March 7, 94

Vol. 09 , No. 08   

Poetry Reading

Awaiting still our metamorphosis,
We hoard the fragments of what we once knew,
It is not sleep itself but dreams we miss.
We yearn for that reality in this

-Derek Mahon,
The Dawn Chorus

Regarded as one of contemporary Ireland's greatest poets, Derek Mahon's narrative playfulness and energy and decisive technical virtuosity have earned him a worldwide reputation. Born in Belfast in 1941, Mahon was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he majored in French, and at the Sorbonne. He began writing verse early. In 1965 he won the prestigious Gregory Award for poetry and his first collection of poems was published in 1966. His books include Night Crossing (1968), Lives (1972), The Snow Party (1975), The Hunt by Night (1983), and Antarctica (1985). His Selected Poems was published by Viking last year. He has served as drama critic for the Listener, and is a regular contributor for the Observer, New Statesman, and the Times Literary Supplement.

A noted translator, Mahon was awarded the C. Scott-Moncrieff Prize for his renderings of the poems of Philippe Jaccottet. He has also translated works of Moliere, Euripedes, and Nerval. He has written television adaptations of novels by Irish writers Jennifer Johnston and Brian Moore as well as a dramatization of Ivan Turgenev's First Love. Mahon has taught at Trinity College, New University, and Wake Forest University.

Culture and Society in Contemporary Russia

She has been called "the most original, tactile, luminous voice in Russian prose today" by Joseph Brodsky. Indeed, Tatyana Tolstaya is admired throughout the world. Her internationally acclaimed fiction has appeared in a number of Russian and American publications including Neva, Novy Mir, Oktyabr, and The New Yorker.

Tatyana Tolstaya was born in Leningrad and graduated from Leningrad University in 1974. She is the great grandniece of Leo Tolstoy and the granddaughter of Alexei Tolstoy. Tolstaya has authored two volumes of short stories, both of which have been translated into English: On the Golden Porch (1989) and Sleepwalker in a Fog (1992). She was writer-in-residence at the University of Richmond, Virginia, in 1988 and currently teaches at Princeton University.

Tolstaya is well known for interpreting Russian culture for Americans. In addition to fiction, she has written a number of essays about Russian life, politics, and Russian-American relations that have sparked much discussion in academic and literary circles.

Join us for the author's personal observations of contemporary society and culture in Russia.

The Bobby Bradford Mo'tet Jazz Concert
VINNIE GOLIA, woodwinds

Bobby Bradford has done just about everything that can be done in the musical world. He has played jazz, blues, and R&B. Bradford's distinction is that he plays all of them very well. He has been described by great jazz musician Ornette Coleman as " of the best cornet players playing today."

Bradford first came to prominence in the seminal bands of Ornette Coleman from 1961 to 1963. After a brief stint with the U.S. Air Force Band, he began working with famed clarinetist John Carter. Their association produced many recordings including the popular "Comin' On" (1988) on Hat Hut Records.

In the 1970s and '80s Bradford worked with English drummer John Stevens and his Spontaneous Music Ensemble as well as the late South African expatriate bass player Johnny Dyani. Together, they toured and produced three albums including "Detail Plus" (1988) and "Dance of the Soul" (1988), both on Impetus Records. Bradford's discography includes 18 records, and he has performed at such places as the Montreux/Atlanta International Music Festival, the KOOL Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, and the Bicentennial Commonwealth Festival in Austria.

Bradford now divides his time between touring and teaching at Pomona College and Pasadena City College. Bradford toured Japan with saxophonist David Murray during the past summer. At 53, Bradford is considered a contemporary jazz master, proving his skill with his latest release, the soulful and adventurous recording "One Night Stand" (1990) on Soul Note Records.

The History of New Orleans Culture and Cuisine

Leah Chase has been working in the restaurant business for over forty years. Chase, however, is more than a chef and co-owner of the nationally famous Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans, she is a nationally recognized culinary expert and a civic leader in New Orleans.

Born in New Orleans in 1923, she was reared in Madisonville, Louisiana, where her culinary education began. There she did everything possible to stay out of the kitchen, but with ten other children in the family that was difficult. As her mother and sister prepared meals with a rich variety of homegrown vegetables, she gained her culinary knowledge. In 1942 Chase found herself waiting tables in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was her first time inside a restaurant since there were no restaurants serving Blacks. During that time Chase decided that she wanted to own her own restaurant.

As her restaurant blossomed, Chase found herself in the kitchen as well as managing. Her creative cuisine and legendary Creole gumbo made Dooky Chase a national treasure. Chase uses her skill and experience to unify the cultures of the French, the Spanish, the Native American, and the African to create Creole and Cajun cuisine. This master chef states that in addition to these cultures, "You have to put all your love in that pot."

A civic leader, Chase is involved with housing projects and homeless shelters. She is a former board member of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the New Orleans Symphony, the New Orleans City Ballet, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, and the Coalition of 100 Black Women. Chase was featured in Brian Lanker's book I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America (1989). She wrote The Dooky Chase Cookbook (1990) and was a major contributor to Master Chef Nathaniel Burton's book, Creole Feast (1978).

There will be a special Creole dinner prepared using Chase's recipes and cooking techniques.

Rising from the Plains

John McPhee is one of America's premier essayists, known for his ability to transform the ordinary world of hard facts into an extraordinary world of surprise and adventure. His recent books have explored the geology of the North American continent through the eyes and lives of contemporary geologists. One of those works, Rising from the Plains (1986), focuses on the life of David Love, a Wyoming geologist, whose mother traveled by stagecoach to settle in the West in 1905. Her fascinating journal of family life on the treeless range of Love Ranch is the basis of the dramatic reading that will be performed by John McPhee and his wife, Yolanda. In the tradition of Wallace Stegner it is a testament to the frontier experience in American life.

For nearly 30 years John McPhee has been a writer for The New Yorker and is the author of 22 books including A Sense of Where You Are (1965), The Pine Barrens (1968), Coming into the Country (1985), The Control of Nature (1989), and most recently, Assembling California (1993). The recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, McPhee is the Ferris Professor of Journalism at his alma mater, Princeton University.

Yolanda McPhee, a graduate of Smith College, is a horticulturist and is the director of Whitman Indoor Gardens.

Please join us for this unusual performance-reading that celebrates life in the American West.


Application forms for the position of student fellow for the academic year 1994-95 may be picked up at the Athenaeum office on Monday, February 28. The application must be completed and all letters of reference returned by Friday, March 25.