NationalSawdust+ presents: Paul Muldoon's "Against the Grain" featuring Carolyn Forché, Andrey Kurkov and the Knights
In association with London Review of Books
6:30pm doors • 7:30pm show
Paul Muldoon‘s Against the Grain, presented by NationalSawdust+ with London Review of Books, returns with the bold voices of American poet, teacher, and activist Carolyn Forché and Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov, joined by the pioneering collective, The Knights.
Wedding the personal and the political, Forché has witnessed and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. “At their best, Forché’s poems have the immediacy of war correspondence, postcards from the volcano of twentieth-century barbarism,” observed Katha Pollitt. Forché is joined by Kurkov, the writer of screenplays and critically acclaimed and popular novels, including Death and the Penguin, which have been translated into more than 30 languages. Now based in Kiev, he worked for some time as a journalist, did military service as a prison warden at Odessa, then became a film cameraman – experiences that fuel his darkly satirical, insightful work.
The Knights is dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, the collective inspires listeners with programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery.
Now in its second season, Paul Muldoon’s literary-music series, presented in association with London Review of Books, features pairings of cutting-edge poets, prose fiction writers, multi-media practitioners, mirth-merchants, political commentators, and musical performers — all of them dedicated to making art that is equal to the contrariness and complexity of our moment. Each edition of Against the Grain, curated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet, includes collaborative work and a one-on-one conversation on a provocative topic. The first season featured artists such as Laurie Anderson, Jennifer Egan, Min-Jin Lee, Tracy K. Smith, and Sō Percussion.
NationalSawdust+ is a lively performance and conversation series in which luminaries from across disciplines share their passion for music and explore ideas and issues, making surprising connections. Curated by Elena Park, the series taps artists and thinkers from theater, film and visual art, literature, science and beyond, to create insightful programs that reflect their own interests. Whether through live performances, conversations, or readings, each program has its own alchemy, engaging the audience in new and unexpected ways. Often topical, and always imaginative, NationalSawdust+ is an ideal space for those with curiosity, adventure, and vision.
Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. He now lives in New York. A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, he has taught at Princeton University for thirty years. He is the author of twelve collections of poetry including Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, as well as Selected Poems 1968-2014 (2016). Roger Rosenblatt, writing recently in The New York Times Book Review, described Paul Muldoon as “one of the great poets of the past hundred years, who can be everything in his poems – word-playful, lyrical, hilarious, melancholy. And angry. Only Yeats before him could write with such measured fury.”
Photo of Paul Muldoon by Gary Doak
Carolyn Forché’s first volume, Gathering the Tribes, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, was followed by The Country Between Us, The Angel of History, and Blue Hour. She is also the author of the memoir What You Have Heard Is True (Penguin Random House, 2019), a devastating, lyrical, and visionary memoir about a young woman’s brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others. She has translated Mahmoud Darwish, Claribel Alegria, and Robert Desnos. Her famed international anthology, Against Forgetting, has been praised by Nelson Mandela as “itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice,” and is followed by the 2014 anthology The Poetry of Witness. In 1998 in Stockholm, she received the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award for her human rights advocacy and the preservation of memory and culture.
Andrey Kurkov was born in St Petersburg in 1961. Having graduated from the Kiev Foreign Languages Institute, he worked for some time as a journalist, did his military service as a prison warder in Odessa, then became a film cameraman, writer of screenplays and author of critically acclaimed and popular novels, including the cult bestseller Death and the Penguin.
The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery. The orchestra has toured and recorded with renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Béla Fleck, and Gil Shaham, and have performed at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, and the Vienna Musikverein.
The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The Jacobsen brothers, who are also founding members of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, serve as artistic directors of The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor. The Knights are committed to creating unusual and adventurous partnerships across disciplines; they perform in traditional concert halls as well as parks, plazas, and bars, all in an effort to reach listeners of all backgrounds and invite them into their music-making. Since incorporating in 2007, the orchestra has toured consistently across the United States and Europe.
The Knights’ roster boasts remarkably diverse talents, including composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers, who bring a range of cultural influences to the group, from jazz and klezmer to pop and indie rock music. The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance. The Knights are proud to be known as “one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products…known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (The New Yorker). The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance. Through the palatable joy and friendship in their music-making, each musician strives to include new and familiar audiences to experience this important artform.
The London Review of Books is Europe’s leading magazine of culture and ideas. Published twice a month, it provides a space for some of the world’s best writers to explore a wide variety of subjects in exhilarating detail – from art and politics to science and technology via history and philosophy, not to mention poetry and fiction. In the age of the long read, the LRB remains the pre-eminent exponent of the intellectual essay, admired internationally for its fearlessness, its range and its elegance.
photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe