Two of the most venerated figures in their fields visited Columbia on Feb. 1: poet Stanley Kunitz and architect Philip Johnson.
Johnson, internationally renowned architectural curator, critic, historian and practitioner, participated in the Philip Johnson Colloquium. The colloquium, held in Avery Hall, was designed to open debate on the development of architectural discourse in America from 1923 to 1949.
Also last Thursday, 1995 National Book Award-winner Stanley Kunitz held a question-and-answer session with graduate Writing Division students in Dodge Hall. Kunitz, who recently turned 90, is a former professor of creative writing at Columbia's School of the Arts, where his previous students included Columbia associate professor and poet Lucie Brock-Broido. When asked what qualities make a good poem, he said "I think that above all, what I look for is the pressure--the weight of a whole person's being--brought into every line in a poem. It's that pressure that gives the poem what I call 'psychic tension.'"
Later that evening, in Schermerhorn's Rosenthal Auditorium, Kunitz read from his most recent book, Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected, for which he won the 1995 award. In introducing Kunitz, Brock-Broido praised him for his grace as both a poet and a teacher. "Stanley," she said, "is the rare bird that is both."
Columbia University Record -- February 9, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 16