Two months ago, we received a galley of the new edition of Philip Larkin's Complete Poems, edited by Archie Burnett and just published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. I realized that Larkin had never been celebrated in New York, and on the galvanizing energy of "attention must be paid," I phoned some of the people whom I know are (or guessed would be) passionate readers of his poetry.
Almost overnight, this event fell into place—swiftly and perfectly. It will take place in the Great Hall at Cooper Union on Tuesday, April 24th at 7PM. Bring your friends. It's free, and it will be AMAZING.
The English voices are James Fenton, Nick Laird, Zadie Smith, and Andrew Sullivan. The editor of the new edition, Archie Burnett, is Scottish, and he will be on hand. The Irish poet Eamon Grennan will take part.
Paul Simon is coming, too. And Billy Collins, who told me that Larkin is Paul Simon's favorite poet.
Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker and Katha Pollitt of The Nation are coming. Mary Karr, Meena Alexander, Vijay Seshadri, Dennis Nurkse, Deborah Garrison, and J.D. McClatchy will be with us.
Jonathan Galassi, publisher of the American edition of the Larkin Book and author of the new collection of poems, Left-Handed, will be there. Rowan Ricardo Phillips, a new FSG poet, is coming, and Saskia Hamilton, poet and editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell.
A sextet ensemble from The Queens College Jazz Band will play some of the music Larkin championed and loved most.
Please—as Frost wrote—you come, too! It will be so memorable. Each participant will read a single poem, and we will close with Larkin reading his beautiful "Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album."
We hope to see you there, and come a bit early to get a good seat!