May 13, 2012

Gary Snyder & The Judith Lee Stronach Poetry Lectures

This is a VISUAL presentation of this year's Judith Lee Stronach Poetry Lectures series which was held at the University of California, Berkeley, on May 11, 2012, in the Morrison Memorial Library. The event featured the lecture by Gary Snyder, Cold Mountain: the Life of Creative Translation.

I wanted to convey the visual grandeur of the event and too many words would get in the way (I know, a contradiction). For those who want more information, the links to other sites (words in green) tell the substance of the event. The beauty of the interior details are near the end of this entry.

(click on any image to see slideshow)
Raymond Lifchez, Professor of Architecture,
welcomed the audience and introduced the guest speakers.
 photo by Styrous®

Gary Snyder, born in San Francisco and raised in the Pacific Northwest, worked as a logger, a seaman on a Pacific tanker, studied Asian (Japanese, Chinese) languages At UC, Berkeley and Zen Buddhism. He was contemporaries with Beat writers Alan Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, Jack Kerouac and Zen philosopher, Alan Watts.

Mr. Snyder read from some of his poems, some humorous, some poignant. He mentioned his association with the Beat poets and writers but his focus that evening was his association with Han Shan, whose poetry he translated in his book, Cold Mountain: The Life of Creative Translation.

The audience was transfixed.


The Library was filled to the rafters for the event. 

Before the proceedings had started, I found myself sitting next to a charming and lovely young woman who turned out to be the Spring 2010 winner of the The Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize, Irene Kucherova.

An architecture major, Ms. Kucherova was awarded the Stronach Baccalaureate Prize for a social outreach and enrichment project at an orphanage in Kherson in the Ukraine.

Irene Kucherova with the childresn
photographer unknown

The  Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize was established in Stronach's honor by her husband, Raymond Lifchez.

After the reading there was a simple but elegant reception.

The event was conducted in the elegant Morrison Memorial Library, (one of 32 University of California, Berkeley, libraries) opened in 1928 as a traditional library reading room. It is nestled within the Doe Library, a Beaux-Arts Classical building designed by campus architect, John Galen Howard. It is complete with coffered ceilings, overstuffed chairs, Oriental rugs, busts, brass reading lamps and fine art.

It is beyond words to describe the intricate architectural beauty of the space, so, images will have to do it for me.

Doe Library entrance
What a beautiful evening it was.

 ~ ~ ~

Judith Lee Stronach donated to many organizations including the largest gift the National Organization for Women has ever received in its 38-year history. She founded the Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award which is given annually to an individual or organization who has made an outstanding contribution to the movement for global justice.

The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, a public interest law office located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, received the 2009 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award from the Center for Justice & Accountability. Founded in 1995, its mission is to work with victims of human rights violations and to force open the doors of Haiti's justice system for the majority of Haitians who are poor,

Judith Lee Stronach was an arts advocate and rights activist as reported by SFGATE. I remember house-sitting for her on Cedar Street in the late 80's and early 90's; at some point she published a book, Visible and Vulnerable, the People We See on Berkeley's Streets. It was an innovative effort to provide assistance for the homeless to earn money by selling the books. It was written to encourage them to open choices that enabled them and provided them with the skills they needed to problem-solve for themselves. She published the books and paid for them out of her own pocket then gave the books for free to the homeless to sell on the streets and keep the money for themselves. I remember the homeless people who picked up the books and drifted through the beautifully simple but elegant house. It was quite a contradiction of life styles, to say the least.

The Judith Lee Stronach Poetry Lectures series, an annual event, are available in print at the University of California Press.

Styrous® ~ May, 2012

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