University of Virginia English Department Hosts Reading of Faculty Book of London Poems

April 4, 2008 — A reading to celebrate the publication of "All That Mighty Heart: London Poems" will be held on Tuesday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the University of Virginia Bookstore. Poet Lisa Russ Spaar, an associate professor in the U.Va. English department, edited the new anthology, which was published this month by the University of Virginia Press.

Contributors and translators of poems included in the book will read selections from the anthology, along with a slate of London-philes and poetry-lovers from the English department and wider University community. The event is free and open to the public. 

The collection spans five centuries and represents 95 poets writing in nearly 20
different languages and cultures. Spaar conceived of the idea while teaching at the University of Virginia's Culture of London Summer Program at Regents College several years ago before the terrorist bombings. Michael Levenson, who was then chairing the English department, asked her to teach a course on poetry about the city, and she couldn't find any books she liked.

In "All That Mighty Heart," Spaar has assembled a collection of poems about London to appeal to most anyone: the student abroad for a semester, the armchair traveler, or the most critical reader of poetry. The book conveys a sense that London, as both city and text, is a place of exile and transplantation, a protean site of history, projection, culture and personal drama.

"The opening pages make you want to drop everything and go to London," wrote reviewer Steven Gould Axelrod, editor of "The New Anthology of American Poetry, Vols. 1 & 2."

Director of the undergraduate poetry writing program at U.Va., Spaar also edited the anthology, "Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems," and has published several books of her own poetry, including "Blue Venus" and the forthcoming "Satin Cash."

For information about the event, contact Sydney Blair, director of the creative writing program, at For information about the book, go to