Poets Lynn Emanuel, Kimiko Hahn showcase work at Creative Writers House


Calvin Falk

Lynn Emanuel speaking at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House.

Laura Casado, Contributing writer

Friday night’s poetry reading, the second in the Fall 2015 Reading Series, featured poets Lynn Emanuel, recipient of the National Poetry Series Award for her volume titled “The Dig,” and Kimiko Hahn, winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize. The Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House has been home to the distinguished Creative Writing Program at NYU since 2007, fostering a community between student and faculty and providing a place for artists to explore and showcase their work.

Lynn Emanuel began the evening by reading from her newest book, “The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected.” Her voice, exquisitely translated words that criticized the art of living and human relation to tragedy. In a piece inspired by Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” she wrote about her self-proclaimed obsession with the notion of a woman transforming into a dog. She sees this hypothetical existence as similar to marriage, the wife ordered about tyrannically (fetch, lie down) and becoming used to such treatment — “I was dog. I embraced it. And then … I was replaced by it.”

Kimiko Hahn, who teaches an MFA program at CUNY-Queens College, read an array of pieces mainly from her most recent volume, entitled “Brain Fever.” Her methodical tone and pointed phrasing complimented the content of her selection, which fused scientific facts and research with relatable observations about life. In a particular poem called “In Childhood,” Hahn examines the loss of imagination that comes with growing old, asking, “where do all the gone things go, when the child is old?” She remarks that as we grow older, we only think logically rather than outside of the box.

Emanuel’s ambiguous perception of tragedy and art perfectly contrasted with Hahn’s prose, which was riddled with scientific terminology and historical facts.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 14 print edition. Email Laura Casado at [email protected].