Lecture and a Poetry Reading by David Ferry

David FerryThe English Department at Wheaton College was proud to host renowned translator and poet David Ferry at two separate events in October 2013. Both events were free and open to the public.


4:00pm   Lecture: "Experiencing Translation”

In his afternoon lecture, David Ferry shared about his interests, work and career as translator of classical literature, and their relationships to his work as a poet.

7:30pm   A Poetry Reading

Later that evening, David Ferry read from his most recent books of poetry including On This Side of the River: Selected Poems (2012), and Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (2012), which won the National Book Award for Poetry.

(From Bewilderment)

I sit here in a shelter behind the words
Of what I’m writing, looking out as if
Through a dim curtain of rain, that keeps me in here.

The words are like a scrim upon a page,
Obscuring what might be there beyond the scrim.
I can dimly see there’s something or someone there.
But I can’t tell if it’s God, or one of his angels,
Or the past, or future, or who it is I love,
My mother or father lost, or my sister,

Or my wife lost when I was too late to get there,
I only know that there’s something, or somebody, there.
Tell me your name. How was it that I knew you?

About The Author
David Ferry is an acclaimed American poet and translator. Ferry’s translations, all published by Farrar Straus & Giroux, include some of the world's major works of poetry. His translations of Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse (1992), The Odes of Horace (1997), and both The Eclogues of Virgil (1999) and Georgics of Virgil (2005) are known for their fluency and grace. He is currently translating the Aeneid of Virgil.

In addition to his lauded translations, Ferry is also a prize-winning poet in his own right and author of six books of poems. His poetic works include Dwelling Places (1993) and Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations (1999), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Bingham Poetry Prize, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress, and was a finalist for the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award and the New Yorker Book Award. In 2011, he was awarded the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Ferry’s many awards also include the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, the Teasdale Prize for Poetry, the Ingram Merrill Award, the William Arrowsmith Translation Prize from AGNI magazine and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Academy of American Poets. His most recent books of poetry are On This Side of the River: Selected Poems (2012) and Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (2012), which won the National Book Award for Poetry.

He is the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley College. Since his retirement from Wellesley, he has frequently been a Visiting Lecturer in the Boston University Graduate Creative Writing Program; he is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Suffolk University. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998. David Ferry was born in Orange, New Jersey in 1924; he was married to the distinguished literary critic, Anne Ferry, until her death in 2006.