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Ian S. MacGiven, photo by Virginia Schendler Ian S.
MacNiven

Biographer

Peter GlassgoldPeter
Glassgold

Scholar, translator
and editor

NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE TO CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND POETRY OF JAMES LAUGHLIN (1914-1997), LEGENDARY PUBLISHER OF MAJOR LITERARY WORKS

NYS Writers Institute, November 25, 2014

4:00 p.m. Presentation | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

   

EVENT DETAILS:
The New York State Writers Institute will celebrate the life and poetry of James Laughlin (1914-1997), legendary founder of New Directions press and revolutionary publisher of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Jorge Luis Borges and Herman Hesse, on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Guests will include biographer Ian S. MacNiven, author of Literchoor Is My Beat: A Life of James Laughlin (2014), and Peter Glassgold, scholar, translator, and editor of The Collected Poems of James Laughlin (2014). Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

PROFILE
Born in Pittsburgh in 1914, James Laughlin founded New Directions in 1936 while still a sophomore at Harvard University. From the beginning, he defined his new publishing house as “a place where experimentalists could test their inventions by publication.” In addition to those previously mentioned, writers introduced to the public by New Directions included William Saroyan, Delmore Schwartz, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Merton, John Hawkes, Denise Levertov, James Agee, Bertolt Brecht, Celine, Cocteau, Karl Shapiro, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Vladimir Nabokov, and the single, biggest-selling author published by the press— the playwright Tennessee Williams.

Laughlin also made a practice of publishing neglected or forgotten writers of earlier generations in new editions, and contributed enormously to revivals of interest in such authors as James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Henry James, E. M. Forster, Henry Miller and Nathaniel West. For his immeasurable and transformative impacts on American publishing, Laughlin received the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards in 1992.

A notable poet in his own right, James Laughlin was also the author of many collections including In Another Country (1979), Selected Poems (1986), The House of Light (1986), and The Owl of Minerva (1987). Poet Gary Snyder has said, “James Laughlin, who brought forth so much of the best writing of this century, stands in the company of the greatest modern American poets.” The Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin Award, for a second book by a poet, is named in his honor.

Ian MacNiven, a widely-published authority on literary modernism, is the author of “Literchoor is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions (2014). In a review of the new book, Kirkus called it, “The adventuresome life of a literary maverick… a comprehensive, prodigiously researched biography of a transformative literary figure.” MacNiven is also the author of the NY Times Notable Book, Lawrence Durrell: A Biography (1998),the authorized biography of the British novelist best-known for his tetralogy set in modern Egypt, The Alexandria Quartet (1957-60).In a New York Times review, Miranda Seymour called it, “[A] fine, thoughtful and prudently detached biography. . . .rich in anecdote, magisterial in scope.”

Peter Glassgold, writer and translator, is editor of The Collected Poems of James Laughlin (2014). Library Journal called the new collection, “a fine showcase for a poet who also happens to be one of the foremost American literary publishers of our time.” Glassgold also collaborated for many years as coeditor with James Laughlin on thirty-one volumes of the avant-garde anthology series, New Directions in Prose and Poetry.  He is also the editor of James Laughlin’s posthumous verse memoir, Byways (2005).

Other books edited by Glassgold include Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth (1985, expanded edition 2012), and the experimental translation Hwæt! A Little Old English Anthology of American Modernist Poetry (2001, expanded edition 2012).

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.