Tania Hershman and Marilyn Hacker

Tuesday May 12

Tania Hershman’s story ‘The Special Advisor’, published in Five Dials Magazine, is modern and unsettling. We read this because she’s been commissioned to write a piece specifically for the first Royal Literary Fund reading groups conference in June. Hershman’s a poet as well as a fiction writer and is drawn to flash fiction, where perhaps the boundaries are blurred between the two.

But she’s also interested in science, having been a science journalist for many years, and this does provide some interesting background to the story we read. She has published two collections of short stories and her poetry is regularly published in magazines. There’s more about her varied and busy life on her own website:  taniahershman.com/wp/

Marilyn Hacker’s one of the pillars of contemporary poetry. We looked at her poem, ‘Essay on Departure’, a poem that examines what the present and past actually mean, through images of teenagers chatting, shutters, blue walls. An American living in Paris, she  is a friend of the poet Mimi Khalvati, who’s also been commissioned for the conference. We’ve read one of Mimi’s poems so I decided to look at one of the poets Mimi herself cites as important to her. She has been winning prizes since 1974, is known for her expertise in a number of forms, is a feminist and political activist.

She has published 14 collections of poetry and her most recent in the UK is Essays on Departure, New and Selected Poems (Carcanet 2006). She is a highly respected translator, literary critic and essayist. She has won a number of awards and fellowships. Read more about her at the poets.org website:  marilyn-hacker

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