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While walking on the cliffs above the Adriatic near Duino Castle in Trieste, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke claims to have heard a voice on the wind, saying: “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic orders?”
This dramatic question, which is part mystical experience and part an act of self-mythologizing, urged the poet to write a group of ten poems that would become a masterpiece of European Modernism, and which would take him ten years to complete. With their digressions and leaps, their treatises on children, animals, puppets and angels, and in a voice that is both otherworldly and almost posthumous, Rilke managed to make a body of work that is sufficiently strange and beautiful enough that we are still drawn to the “terrible angels” animating these poems.
Class meets Wednesdays: Jan 20, 27, Feb 3 and 10.
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Programs taking place online and in our NYC facilities:Please select which experience you wish to participate in when registering. Online participants will be emailed an access link after purchase. In-person participants should read our safety guidelines before attending the program.
Mark Wunderlich is the author of The Anchorage, Voluntary Servitude and The Earth Avails, winner of the 2015 Rilke Prize from the University of North Texas and was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award. His next, God of Nothingness, is forthcoming. He is a member of the Literature Faculty at Bennington College in Vermont, where he become the first director of Poetry at Bennington. Wunderlich is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, two fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Amy Lowell Trust.
Reading Rilke with Mark Wunderlich