Helen Vendler, a leading poetry critic and A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University, will discuss the themes of movement and motion in the poetry of Wallace Stevens at the inaugural Lincoln Kirstein Lecture, to be held annually by the Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA), New York University.

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Helen Vendler, a leading poetry critic and A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University, will discuss the themes of movement and motion in the poetry of Wallace Stevens at the inaugural Lincoln Kirstein Lecture, to be held annually by the Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA), New York University.

Entitled "Life Is Motion": Motion in Wallace Stevens, the lecture will take place Wednesday, Nov. 4, 6 p.m. at the Bruno Walter Auditorium of the The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, located at 111 Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets.

In addition to being one of the world’s leading scholars on the poetry of Wallace Stevens, Vendler has written books on Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, John Keats, and Seamus Heaney, among others.

“Nobody but Stevens would call a poem ‘Life is Motion.’ And nobody, later in life, would write another poem called ‘Chaos in Motion And Not in Motion,’" said Vendler, who will be tracking the flux of poems where both nature and human beings reveal changes of motion and emotion in Stevens’ thought and language. His favorite natural symbol for our minds in motion is the weather; and of our life, he says:

It is not in the premise that reality
Is a solid. It may be a shade that traverses
A dust, a force that traverses a shade.

Vendler is Professor of English at Harvard University, where she has taught since 1984. She was the first woman to be appointed to an endowed chair in poetry when she was made A. Kingsley Porter University Professor. She has also taught at Cornell University, Swarthmore and Smith Colleges, and Boston University. Vendler began her academic career studying chemistry at Emmanuel College. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for mathematics, before earning her Ph.D. in English & American Literature from Harvard. She has also been a judge for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award in poetry. She is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

In 2004, Vendler was invited to deliver the National Endowment for the Humanities’ prestigious Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. Federal Government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Her lecture, entitled "The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar," also centered on the poetry of Wallace Stevens, using a number of his poems to argue for the role of the arts in the study of humanities.

The Lincoln Kirstein Lecture, an annual lecture made possible this inaugural year by the generous support of Nancy Lassalle, was created at the Center for Ballet and the Arts to honor the memory of one of the most important influences in 20th Century American culture, Lincoln Kirstein. The annual lecture will support a high-level scholarly discussion on the subject of ballet and its related arts and sciences.

The Lincoln Kirstein Lecture is part of CBA’s fall events that kicked off on September 10 with a panel discussion, The Dance and the Intellectual: Lincoln Kirstein’s Legacy, moderated by philosopher and critic Leon Wieseltier and featuring dancer/writer Toni Bentley, critic Jed Perl and Kirstein scholar Nicholas Jenkins. This event highlighted the legacy of Lincoln Kirstein and the significant and cross-disciplinary contributions to New York City’s cultural life that are the inspiration for the annual Lincoln Kirstein Lecture series.

Tickets for “Life is Motion: Motion in Wallace Stevens are $25, and $10 for students and NYU ID holders. They can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/life-is-motion-motion-in-wallace-stevens-tickets-18739256621. Special group tickets are also available by calling 212.998.2233.

About the Center for Ballet and the Arts
Established in fall 2014 by dancer/historian Jennifer Homans, the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about ballet and bringing vitality to its history, practice, and performance in the 21st century.

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