Peter Cole and Susan Howe at McNally Jackson

Last Tuesday at McNally Jackson, New Directions and The Poetry Society presented readings from two of America’s greatest living poets: Peter Cole and Susan Howe.

The event began at 7 pm. At five to seven, a small group including Peter and Susan were chatting at the cafe upstairs while a large crowd below fidgeted with anticipation.

Peter read from his new collection The Invention of Influence. Susan read from her new book Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives, co-published by New Directions and Christine Burgin. The audience listened from the seats, the floor, and the steps. After hearing Peter and Susan read their lines live, one does not read their poetry the same way again.

The readings were followed by an illuminating discussion, led by The Poetry Society’s Alice Quinn. Peter discussed his discovery of Freud’s disciple Victor Tausk. Susan explained her obsession with archives, Hart Crane, and Henry James (“my beloved”).