Passager Books Publishes First Book of Poems by 100-Year-Old Author Henry Morgenthau III
February 13, 2017
Contact: Public Affairs
A Sunday in Purgatory, the debut collection of poems by 100-year old Henry Morgenthau III, an acclaimed television producer and writer, and the founder of a national center for communication research, will be celebrated with a reading by the author on Monday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the University of Baltimore Student Center's Bogomolny Room, 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave. A Sunday in Purgatory is published by Passager Books, a not-for-profit press dedicated to publishing the work of older writers and an offshoot of UB's Passager journal. The reading is free and open to the public.
Morgenthau's father, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secretary of the Treasury and played a major role in shaping the New Deal and America's post-World War II policies toward Germany. His grandfather, Henry Morgenthau, was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during WWI and the most prominent American to speak out against the Armenian genocide.
The poems in A Sunday in Purgatory combine memoir (his father "steadying the trembling hand [of FDR] as he mixed Bourbon Old Fashioneds and nibbled caviar, a gift from the Soviet ambassador"), reflections on aging ("Anticipation of death is like looking for a new job"), and wrestling with the tension that exists between being part of a famous American family and yet knowing that he’s an individual, separate from his family history.
2016 Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian said, "Henry Morgenthau's poems are crisp, elegant forays into memory both personal and cultural…. His surgical examinations of self and his unflinching stare into mortality define the unique and honest voice of this remarkable first book of poems."
Morgenthau has had a long, distinguished career as an executive producer at WNYC in New York and WGBH in Boston: he produced a three-year long series in which Eleanor Roosevelt interviewed world leaders; he also produced documentaries that featured Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, and others. His work earned Peabody, Emmy, and other major awards and nominations. He founded the Morse Communications Research Center 1961 at Brandeis University. He also wrote the definitive book about his distinguished family.
About the difference between his former writing and the poems he is writing now, Morgenthau says, "Writing poetry is a way of expressing myself, kind of like abstract painting as opposed to representational."
Passager Books is a not-for-profit press dedicated to publishing the work of older writers, to encouraging the imagination throughout life, and to creating beautiful and welcoming publications. Its literary journal, Passager, founded in 1990, has featured work by nearly 1,000 poets, fiction writers and memoirists, many in their 80s and 90s. Passager was co-founded by Kendra Kopelke, associate professor in the University's Klein Family School of Communications Design and program director for the MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts. Prof. Kopelke also co-founded Passager Books.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.