This fall, Hobart and William Smith Colleges celebrate the publication of “Afterings,” the final collection of poems by the late Professor of English Deborah Tall.
Tall came to HWS in 1982, teaching literature and writing and, as editor of the Colleges’ national literary journal, Seneca Review from 1982 to 2006, defined the literary form the lyric essay. With her student John D’Agata ’95, next year’s Trias Writer in Residence, Tall pioneered the genre, which employs the associative movement and lyrical suggestiveness of poetry alongside familiar narrative structures and conventional organization of prose.
Tall authored four previous books of poems and several nonfiction works, including “A Family of Strangers,” a memoir “told in such exacting, elegant language that the suppressed past vividly asserts its place in the present,” according the book’s publisher. Among her other poetry and nonfiction works are “Summons,” “The Island of the White Crow,” “Ninth Life,” and “From Where We Stand: Recovering a Sense of Place,” a meditation on place, history and the Finger Lakes.
She was co-editor, with Stephen A. Kuusisto ’78 and Professor of English David Weiss, of “The Poet’s Notebook,” a poetry anthology that originated from a special issue of Seneca Review. Tall passed away in 2006 of breast cancer, leaving behind many students, colleagues, friends and family members who remember her fondly. In recognition of her impact as a teacher, mentor and artist, in 2010 she was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Kuusisto, Weiss and other friends and colleagues gathered in the Hirshson Ballroom to read from “Afterings” and celebrate Tall’s life, work and legacy.
“It’s a group reading, which doesn’t happen much,” says Weiss “A bunch of people sharing the reading of poems or stories that aren’t theirs – the interactive nature of it is great and maybe will give us another model for readings.”
The reading was made possible thanks to the Office of the President , Seneca Review Assistant Editor Joshua Unikel ’07, the Trias Residency for Writers and the HWS English Department.
Additional group readings of “Afterings” are scheduled for later this year, including a reading in Ithaca in November and at the Brooklyn bookstore Book Court on Thursday, Nov. 17. Another reading will be held in Syracuse in February 2017.