CSM Connections Hosts Poet Philip Metres

Professor’s Summer Abroad Provides Introduction to Award-Winning Poet

Philip Metres.
Philip Metres.

LA PLATA, Md.—The College of Southern Maryland’s Fall Connections Literary Series will showcase author and translator Philip Metres 7:30 p.m., Oct. 9, at the La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry (BI), Room BI-103, Dr. John M. Sine Conference Room, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. Metres will read from “Sand Opera” and other works.

“The program will focus on how literature can transform our notion of, and our seemingly endless obsession with, war and violence,” said CSM Professor Neal Dwyer, co-coordinator of the Connections Literary Series with Professor Wayne Karlin. “Through readings and audience participation, we will discuss the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless, of telling one’s own story, of authentic listeners—in literature and in life.”

Dwyer spent part of his summer at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, studying the sectarian divide there, and meeting with writers and activists working on peace building and conflict transformation. He was introduced to Metres’ work by Belfast Poet Laureate, Sinéad Morrissey, and as a result invited Metres to Southern Maryland.

“While Metres’ work deals with flash points like Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo [Cuba], through this program we will try to discover what parallels can be seen, and what lessons can be learned and applied here in Southern Maryland,” said Dwyer.

Topics for discussion will include, the role literature can play in peace building and conflict transformation, whether Metre sees any similarities between underlying tensions in a place like Belfast or Israel/Palestine and communities in the U.S., such as Ferguson, Mo., Charleston or Baltimore, and what strategies for addressing these concerns show promise.

“To the extent possible, we would like to involve community and student groups here in Southern Maryland to participate in an open discussion about race relations, generational cycles of conflict/violence and how lessons learned in places like Belfast and the Middle East might be applied here,” said Dwyer.

Born in San Diego and raised in Chicago, Metres graduated from Holy Cross College in 1992. He spent the following year in Russia on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship pursing an independent project called “Contemporary Russian Poetry and Its Relationship to Historical Change.”

Since earning his doctorate in English from Indiana University in 2001, Metres has written a number of books on subjects like peacebuilding, immigration, war, violence and conflict, including “To See the Earth,” “Instants,” “Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941” and “Primer for Non-Native Speakers.” His works have also appeared in the journals New American Review, New England Review, Best American Poetry and Seneca Review.

Metres has also translated a handful of works by Russian authors, such as “I Burned at Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky” and “Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Poetic Texts of Lev Rubinstein” with Tatiana Tulchinsky.

An English professor at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Metres had his work described as “beautiful, powerful [and] magnetically original” by the Cleveland Arts Prize and “critical, vital, profound and brilliant” by the poet Lawrence Joseph. His poetry has been translated into Arabic, Polish, Russian and Tamil.

In addition to the Connections readings, the Connections Magazine is a regional literary journal published twice a year that features poems, stories, artwork and photography of Southern Maryland. Publication readings take place in December and May each year. To be considered for fall 2015’s issue, the deadline for submissions is Oct. 31.

Advance tickets for the Connections reading are $3 at the CSM box office and $3 at the door with a student ID. General admission at the door is $5. For tickets, contact bxoffc@csmd.edu or 301-934-7828. For information on Connections, study guides and author links, go to www.csmd.edu/connections.

For information on Metres, visit http://philipmetres.com/.

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