The lecture is free and sponsored by the Kenneth and Donna Ericksen Endowed English Fund.
In the last few decades, the great Eastern European poets of the 20th century – Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Brodsky, Milosz, Herbert, Szymborska and others – have been featured in English-language anthologies, essays and poems. These poets have reached far beyond the usual academic audience. Adam Zagajewski’s poem "Try to Praise the Mutilated World" appeared in the first issue of The New Yorker published after 9/11, and was taped to refrigerators throughout Manhattan in the wake of the disaster. Why should Zagajewski and his fellow Eastern Europeans speak so powerfully to American readers today? As translator, critic and biographer, Cavanagh will share her insights into this rich literature.
Cavanagh's essays and translations have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Partisan Review, Common Knowledge, Poetry, Literary Imagination and other periodicals. She has received Guggenheim, ACLS and SSRC grants, the PMLA William Riley Parker Prize, and the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize for her work on Russian and Polish poetry. She has translated numerous volumes of Polish poetry and prose, most notably the work of Zagajewski and Wislawa Szymborska.
Cavanagh holds the Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professorship in Literature at Northwestern University. She is the author of "Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition" and is currently working on "Poetry and Power: Russia, Poland and the West," which examines Russian and Polish romantic myths of poet-prophets as they come into conflict with Soviet power, and "Czeslaw Milosz and His Century: A Critical Life," an authorized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning poet. A new book, "Eternal Enemies," with her translations of other poems by Zagajewski, will be coming out the week after her visit to Linfield.