The Poetry Project


White Men, White Whales, and Whitehead with Lisa Jarnot

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This lecture, the first in a series of four, explores the doctrine of discovery that haunts American poetry. Lisa Jarnot engages in an autobiographical interrogation of what it means to be a woman in a male-centered experimental tradition, and what it means to have white privilege and write poetry. Several questions arise: What do we keep and what do we reject as we acknowledge the systemic racism and American exceptionalism that pervade even the most benign of bohemian writing communities? Is there something transcendent and healing in the poet's love of making, knowing, and of forging human connections? How can social reckoning and personal romance co-exist in exploring (and having been influenced by) the writers of the Black Mountain School, the New York School, and the Beat Generation?

We encourage enthusiastic readers and listeners to engage more deeply with Jarnot's work by purchasing her books. We're pleased to recommend A Princess Magic Presto Spell (Flood Editions, 2019) as well as Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1999-2012 (City Lights, 2013). Links to both of these books direct to our friends at Small Press Distribution.