Readings and Conversations, from Strathmore to Folger

Sometimes, we embrace culture in more forms than music, singing, dancing, the stories of plays and operas.

Sometimes, all we want and need are words, in the form of readings, discussions, debates, readings, debates or conversations.

Talk is becoming more and more a part of our culture scene at many venues. Museums have curator talks, theaters have conversations with directors and actors, and so on. Poetry readings have become popular in all sorts of venues.

The Music Center at Strathmore is beginning a series of talks between or by noted personalities, humorists and poets in advance of the 2012 election, which moves steadily ahead in a whirlwind of debates, twitters and the commentary of experts in every medium available. There will be a trio of discussions, talks and readings in October, taking in politics, culture, satire and poetry.

A State of the Union Conversation: Oct. 19, 8 p.m. Fran Lebowitz and Frank Rich, Lebowitz, outspoken, funny, sly and razor sharp is noted for her books and novels and articles in the New Yorker, her early collection of essays called “Metropolitan Life” and “Social Studies.” In 2010, a documentary on her work and life, directed by Martin Scorcese, aired on HBO. Rich was the chief drama critic of the New York Times for years and has expanded his voice to the arena of national politics and op-ed opinion pieces. Lebowitz and Rich will take a look and opine on the election race and the state of the country.

An Evening With David Sedaris: Oct., 8 p.m. Sedaris is considered by many of his avid readers one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers with such best-sellers as “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “Naked,” “When You Were Engulfed in Flames” and others and he’s also a regular contributor to the New Yorker and National Public Radio. He’ll be reading from selections of his works, divulging personal recollections and answering questions from the audience.

Collins and Oliver: Oct. 28, 3 p.m. Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver will share personal favorites, highlight writers from award-winning collections and celebrate Oliver’s new book, “A Thousand Mornings.”

But wait, there’s more.

Speaking of poetry, Natasha Tretheway, the current and 19th U.S. Poet Laureate will give her inaugural reading at the Library of Congress, Sept. 13, 7 p.m., in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

The reading opens the Library’s 2012-2013 literary season and will kick of the 75th anniversary of the Poetry and Literature Center. Tretheway is the author of four poetry collections, including “Thrall,” her latest, and “Native Guard,” winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

At Lisner Auditorium on Sept. 20, Jeffrey Brown and Scott Simon share and debate thoughts on “Searching For Civil Dialogue in a Divided America.” On Oct. 8, Salman Rushdie, the noted novelist will share the story of how he was forced underground for more than nine years after becoming the target of a fatwah issued by Ayatollah Khomeini for his novel, “The Satanic Verses.”

And, as part of the Folger Institute’s literary Pen/Faulkner series, acclaimed novelist Jeffrey Eugenides will be in a conversation with Washington Post book critic Ron Charles on Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m.

Eugenides is the author of critically acclaimed novels like ‘The Virgin Suicides” and “Middlesex.”


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