Poetry Reading Series

Poetry Reading Series

In celebration of National Poetry Month and the far-ranging impact of poetry and music, The Princeton Festival is excited to bring you exclusive video readings from twelve renowned poets from around the world.

Toshiko Hirata, “P-E-O-P-L-E”

Completing our poetry series is a love poem from the award-winning Japanese poet Toshiko Hirata, reading for us from Tokyo. Translated by Jeffrey Angles.

Jonathan Wells, “Fandango” and “Your Hat”

Two brilliant poems from Jonathan Wells to jump start this sunny Saturday!

Randall Mann, “Bernal Hill”

Enjoy a serene moment with this thoughtful poem from Randall Mann.

Mari Kashiwagi, “Ribbons”

A sweet children’s love poem from Mari Kashiwagi, reading from Tokyo! Translated by Takako Lento.

Xue Di, “Hotel Viking”

Chinese poet Xue Di reads an enigmatic poem about memory. Translated by Hil Anderson and Keith Waldrop.

Wayne Miller, “The Child’s Cry is a Light That Comes On in the House”

A tender poem from Wayne Miller composed in the form of a non-rhyming villanelle

Christopher Merrill, “Door”

A startling and beautiful poem by Christopher Merrill rounds out a warm April evening here in Princeton!

Miho Nonaka, “Scent Dragonfly”

A perfectly timed, summery poem from Miho Nonaka!

Kevin Prufer, “Poem for My Mother at Her Age”

A lovely poem from Kevin Prufer, read to us from his study in Houston, Texas.

Shuntaro Tanikawa, “She”

Reading from his home in Tokyo is the renowned poet Shuntaro Tanikawa. Translation by William Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura.

Kathryn Nuernberger, “The New Elements”

Today’s poem comes from the talented Kathryn Nuernberger!

Yasuhiro Yotsumoto, “The Circuit”

Kicking off our series is a reading by the Japanese poet Yasuhiro Yotsumoto. Translated by Akiko Yotsumoto.

Event Details

Sunday, April 26

This poetry reading series marks the first of our digital events for 2020.


Xue Di

Xue Di was born in Beijing. He is the author of four volumes of collected works and one book of criticism on contemporary Chinese poetry in Chinese. In English translation, he has published five full length books and four chapbooks. His work has appeared in numerous American journals and anthologies and has been translated into several languages. Xue Di is a two-time recipient of the Hellman/Hammett Award and a recipient of the Lannan Foundation Fellowship.

Toshiko Hirata

Born in 1955, Hirata is a poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Her first book of poems, Shallots to Return a Favor, appeared in 1984. Later award-winning volumes include Terminal (Bansui Prize), Shi Nanoka (Hagiwara Sakutaro Prize), and The Freedom of the Joke (Murasaki Shikibu Prize). Her novels include Two on Board (Noma Prize, best new literary artist) and Slope. She is a columnist and book reviewer for magazines and newspapers, and serves on the jury for the Yomiuri Newspaper’s “Children’s Poetry” column. She lives in Tokyo.

Mari Kashiwagi

Mari Kashiwagi won the prestigious Gendaishi Techo Award for emerging young poets in 1995. Poems from her second book Nectar’s root as far as its Resonance reaches (2008) were published on the Poetry International website, while Amber (2015) collects her lyrics for children’s songs. She has been invited to read at the Struga Poetry Evenings Festival, InterLese, and The Princeton Festival. Her upcoming new collection of poems, Butterfly, is in Japanese with an English translation by Takako Lento. She lives in Tokyo.

Randall Mann

Randall Mann is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Proprietary (Persea Books, 2017). A new collection, A Better Life, is forthcoming from Persea in April 2021. He lives in San Francisco.

Photograph by Josh Koll

Christopher Merrill

Christopher Merrill has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also published six books of nonfiction, most recently Self-Portrait with Dogwood, in addition to numerous edited volumes and translations. Merrill directs the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and his honors include a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Ingram Merrill Foundations.

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller has written four poetry collections—most recently, Post- (Milkweed, 2016) and The City, Our City (2011)—in addition to translating two collections by the Albanian poet Moikom Zeqo and editing multiple other works. His awards include the Rilke Prize, a Colorado Book Award, six Poetry Society of America awards, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the Bess Hokin Prize, and a Fulbright to Queen’s University Belfast. With Kevin Prufer, he co-curates the Unsung Masters Series.

Miho Nonaka

Miho Nonaka is a bilingual poet from Tokyo. She is the author of The Museum of Small Bones (Ashland Poetry Press, 2020) and her poems and essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, Tin House, American Odysseys: Writings by New Americans, and Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets. She is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois

Kathryn Nuernberger

The author of two previous poetry collections, The End of Pink (BOA 2016) and Rag & Bone (Elixir Press 2011), Kathryn Nuernberger’s latest book is RUE (BOA 2020), a collection of poems about plants historically used for birth control. Her essay collections include Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past (Mad Creek Books, 2017) and The Witch of Eye (Sarabande 2021). She teaches in the MFA program at University of Minnesota.

Kevin Prufer

Kevin Prufer is the author of several books of poetry, most recently How He Loved Them (Four Way Books), which won the Julie Suk Award for the best poetry book of 2018. His next book is The Art of Fiction: Poems, which will be published by Four Way Books next year. He is Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.

Photograph by Emy Johnston

Shuntaro Tanikawa

Born in Tokyo in 1931, Tanikawa has been one of Japan’s leading literary figures since the publication of his first poetry collection, Two Billion Light-Years of Loneliness, in 1952. Winner of numerous awards, he has authored over 100 volumes of poetry, light verse, and word-play, plus translations of everything from the comic strip Peanuts and Mother Goose rhymes to the plays of T.S. Eliot. He has also produced a wide range of children’s books, essays, song lyrics, and scripts for radio, TV, and film. He lives in Tokyo.

Photograph by Ichiro Kikuchi

Jonathan Wells

Jonathan Wells is a poet and prose writer. He has published two collections with Four Way Books: Train Dance and The Man With Many Pens. His third book, Debris, is forthcoming in 2021. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, AGNI, and The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day program, among others. His memoir, The Skinny, is forthcoming from ZE Books.

Yasuhiro Yotsumoto

Born in Osaka in 1959, Yotsumoto has published 13 books of poetry, 2 novels, and numerous criticism. He is also an avid poetry translator, and recently published The Poetic Works Homosapiens, an anthology of 32 poets from 22 countries. Recently, Yotsumoto moved from Munich, Germany, where he had lived for 26 years, back to Japan (via 14 days self-quarantine).