NationalSawdust+ presents: Paul Muldoon's "Against the Grain" featuring Jorie Graham, Colm Tóibín, and Laurie Anderson
In association with London Review of Books
6:30pm doors • 7:30pm show
NationalSawdust+ presents the second installment of the new literary-music series by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. The event features award-winning writers Jorie Graham, whose poetry “addresses the most urgent philosophical and political issues of the time” (The New York Times) and has garnered her a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize; Colm Tóibín, the acclaimed novelist, playwright, journalist, critic, and poet; and trailblazing artist Laurie Anderson, author of the recent book All the Things I Lost in the Flood, who will perform. Presented in association with London Review of Books, Against the Grain is dedicated to making art that is equal to the contrariness and complexity of our moment. (The series continues on May 23.)
NationalSawdust+ is a lively performance and conversation series in which luminaries from across disciplines share their passion for music and explore ideas, 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.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
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.”
Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.
Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (2002), Swarm (2000), and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
About her work, James Longenbach wrote in the New York Times: "For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged the whole human contraption — intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic — rather than the narrow emotional slice of it most often reserved for poems. She thinks of the poet not as a recorder but as a constructor of experience.
Her many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.
Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. He is the author of nine novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.
He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and a contributing editor at the London Review of Books. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia and Chancellor of Liverpool University. He is President of Listowel Writers Week and a member of the Board of Druid Theatre.
A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.
Laurie Anderson was born in Chicago in 1947. One of eight children, she studied the violin and played in the Chicago Youth Symphony. She graduated in 1969 from Barnard College in New York, and went on to study at Columbia University, working toward a graduate degree in sculpture. The art scene of the early 1970s fostered an experimental attitude among many young artists in downtown New York that attracted Anderson, and some of her earliest performances as a young artist took place on the street or in informal art spaces. In the most memorable of these, she stood on a block of ice, playing her violin while wearing her ice skates. When the ice melted, the performance ended.
Since that time, Anderson has gone on to create large-scale theatrical works which combine a variety of media—music, video, storytelling, projected imagery, sculpture—in which she is an electrifying performer. As a visual artist, her work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum, SoHo; as well as extensively in Europe, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. She has also released seven albums for Warner Brothers, including Big Science, featuring the song “O Superman,” which rose to number 2 on the British pop charts. In 1999, she staged Songs and Stories From Moby Dick, an interpretation of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel. Her recent book, All the Things I Lost in the Flood, was published in 2018 by Rizzoli Electa. She lives and works in New York City.
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 of Paul Muldoon by Gary Doak