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International Writers Series: Mary Jo Bang

In this virtual reading and discussion, Mary Jo Bang will present her recent translation of Dante’s Purgatorio. Mary Jo Bang is a nationally recognized author of eight books of poems and Professor of English here at Washington University in St. Louis. Her adaptation of Purgatorio is the extraordinary continuation of her journey with Dante, which began with her transformative version of Inferno. In her signature lyric style, accompanied by her wise and exuberant notes, Bang has produced a stunning translation of this fourteenth-century text, rich with references that span time, languages, and cultures. Bang will be joined in discussion by Aaron Coleman, who received his PhD in Comparative Literature and MFA in poetry from Washington University.

The International Writers Series is a collaboration between the International Writers track of the Program in Comparative Literature and the University Libraries at Washington University to celebrate new publications of creative works by writers and translators in the Washington University in St. Louis community and beyond. The discussions are moderated by Matthias Goeritz, Professor of Practice of Comparative Literature.

Free and open to all, pre-registration required.

Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poems—including A Doll for Throwing, Louise in Love, The Last Two Seconds, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award—and a translation of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated by Henrik Drescher. Her translation of Purgatorio was published by Graywolf Press in July of this year. She holds an MA degree in Sociology from Northwestern University, a BA in Photography from the Polytechnic of Central London (now Westminster University), and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. She has received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. Her translation of Matthias Göritz’s poem, “Colonies of Paradise,” was awarded a Gulf Coast Translation Prize by Ilya Kaminsky. She and co-translator Yuki Tanaka were awarded the Denver Quarterly 2020 Cole Swensen Translation Prize for the poem “Open Letters to Mister Sun in the Laboratory,” by Shuzo Takiguchi, and the 2020 RHINO Translation Prize for the poem “LINES” by Shuzo Takiguchi. She is a Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis where she teaches creative writing.

Aaron Coleman is the author of Threat Come Close (Four Way Books, 2018) winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and St. Trigger (Button, 2016), selected by Adrian Matejka for the Button Poetry Chapbook Prize. Aaron is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the J. William Fulbright Program, the Cave Canem Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association. He has lived and worked with youth in locations including Spain, South Africa, Chicago, St. Louis, and Kalamazoo. His poems and essays have appeared in publications including Boston ReviewCallaloo, The New York Times, the Poetry Society of America, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series. After completing his MFA in Poetry and PhD in Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, he is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Translation Studies at the University of Michigan.