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Provost’s Writers Series to showcase words and music

David St. John to read his poetry backed by USC Thornton performers

The Provost’s Writers Series, designed to highlight extraordinary USC authors, will take a musical turn on Feb. 25 when poet David St. John reads from and discusses his work.

Created by former USC Provost and incoming president Cornell University Elizabeth Garrett, the series provides opportunities for students and the community to engage with USC authors and celebrate the written word.

The Visions and Voices event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Friends of the USC Libraries Lecture Hall (240 Doheny Memorial Library), will celebrate St. John’s frequent collaborations with USC Thornton School of Music composers and musicians.

St. John, professor of English and comparative literature at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, has collaborated most notably with two USC Thornton composers. He wrote the libretto for Donald Crockett’s opera The Face and the libretto for Frank Ticheli’s choral symphony The Shore.

At the upcoming event, St. John will read one of his poems to guitar accompaniment by Chris Sampson, vice dean of the Contemporary Music Division and founding director of the Popular Music program at USC Thornton.

After St. John reads another poem, Zones, there will be a vocal duet of the poem by USC Thornton student Katie Beck and alumnus Jonathan Mack, who will be accompanied by Crockett on keyboards, with Professor Brian Head on guitar.

USC Thornton vocal student Catherine Rose Smith will also perform, accompanied by Sampson.

Ticheli, who teaches the graduate Writer and Composer class with St. John, will then host a conversation with the poet and moderate a Q&A session.

St. John is the author of 11 collections of poetry, including Study for the World’s Body: New and Selected Poems, a finalist for the National Book Award. He has also written non-fiction essays, interviews and reviews, and is the editor of The Selected Levis and The Darkening Trapeze: Last Poems of Larry Levis.

He was the co-editor of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry. 

He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Rome Prize Fellowship, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the O.B. Hardison Prize, a career award for teaching and poetic achievement given by The Folger Shakespeare Library. 

A book signing and reception will follow. Reservations are required.

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Provost’s Writers Series to showcase words and music

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