Poet Valerie Mejer to visit campus for poetry reading
Andrea Vale | Thursday, October 16, 2014
Mexican-born poet and painter Valerie Mejer will make an appearance on campus Friday to read from her works.
The Notre Dame creative writing program and Department of English will sponsor the event.
Mejer’s works “explore containment and fragility, layering loss and possibility over a once-familiar landscape,” according to the creative writing program’s website.
Her works include poetry collections “Rain of the Future” (2013), “de la ola, el atajo” (2009), “Geografías de Niebla” (2008), “Esta Novela Azul” (2004), and “Ante el Ojo de Cíclope” (1999), as well as the novel “De Elefante a Elefante” (1997).
Her artwork has appeared in Raúl Zurita’s “Los Boteros de la Noche” (2010), Forrest Gander’s “Ligaduras/Ligatures” (2012), and Antonio Prete’s “Menhir” (2007) and “L’imperfection de la Lune” (2007).
Mejer said she chooses her topics of poetry or art “the same way you choose what is going to happen the next hour or day. A mix between intuition and destiny. A lot comes from the past, voices, pains. Like Charles Wright said, ‘All forms of landscape are autobiographical.'”
Joyelle McSweeney, director of the creative writing program and associate professor of English, said Mejer’s work is contemporary, graceful, forceful and memorable.
“As a Mexican poet and painter, she carries the traditions of both the Latin American surrealism associated with Frida Kahlo and the intimate, personal lyric of American poetry,” McSweeney said. “Hers is a poetry for every member of the Notre Dame and South Bend community.”
McSweeney also said she believes Mejer’s dual roles of painter and poet complement each other.
“Her ‘painter’s eye’ shows in her poetry, in that her poems are full of images at once dreamlike and forceful,” McSweeney said. “At the same time, her poetry is breathtaking for the fluid way each image gives way to the next. A poem elapses in time, while a painting is fixed in time.”
Mejer’s visit comes in the wake of the publication of her first English-language translation of “Rain of the Future.” The work was published by independent press Action Books, which is run by McSweeney and fellow associate professor of English Johannes Göransson.
“[The translation is] a tribute to Mejer’s brilliance, but it is also the product of many hands working together,” including American poets CD Wright, Forrest Gander, Sarah Denaci and Alexandra Zelman-Doring, McSweeney said. In addition, the collection includes a preface from Argentine poet Raul Zurita.
“[The creative writing program hopes] students and faculty in many disciplines — creative writing, literature, visual arts, students of Spanish-language literature and culture, students of global affairs — will benefit from the chance to interact with this exquisitely talented poet and painter,” McSweeney said.
McSweeney said she hopes Mejer’s work will show Notre Dame students the importance of the arts in international exchange.
The event is open to the public and will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Hammes Bookstore. A question-and-answer session will follow Mejer’s reading.