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Emory joins worldwide celebration of Yeats' 150th birthday

By Leslie King | Emory Report | June 9, 2015

The 150th birthday anniversary of Irish poet W.B. Yeats will be celebrated Saturday, June 13, at 7 p.m. in the Michael C. Carlos Museum Reception Hall.

"Here Still/Still Here, a 150th Birthday Celebration of the Life and Work of W.B. Yeats" will feature a gala program of poetry, music, song, drama and stories.

The poetry readings and music have been chosen by Emory emeritus professor James Flannery to showcase the range and reach of Yeats's evocative works. 

Reading the works of Yeats and providing commentary about his life will be former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway and former Poet Laureate of Georgia David Bottoms as well as Emory's Yeats scholars Ron Schuchard, professor emeritus of English; Geraldine Higgins, director of Emory's Irish Studies program; and Flannery, who is also director of the W. B. Yeats Program.

Musicians Joseph Sobol and Kathy Cowan will perform excerpts from their musical, "In the Deep Heart's Core."

Selections from Yeats's comic dance play, "The Cat and the Moon," will be performed by members of the Atlanta Irish theater company, Aris.

The celebration is a partnership of the Irish Consulate of Atlanta under Consul General Paul Gleeson and the W.B. Yeats Foundation's Flannery. Gleeson will be the host of the program.

In conjunction with this event, Higgins has curated a display of Yeats material selected from the Irish collection housed in Emory's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, including "one of the rare earliest pamphlets of Yeats's famous poem 'Easter, 1916' as well as Maud Gonne's letter saying, 'No I don't like your poem, it isn't worthy of you & above all it isn't worthy of the subject.'"

The Yeats materials from MARBL will accompany a one-day preview of "'The Waters and the Wild:' Alen MacWeeney Photographs of Ireland," a special exhibition opening at the Carlos Museum in the fall.

The photographs explore the kinds of people and places that inhabited Yeats' poems. Several photographs relate to specific poems, including "Easter, 1916," says Andi McKenzie, associate curator of Works on Paper.

The preview opens at 6 p.m. in the John Howett Works on Paper Gallery on Level One of the museum.

Higgins notes that Yeats's 150th birthday "is being celebrated all over the world and we are delighted at the huge response we've had to this event."

Gleeson says while the event is free, ticket registration is closed. "We have had huge interest in the occasion and we reached our capacity for the evening earlier than anticipated," he says.

However, he says, "We may have some programs available following the event and anyone who would like one – or more information about anything else – can contact us at atlantacg@dfa.ie."

Higgins says, "Yeats's work and influence can be said to form the bedrock of Irish cultural life today. His words are heard in political speeches, evoked in photography and art and celebrated 'wherever green is worn.'"