Arisa White to Read at James Tate Tribute

Tomorrow evening, Arisa White, whose full-length poetry collection you’re the most beautiful thing that happened is forthcoming from Augury this fall, will read in tribute to poet James Tate at The New School. Several other poets will be reading to honor Tate as well, including John Ashbery, Matthea Harvey, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dorothea Lasky, Charles Wright, and Matthew Zapruder. In addition, David Lehman will be introducing, and music will be provided by Eve Beglarian and Charles Wuorinen, with vocals by Maya Sharpe.

This event is open to the public, and seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Find out more about this event on The New School’s website.

Augury Live! Tonight!

Enjoy the weather and come hear some poetry at the Rubin tonight!

TONIGHT at 7pm!

Kimiko Hahn, Saskia Hamilton, Noelle Kocot, David Lehman, Ben Lerner, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Stacy Szymaszek will read poems by themselves and others reflecting absence, emptiness, and nothing—themes inherent in Buddhist art and philosophy.

Poems about Nothing is one in a series of programs inspired by the museum’s current exhibition, Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art. Like Poems about Nothing, the five artists’ works featured in Grain of Emptiness have been influenced by the tenets of Buddhism, namely, its central principles of emptiness and the fleeting nature of all things.

Programming Producer Tim McHenry notes, “Ancient Zen Buddhist koans are famous for presenting the reader with mysterious questions that are cryptic and paradoxical. Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost and many Western poets have confronted what “nothing” could be. But what is the contemporary poet’s relationship to the subject of “nothing?” I’m so pleased we can bring these seven celebrated poets together to excavate the multitudes of meaning behind nothingness, and to celebrate the ephemeral nature of the spoken word.”

$12; $7 students with I.D. Tickets include admission to the galleries
Online:; Box office: 212-620-5000 x344; or in person

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17 Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues
By subway: 1 to 18th Street; 2, 3, F, M to 14th Street; N, R, Q, 4, 5, 6 to Union Square; 212-620.5000

The Poets

Kimiko Hahn is the author of eight books of poems, including: Earshot(awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize); The Unbearable Heart (an American Book Award); The Narrow Road to the Interior, which utilizes Japanese forms; and her latest Toxic Flora, poems inspired by science. Hahn is a recipient of a number awards—the most recent area Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/Voelcker Award and The Shelley Memorial Prize—and she is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, The City University of New York.

Saskia Hamilton is the author of As for Dream (2001) and Divide These(2005), the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell (2005), and the co-editor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (2008). Her poetry has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York.

Noelle Kocot is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, Poem for the End of Time and Other Poems (Wave Books, 2006) and Sunny Wednesday (Wave Books, 2009), as well as a discography forthcoming in 2010 from Wave, and a full-length poetry collection, The Bigger World(Wave, 2011). She has won awards from The American Poetry Review, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Fund for Poetry and The Academy of American Poets, among others. She lives in New Jersey.

David Lehman is the author of Sign of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man, several books of poetry, and is Series Editor of The Best American Poetry. His essays, poems, and reviews have appeared in all the major literary publications, from the Times Literary Supplement, to The New Yorker to The Paris Review. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institution of Arts and Letters. Mr. Lehman’s book A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs recently won the 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor award for outstanding print, broadcast and new media coverage of music. He lives in New York City.

Ben Lerner earned a BA in political science and an MFA in creative writing from Brown University, and was a Fulbright scholar in Madrid. Lerner is the author of several full-length poetry collections, including Mean Free Path (2010) and Angle of Yaw (2006), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. His sonnet sequence, The Lichtenberg Figures (2004), won the Hayden Carruth Award, was chosen by Library Journal as one of the year’s 12 best poetry books, and was a Lannan Literary Selection. His poetry has also been included in the anthologies Best American Poetry, New Voices (2008), and 12×12: Conversations in Poetry and Poetics (2009).

Brenda Shaughnessy received her B.A. in literature and women’s studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she earned an M.F.A. at Columbia University. She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interior with Sudden Joy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999), which was nominated for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Norma Farber First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Bomb, Boston Review, Conjunctions, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She is the poetry editor at Tin House magazine and currently teaches creative writing at Princeton University and Eugene Lang College at the New School.

