September 8, 2021

Lloyd Schwartz

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes LLOYD SCHWARTZ—acclaimed poet, scholar, and longtime classical music critic for NPR’s Fresh Air—for a discussion of his latest poetry collection, Who's on First?: New and Selected Poems. He will be introduced by fellow poet GAIL MAZUR, author of They Can’t Take That Away from Me and Land's End: New and Selected Poems


For more than four decades, readers and critics have found Lloyd Schwartz’s poems unlike anyone else’s—a rare combination of the heartbreaking and the hilarious. With his ear for the poetry of the vernacular, Schwartz offers us a memorable cast of characters—both real and imagined, foolish and oracular. Readers experience his mother’s piercing flashes of memory, the perverse comic wisdom of Gracie Allen, the uninhibited yet loving exhibitionists of antique pornography, and eager travelers crossing America in a club-car or waiting in a Brazilian airport. Schwartz listens to these people without judging—understanding that they are all trying to live their lives, whenever possible, with tenderness, humor, and grace.

Who’s on First? brings together a selection of poems from all of Schwartz’s previous collections along with eagerly awaited new poems, highlighting his formal inventiveness in tangling and untangling the yarn of comedy and pathos. Underlying all of these poems is the question of what it takes and what it costs to make art.

About Author(s)

Lloyd Schwartz is the Poet Laureate of Somerville, Massachusetts, and the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He was the Classical Music Editor of The Boston Phoenix and is the longtime classical music critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, and a noted scholar and editor of the works of Elizabeth Bishop. His poems have appeared in The New YorkerAtlanticThe New RepublicPlume, and Harvard Review and have been selected for the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. Among his awards are National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships for his poetry and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. His most recent poetry collection is Who’s on First? New and Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press).

Gail Mazur is the founding director of the Blacksmith House Poetry series and the author of six previous books of poems, including They Can’t Take That Away from Me, a finalist for the National Book Award. She has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bunting Insitute of Radcliffe College as well as the St. Botolph Club Foundation Distinguished Artist Award.