Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life w/ Michael Nott & Robert Pinsky - 6/20 at 6pm - Boston Store

East End Books Boston Seaport Presents: Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life w/ Michael Nott - 6/20 at 6pm - Boston Store. Michael will be in conversation with Robert Pinsky "Proverbs of Limbo: Poems." 

Tickets:   Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life w/ Michael Nott - 6/20 at 6pm - Boston Store Tickets, Thu, Jun 20, 2024 at 6:00 PM | Eventbrite

Michael Nott is the author of Photopoetry, 1845-2015: A Critical History and an editor of The Letters of Thom Gunn. He lives in London, England.

Robert Pinsky is the author of several books of poetry, including Gulf MusicJersey RainThe Want BoneThe Figured Wheel, and At the Foundling Hospital. His bestselling translation The Inferno of Dante sets a modern standard. He was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997 to 2000. Among his awards and honors are the William Carlos Williams Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the PEN/Voelcker Award, the Korean Manhae Prize, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the PEN American Center. He teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University.

A no-holds-barred biography of the great poet and sexual rebel, who could "give the dead a voice, make them sing" (Hilton Als, The New Yorker).

Thom Gunn was not a confessional poet, and he withheld much, but inseparable from his rigorous, formal poetry was a ravenous, acute experience of life and death.

Raised in Kent, England, and educated at Cambridge, Gunn found a home in San Francisco, where he documented the city's queerness, the hippie mentality (and drug use) of the sixties, and the tragedy and catastrophic impact of the AIDS crisis in the eighties and beyond. As Jeremy Lybarger wrote in The New Republic, the author of Moly and The Man with Night Sweats was "an agile poet who renovated tradition to accommodate the rude litter of modernity." Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life chronicles, for the first time, the largely undocumented life of this revolutionary poet. Michael Nott, a coeditor of The Letters of Thom Gunn, draws on letters, diaries, notebooks, interviews, and Gunn's poetry to create a portrait as vital as the man himself.

Nott writes with insight and intimacy about the great sweep of Gunn's life: his traditional childhood in England; his mother's suicide; the mind-opening education he received at Cambridge, reading Shakespeare and John Donne; his decades in San Francisco and with his life partner, Mike Kitay; and his visceral experience of sex, drugs, and loss. Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life is a long-awaited, landmark study of one of England and America's most innovative poets.

"The great achievement of Nott's biography is that it shows how poetry influenced Gunn's life and how his life influenced his poetry, discussing, for instance, how reading Shakespeare and Stendhal made Gunn feel "as if anything were possible" and how he intended his 1971 collection, Moly, to be "an invitation to discuss homosexuality and LSD." The result is a triumphant celebration of a larger-than-life writer." --Publishers Weekly

This is the Thom Gunn I came to know the last 20 years of his life and the world he inhabited. I find it startling that such a young scholar and writer who never crossed the man's path succeeds in bringing the subject in all his emotional and intellectual complexity so vividly back to life. I was deeply moved. But that is Michael Nott's rare gift, the artistry of the master biographer with genuine feeling for the man and his art he finds, justifiably, compelled to portray." --August Kleinzahler, author of Snow Approaching on the Hudson

Thom Gunn was the most exciting poet of his generation, and he lived an exciting life. He loved adventure, but he was also self-disciplined and blessed with acute intelligence. If these sound like contradictions, they don't seem to flummox Michael Nott, who, though he never knew Gunn, gets him exactly as I remember him: kindly, courteous, self-deprecating, daring, playful, and a master of words. Nott's skill as a biographer is exactly suited to his subject. Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life is gripping from the start and beautifully written." -- Clive Wilmer, author of New and Collected Poems

Proverbs of Limbo: Poems 

A new book of poems by the three-time poet laureate Robert Pinsky, a writer "rarely equalled" (Louise Glück).


Robert Pinsky, one of our most ambitious, inventive, and finely tuned poets, takes an original approach to the fraught, central matter of borders in Proverbs of Limbo, his first new book of poetry in eight years.


In this collection, the poet mines and maps limbal regions: those spaces between differences that can be at once creative and oppressive, enlightening and dark, exciting and fatal. For Pinsky, they include the familiar borders between demographic categories, as well as limbal realities that are more personal--clashing ways of understanding, personal history and world history, health and illness, freedom and compulsion, intimacy and community, personality and culture--all the countless variations of in-between.


The title Proverbs of Limbo tips its hat, at an angle, to the great poet William Blake's Proverbs of Hell. Blake's jagged, contrary proverbs resist, from within, the binary rights and wrongs of conventional Christianity: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom"; "The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."


Here, Pinsky embodies a different resistance to different conventions of understanding. "The Buddha," begins the title poem, "is a liquor store / On a busy corner."

Event date: 
Thursday, June 20, 2024 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Event address: 
300 Pier 4 Blvd
Boston, MA 02210
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Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life By Michael Nott Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374279202
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 18th, 2024

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Proverbs of Limbo: Poems By Robert Pinsky Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374611958
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 11th, 2024

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