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Creative writer reads excerpts from memoir about his artistic father and latest collection of poems

Creative writer reads excerpts from memoir about his artistic father and latest collection of poems

Sascha Feinstein

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Sascha Feinstein, Ph.D., co-director of Lycoming College’s creative writing department, will be presenting his poetry and creative nonfiction at an upcoming reading at 6 p.m. on April 24. The reading, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Lowery Room of the James V. Brown Library in downtown Williamsport.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Feinstein will read from his most recent poetry collection, “Ajanta’s Ledge.” Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky describes the collection as “A surge of joy in art … wide-ranging, heartfelt, and beautifully made.” Throughout, listeners will hear the strains of music that pervades Feinstein’s work.

Feinstein will also be reading from his recently published memoir, “Wreckage: My Father’s Legacy of Art & Junk,” about his father, Sam Feinstein, who was both a brilliant artist and hoarder of monumental proportions. He collected only uncollectible objects — artifacts that required him to give them importance — and at the time of his death in 2003, his hoarding had fundamentally destroyed all three of his large homes. Despite this, Sam Feinstein was a remarkable painter and art teacher. This strange double helix of creativity and destruction guides the collage-like reflections.

Like his students’ canvases — paintings inspired by enormous still lifes constructed from the world’s refuse — this book incorporates myriad sources in order to create a more layered experience for the reader. The result is the depiction of a painter with the highest artistic ideals who nevertheless left behind an incalculable amount of physical and emotional wreckage.

Feinstein is a poet, essayist, and editor who has published ten previous books. One of his poetry collections, “Misterioso,” won the Hayden Carruth Award. His other books include a memoir, “Black Pearls: Improvisations on a Lost Year,” an interview collection, “Ask Me Now: Conversations on Jazz & Literature,” and two books of critical essays. He has received many academic honors, including the 2008 Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Artist of the Year. In 1996, he founded Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature, which he still edits; Brilliant Corners remains the only literary journal in the country that focuses on jazz-related literature.

He has given poetry readings and lectures at conferences and institutions throughout the country, including the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans, The National Arts Club in New York City, and the American Embassy in Vienna. An avid saxophonist, he frequently plays at the various venues downtown.

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