Poetry Santa Cruz: Willis Barnstone

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 7:30pm

Willis Barnstone is a poet, translator, biblical scholar, memorist, anthologist, and artist. He has taught in Greece, Switzerland, at Wesleyan University, Colgate University, and is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Spanish at Indiana University where he has been a member of East Asian Languages & Culture, and the Institute for Biblical and Literary Studies. He started Film Studies at Indiana and initiated courses in International Popular Songs and Lyrics and Asian and Western Poetry.

His center is poetry, but his books range from memoir, literary criticism, gnosticism, and biblical translation, to anthologies.

Barnstone’s pioneer biblical work is The Restored New Testament, including The Gnostic Gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Judas. In this annotated translation and commentary, he restores the Latin, Greek, aramaic, and Hebrew names to their original form. For Pilate, Andrew, Jesus, and James, one reads Pilatus, Andreas, Yeshua, and Yaakov. To reveal the poetry of the New Testament, in the Gospels he lineates Jesus’s words as verse and renders Revelation and the Letters of Paul into blank verse. In his introduction, he calls Revelation (Apocalypse) the great epic poem of the New Testament.

His most recent publications are The Poems of Jesus Christ, Poets of the Bible, and Mexico in My Heart.

A Guggenheim fellow, he has four times been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and has had four Book of the Month Club selections.

His poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and The Times Literary Supplement. His books have been translated into diverse languages including French, Italian, Romanian, Arabic, Korean, and Chinese. Barnstone lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, Sarah Handler.


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