Stacy Szymaszek was born in Milwaukee, WI. She is the author of the books Emptied of All Ships (Litmus Press, 2005) and Hyperglossia(Litmus Press, 2009), as well as numerous chapbooks, including Orizaba: A Voyage with Hart Crane (Faux Press, 2008), Stacy S.: Autoportraits (OMG, 2008), and from Hart Island (Albion Books, 2009). From 1999 to 2005, she worked at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. In 2005 she moved to New York City where she is the current Artistic Director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church.

The Human Factor by David Lehman

Indiana power plant after flood, 1913. Photograph by DJ Angus.

It is our great pleasure to present this poem by David Lehman, one of the readers at tomorrow night’s Poems about Nothing event at the Rubin Museum. “The Human Factor” appears in When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005).


The Human Factor


The gambler knows nothing’s
more addictive than deception
with the chance that the betrayed one,
the spouse or the State, is pretending
or consenting to be deceived
for motives of vanity and greed
not different from his own,
leaving him with a choice to make
between his mistress and his self-respect —
which may be why the ideal reader
of Graham Greene’s novels went
to a parochial school, was married
and divorced, has lived abroad
in Europe or Asia, plays in a weekly
small-stakes poker game, works
for a newspaper, lies to make a living.



David Lehman is the editor of  “The Oxford Book of American Poetry.” He initiated “The Best American Poetry” and continues as the series editor of the annual anthology. His latest books of poems are “Yeshiva Boys” and “When a Woman Loves a Man.” The most recent of his six prose books is “A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs” which recently won the 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor award for outstanding print, broadcast, and new media coverage of music.

Press About Our Event

As we get closer and closer to our Event on Wednesday, we just want to thank everyone who was kind enough to help us get the word out. Thanks especially to The Academy of American Poets, The Best American Poetry BlogThe Rumpus, CUNY‘s MFA Program, and Adam at HTMLGIANT.

Also, we just received news that pre-sale tickets are going fast, but it’s not too late to buy online! Please note that student tickets at their special discount price will only be available at the door.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Talks About Nothing Series featured on The Economist

The Economist recently wrote an insightful article on the Rubin Museum‘s Talks About Nothing series which featured novelist Rick Moody and physicist Melissa Franklin! Including our event on January 26th, there are still several others left in this series before it ends in late January. You can find tickets here.


Also, to refresh your memory, here is the official press release for Poems About Nothing:




Wednesday, January 26
$12/$10.80 for RMA Members/$5 student/ advance available by phone
Admission includes access to the galleries from 5pm-7pm.
Buy tickets here.

Himalayan Happy Hour and live music in the café from 5-7pm prior to the reading.

“if there’s nowhere to rest at the end how can I get lost along the way?”–Ikkyu

Poets Kimiko Hahn, Saskia Hamilton, Noelle Kocot, David Lehman, Ben Lerner, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Stacy Szymaszek read poems by themselves and others on the themes of absence, emptiness, and…nothing.

Presented in association with Augury Books

150 WEST  17TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY   212.620.5000 x344

This performance informs the exhibition
Grain of Emptiness
Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art
Grain of Emptiness features five contemporary artists—Sanford Biggers, Theaster Gates, Atta Kim, Wolfgang Laib, and Charmion von Wiegand—all inspired by the Buddhist notions of emptiness and impermanence and Buddhist ritual practice. These artists are from disparate backgrounds and explore a range of artistic mediums, but all have inherited the practice of incorporating Eastern religious beliefs into their works. The exhibition’s paintings, photographs, videos, and installations will be complemented by performance art. For more information on the series relating to the exhibition please visit

Poetry at the Rubin

Augury Books is co-curating an evening of poetry at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan.

150 W. 17 St., NYC 10011

Wednesday January 26, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Price: $12.00
Member Price: $10.80

Poets Kimiko Hahn, Saskia Hamilton, Noelle Kocot, David Lehman, Ben Lerner, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Stacy Szymaszek read poems by themselves and others on the themes of absence, emptiness, and…nothing.

“if there’s nowhere to rest at the end how can I get lost along the way?”


For more information and to buy tickets in advance please visit the Rubin Museum website.