New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU’s creative writing department kicks off its fall 2023 reading series

A premiere night of passion-filled poetry by Dean Rader and Nicole Sealey took place at the NYU Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on Sept. 14.
Max Van Hosen
The reading featured various selections from Rader’s works including the poetry collection “Before the Borderless: Dialogues with the Art of Cy Twombly”. (Illustration by Max Van Hosen)

NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, a vessel for artistry and imagination tucked into the West Village, houses the creative writing program’s fall 2023 reading series. It commenced on Thursday, Sept. 14, with poetry readings by Dean Rader and Nicole Sealey.

The night began with a warm welcome by Joanna Yas, readings and special programs manager for NYU’s creative writing program. Yas invited MFA poetry student Madeline Zuzevich up to the podium to introduce esteemed poet Dean Rader. Zuzevich described Rader as a poet who writes “from a tender place of abstraction while he climbs the muddy hill of grief,” as a prelude to the selected works.

Rader, an accomplished poet and professor at the University of San Francisco, has written 12 books. He also earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, among other accomplishments.

Most of the works read by Rader at the event were selections from his latest collection of poetry titled “Before the Borderless: Dialogues with the Art of Cy Twombly,” which was inspired by his recent grief and the introspection that followed. To supplement his reading, Rader passed out pictures of Twombly’s paintings to provide visuals for each poem, as he expressed his emotions in conversation with the art. His readings felt especially cyclical after he shared that Twombly spent his life making art inspired by poetry.

Some of the poems Rader read were “Meditation on Absolution,” a response to Twombly’s “Note I,” from the series “III Notes from Salalah,” and “Mediation on Motion,” both a response to Twombly’s “Cold Stream,” and a love poem dedicated to his wife. 

After Rader left the stage, Sealey concluded the night with a thought-provoking reading of her works. MFA poetry student Daniella Ndubuisi-Ike introduced Sealey with a testament to her talents, explaining that Sealey’s poetry moved her to tears.

Sealey, an NYU MFA creative writing graduate herself, received numerous awards for her debut collection “Ordinary Beast” and chapbook “The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named.” She was also a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, with a lengthy list of additional awards and fellowships. 

Sealey’s selections include her most recent work, “The Ferguson Report: An Erasure,” published this past August. In this erasure poem, Sealey shapes her own voice and poetic insight by confronting the Department of Justice’s investigation of the Ferguson Police Department following the 2014 killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown. The poet read with precision, allowing the audience to take in the gravity of her work.

The evening, filled with revelations of grief, obsession and justice, culminated in applause for the poets. 

The NYU Creative Writing Program’s reading series is held at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House every Thursday and Friday. NYU students, faculty and members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend future events with RSVP. 

Contact Olivia Olson at [email protected]

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