Question and answer session with Brendan Kennelly's class (1971)

"I hear it's terrible now, that honors seminars meet in the evening and go on forever."*

Auden's teaching appointment ended in 1945, but he returned to a Swarthmore classroom in November 1971. After a lecture and poetry reading on the night of November 14th, he sat down the next morning with visiting professor/fellow poet Brendan Kennelly and a group of students to answer questions and speak informally on a variety of topics, from the obvious (poetry and politics) to the surprising (drugs and detective fiction).

The College Bulletin published a transcript of this discussion in its May 1972 issue, which can be viewed as a PDF or read online by following the links below.

  • Part one: remarks on teaching and Dr. Spooner, influences, free verse
  • Part two: what a poet can do, political poetry, favorite (and "unfavorite") poems, corrections and collaborations
  • Part three: teaching poetry, languages and translation, the joy of great art
  • Part four: audience; novels; war poetry; Frost, Eliot, and Dickinson; advice to fledgling poets; wit and poetry
  • Part five: Goethe, the '30s generation, art and anarchy
  • Part six: detective fiction, movies, manuscripts, Freud, drugs

*From a question-and-answer session with visiting professor Brendan Kennelly's class (1971), transcribed in the College Bulletin (May 1972): "I hear it's terrible now, that honors seminars meet in the evening and go forever."