declarativeness right. Also the relentless dodging or obstruction of expectation.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Wheeler grew up in Minnesota and New England and received a BA from Bennington College in 1977 before pursuing graduate studies in art history at the University of Chicago between 1979 and 1981.
Other writers scheduled for the spring series include: Masha Gessen interviewed by former New Yorker fiction editor Dan Menaker, April 2; Mark Epstein, MD, April 9; and Dinah Lenney, April 30. On May 7, the final installment of the Writers Speak Wednesday series for the spring semester will be devoted to readings by students enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.
Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. All readings begin at 7 pm in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway.