A Reading and Conversation with Nathaniel Tarn: May 3, 2012

Nathaniel TarnNathaniel Tarn is a distinguished poet, anthropologist, translator, and editor. Born in Paris in 1928 and raised in France, Belgium and England, he took his degree in History and English at Cambridge. After some journalism and radio work in Paris, he discovered anthropology, studying under Claude Lévi-Strauss and others at the Musée de l’Homme, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes and the Collège de France, and the University of Chicago. He completed fieldwork in Guatemala in 1951-2 and Burma in 1958-1960, after which he became Lecturer in South East Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1960-1967). Tarn published his first volume of poetry, Old Savage/Young City, with Jonathan Cape, London in 1964, and a popular translation of Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu in 1966. From 1967-1969, he built a groundbreaking poetry program at Cape as General Editor of the international series Cape Editions, which brought many French and Latin American writers into English for the first time, and as a Founding Director of Cape-Goliard Press, which specialized in contemporary American Poetry with emphasis on Olson, Duncan, Zukofsky, and their peers and successors.

In 1970, with a foremost interest in the American literary scene, he immigrated to the U.S., and he eventually became a citizen. He has taught at Princeton, Rutgers, and the Universities of Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Manchuria (PRC), and he has read and lectured all over he world. His most well known books of poetry are The Beautiful Contradictions (1969), A Nowhere for Vallejo (1972), Lyrics for the Bride of God (1975), The House of Leaves (1976), and, most recently, Selected Poems, 1950-2000 (2002). As literary & cultural critic, he has published two volumes: Views from the Weaving Mountain (1988) and The Embattled Lyric (2007). As translator, he is known as the first to render Segalen’s “Stèles” into English, and for his continued work on Neruda, Latin American and French poets. Tarn has published over thirty books and booklets in his various disciplines.

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