Nassau notes

Princeton Poetry Festival

Poetry Festival Logo

The inaugural Princeton Poetry Festival, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Performance Central program, will feature a series of readings and discussions with notable poets Monday and Tuesday, April 27-28, at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

Visiting poets in this year’s international festival include Durs Grünbein of Germany, Michael Hofmann of the United Kingdom and Seamus Heaney of Ireland. American poets taking part are John Ashbery, Tina Chang, Lucille Clifton, Michael Dickman, Matthea Harvey, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gerald Stern, Ellen Doré Watson and Kevin Young, as well as three distinguished poets who are graduates of Princeton’s Program in Creative Writing: Galway Kinnell, Sally Van Doren and Troy Jollimore.

The event is free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, visit Further information about the festival will be featured in an upcoming issue of the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

Event honors folk legend Odetta

A tribute to the late folk singer Odetta will take place Thursday, April 9, featuring a panel discussion at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh 10 and a concert at 8:30 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

The panel discussion, “Odetta, Folk Music and Social Activism,” will feature: Albert Raboteau, the Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion at Princeton; Judith Casselberry, a fellow in Princeton’s Center for African American Studies; Bernice Johnson Reagon, a cultural historian and musician; Matthew Frye Jacobson; a professor of American studies and history at Yale University; Oscar Brand, a folk musician and radio host; and Olivia Greer, a graduate student in New York University’s Department of Performance Studies who is studying Odetta. The panel will be moderated by Judith Weisenfeld, a professor of religion at Princeton.

The concert will include spoken word tributes by poet Sonia Sanchez, actress Ruby Dee and choreographer Geoffrey Holder. Musicians Reagon, Guy Davis, Lizz Wright and Toshi Reagon will perform Odetta’s classic songs.

Odetta Holmes was known for her powerful stage presence and her ability to command the simplest instruments — voice and clapping hands — as well as her mastery of acoustic guitar.

Odetta rose to fame singing classic African American folk songs and spirituals. Through the years, Odetta’s music also touched on gospel and the blues. Her powerful renditions of liberation songs made a significant cultural contribution to the civil rights movement. She died in 2008 at the age of 77.

Tickets are required to attend the free concert, which is sponsored by numerous campus offices. Tickets are available at the Frist Campus Center box office or by calling University Ticketing at 258-9220.

Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour

Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour band includes (from left) Ravi Coltrane, Lewis Nash, Bill Charlap, Peter Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Peter Washington and Steve Wilson.

The Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour will make a stop at the McCarter Theatre Center at 8 p.m. Monday, April 6. The famed jazz record label is celebrating its 70th anniversary by bringing together an all-star band featuring some of today’s finest musicians: (from left) Ravi Coltrane, Lewis Nash, Bill Charlap, Peter Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Peter Washington and Steve Wilson. The ensemble will explore classic tunes by Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and many others. For tickets, call the McCarter box office at 258-2787 or visit

Biologist details lessons from locusts

Steve Simpson, a biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, will give a talk on “Lessons From Locusts: From Social Behavior to Human Obesity” at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in 101 Friend Center.

Simpson’s dual research interests — nutrition and locust swarming — have led to fundamental insights into the dietary causes of the human obesity epidemic, and have linked genetic, brain and bodily behaviors in individual insects to mass migration. Over the course of his career, he has made pioneering contributions to the fields of nutritional physiology, ecology and behavior.

Simpson has studied transformation or phase change of locusts, when the insects go from being shy, mutually aversive insects to a swarming mob. Those investigations have led Simpson and colleagues to discover some of the mechanisms that lead to such swarming, including elevated levels of the chemical serotonin in locust brains.

The eating habits of locusts, he has found, may help explain why humans are getting fatter. Locusts eat until they take in enough protein, he has found. He has suggested that humans might be doing the same, fueling the obesity epidemic. Because food has become increasingly fat and carbohydrate rich, the amount of food needed to get a protein “fix” has increased, Simpson reasons.

After earning his Ph.D. at the University of London, Simpson spent most of his career at Oxford University, where he was a professor in the Department of Zoology as well as curator of the University Museum of Natural History. In 2005, he became an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney.

Simpson was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2007. In 2008, he was awarded the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for excellence in scientific research.

The event is part of the Princeton Frontiers of Biology Lecture Series and is sponsored by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Princeton University Press.

Simpson also will deliver a talk titled “The Geometry of Nutrition: From Cannibals to Human Obesity” at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, April 9, in 10 Guyot Hall. The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Talk explores how oil prices are set

Energy consultant Roger Diwan will present a lecture titled “Who Determines Oil Prices: OPEC, Saudi Arabia or Speculators?” at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in 100 Jones Hall.

Diwan is a partner and head of financial advisory for PFC Energy, which provides advisory services to energy companies and governments around the world. He is an expert on the geopolitics of the energy industry, with a particular focus on the Middle East.

The lecture is sponsored by the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

April events set at Labyrinth

Labyrinth Books will host the following University-related events in April. The events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the bookstore, 122 Nassau St.

