Conversations from the Cullman Center, LIVE from NYPL: Refusenik: Lynn Melnick with David L. Ulin

Date and Time
February 15, 2022
Event Details
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The poet explores misogyny and anti-Semitism from Russia to Los Angeles to Brooklyn.

In her new poetry collection, Lynn Melnick dives fearlessly into personal and generational trauma, interrogating misogyny and anti-Semitism across time and a shifting global landscape—from a football field in Los Angeles to a Russian shtetl to a beloved daughter’s Brooklyn bedroom. Both unraveling and allowing for the tangles of anger, nostalgia, and love, Melnick furrows deeper into the terrain of her much-celebrated earlier titles, arriving at a profound understanding of what it means to be a contemporary American.

Lynn Melnick researched and wrote Refusenik during her 2017–2018 Fellowship at the Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. She speaks about the book with award-winning writer and editor David L. Ulin.

Produced in partnership with The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

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Lynn Melnick is the author of the poetry collections Refusenik (2022), Landscape with Sex and Violence (2017), and If I Should Say I Have Hope (2012), all with YesYes Books, and the co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation (Viking, 2015). Her memoir, I've Had to Think Up a Way to Survive: On Trauma, Persistence, and Dolly Parton, is forthcoming from University of Texas Press's American Music Series in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in APR, the New Republic, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Poetry, and A Public Space. Her essays have appeared in air/light, the LA Review of Books, ESPN, and the anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. She has received grants from the Cafe Royal Cultural Society and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. A past fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and previously on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, she currently teaches poetry at Columbia University and the 92Y. Born in Indianapolis, she grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn.

David L. Ulin is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, shortlisted for the PEN//Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. His work has appeared in Harper’s, the Atlantic, the New York Times, and The Best American Essays 2020. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation, and is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California, where he edits the journal Air/Light.




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The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, The von der Heyden Family Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, and The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and with additional gifts from Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Arts and Letters Foundation Inc., William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund, and the support of Library patrons and friends.