Literary Evening Celebrates Love


Carrie Cao ’23

A word cloud of “In Memoriam A.H.H.” by Alfred Tennyson.

For poets like Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, and Kahlil Gibran, one common theme exists in their works: love. Ms. Susan Kinsolving, instructor in English and poet in residence, as well as Mr. Charles Frankenbach, head of the English department, hosted a literary evening on February 15 to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a reading of selected love poems. After being canceled due to COVID-19 for the past two years, the event marked the return of a decade-long school tradition.

During literary evenings, the school welcomes established writers to read or present their works to audiences. Afterwards, students have the opportunity to engage in Q&A sessions with the authors. In the past, the school has welcomed many writers of various backgrounds, identities, and subject matters. Previous literary evenings featured Ms. Suji Kwok Kim, poet and playwright; Mr. Chip Kidd, graphic designer; and Mr. Paul Muldoon, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Due to the COVID-19-related challenges posed by inviting outsiders onto campus, this year’s literary evening did not include a presentation by a guest writer. Nevertheless, Ms. Kinsolving and Mr. Frankenbach worked to find a theme that would pique interest and generate student engagement. This year’s event involved a reading of published love poems chosen by various faculty and other members of the community. Occurring a day after Valentine’s Day, the literary evening aimed to celebrate love through language.

Ms. Kinsolving, who has organized literary evenings for the New York Public Library, the Mercantile Library, and the California Institute of the Arts, reflected on the importance of literary events at the school. She said, “Students may be inspired, surprised, excited, or even disappointed [by literary evenings], but they have the opportunity to be in the presence of someone who works with language and has been recognized for doing so.”

Literary-focused events will continue to take place at the school. Dr. Kathyrn Fleishman, instructor in English, and her Senior English class will host a Literary Conference in mid-April, which will feature panels of Upper Mids and Seniors.