April 14, 2024: Jennifer Michael Hecht
Co-Sponsored by Katonah Village Libvrary and Katonah Poetry Series
A book discussion about the many ways we use poetry in our daily lives
“The Wonder Paradox takes the reader by the hand and patiently, gently, and with great care introduces us to the delights, joys, and wisdom of poetry. If Jennifer Michael Hecht is starting a movement—sign me up! Finally, here is a party worth joining.” — Ilya Kaminsky
“Jennifer Michael Hecht writes delightfully tricky poems that wildly bend the sense of our language as they swerve back and forth between the realms of the colloquial and the absurd. The result of these maneuvers is The Next Ancient World – a deconstructed soap-opera, a one-hundred-ring verbal circus, a gang of brazen, ingenious poems.” — Billy Collins
Jennifer Michael Hecht is a poet, historian, and commentator. Her most recent book is The Wonder Paradox: Embracing the Weirdness of Existence and the Poetry of Our Lives (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2023) a guide to using poetry to find meaning, invoke awe, and rest in some clarity of mind. She is the author of the bestseller Doubt: A History, a history of religious and philosophical doubt all over the world, throughout history. In Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It (Yale University Press, 2013) she scrutinizes the moral status of suicide. Her The Happiness Myth (HarperOne, 2007), brings a historical eye to modern wisdom about how to lead a good life. Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won Phi Beta Kappa’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “For scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.” Her books have been translated into many languages.
Publisher’s Weekly called her poetry book, Funny, “One of the most original and entertaining books of the year.” Her first book of poetry, The Next Ancient World, won three national awards, including the Poetry Society of America’s First Book award for 2001. Her most recent poetry book is Who Said (Copper Canyon, 2013). Hecht has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Vox, Poetry, and The New Yorker. She holds a Ph.D. in the history of science/European cultural history from Columbia University (1995) and has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and the New School in New York City.
Hecht has also published in peer-reviewed journals, including: The Journal of the History of Ideas, Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society, French Historical Studies, The Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and has delivered lectures at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cal Tech, Columbia University as well as The Zen Mountain Monastery, Temple Israel, Saint Bart’s Episcopal Church, and other institutions of learning and introspection. Hecht has been featured on many radio programs, including On Being with Krista Tippet, Leonard Lopate Show, the BBC, Speaking of Faith, Talk of the Nation, and Brian Lehrer. She has appeared on Hardball on MSNBC, the Discovery Channel, and The Morning Show. She lectures widely.