Poet Carl Phillips to help relaunch Modern Literature Reading Series

Acclaimed poet Carl Phillips will help relaunch the Modern Literature Reading Series at Washington University in St. Louis when he does a reading at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12.

Also reading at the event will be Catherine Chiodo and Philip Williams, candidates for the master of fine arts degree in poetry at WUSTL.


The event, which is sponsored by Washington University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and the Writing Program of the Department of English in Arts & Sciences, will be held in Special Collections on Level 1 of John M. Olin Library.

It is free and open to the public.

The reading series, which originally ran from 2000-05, celebrates both the authors represented in the Libraries’ Modern Literature Collection and those poets and writers influenced by them today.

Similar to the original series, the new series will hold one event each semester and feature students, faculty members and outside writers as readers.

Each reader will focus on one author and will read excerpts from that author’s work or manuscripts that speak to the reader in some way. The readers are also invited to present their own work inspired or influenced by the writer in question.

Phillips, WUSTL professor of English and of African and African-American studies in Arts & Sciences, plans to read and discuss the work of the late Robert Creeley.

Creeley, the author of more than 60 books, is considered one of the most important and influential American poets of the 20th century.

Chiodo will focus on the work of the late Donald Finkel, who was a founding member of the university’s graduate Writing Program in the mid-1970s and poet-in-residence emeritus of English.

Williams will read from the work of the late Robert Duncan, considered one of America’s great contemporary lyric poets and a public intellectual.

Joel Minor, curator of manuscripts and modern literature for Special Collections, proposed reviving the reading series after talking with Writer-in-Residence Jennifer Kronovet, who mentioned participating in the original reading series when she was a master of fine arts student at WUSTL.

“Jennifer sparked the idea,” Minor says, “and then later graciously agreed to help me get it off the ground again. I am excited by this opportunity to partner with the MFA Writing Program on a regular basis and to help connect generations of poets and writers to audiences through manuscripts.”

Inaugurated in 1964, the Modern Literature Collection at Washington University Libraries was created as an archive of the work of contemporary English and American writers who were considered critically underappreciated and whose reputations might grow further in the years to come.

Today, the collection’s list has grown to more than 175 authors, presses and journals, with more than 125 of these represented by manuscript materials.

A reception will follow the reading. For more information, contact Special Collections at (314) 935-5495 or visit library.wustl.edu/units/spec/events.html.