“Prose is walking; poetry is flying,” said poet Galway Kinnell ’48. Many poems — and discussions about poetry — will fly through Princeton March 15–16 at the third Princeton Poetry Festival, a biennial event. Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham and China’s Bei Dao are scheduled to appear, along with poets from Africa, Scotland, and Turkey. Also reading their poetry will be Lizzie Hutton ’95 and Monica Youn ’93. A two-day festival pass is $25.
MONICA YOUN ’93: Youn is a rare hybrid: a public-interest lawyer and a published poet. She has been inventive at carving out successful careers in both fields, once serving simultaneously as a law clerk to a federal appeals-court judge and as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford. Her second poetry collection, Ignatz, loosely based on the mouse character from George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comic strip of the 1920s, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Youn is a Brennan Center Constitutional Fellow at New York University’s School of Law, working on First Amendment and election-law issues. She composes her poems when she can get a few consecutive weeks of vacation, occasionally staying at a Provincetown, Mass., inn where Norman Mailer used to write. “I would not leave the house until I had written something every day,” she said.
LIZZIE HUTTON ’95: Hutton arrived at Princeton with aspirations of becoming a fiction writer; she left as a poet. Studying with creative writing professors Paul Muldoon and James Richardson ’71 taught her how to talk about poetry and to understand “the texture and music of a poem,” she said. Her 2011 poetry collection, She’d Waited Millennia, explores relationships, motherhood, and marriage.
After teaching writing for 12 years at the University of Michigan, Hutton recently became a student there in a joint Ph.D. program in English and education. She is studying the value of reading literature in the classroom.
Hutton believes poetry festivals are precious opportunities: “Hearing poets read their work aloud is a very intimate experience, chancy and improvisational. It can be revelatory.”