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Wayne Koestenbaum to Give Shannon-Clark Lecture at W&L

Wayne Koestenbaum, American poet, critic, essayist, librettist, novelist and artist, will give the Shannon-Clark Lecture at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The title of his talk is “Punctuation.” It is free and open to the public.

Koestenbaum discusses his talk: “What happens when we pay as much attention to punctuation marks (period, comma, semi-colon, and other symptoms of exactitude) as we do to the words themselves? What happens when we treat the punctuation marks as divining rods, leading us to underground springs?

He continues, “In this lecture, I take a tour of my library, from A to Z (Hannah Arendt to Unica Zürn), selecting sentences whose punctuation marks push me toward revelation–all with the goal of making my thinking more strange to itself, more whimsical and more candid.”

Koestenbaum is the author six books of poetry including “Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background” (2012); “Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films” (2006); and “Model Homes” (2004). He has also published a novel, “Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes” (2004) and nine books of nonfiction including “My 1980s & Other Essays” (2013); “The Anatomy of Harpo Marx” (2012), “Humiliation” (2011) and “Andy Warhol” (2001).

Koestenbaum wrote the libretto for Michael Daugherty’s “Jackie O,” which debuted with the Houston Grand Opera in 1997. His first solo exhibition of paintings was at White Columns gallery in New York in Fall 2012.

Koestenbaum received a Whiting Writer’s Award in 1994 and taught in Yale’s English department from 1988 to 1996. He has taught painting at the Yale School of Art since 2003 and is a Distinguished Professor of English at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

He received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.A. in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

The Shannon-Clark Lectures in English, established by a gift from a Washington and Lee alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous, honor the memories of Edgar Finley Shannon, chairman of Washington and Lee’s Department of English from 1914 until his death in 1938, and Harriet Mabel Fishburn Clark, a grandmother of the donor and a woman vitally interested in liberal education.