BAR HARBOR — Poet Dan Burt will read from a selection of his work and take questions about his writing at the Jesup Memorial Library on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. The reading is the first in the inaugural Bateau/Jesup Reading Series.
Burt, who lives most of the year in London but spends considerable time at his home in Bar Harbor, said he will concentrate largely on new work but likely will include some pieces from his latest published collection, “We Look Like This” (Carcanet, 2012).
“Dan Burt is an incredible poet, and we are excited to have him here to help kick off the 2017 Bateau/Jesup reading series,” said College of the Atlantic writing Professor Dan Mahoney.
Bateau Press, a nonprofit literary press housed at the College of the Atlantic, publishes poetry chapbooks and other small literary works. Mahoney is the editor of “Bateau” poetry magazine and the instructor of a multi-term class centered on the press.
Much of Burt’s new work focuses on public topics, he said, such as the role of the Kennedy assassination in creating the present mood of the country, the resentment of Middle Eastern populations at rapid modernization in the 1970s, and the recent U.S. election.
“We are delighted to be in partnership with College of the Atlantic and Bateau in presenting this wonderful literary series,” said Jesup Library Director Ruth Eveland. “We are particularly looking forward to hosting Dan Burt again at the Jesup.”
Burt’s verses “flex muscle after muscle,” according to a review of one of his books by British Poet George Szirtes published online by The Poetry Book Society. “Burt is excellent on place and occasion,” Szirtes wrote. “The tetrametric lines bulge with energy … It is masculine writing celebrating a masculine sense of temper and purpose. The writing isn’t always as muscle-bound as this; it can hover and dance. It has genuine grace.”
Burt was born in South Philadelphia, read English at St. John’s College, Cambridge and attended Yale Law School. A lawyer and businessman, his poetry and prose have appeared in “PN Review,” “TLS,” The Financial Times, “The New Statesman,” The Sunday Times, and “Granta,” among others. Two chapbooks, “Searched for Text” (2008) and “Certain Windows” (2011) were published by Lintott/Carcanet Press, as well as a collaboration, “Cold Eye,” with artist Paul Hodgson, (Marlborough Graphics/Lintott Press, 2010). Carcanet published “We Look Like This,” a collected edition of his poetry and prose, in May 2012. Notting Hill Editions published his memoir, “You Think It Strange,” in the U.K. in 2014, and Overlook Press published a U.S. edition in 2015. He lives and writes in London, St. John’s College, Cambridge, of which he is an honorary fellow, and Schooner Head. Visit www.danburtpoetry.com.
College of the Atlantic was the first college in the U.S. to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. In 2016, both The Princeton Review and the Sierra Club named College of the Atlantic the No. 1 Green College in the United States. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology – the study of how humans interact with our natural, social and technological environments. Each student develops their own course of study in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines.
A private nonprofit, the Jesup has served as the public library in the town of Bar Harbor since the library opened in 1911.
The Greatest Generation
(for Sam Hynes)
By Dan Burt
He walks like a lamplighter through my mind,
in the brown bomber jacket he wore
over whites and to class in the fall,
Marine Corps issue from late ’44,
when he flew Hellcats at Mindinao.
A line that day, Her beauty, like a bent
bow, loosed him on misremembering,
how it scrapes and daubs at memories
and paints a past we wish had been,
how when he was a teen
he recalled a lament for Carnival,
So we’ll go no more a roving
as rowing, and took it to heart as pastoral:
eight sweatered Ivy League athletes
at dusk, oars upright,
shouldering their shell to its rack for the night.
A shot cut short that reverie.
Two flights down in the parking lot
we gather, hear…Dallas…lie in state…
on his car’s radio, news from the spot,
go back, pack papers, silently separate.
We watched the slow march of caisson, coffin,
captain-less horse, black-veiled woman,
then went on as before,
though he mothballed the jacket won in the war.
By Dan Burt
My heroes have always been cowboys,
and still are, it seems….
I idolized three simple men,
the seaman Holmes, the boxer Joe,
the hit-man Uncle Al, and from
their lives knocked up a creed
I lived by in the streets, a hymn
to seas’ remorseless harmonies,
rage, and cold control.
To finish me took fifteen years,
a Grand Tour through four trades,
in six cities under three flags.
I fell in with thieves: double-
dipping bureaucrats, bent lawyers,
peacock generals in a libel case.
When these acid travels ended
my saints were slag, my brows knit,
and all my hymns re-writ.