The Blue House Writers Series will host readings by poets Stephen Burt and Matthea Harvey in the Alumnae Library Theater on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Poets Burt and Harvey to Read Their Work at Elms

The Blue House Writers Series will host readings by poets Stephen Burt and Matthea Harvey in the Alumnae Library Theater on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Poets Burt, Harvey to Read Their Work in Library Theater

The Blue House will present a reading by writers Stephen Burt and Matthea Harvey at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, in the Alumnae Library Theater. A reception will precede the event at 7 p.m.

“I had the idea of pairing these two poets after reading Stephen Burt interview Matthea Harvey in The Paris Review,” said Dan Chelotti, assistant professor of English at Elms College.

“Stephen Burt is the foremost poetry critic of our time -- I read his books and articles all the time to keep up on poetry across the U.S. and the world,” Chelotti added. “I only started to read his poems when we read together in Cambridge. I was so taken with his ability to include so much of the world in so small a space.”

Burt uses his poetry to explore complex themes of persona, adulthood and parenthood. “All poems are ... like costumes, like clothes; when you read them you are, in a sense, trying them on,” Burt said in a Boston Review interview in 2013. “Some fit many people; some fit a few.”

The New York Times has called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation.” He has published eight books, including two critical books on poetry and three poetry collections. His essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense (Graywolf Press, 2009) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other works include Belmont (2013); The Art of the Sonnet (2010); Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (2009); The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry (2007); Parallel Play: Poems (2006); Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden (2005); Randall Jarrell and His Age (2002); and Popular Music (1999).

Burt grew up around Washington, D.C.; he received an A.B. from Harvard University in 1994 and a Ph.D. in English from Yale in 2000. He taught at Macalester College for several years before becoming a professor of English at Harvard. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Believer and the Boston Review.

“Matthea has been a poetry hero of mine since her first book, Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form,” Chelotti said. “She is capable of balancing dead serious turns of phrase that verge on elegiac with playfulness and whimsy. A choir instructor of mine once said that Ella Fitzgerald was her favorite singer because any note she was capable of could follow at any time. I feel that way reading Matthea -- from poem to poem, line to line, word to word. She always surprises me.”

Harvey was born in Germany, spent her childhood in England and moved to Milwaukee with her family when she was 8 years old. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and attended the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Iowa. Her collections of poems include Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (2000), Sad Little Breathing Machine (2004), Modern Life (2007), Of Lamb (2011), and If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? (2014). She has also published two children’s books: The Little General and the Giant Snowflake (2009, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel) and Cecil the Pet Glacier (2012, illustrated by Giselle Potter).

Harvey has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Warren Wilson, the Pratt Institute, the University of Houston, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has been a contributing editor to jubilat and BOMB. She lives in Brooklyn.

For more information about the 2015-2016 Blue House Visiting Writers Series, visit