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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Lannan Center Receives $4 Million

DAN GANNON/THE HOYA The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, located on the fourth floor of New North, received an endowment of $4 million from the Lannan Foundation.
The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, located on the fourth floor of New North, received an endowment of $4 million from the Lannan Foundation.

The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice received a $4 million endowment from J. Patrick Lannan (CAS ’60) and the Lannan Foundation upon its 25th anniversary to permanently establish itself as an interdisciplinary program within the Office of the President.

“The Lannan Center has exceeded our expectations in recent years and, speaking with Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, I realized that it could serve a more important role by reaching across disciplines,” Lannan said in a statement on the university website. “This most recent gift will establish the center as an integral part of the university community and the D.C. literary landscape.”

Since its establishment as a program within the English department by the national Lannan Foundation in 1989, the Lannan Center has hosted a series of poetry events, projects, courses and fellowships, including its annual spring symposium. This year’s symposium, entitled “In Nature’s Wake: The Art and Politics of Environmental Crisis,” will be held from Mar. 24 to 25.

Each year, the Lannan Center accepts a group of 15 to 25 undergraduate and graduate Lannan Fellows, who participate in a three-credit poetry and poetics course and engage with visiting poets, among them this year Fanny Howe, Ammiel Alcalay and Eileen Myles.

Joseph Ferrara, the president’s chief of staff, expressed University President John J. DeGioia’s gratitude for the donation in a statement.

“Georgetown has benefited from the generosity of the Lannan Foundation in significant ways since the Lannan programs were established 25 years ago,” Ferrara wrote. “President DeGioia is deeply grateful that this endowment gift will ensure that the Lannan Center will continue to serve our community as a place where students and faculty from across our campus can come together and explore the relationship between poetry, culture and current events.”

English professor and Lannan Center Director Carolyn Forché said that the endowment will allow the center to pursue new programming and ensure that the center will continue to grow and develop in the future.

“Lannan Foundation has generously provided annual grants for our programming. The new endowment will assure that the work of Lannan Center will continue in perpetuity on our campus,” Forché said. “Now that we are under the Office of the President, we will be extending our work and participation throughout the campus, and we welcome this engagement and what it will bring.”

In the past years, the Lannan Center has invited numerous writers to participate in programs or events with students. Notable poets and writers who have spoken at Georgetown include Margaret Atwood, Junot Díaz and Mark Strand. English professor Mark McMorris, who often attends and helps moderate Lannan programming, emphasized the value in student-poet interaction.

“Students are very excited to have these writers come to our campus for seminars and readings, for longer-term residencies,” McMorris said. “As a student, you not only read the books, which you might do in other classes, but you are able to talk to the writers, to meet them over dinner and at a reception, to talk about their work, about literature, culture, politics [and] the arts generally. The center is meant to bring the writers of today face-to-face with the writers of tomorrow — our own students.”

Tim Rosenberger (COL ’16), a current Lannan Fellow, said that in addition to the speaker programming, the program is unique in its emphasis on social justice and is of great value to the Georgetown community.

“It’s about poetics and social justice, and the way that those two things intersect— how culture can be a force for social change,” Rosenberger said. “It is a very quintessentially Georgetown program. I think it is a good opportunity for us to feel a lived value of the Jesuit beliefs our school has.”

In addition, Forché said that the center provides opportunities for students to explore poetry in the context of social justice and activism through many different activities.

“Students have found a home in Lannan Center for such activities as human rights and social justice work, poetry slams, creative writing and performance, engagement with community literacy programs and environmental activism,” Forché said. “Students spend hours there during the day, talking about their writing, editing magazines and reading from the small but growing library of contemporary literature.”

The annual two-day symposium also allows participants to focus on a topic of interdisciplinary interest by inviting guests who specialize in a particular social issue, according to Forché. The donation will ensure that the center can continue to host future symposia and other programming.

“These symposia allow our community to engage with some of the most important writers and thinkers of our time, and to converse across disciplines,” Forché said. “We hope to serve as a resource for the university and city communities, to engage the most urgent questions of our time, to bring poets, writers, thinkers and activists to our campus from across our country and from all over the world.”

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