Friday reading kicks off celebration of poetry, Pulitzers

Reading

Vijay Seshadri, a Brooklyn, N.Y., poet who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014, will give a reading on March 24 in Billings, followed by an interview with Associated Press reporter Matt Brown, who is based in Billings and was part of a news team that won a Pulitzer Prize in New Orleans.

A reading of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning poets on Friday kicks off the All Spring Pulitzer Campfire, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize.

Anna Paige, a Billings poetry slam-winning poet who co-hosts Friday night’s event, said the celebration is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Montana.

Highlights include a March 24 reading at Montana State University Billings by Vijay Seshadri, a Brooklyn, N.Y., poet and critic who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for “3 Sections,” one of three collections of poetry he has published.

Friday night’s Pulitzer Out Loud celebration-opening event features local poets and community members reading from the work of Pulitzer-winning poets. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the new MoAv Coffee House at the former site of Club Carlin on Montana Avenue. The event is co-hosted by Peter Tolton, another poetry slam winner in Billings.

Readers and the poets they will read from are:

♦ Anna Paige, Anne Sexton

♦ Peter Tolton, William Carlos Williams

♦ Dave Caserio, Galway Kinnell

♦ Nate Petterson, Philip Schultz

♦ Corbin Howard, Carl Dennis

♦ Cara Chamberlain, Sharon Olds

♦ Molly Ouellette, Lisel Mueller

♦ Ashley Warren, Tracy K. Smith

♦ Chuck Tooley, Carl Sandburg

♦ Corby Skinner, Philip Levine

♦ Grace Hodges, Mary Oliver

♦ Jake Music, Vijay Seshadri

♦ Bernard Quetchenbach, James Wright

Small plates inspired by poetry will be catered by Joanie Swords of Harper & Madison and Jeremy Engebretson of the Lilac restaurant.

For example, a caviar on toast dish is based on “For Viola: De Gustibus,” a poem by William Carlos Williams that begins:

“Beloved you are
Caviar of Caviar
Of all I love you best.”

A caramelized onion quiche is drawn from “Market Women’s Cries,” by Jonathan Swift, who wrote:

“There is in every cook’s opinion
No savoury dish without an onion
But lest your kissing should be spoiled
The onion must be thoroughly boiled.”

According to a news release from MSU Billings, the program is part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative, a joint venture of the Pulitzer Prizes Board and the Federation of State Humanities council in celebration of the 2016 centennial of the prizes.

The yearlong series, titled “Pulitzer Poetry 100,” is presented by Humanities Montana, MSU Billings, Arts Without Boundaries, University of Montana, the Big Sky Writing Workshops and the High Plains BookFest.

Other scheduled events are:

Frost

Poet Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” will be the basis of a discussion of the art of meaningful conversation on April 20.

March 16: Billings poet Cara Chamberlain plays a Lannan Foundation film interview of Pulitzer-winner Gary Snyder, then leads a discussion of his work. 7 p.m., Billings Public Library.

March 24: Vijay Seshadri’s reading is followed by an interview with Associated Press reporter Matt Brown, who is based in Billings and was part of a news team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Hurricane Katrina coverage at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. A reception follows. 7 p.m., Cisel Recital Hall.

March 30: Chamberlain plays an interview with poet Sharon Olds, who won the Pulitzer in 2013. 7 p.m., Billings Public Library.

April 6: Chamberlain plays a video interview with poet Maxine Kumin, who won a Pulitzer in 1973 and was America’s poet laureate in 1981-82. 7 p.m., Billings Public Library.

April 13: Poet Dave Caserio presents “Strong Is Your Hold: An Evening of the Poetry of Galway Kinnell,” a multi-media collaboration of poetry, music and dance with Parker Brown and Krista Leigh-Pasini. 7 p.m., 2905 Montana Ave.

April 20: Poet Lowell Jaeger of Big Fork, founding editor of Many Voices Press, facilitates “Good Fences, Good Neighbors,” a discussion of the art of meaningful conversation that draws on Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall.” 7 p.m., Billings Public Library.

April 23: Ken Ryan teaches a poetry workshop inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry. The workshop, limited to 15 participants, is designed for writers of all levels and includes a copy of Ryan’s “The Best of It: New and Selected Poems.” 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Western Heritage Center. To register, email danell@bigskywritingworkshops.com.

May 2: Members of the Big Sky Writing Workshops read poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poets and invite community members to share their favorite Pulitzer poems. 7 p.m., Art House Cinema & Pub.

All events are free and open to the public.

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