  • Susan Wheeler, a lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, will read from her new collection, “Assorted Poems,” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7.
  • Amiri Baraka, the former poet laureate of New Jersey, will discuss his new book, “Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music,” with journalist and author Greg Tate at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16. The discussion is cosponsored by the Center for African American Studies.
  • Author Jose Manuel Prieto, a visiting fellow in the Program in Latin American Studies, will read from his new novel “Rex” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21.
  • Devah Pager, an associate professor of sociology, will discuss her book “Marked,” which details the difficulties ex-offenders face in the job market, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30.

For more information about these and other events at Labyrinth, visit

Reagan’s role in Cold War is lecture topic

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: Revisiting Reagan’s Role in the End of the Cold War” is the title of a talk by author James Mann scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, in 16 Robertson Hall.

Mann’s new book, “The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War,” draws on new interviews and previously unavailable documents to offer a new history of what Reagan did — and did not do — to help bring America’s four-decade conflict with the Soviet Union to a close.

Mann is the Foreign Policy Institute Author-in-Residence at Johns Hopkins University and formerly was a senior writer-in-residence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has writen for The Los Angeles Times, The New Haven Journal-Courier, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Baltimore Sun.

The talk is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Lucas Gallery presents senior thesis photograph exhibition

From a senior thesis photography exhibition by Natasha Lavdovsky

“In the Elements,” a senior thesis photography exhibition by Natasha Lavdovsky, will be on view Wednesday through Friday, April 8-10, in the Lucas Gallery, 185 Nassau St. Presented by the Program in Visual Arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts, the exhibition features black and white photographs depicting natural environments from around the world, including Peru, Morocco, Arizona, New Mexico and Lavdovsky’s home province of British Columbia, Canada. An opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in the Lucas Gallery.

Discussion, performance examine African American artistic issues

An evening of discussion and performance exploring African American artistic issues will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

The event will begin with a conversation between Cornel West, the Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies, and Daphne Brooks, associate professor of English and the Center for African American Studies, on the impact of the 20th-century black arts movement and various aspects of black theater.

The talk will be followed by a performance titled “Movement: An Evening of One Acts” by the Black Arts Company: Drama. The student company will present a series of one-act performances touching on different aspects of the African American experience, ranging from domestic violence issues to immigration-led class conflicts.

Admission is free, but tickets must be obtained at the Frist Campus Center or Richardson Auditorium ticket offices prior to the event.

Kurtzer to speak on Iran-Israel-U.S. relationship

Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt and a visiting professor at Princeton, will speak on “Iran, Israel and the U.S.: Dissecting the Triangular Relationship” at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 6, in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall.

Kurtzer is the S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professor in Middle East Policy Studies in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He came to Princeton in 2006 after serving as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005 and ambassador to Egypt from 1997 to 2001.

Kurtzer is the co-author (with Scott Lasensky) of “Negotiating Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East.” As ambassador, he contributed significantly to peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians and played an integral role in building relations between the United States and Israel and Egypt. Prior to his diplomatic service, Kurtzer served in numerous policymaking positions within the U.S. government.

The lecture is sponsored by the Wilson School.

Student production of ‘Angels in America’ descends on Lewis Center

The Program in Theater and Dance is presenting a senior thesis production of both parts of Tony Kushner’s celebrated theatrical epic, “Angels in America,” Thursday through Saturday, April 9-11, in the Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau St.

“Millennium Approaches (Part One)” and “Perestroika (Part Two),” the two halves of the famously massive play, will be performed in rotating repertory to combine for a six-hour theatrical experience. The production will be directed by senior Sara-Ashley Bischoff and will feature senior Lovell Holder in the role of Prior Walter and senior Jordan Kisner as Harper Pitt.

Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, written in part while he was teaching playwriting at Princeton, details the lives of Americans struggling to survive emotional and social upheaval in the waning days of 1980s New York. Focusing on the AIDS crisis, Kushner uses the health epidemic as a lens through which he explores both literal and figurative diseases that plague American culture — strict definitions of sexuality, race, religion, politics and family.

When “Angels in America” opened in 1993, Newsweek proclaimed the work the “most ambitious American play of our time.” More than 15 years later, thesis students Bischoff, Holder and Kisner are ambitiously attempting to mount this immense work while full-time students. Director Bischoff, a comparative literature major, has spent six months with her production team and ensemble cast of eight actors — each one playing multiple roles in addition to a central character — in order to bring Kushner's simultaneously sprawling and devastatingly intimate world to the Princeton stage. Headed by Holder, an English major, and Kisner, a religion major, the cast also includes senior Christopher Inniss, junior Becca Foresman and junior Heather May.

The performance schedule is as follows: “Millennium Approaches (Part One)” — 8 p.m. April 9 and 2 p.m. April 11; “Perestroika (Part Two)” — 8 p.m. April 10 and April 11. The production contains adult themes, strong language, sexual scenes and nudity; audience discretion is advised. Tickets are $8 for students and seniors, and $10 for general admission. For tickets, visit the University Ticketing website at or call 258-9220.