The online edition of Syracuse Stage's "Poetry & Play" series is a video anthology of theatre-related poetry and prose read by actors, poets, writers, and scholars. Curated by associate artistic director Kyle Bass and nationally acclaimed poet Charles Martin (Medea), these selected contemporary and classic works become spoken love letters to the live art form we cherish.

What the Director Said
by Jeanne Marie Beaumont



Jeanne Marie Beaumont is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Letters from Limbo (CavanKerry Press, 2016). In the spring of 2019, her play Asylum Song had its world premiere at the HERE Theater in New York. Her poem Afraid So was made into an award-winning short film by filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt and has been shown at many international festivals and the Museum of Modern Art. She is a past winner of the National Poetry Series and the 2009 Dana Award for Poetry and has taught at the Frost Place, Rutgers University, the Stonecoast MFA Program of the University of Southern Maine, and the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd St. Y in New York City.

Joshua Bennett is the Mellon Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth. He is the author of three books of poetry and criticism: The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)—winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award—Being Property Once Myself (Harvard University Press, 2020) and Owed (Penguin, 2020). Bennett earned his Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Dr. Bennett’s writing has been published in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Poetry and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, MIT, and the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. His first work of narrative nonfiction, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, is forthcoming from Knopf.

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) was born in DePew, New York, and grew up in Buffalo. She studied at Howard University, before transferring to SUNY Fredonia, near her hometown. She was discovered as a poet by Langston Hughes (via friend Ishmael Reed, who shared her poems), and Hughes published Clifton's poetry in his highly influential anthology, The Poetry of the Negro (1970). A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton’s work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life.

Dana Gioia is a poet and critic. His poetry collections include Interrogations at Noon, which won the 2001 American Book Award, and 99 Poems: New & Selected (2016), which won the Poets’ Prize as the best book of the year. His four critical collections include Can Poetry Matter? (2002) and Studying with Miss Bishop: Memoirs from a Young Writer’s Life (2021). Gioia served as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009 and as California State Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2019. His other awards include the Laetare Medal, Presidential Civilian Medal, and the Aiken-Taylor Award in Modern Poetry. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California.

Linda Gregerson is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently of Prodigal: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015). She is also the author of two critical monographs and numerous essays on early modern English and contemporary American poetry. Among her honors are fellowships and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Poetry Society of America, the Modern Poetry Association, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Mellon, and Rockefeller Foundations. Gregerson is the Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is currently completing a seventh volume of poems.

Rachel Hadas is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and translations. Her latest collection is POEMS FOR CAMILLA (2018); LOVE AND DREAD, a new volume of poetry, is due out in the fall of 2020, and PIECE BY PIECE, prose selections, in the spring of 2021. The recipient of honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Director's Fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the New York Public Library, Rachel Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, where she has taught for many years.

Zbigniew Herbert was a Polish poet, playwright, and essayist. According to The Poetry Foundation, Herbert is recognized as one of the great Polish poets of the 20th century, and he gained an international reputation upon the publication of his works in English. His Selected Poems (1968) was translated into English by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott. Other works translated into English include the poetry collections Mr. Cogito (1994), Report from the Besieged City (1985), and Elegy for the Departure and Other Poems (1999) as well as the essay collections The Barbarian in the Garden (1986), Still Life with a Bridle: Essays and Apocryphas (1993), and The King of the Ants (1999). Herbert was the recipient of numerous honors and awards during his lifetime, including the Koscielski Foundation Prize, the Lenau Prize, the Alfred Jurzykowski Prize, and the Herder Prize.

Charles Martin is the author of seven collections of poetry. His poems are widely anthologized and included in the latest edition of The Norton Anthology of Poetry published in 2018. Among his awards are the 2005 Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bess Hokin Award from Poetry magazine, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Also widely renowned as a translator, he has published four book-length translations of poetry and drama, including The Poems of Catullus, Medea by Euripedes, The Bhagavad Gita (a collaboration with the director of the Hindu Centre at Oxford University), and the Metamorphoses of Ovid, which received the Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy of American Poets and was hailed by the Washington Post as “a version that has been long awaited and is likely to become the new standard.”

Philip Memmer is the author of five books of poems, most recently Pantheon (Lost Horse Press, 2019). His work has appeared in such magazines as Poetry and Poetry London, in numerous anthologies, in the Library of Congress's "Poetry 180" website, and in Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry" syndicated column. He is Executive Director of the Arts Branch of the YMCA, where he founded the Downtown Writers Center in 2000, and Associate Editor for Tiger Bark Press. He also teaches creative writing, on occasion, at Hamilton College.

Gregory Pardlo's collected Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Other honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library's Cullman Center, the Guggenhein Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts for translation. His first poetry collection Totem won the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virgina Quarterly Review and Director of the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden. His most recent book is AirTraffic, a memoir in essays.

Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. is the new Artistic Director of HartBeat Ensemble, Hartford’s Public Theatre. He is also co-founder of Civic Ensemble, a community-based theatre company in Ithaca, NY. For Civic, he directed Eugene O’Neill’s All God’s Chillun Got Wings and The Next Storm, and appeared in My Children! My Africa!Fast Blood and his adaptation of Mike Daisey’s The Trump Card. Godfrey was Producing Artist in charge of New Artist Development for Off-Broadway’s Epic Theatre Ensemble, appearing in A More Perfect UnionWidowers' Houses (which Godfrey co-adapted with Ron Russell), and Measure for Measure, among other plays. At Epic, he also co-wrote and starred in a documentary play about the election of President Barack Obama, Dispatches From (A)mended America. Additional New York theatre credits include The Old Settler (Primary Stages), Betty’s Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons), Free Market (Working Theater), Leader of the People (New Georges), and microcrisis (Ensemble Studio Theater). Godfrey is a 2012 TCG/Fox Fellow, a participant in the TCG SPARK Leadership Program, and a lifetime member of Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Keith Randolph Smith is an American Broadway, television, theatre, and film actor. Broadway: JitneyFences; American PsychoKing Hedley IICome Back Little ShebaPiano LessonSalome. Off-Broadway: Lockdown (Rattlestick Theater); Paradise Blue (Signature Theater); Holiday Heart (MTC); Intimacy (The New Group). Regional Theatre: Holiday Heart (World Premiere-Syracuse Stage); How To Catch Creation (Goodman Theater); In Walks Ed (Long Whard Theater); Cyrano (Arden Theater). Television: The Good FightLaw and OrderI'll Fly AwayCosbyNY Undercover. Graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts Conservatory. Member of The Quicksilver Theater Company and The Actor's Center in NYC. Fox Fellow in Acting. Lunt-Fontanne Acting Fellow.

Juhanna Rogers, PhD. Is a writer, director, dancer, and actress currently residing in Syracuse. Her most recent work, “A Gatherin’ Place,” originally produced at Auburn Public Theater, was the season opener at Syracuse Stage last October. Juhanna also is the creator, executive producer, and host of "Behind The Woman" a WCNY television series that shares personal stories from diverse women leaders. Dr. Rogers earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrative Arts from Penn State University – Altoona and doctorate in higher education from Indiana University. Today, in addition to working as an artist, Dr. Rogers is the Vice President for Racial Equity and Social Impact at CenterState CEO and humbly serving as mother to her son, Nile!

Wisława Szymborska Well-known in her native Poland, Wisława Szymborska received international recognition when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. In awarding the prize, the Academy praised her “poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” Collections of her poems that have been translated into English include People on a Bridge (1990), View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems (1995), Miracle Fair (2001), and Monologue of a Dog (2005).

Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough is a translator and essayist. Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, LitHub, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and other journals. Her essay collection Objects of Affection was published in 2018 by Braddock Avenue Books.

David Yezzi’s latest books of poetry are Birds of the Air and Black Sea (Carnegie Mellon Poets Series). His verse play Schnauzer, produced by The Baltimore Poets Theater, was recently published by Exot Books. His libretto for David Conte’s opera Firebird Motel has been performed widely and is available on CD from Arsis. A former director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and edits The Hopkins Review.


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